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What else do I need? (Starting Airbrushing)


j_holtslander
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Just bought myself a Mr. Hobby/GSI Creos PS-270 0.2mm Airbrush which is enroute to me now.

Assuming I have nothing... And excluding the compressor... what other things should I look into buying as soon as possible to make my life easier/better?

(I've also ordered a moisture trap, and a cleaning pot.)

 

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90% of the way there. Some thinners, paper points (dental), paper towels. 

 

The rest is practice. You have a very good airbrush and it will be consistent, you will get out of it what you put in. Learn to work out the relationships between air pressure, thinning and spray distance/thickness.

Learn how to strip and clean it confidently.

 

plenty of inspiration on YouTube etc ;)

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An airbrush "hanger" will be very useful to hold the airbrush while it's loaded but not in use. I found a unit that was intended to be clamped to a table-top. I was able to mount it to my compressor case as shown here. Also shown in that picture are quick-disconnect fittings, which allow me to quickly switch between my 2 airbrushes as needed.

 

I have stainless still mixing pots from the local art store. I also found stainless steel Tamiya paint stirrers online. I use the stirrers to stir the paint in the bottle or tin before transferring some to the mixing pot. I then use the stirrer to mix paint and thinner.

 

What type of paint will you use? I use primarily use Mr Color, which is sold in bottles, Alclad, which is pre-thinned, and Colourcoat, which is sold in tins. While I can pour paint from bottles easily enough, it's a mess to try pour from a tin. For that, I use plastic paint pipettes to transfer paint into the mixing pot. For small amounts of paint, I actually just dip the paint stirrer into the bottle or tin and then quickly put that into the mixing pot--this works quite well since the paint is thicker and less viscous.

 

Make sure you always clean the bottle neck and exterior threads before screwing a bottle cap back on after use! Similarly, clean the inside of a tin's opening before pressing the lid back on. If you fail to do this, you might find the bottle or tin near impossible to open later.

 

I prefer to use the paint manufacturer's thinner when thinning paint for airbrushing (Mr Leveling Thinner for Mr Color). You'll need those pipettes to add the correct amount of thinner to your mixing pot. I always thin to about the consistency of 1% milk. I never return thinned paint to the bottle or tin after use. Since I'm now quite good at mixing the right amount of paint, this isn't a waste issue for me, and I prefer to have pristine paints. Some might argue, but I've never had paint go bad. If you're going to experiment with thinners other than the paint manufacturer's thinner, do so first in the mixing pot to make sure it works. Some combinations of paint and thinner will create a gum that is very difficult to clean--you never ever want to do that in your airbrush paint cup!!!

 

I set the air pressure to about 15 PSI, 1 atmosphere. Always set the air pressure when air is flowing through the airbrush. Just pull the trigger back without pushing it down to get an airflow without paint.

 

Make sure the airbrush is ready to use before you add paint into the paint cup! I visually inspect the airbrush at the start of a painting session. Equally important, I put a few drops of paint thinner into the paint cup and spray it out to ensure the spray is well formed before each and every batch of paint I spray. This also helps to prep the airbrush for the paint you're about to use.

 

I spray quite close in, from 5mm to no more that 45 mm. Make sure the paint is slightly wet when it hits the surface. Use a grazing light to make sure you see the paint hitting the surface. If you spray from too far away, the paint will dry in the air before it hits the model and you'll get an orange peel surface at best, and a powdery surface in the extreme.

 

Apply thin coats until you have good coverage. As I mostly use Mr Color and Alclad, which are lacquer paints and therefore quick drying, multiple coats are easily accomplished in a single paint spraying session. If you want a gloss coat, spray on a final "wet" coat only after you have good coverage. This is process is critical with gloss white and gloss yellow.

 

Almost all paint is subject to some tip-drying when airbrushing. When that happens, first try to clear it by "coughing" the airbrush (opening the air wide for a second).

 

Given my paint choices, I mostly use regular hardware store lacquer thinner (quart or gallon can) to clean my airbrush. Cleaning an airbrush with the airbrush thinner is a waste of money unless you thin with water or isopropyl alcohol. When I'm done with a color, I just pour any excess into my waste bucket, squirt some lacquer thinner into the paint cup, and spray thinner until the paint cup is clean. You have a cleaning pot, so the process will be a little different, but the goal is still to have a clean paint cup. When I've finished a painting session, I always make sure the airbrush is completely clean. This includes removing the needle, wiping it down, and reinstalling the needle. This ensures I don't have a stuck needle due to dried paint when I next pick up the airbrush. Every so often, I'll fully disassemble the airbrush to give it a thorough cleaning. Those paper points @Greg B mentioned above are quite useful for clearing the nozzle assembly.

 

A 0.2mm nozzle is quite small, so you'll need to make sure your paint is relatively thin, as I described above. You might also find some paints more difficult to spray.

 

HTH

-- 

dnl

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The above about needle size is very true, a 0.2 is very small and won’t take all paints easily. I have a Iwata CMC with a 0.23 needle and that is really fussy on what you can put through it. My Iwata TR1 has a 0.3 and that will spray almost everything and every paint type with absolute ease. 

 

I’ve not been able to spray Vallejo with any consistency with my CMC, the paint pigmentation must be just too big to pass through easily, some tamiya normal acrylic colours give me issues as well, not all but some are right b1tches to work with. The TR1 will as said spray everything with ease.

 

I find that Lacquer paints are the easiest to spray with a small needle and head set such as the excellent MRP range of paints and the new Tamiya Lacquer range. Both  of those paint ranges have finer pigmentation than most other paint types so spray beautifully. 

 

I have the same brush that you have shown above but I bought the 0.3 version, I’ve found it excellent and very precise, so much so I bought the 0.2 needle and head for really fine work. Not yet tried it in anger yet with the 0.2 but with the right paint and thinner ratio I’m sure it will make a great addition to my fine detailing tools. 

 

 

HTH

 

Dan 

 

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On 9/5/2019 at 5:47 AM, dnl42 said:

A 0.2mm nozzle is quite small, so you'll need to make sure your paint is relatively thin, as I described above. You might also find some paints more difficult to spray.

Wow. Thanks for all that.

I've had a love affair with Tamiya paints most of my life but will likely start using Vallejo and Mr. Hobby paints too in the future.

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The cheapest cappucino strirrer you can find.   This one cost me a whole pound.

Cappucino-Stirrer.jpg

Some small jars for thinning paints in.  I pinched these from hotels when I'm sent away on courses.

Hotel-Jam-Jars.jpg

I use enamel paints, thinned with lighter-fluid, 

Lighter-Fluids.jpg

I've not tried it with Acrylics, and hear they're quite fussy about thinner. 

I've always used car screenwash when using Acrylic, and would use that for cleaning up after a spray session.

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Just in case you don't want to spend on more expensive art supplies:

 

- Stirring pots: I use the tops of deodorants or hair spray bottles, preferably transparent. All my paint stirring is done on four tops of L'Oreal hairspray that I pressed for modeling service many years ago.

- Stirring sticks: wooden cocktail sticks are cheap and perfect for this and you can just throw them away.

 

As for thinners:

 

- Isopropyl alcohol 99.9%: this will be your default thinner for all non-water-based acrylics (Tamiya, Gunze Mr Hobby) and good for cleaning out the airbrush between colors

- Generic acrylic thinner: best for water-based acrylics (Vallejo, Mig).

- Odorless white spirit: for enamels and for wiping off enamel washes.

- Lacquer thinner: for lacquers (Mr Color, Mr Paint) and occasionally for cleaning out the airbrush between uses, or cleaning out hard to reach places like the air hole which is a nightmare when it gets clogged.

 

For cleaning:

 

- Airbrush cleaning pot: absolutely essential to spray out excess otherwise you will make an absolute mess of your workspace and consume enough towels to finish off the Amazon.

- Airbrush cleaning spray. Badger makes a very good one. You should use it at the end of every paint session so that as much as the leftover paint can be cleaned off.

- Airbrush cleaning kits. Very cheap, just a ring of different sized wire scrubs. Use this on the nozzle and the main hole every number of sessions or when it clogs.

- Ultrasonic cleaner. You don't need this now but perhaps worth investing in a cheap one later on in your airbrush's life. They are really good for deep cleans and will do a much better work than any manual cleaning. Also they are great for cleaning eye glasses!

 

I also echo the suggestion of getting a larger airbrush needle (0.4 is good). You will know when to use both and a 0.2 is always good to have for small freehand jobs but 0.4 covers much much better.

 

I would also add, once you find a needle that you like, buy an extra nozzle of that size. Trust me, it'll break one day, and even a tiny dent will have paint splattering and will make it unusable. I have a Harder & Steenbeck Infinity which is one of the more expensive airbrushes and excellent quality and still, I've probably had to replace the nozzle like 5 times in the last 10 years.

 

Finally, I would say, there are 4 levels of airbrush cleaning:

1) A thinner rinse: just spray out remaining paint into the cleaning pot, add a few drops of thinner, stir a bit, and spray out and repeat 2-3 times until you see no more color come out. This is for when you are switching colors in a paint session

2) A sink rinse: at the end of a paint session, rinse in water and with cleaning spray. You should remove the nozzle to spray inside too.

3) A deeper sink rinse: same as above but remove the needle as well and use the wire scrubs to clean up the interior. You should do this every week or so or if it's clogged.

3) Deep cleaning: disassemble the airbrush and clean thoroughly using a combination of cleaning sprays, ear cleaning buds, etc. You can also use any cleaning liquid and leave it rinsing overnight, just make sure the liquid doesn't have any corrosive components like ammonia. If you have an ultrasonic cleaner, use that instead. You should do this a couple of times a year.

 

 

Edited by Phantome
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On 9/13/2019 at 1:01 PM, Goatdriver said:

Don't forget respiratory protection.  I use a 3M 07193 Dual Cartridge Respirator Assembly that I purchased from Amazon.  I use it no matter what I'm spraying, even acrylics can cause lung damage.

Just bought one. Thanks.

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On 9/13/2019 at 10:23 AM, Phantome said:

As for thinners:

...

For cleaning:

...

Thanks for taking the time to write that all out. Very good information which I’m sure I’ll refer back to frequently.

 

Admittedly the cleaning and maint. intimidates me. I feel like there’s a lot of ways I could do something wrong or damage my airbrush.

I’m trying to watch every cleaning and maint. video I can find on YouTube.

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On 9/15/2019 at 11:56 PM, j_holtslander said:

Thanks for taking the time to write that all out. Very good information which I’m sure I’ll refer back to frequently.

 

Admittedly the cleaning and maint. intimidates me. I feel like there’s a lot of ways I could do something wrong or damage my airbrush.

I’m trying to watch every cleaning and maint. video I can find on YouTube.

Airbrushes are made to last, especially the higher quality ones. They don't break easy and should easily last more than a decade even under intensive use: mine is almost 10 years old and is still working great. Pieces like the nozzle can break, and needles can bend but both are easily replaced. Gunk accumulates over time regardless of how good you clean it which is why I recommend a small ultrasonic cleaner in the long run, though I doubt you'll need it for a number of years.

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10 hours ago, j_holtslander said:

How do you folks dispose of quantities of thinners and whatnot? Just empty down the bathroom sink drain? Into the toilet? Throw it into the dirt outside?

I save all my old thinners in an old empty thinners tin. When near full I take it to the local council waste disposal which has a special container I can empty my tin into. Then the council disposes of my old thinners and all the rest in whatever way they have . I think it goes to help fire the burnables furnace at the waste disposal centre, which heats their offices

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