Airbrush Guide

Airbrush Guide
The airbrush is a tool that provides artists and artisans with enormous advantages and convenience. From illustrators performing at the highest level of realism, to make-up artists creating HD ready seamless applications, to T-shirt artists rapidly producing of eye-popping custom designs...the possibilities of putting an airbrush to good use are endless!

Purchasing a new airbrush should be a fun and exciting experience. However, with so many models available it can also raise a lot of questions for those not in the know. This can often turn the experience into one that is a bit confusing or even overwhelming. It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the available features and specifications of airbrushes so that you can choose with confidence.

Key Airbrush Features


Single Action vs Double Action
Single-Action airbrushes operate by simply pressing down on the trigger to spray both air and paint simultaneously, much like a can of spray paint. Double-Action airbrushes operate by pressing the trigger down for air and pulling back for paint (the further back the trigger is pulled the more paint is sprayed.)

Single-Action airbrushes are some what easier to learn and generally less expensive then double action models. However, they do have limitations. Contour lines and dagger stroke lines are only possible with a Double-Action airbrush. That being said if you plan on just painting solid colors or filling in stencils Single-Action may be just what you need. If you want to create fine art, T-shirt lettering, Special FX etc. it's best to jump right in and learn airbrushing with a Double-Action airbrush.


Gravity-Feed vs Bottom-Feed vs Side-Feed
Gravity-Feed airbrushes are the most commonly used airbrushes today. These are great for detail because they provide the best paint flow by using gravity to their advantage. They also have less clogging issues due to the short path from paint reservoir to spray tip. This design also requires less PSI and CFM from a compressor or air source. We recommend gravity-feed airbrushes to most beginners because it is a bit easier to keep clean and requires a smaller investment in compressor size. Popular among illustrators, make-up artists, cake decorators etc.

Bottom-Feed (aka siphon-feed) airbrushes allow the user to change colors quickly and easily. They can also carry a lot of paint when a large bottle is attached. These work great for T-shirts, murals, temporary tattoos etc. Some artists who have developed their airbrush skills through painting T-shirts professionally, go on to use the bottle-feed style in other applications because they get so used to the feel of it and its color changing system. To each his own!

Side-Feed airbrushes are similar to bottom-feed except that the paint cup or bottle is attached to the side of the airbrush rather than the bottom. A major advantage side-feed airbrushes have is that the paint reservoir can be rotated. This allows the airbrush to be sprayed at any angle; including upside down. This design is great for projects that may require painting in odd positions such as ceilings, auto interiors or motorcycles. Some illustrators, modelers and others also like a side-feed airbrush because it does not block their line of vision the way a gravity-feed airbrush can.


Nozzle Sizes
Airbrushes have the ability to produce wide spray patterns as well as lines that are as thin as a single hair. Some airbrushes are specifically designed to produced tiny details such as the Harder Steenbeck Infinity or Iwata Custom Micron. These models will have a very small nozzle opening in the range of 0.15mm to 0.23mm. On the opposite end of the spectrum, airbrushes such as the Paasche H or Badger Crescendo have a wider spray pattern witch is great for coverage and spraying thicker paints. Then there are mid-range airbrushes such as the Iwata Eclipse or Paasche Talon which cover a wide array of spray pattern sizes. If you are not sure what size you need or foresee needing a variety spray sizes you should consider an airbrush and with multiple nozzle sizes available such as the Grex XGi or the Harder Steenbeck Evolution.


Handling and Ergonomics
One of the things you will notice when using a higher end airbrush is how nice and comfortable it feels in your hand. In addition to performance and reliability it is this attention to balance and handling that makes these airbrushes much easier to use than a generic model.

Airbrush handling also comes down to a personal preference. Those who are heavy handed are more inclined to use a rugged model such as the Paasche VL or Iwata Eclipse well those with a softer touch may prefer something like the Iwata Custom Micron or the Harder Steenbeck ALplus. Artists seeking an airbrush that will minimize hand cramping and arthritic symptoms will be happy with a specially designed ergonomic airbrush like the Grex XGi or Harder Steenbeck Colani.

Preset Needle Stop Handle
The preset needle stop is a dial at the back of the airbrush handle that can be adjusted to restrict the trigger and needle from being pulled back further then needed. This feature can be helpful in preventing over spray in small detail work or in projects where precise spray patterns are needed. Well this feature is very helpful is not completely necessary for most applications.

Micro Air Control (MAC) Valve
The Micro Air Control Valve or Fine Pressure Control Valve allows you to adjust your airflow directly form your airbrush. MAC valves can be either built into the airbrush like Iwata Hi-Line HP-CH or the Harder Steenbeck Silverline fPc 2-in-1 or they can be added as an accessory between the airbrush and the airline in example the G-MAC valve from Grex. A very handy device!

Airbrush Recommendations

These are just a few examples of what you could use based on specifications and feedback from other customers.

Illustration:Illustrations are typically small in size and use finely pigmented paints or ink. Therefore you have the option to use a very small nozzle size. However a very small nozzle may or may not be necessary depending on your painting style. Air control is key with illustration so consider using a MAC valve of some sort. Because only small amounts of paint are needed consider using a side-feed model or a gravity-Feed model with a small cup, as to not obstruct your line of sight.
Recommended models include: Iwata Micron CM-B, Iwata Hi-Line, Iwata Revolution HP-BR, Iwata HP+, Harder Steenbeck Infinity, Harder Steenbeck Evolution Silverline fPc, Paasche VJR, Grex XGi, Hansa Topline 381 Harder Steenbeck ALplus

Fine Art:Fine artists may deal with larger surfaces and thicker paints then illustrators. Consider using a gravity-feed airbrush with a larger cup or even a bottle-feed model for larger projects. (And make sure you have a lid for that gravity cup to prevent making a mess!) Select an airbrush that has a large or medium sized nozzle or better yet one that offers multiple nozzle sizes.
Recommended models include: Iwata Eclipse, Iwata Revolution, Grex Tritium TG, Grex Tritium TS, Paasche Talon, Harder Steenbeck Evolution, Thayer & Chandler Vega, Badger Patriot

Hobbies:Again here we're typically talking about small scale projects. However the scale of detail can vary greatly. If your just needing to apply broad strokes of solid colors to you model a single action airbrush with a wide nozzle will work perfectly. If your needing to achieve super fine detail on small scale models or miniature figures you will need an airbrush designed for fine detail.
Broad Stroke Recommended models: Paasche H, Paasche SI, Iwata Revolution HP-SAR, Badger 350, Grex XA, Grex XA
Detail Recommended models: Harder Steenbeck Evolution , Harder Steenbeck Ultra, Badger Krome, Badger 200-20

Make-Up:Make-up artist bye in large prefer double action airbrushes with medium sized nozzles and small gravity-feed cups. The reason for this that they need a range of spray pattern sizes and prefer not to a large cup blocking their line of site.
Recommended models include: TEMPTU SP-35, Iwata Eclipse BS, Iwata Revolution BR, Iwata Neo CN

Food Coloring: Mostly used for wide gradients but also finer detail for more advanced cake decorating.
Recommended models include: Grex XGi, Badger Model 100LGB, Badger Patriot, Iwata Eclipse, Paasche Talon

Tanning:This application involves a thin solution and large coverage. We recommend a large nozzle airbrush or mini gun.
Recommended models include: Paasche H, Paasche 300T, Iwata Eclipse G6, Grex Tritium TS5, Sprayit SP-33000

Body Painting:Body painting is similar to make-up application but on a larger scale. We recommend an airbrush with a medium sized nozzle to cover a wide range of spray patterns. Gravity-feed works great but bottle-feed is faster which could be a benefit when working with a live model. Also consider using a mini gun to lay down you base color and using the airbrush for details. Also, to prevent pricking your model, leave your needle cap on!
Recommended models include: Iwata Eclipse, Paasche Talon, Harder Steenbeck Colani, Iwata Revolution BCR, Harder Steenbeck Colani, Iwata Eclipse G6, Grex Tritium TG, Grex Tritium TS, Badger Crescendo, Paasche VL

Custom Auto:Most custom automotive artists prefer a fine to medium sized nozzle, gravity-feed airbrush with a large cup. Likely reasons are that there is usually some amount of detail involved and at the same time fair amount of surface to cover. Those artist slated to paint hard to reach areas also find using a side-feed airbrush handy so that they can adjust the paint cup as needed. Iwata has the Kustom series specifically designed for the automotive artist.
Recommended models include: Iwata Eclipse HP-CS, Iwata Eclipse HP-SBS Auto, Iwata Kustom KCS, Iwata Kustom KCH, Harder Steenbeck Evolution CRplus 2 in 1, Harder Steenbeck Infinity CRplus 2 in 1 Airbrush, Badger Krome, Badger Velocity

Murals:When painting murals you have to think big! How big of an airbrush to use of course depends on the size of the project and how much detail you want to put into it. You will want a bottle fed airbrush that is either bottom-feed or side-feed so you will be able to carry more paint and change colors quickly. If you plan to paint ceilings your going to need a side-feed airbrush!
Recommended models include: Iwata Eclipse BCS, Iwata Revolution BCR, Grex Tritium TS, Badger Crescendo, Harder Steenbeck Colani, Paasche Talon TS, Paasche VL, Iwata RG3, Iwata Eclipse G6

T-Shirts:A bottom-feed airbrush with a medium or large nozzle size is perfect for T-shirt artists because they are looking to good coverage and want to be able to change colors fast in order to boost production. Note that at least a .5mm nozzle is recommended when using the original Createx Colors paint line.
Recommended models include: Iwata Eclipse BCS, Iwata Revolution BCR, Grex XBi, Paasche Talon TS, Paasche VL, Paasche VLS, Badger Crescendo, Badger 150, Thayer & Chandler Vega 2000,

Airbrush Specs

Here we have specification charts for the airbrushes we carry.

Iwata Airbrush Specifications:

MODEL PAINT FLOW NOZZLE SIZE CUP SIZE TRIGGER ACTION HANDLE
HP-BR Gravity-Feed .35mm 1/16 oz Double Action Standard
HP-CR Gravity-Feed .5mm 1/3 oz Double Action Standard
HP-AR Gravity-Feed .35mm 1/32 oz Double Action Standard
HP-BCR Bottle-Feed .5mm N/A Double Action Standard
HP-SAR Bottle-Feed .5mm N/A Single Action Adjusts Needle
HP-TR1 Side-Feed .35mm 1/4 oz Double Action Pistol Standard
HP-TR2 Side-Feed .5mm 1/2 oz Double Action Pistol Standard
M1 Gravity-Feed .3mm 1.5ml Single Action Adjusts Needle
M2 Gravity-Feed .4mm 7ml Single Action Adjusts Needle
HP-BCS Bottle-Feed .5mm N/A Double Action Cut-Away
HP-BS Gravity-Feed .35mm 1/16oz Double Action Cut-Away
HP-CS Gravity-Feed .35mm 1/3oz Double Action Cut-Away
HP-SBS Side-Feed .35mm N/A Double Action Cut-Away
HP-B+ Gravity-Feed .2mm 1/16 oz Double Action Pre-Set
HP-C+ Gravity-Feed .3mm 1/3 oz Double Action Pre-Set
HP-A+ Gravity-Feed .2mm 1/32 oz Double Action Pre-Set
HP-BC+ Bottle-Feed .3mm 1 oz Bottle Double Action Pre-Set
HP-SB+ Side-Feed .2mm 1/8 oz Double Action Pre-Set
HP-BH Gravity-Feed, MAC .2mm 1/16 oz Double Action Pre-Set
HP-CH Gravity-Feed, MAC .3mm 1/3 oz Double Action Pre-Set
HP-AH Gravity-Feed, MAC .2mm 1/32 oz Double Action Pre-Set
CM-B Gravity-Feed .18mm 1/16 oz Double Action Pre-Set
CM-C Gravity-Feed .23mm 1/3 oz Double Action Pre-Set
CM-SB Gravity-Feed .18mm 1/32 oz Double Action Pre-Set
CM-C PLUS Gravity-Feed, MAC Valve .23mm 1/8 oz Double Action Pre-Set
KCH Gravity-Feed, MAC .3mm 1/2 oz Double Action Pre-Set
KCM Gravity-Feed, MAC .23mm 1/2 oz Double Action Pre-Set
KCS Gravity-Feed .35mm 1/2 oz Double Action Pre-Set
KTH Gravity-Feed, MAC .5mm 1/2 oz Pistol Action Pre-Set
KTR Gravity-Feed .3mm 3/4 oz Pistol Action Pre-Set


Harder Steenbeck Airbrush Specifications:

MODEL PAINT FLOW NOZZLE SIZE CUP SIZE TRIGGER ACTION HANDLE
INFINITY SOLO Gravity-Feed .15mm 2ml Double Action Pre-Set
INFINITY 2-IN-1 Gravity-Feed, .15mm & .4mm 2ml & 5ml Double Action Pre-Set
INFINITY 2-IN-1 CRplus Gravity-Feed, .15mm & .4mm 2ml & 5ml Double Action Pre-Set
INFINITY CRplus .15mm Gravity-Feed .15mm 2ml Double Action Pre-Set
INFINITY CRplus .2mm Gravity-Feed .2mm 2ml Double Action Pre-Set
INFINITY CRplus .4mm Gravity-Feed .4mm 5ml Double Action Pre-Set
INFINITY X Bottle-Feed .15mm N/A Double Action Pre-Set
EVOLUTION CRplus .15mm Gravity-Feed .15mm 2ml Double Action Standard
EVOLUTION CRplus .2mm Gravity-Feed .2mm 2ml Double Action Standard
EVOLUTION CRplus .4mm Gravity-Feed .4mm 5ml Double Action Standard
EVOLUTION SOLO Gravity-Feed .2mm 2ml Double Action Standard
EVOLUTION 2-IN-1 Gravity-Feed, .2mm & .4mm 2ml & 5ml Double Action Standard
EVOLUTION SILVERLINE SOLO Gravity-Feed .2mm 2ml Double Action Pre-set
EVOLUTION SILVERLINE 2-IN-1 Gravity-Feed, .2mm &.4mm 2ml & 5ml Double Action Pre-set
EVOLUTION SILVERLINE FPC Gravity-Feed, FPC .15mm &.4mm 2ml & 5ml Double Action Pre-set
EVOLUTION X SOLO Bottle-Feed .4mm N/A Double Action Standard
EVOLUTION X 2-IN-1 Bottle-Feed .4mm &.6mm N/A Double Action Standard
EVOLUTION SILVERLINE M Side-Feed, .4mm 2ml & 15ml Bottle Double Action Standard


Grex Airbrush Specifications

MODEL PAINT FLOW NOZZLE SIZE CUP SIZE TRIGGER ACTION HANDLE
TG Gravity-Feed .2mm .3mm or .5mm 2ml 7ml and 15ml Double Action Pistol Pre-set
TS Side-Feed .2mm .3mm or .5mm 7ml 15ml and 30ml Double Action Pistol Pre-set
XT Side-Feed .35mm 7ml and 15ml Double Action Pistol Pre-set
XB Bottle-Feed .3mm 30ml Bottle Double Action Pre-set
XBi Bottle-Feed .5mm 30ml Bottle Double Action Pre-set
XS Side-Feed .3mm 1/4 oz Double Action Pre-set
XG Gravity-Feed .3mm 1/4 oz Double Action Pre-set
XD Gravity-Feed .2mm 1/70 oz Double Action Pre-set
XN Gravity-Feed .2mm 1/20 oz Double Action Pre-set
XA Gravity-Feed .3mm 7ml Single Action Pre-set
XGi Gravity-Feed .2mm .3mm or .5mm 2ml 7ml and 15ml Double Action Pre-set
XSi Side-Feed .2mm .3mm or .5mm 7ml 15ml and 30ml Double Action Pre-set


Paasche Airbrush Specifications

MODEL PAINT FLOW NOZZLE SIZE CUP SIZE TRIGGER ACTION HANDLE
Talon TG Gravity-Feed .25mm .38mm, .66mm .4oz Double Action Pre-set
Talon TS Bottle-Feed .25mm .38mm, .66mm N/A Double Action Standard
MIL Bottle-Feed .73mm N/A Double Action Standard
VL Bottle-Feed .55mm, .7mm, 1mm N/A Double Action Standard
VLS Bottle-Feed Locking .55mm, .7mm, 1mm N/A Double Action Standard
V Side-Feed .25mm, .66mm .25oz Double Action Standard
VJR Gravity-Feed .25mm, .66mm .2oz Double Action Standard
H Bottle-Feed .55mm, .7mm, 1mm N/A Single Action Standard
HS Bottle-Feed Locking .55mm, .7mm, 1mm N/A Single Action Standard
SI Bottle-Feed .55mm, .7mm, 1mm N/A Single Action Adjustable

Questions? Give us a call: 773-292-2990 or E-mail us: info@chicagoairbrushsupply.com