Airbrushes – The Technical Terms Explained

Airbrushes are tools which operate using compressed air in order to spray a number of substances predominantly paint. If you’re new to the world of airbrushes, then whatever the reason you wish to use one for, it is best to familiarise yourself with the options available, as there are a number of technical terms that may not be self explanatory to those starting out in the world of airbrushing.

Dual or Single Action Airbrush

The general view within the airbrush community is that single action airbrushes are better for those who are just getting started in the airbrush world in terms of model painting. Single action airbrushes simply involve holding down a single button and paint being released

Dual Action Airbrushes involve pushing a button and also pulling of a trigger in order to control the flow of the paint.

Comparatively, single action airbrushes are best for beginners as they are less expensive, have less complex parts and as such are easier to clean. They also provide a good overall covering of paint. On the other hand dual action airbrushes can provide a more detailed finish but they are harder to get to grips with.

Type of Feed:

There are a number of different types of feed when it comes to Airbrushes – this is the way in which the paint enters the airbrush. They are:

– Gravity Feed – airbrushes that have a cup on the top so hat less air pressure is required to draw the fluid.

– Siphon/Side Feed – these have the cup or bottle containing the fluid at the side of the airbrush, which can be rotated, meaning the user has more freedom of movement. This option is ideal for when a number of colours are required, or different levels of painting need to be undertaken.

– Suction/Bottom Feed – these are best used when large quantities of paint are required. They need more air pressure however, as the paint is dawn upward and doesn’t have the assistance of gravity.

Internal Mix or External Mix?

This is where the paint and air are mixed. Internal mix airbrushes mix the air and fluid at the tip inside the airbrush, which means that air passes all around the fluid allowing for a smaller more concentrates area of spray resulting in more detailed finishes.

External mix airbrushes mix air and fluid outside the airbrush, this means the paint is less atomised and produces a larger dot pattern, meaning that these airbrushes are less suited to detailed airbrushing.

Nozzles and Needles

These are the parts of the airbrush that concentrate the fluid and push it forward onto the surface that you wish to paint. The needle is responsible for releasing the fluid onto the surface and the nozzle connects the airbrush to the needle. This can be manipulated, in order to chose the amount of fluid released.

Air Sources:

This is what provides the pressurised air that propels the paint. The air source can be one of a number of things. Commonly compressors are used however if you don’t do a large amount of airbrushing, then it may be more cost effective to use canned CO2

Spay booth

If you are going to be doing a lot of spraying using an airbrush, then a spray booth should be seen as essential. This will remove any dangerous flammable by-products from the paint and keep you and your family safe from the harmful effects of inhaling paint fumes. One point to consider is although it may seem cost effective, it is never a good idea to build one yourself as these can lead to dangerous consequences!

Choosing The Right Airbrush For You

Overall there a lot of options when it comes to airbrushes and different people will use them for different things. One thing to consider however, is that even the cheapest airbrush in the most skilled hands can produce brilliant results, whereas the most expensive airbrush will not guarantee you get the best results.

Often airbrush starter kits are available, which include all that you will need to get to grips with using an airbrush. The hobby is a lot more popular than people realise, it is worth looking up some online forums and getting some tips from people who spend a lot of time experimenting with airbrushes!

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