What will you need to get started airbrushing? Well in simple terms you will need three things. One you will need an airbrush, two you will need a air source, three you will need paint to put in your airbrush. It really is just that simple. The difficult aspect of getting started are the details. What airbrush should you purchase? What am I going to use as an air source? And what paint system am I going to invest in? So lets try to cover some of the more difficult aspects of getting started airbrushing.
Choosing an airbrush. Do you need to invest hundreds of dollars on a high end airbrush. The answer is no, but adversely you do not want to buy a low end airbrush that is going to cause you more grief than anything else. My suggestion to most people wanting to get started is keep you airbrush budget below $100 to $150. There are plenty of top performing airbrushes on the market today that cost less than $100. So once you establish your budget you will then have to decide which style of airbrush is going to work for you. This is an article I wrote regarding gravity, side and bottom feed airbrushes. Check it out for information regarding each style.
Once you have the details of your airbrush hashed out your going to need to focus on an air source. Your air source is just as important as the airbrush that you choose. You dont have to spend a fortune, but on the other hand you do not want to buy a cheep compressor which is either going to be as loud as a 747 or die a week into your airbrushing. You can purchase a nice manifold type air compressor for less than $100 that will serve you well. Manifold type compressors are easy to maintain, are quite and are bullet proof! You could also invest in an air tank and use compressed gasses. With this option you do not need to worry about moisture which is a big concern with any air compressor. My advice to the new purchase a decent manifold type air compressor that has a small air tank attached. If you plan on expanding or are planning on using your air compressor for paint guns and air tools your investment is going to be much more. I personally purchased a large dental air compressor years ago that is quiet. It powers all of my air tools and is oil-less! Regardless of the air compressor though you are going to have to at some point invest in an air drying filter or system to prevent water from destroying your airbrush artwork.
your final consideration is airbrush paint. You can not skimp on paint. You have to purchase high quality paint or your going to run into so many issues you may end up giving up before you even get started. Createx is probably the largest name in airbrush paint. They sell several different brands to. The one brand that is the do all brand is their Wicked Colors. Wicked is an airbrush paint that can be used on everything from t-shirts, to automobiles. I highly suggest checking their products out. Everything Createx sells is water based. You also have the option of purchasing a solvent based airbrush paint. There is a great debate in the airbrush arena concerning water based as opposed to solvents. In my experience solvent based paints flow a thousand times smoother than any water based paint. Solvent based paints are also much easier to deal with. They are easy to clean up and even if dried are relatively easy to clean out of an airbrush. The only issue with solvent based paints is the toxicity of them. Urethane, Lacquer and even alcohol based paints are toxic and require at least a respirator when used.
My advice on paint is if you can buy some small quantities from various paint companies. Find a paint that works well for you. This is the only way your going to find your perfect paint system.
This is my first version of how to get started airbrushing. I am in the process of writing a much more detailed guide to airbrushes, airbrush compressors and airbrush paint. So stay tuned, but in the meantime I hope this article has given you at the very least some insight into what you will need to get started airbrushing.