Then you started looking through some sites or catalogs (do people look at catalogs anymore?) and started to feel a little overwhelmed. There are a lot, and I mean A LOT, of things to choose from in the airbrush world and it can be frustrating. Especially when all you want to do is airbrush.
Maybe I can help. I've put together a little list of things you will need to get started. This isn't THE list or top ten list or anything like that, but it is the bare bones equipment I needed to put down some of my first airbrush strokes. Maybe it'll clear up any confusion or maybe it'll just give you a starting point to some more.
1) The Compressor. Why is this before the airbrush? Because if you don't have air, then you just have a chunk of metal. If you are just starting out, then get a compressor that fits your needs and your budget right now. If you think this is something you'll want to do for a while, then look ahead to the one that you will grow into. Not all compressors are created equally and it will come down to how much air you need (your airbrush will tell you) and how loud you can stand it.
2) The Regulator. Ok, so it's still not the airbrush, but it's just as important. If you are going to have a compressor that pushes air, then you need to control that airflow. Find a regulator that has a moister trap because moisture is bad.
3) The Moisture Trap. I know, when the hell do we get an airbrush... trust me, this is important. Most compressors build moister due to heat under pressure and this moisture can get into the line, which can come out of your airbrush. That means water in bad places. Which, again, is bad.
4) The Airbrush! I didn't get into too much detail with the above, because there isn't much debate over what kind of this or that will be needed, but when it comes to airbrushes you would think that people were discussing stem cell research. I've seen folks run out of forums over this. Here is my input: get a gun that fits your needs. Will you be illustrating? T-Shirts? Automotive? People? Airbrushes are complicated creatures and there will be whole blog posts written about the many many aspects of this machined metal monster. For now, here's what you need:
- If you are just going to illustrate and don't ever plan on moving on get a gravity feed airbrush with anything lower than .3mm needle nozzle combo. Alberto Ponno uses the Paasche VJR. You can also get a side feed, though they are a little tougher to clean.
- If you plan to do just T-Shirts and don't ever plan to move on (at least for a while) get a bottom feed/siphon feed. Something like this.
- If you want to go straight for the automotives, really anything will work as long as the airbrush has teflon needle bearings (this will resist solvents found in auto paints and reducers). Some companies release these for their illustration brushes so that you can just change them out without getting a whole new gun.
5) Cleaning Stuff. If you have a gun, you need to clean it. Look for the pipe cleaning set up and some needles. Also, if you are using water based paint, get some Windex or other window cleaner. For autos or other solvent based paints, look to see what it is reduced with and that will be your cleaner.
6) Spare Parts. If you ever clean your brush, you'll end up smashing a needle or nozzle. Get a needle and a nozzle when you get your airbrush.
7) Lube. After you've gotten that airbrush clean you need to lube it up. Make sure you are getting a lube that will work with any type of paint. Superlube is an industry standard.
8) Surfaces. This is before paint in my book because you can't use paint if you don't have anything to paint on. As a beginner, I recommend getting something like pellon because it can take a lot of abuse and is fairly inexpensive. You can also get cheap water color paper since it is highly absorbent. I like the pellon because after you've painted on it you can still use it to make stencils and it mimics how it would be to paint T-Shirts.
9) Paint. I'll make this simple. Get Textile paint if you want to paint T-Shirts. You can use these for illustrations, but they are made thick so it takes more air to spray them. Get illustration paint for illustration (Golden, ComArt), or get watercolor paint and dilute it, or inks, or dyes, or... anything that can come out of that gun is pretty much ok as long as you can clean it up. Autos require a whole post their own, but to start I recommend Auto Air or Wicked.
10) Xacto Knife. You'll need this to cut stuff.
11) The Internet. If you want to make these things work together then you need to spend some time on YouTube and in the forums. People have done it and have been there and will show you the way.
Well, I hope that was helpful. I will be getting into greater detail on each of these items in later blogs, so don't worry. If you don't find your answers elsewhere, then you'll find them here.
The Video of The Post Comes From Tony D at Airbrush Tricks: