Best Airbrush for Miniatures and Models
Are you thinking of adding an airbrush to your models and miniatures painting hobby?
Airbrushes help speed up your painting and with practice you can achieve some great results with them. With airbrush you can prime your minis indoors all year round in whatever color you want. You can use an airbrush for everything you do on your minis and models; basecoating, varnishing, priming, stencils, highlighting and many more.
Airbrushes are a bit expensive investment for your hobby. There are so many choices that may confuse you. So I have created this detailed guide along with my recommendations for absolute beginner airbrush for miniatures and model painting.
When choosing your airbrush, you’ll quickly realize that there are numerous different features to contend with and a number of different concepts and attributes. Some airbrushes are better suited to specific tasks, while others are just generally better.
This guide will help you find your way through the confusion.
Types of Airbrush
There are several different types of airbrush, and picking the right one is key to getting the best experience.
Single-Action vs Dual-Action
Single action airbrushes only give the user control over the airflow via a trigger or button. When you press down, both air and paint come out of the needle.
With dual action airbrush, when you press down, air will come out. Then you need to pull back trigger to release paint.
What to choose – In general, a dual-action airbrush will thereby provide a much finer control and more intuitive interaction with the brush specially for your miniatures and models.
Gravity vs Siphon Feed
This refers to the way in which the paint is actually delivered to the gun, and here both options have pros and cons.
In a gravity feed airbrush, the paint is placed in a small container at the top of the brush. This will then allow the paint to naturally “slide” into the main chamber. Gravity fed airbrushes allow you to work with a lower air pressure, which may give you slightly more control when painting detailed parts of your mini. It also helps to avoid “overspray.”
Siphon feed airbrushes meanwhile place the container underneath the main unit, and then feed the paint upward to the mixing chamber using a small amount of pressure. These allow you to store more paint at any given time, and they are advantageous when painting larger models or basecoating as they don’t require constant refilling.
The size of the needle is an important feature when comparing airbrushes. Smaller needles allow you to create finer lines, and when draw tiny details onto an even smaller model, this can be a Godsend. At the same time though, fine needles aren’t as useful when painting large objects. What’s more, is that fine needles are prone to clogging so you need to thin your paint.
For miniature painting it is advisable to get needle in the range of 0.2 to 0.5mm.
If you are just starting out and you can currently only afford a single airbrush, then starting with 0.3 needle may well be the better option.
A good place to start is with the different brands. There are three particular brands that are very popular. These are Iwata, Badger, and Paasche. Other well known brands include Harder & Steenbeck, and Grex. If you choose one of these brands, then you can generally expect the product to be well made and to perform well at what it does, which is a good minimum!
Kits vs Brushes
When buying your airbrush, there is a difference between buying a brush on its own, and an airbrush kit. The latter is going to provide you with all of the different tools and accessories that you need in order to start airbrushing.
If you buy an airbrush on its own, then you will need to also invest in an airbrush compressor. This is what will power the airbrush and it is the most important piece of equipment other than the airbrush itself!
Airbrush Compressor for Miniatures and Models
Perhaps the most important piece of equipment after airbrush is the compressor. This is what will provide the airbrush with a steady air supply and help to maintain the ideal pressure and airflow.
Fluctuations in pressure can cause imperfections in your final product. You need to consider the PSI when choosing, which will tell you the maximum amount of pressure you’re able to deliver. For miniatures and models painting get one with at least 30 psi minimum.
The ideal compressor offers lots of consistent air pressure, while also being quiet to operate.
Other useful accessories to consider include:
- Airbrush cleaner – essential to keep your brush working well at all times
- Cleaning brushes
- Hoses for attaching your compressor to the airbrush
- Moisture trap
- Fittings and connectors
- Spare parts for repair – many kits will come with these
With all this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the very best airbrushes on the market right now.