1.) Surface preparation is
essential... make sure all the parts have been washed to remove the
"parting agent" and any oils from handling.
Use a solution of one part Dawn Dish Washing Liquid to ten parts water,
spray it on, brush with a clean paintbrush and rinse with water, let dry.
(Use filtered water for all cleaning, and have a spray bottle that have a
built-in pump to pressurize them — find these in cooking stores, or at
American Science and Surplus)
2) Use the thinnest masking tape you can find; the stuff sold in artist's
supply stores is often much thinner and with less "tack" than
the automotive/hardware kind. Use Tamiya masking tape, but there are
others. "Drafting" tape is also better than Masking tape because
it has less adhesive.
3) Cut your own tape strips, using a sharp blade and a steel straight
edge. Lay the tape out onto a glass plate and cut strips. This makes for
much cleaner lines, as the rough edge and adhesive "bleed" from
the machine-cut rolls is eliminated. Special modeling tape does not always
need to be cut, find what works for you.
Remove the tape as soon as the paint has set.
Part #2 Keep
Those Parts Clean
When painting the most important thing to remember is keep the brush
clean. Any build-up of paint — even a slight one — will cause the
paint to spatter and coat uneven.
To produce a good quality coating always requires a clean airbrush. Always
clean immediately after every use by thoroughly rinsing with clean
solvent. Then... thoroughly clean and disassemble before storing your
brush — even if it's just for a few hours of storage.
1. Attach bottle with clean thinner.
2. Open paint flow to full and spray several times onto a newspaper, paper
towel or rag.
3. Stop the fluid with a soft cloth and force the air and solvent back
through the cap and tip.
4. For thorough cleaning disassemble tip and clean with solvent and soft
cloth. If using quick drying paints it is advisable to soak the tip and
needle for several minutes in solvent. Use an artists oil paint brush for
cleaning as well.
5. Reassemble and store in a closed container to prevent the accumulation
Thoroughly cleaning with solvent after each color. When you are finished,
disassemble the brush and soak it in solvent. Take care with rubber parts
if you are using lacquer thinner, prolonged exposure can cause them to
swell and they may no longer fit. It can also melt some parts. Teflon
parts a pretty resistant to chemicals, only soak metal parts... everything
else gets brushed, dabbed, and dried.
Hope this information is helpful to new and old air-brush users alike.
Definitions and Tips
There are a lot of things to consider before purchasing and air-brush, or
a second air-brush etc. What are you going to be using it for being the
most important thing. But you should also consider your experience using
them, and of course, how much you want to spend.
Below are just some of the most important features of air-brushes that may
influence your decision. These tell you a little about the major features
that distinguish different types of air-brushes.
EXTERNAL MIX indicates that air and paint are
mixed outside the air brush. The air is directed over the top of a paint
siphon, "pulling" the paint up, and out. Air and paint come
together outside the head. External mix air brushes produce a larger dot
spray pattern than internal mix air brushes.
INTERNAL MIX indicates that air and paint mix
inside the air brush. Air and paint mix together inside the head assembly,
or handle, to produce a thoroughly atomized fine dot spray pattern.
SINGLE ACTION refers to air-brushes on which
the trigger controls only the air flow. The amount of paint flow is
generally controlled with an adjustment of the needle position... usually
with a small screw or nut towards the back of the brush, or with an
external mix air-brush by turning the fluid cap on the paint tip at the
front of the air-brush.
DUAL ACTION means an air-brushes in which the
trigger controls both air and paint flow. Generally pushing down for air
flow control, and pulling back to increase the paint flow. This simple
maneuver allows the artist to change the width of the line, and the amount
of paint without stopping.
BOTTOM FEED refers to air-brushes where paint
enters through a siphon tube or color cup attached to the bottom of the
air-brush. This configuration is generally more versatile and enables the
user to change colors quickly, and use large amounts of paint without
GRAVITY FEED refers to air-brushes with
smaller paint cups on top of the air-brush, in which gravity draws paint
into the air-brush. Less air pressure is required enabling slower movement
which creates excellent control for fine detail applications. Also some
paints and Lacquers require lower pressures.
SIDE FEED refers to air-brushes on where a
color cup fits into the side of the air brush. The side feed color cup
rotates enabling the user to work on either a horizontal or vertical
surface. The side feed also permits the user to achieve fine detail
without the possible sight obstruction of a top mounted color cup.
Start with an inexpensive external mix gravity feed if you are just
beginning to learn to air-brush. It will allow you to learn the basic of
airbrush use and the proper maintenance of a very simple tool. For details
and weathering you will eventually want an internal mix brush. Either
siphon feed or gravity feed is fine, the determining factor is the volume
of paint you will be working with. For small quantities or frequent color
changes a gravity feed with a paint well may be best.
Part #3 Air-Brush
If you or any member of your household have any questions or have a
medical condition that may be adversely affected by spraying, contact your
family physician for guidance.
Many materials commonly used in arts and crafts such as lacquers,
varnishes, adhesives, solvents and acrylics can be extremely dangerous.
This list is not complete, we therefore recommend that you determine what
materials you are using and follow the manufacture’s directions for
proper handling. We strongly recommend that you contact the materials
manufacturer to obtain a copy of their Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)
which gives all the properties of the product along with safety
precautions and first aid instructions, and to keep this document on hand
at all times when working with that product.
NOTE: Hazardous materials pose an even greater risk to children due to
their lesser body weight and frequent lack of care following directions.
Children should use this product under the strict supervision of an adult.
1.) Always use some kind of eye protection.
2.) Keep your work area clean.
3.) Never spray into the air vents of the compressor.
4.) Never spray near open flames, pilot lights in stoves or water heaters,
space heaters or any other heat sources, or flames.
5.) Do not point at anyone or at yourself.
6.) Do not smoke, drink or eat while airbrushing.
7.) Avoid putting your fingers in your mouth while working while painting.
8.) Wash your hand and clean your fingernails when finished.
9.) Keep cuts and open wounds covered.
10.) Stop work at the first signs of dizziness, nausea, headache, blurred
vision or skin irritation.
11.) Seek fresh air immediately.
12.) Contact your physician if the symptoms persist or are severe.
NOTE: an open window does NOT provide adequate ventilation when working
with hazardous art materials.
When working with these chemicals, you should have an exhaust ventilation
system which actively removes vapors from your work area and vents them to
Many factors must be considered when selecting a proper ventilation
system. We suggest you contact the local branch National Institute for
Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) or the Occupational Safety Health
Administration (OSHA) for publications dealing with ventilation systems.
1.) Select the proper respirator for the materials you are using.
2.) Be sure it fits properly. To large or to small units are ineffective.
Also, beards, mustaches and other facial hair may interfere with proper
3.) Keep respirators clean and maintained, store in sealed container to
prevent accumulation of dust.
4.) Buy only NIOSH/OSHA approved respirators. Read and follow all
Well, that's it for now. Hope this article was helpful and informative.
Please use common sence when using an air-brush and most of all enjoy it.