A few years ago I decided to get into airbrushing. It's a fairly significant investment for most, and one which begs a lot of questions and Internet research. Here at Tale of Painters we believe in sharing what we, as amateur experts (and oxymorons) have learnt over the years to encourage the wider hobby community to thrive. If you want to get the inside info on how I went from Scarebrush to Airbrush then click on, but beware... it's not tidy!
I started as most do, worrying about cost. Its a lot of money, what if I don't like it or worse, I like it but I'm rubbish at it!? I bought a compressor second hand off the venerable eBay, thank goodness it was a decent quality Iwata one. I bought a cheap non branded airbrush (around £15) and nothing else. My initial forays were pretty torrid. In hindsight this was a combination of not having a clue what I was doing and a poor quality airbrush making my life quite difficult. All I can say is sorry Mr B.
I also have a few other nicknack's. I bought a pistol grip moisture filter when I was using a poorer quality airbrush as I thought excess moisture might be causing my woes. This was not the case however, and I've never needed it with the Eclipse. I have a quick release connector for the Airbrush - hose joint but this is a lazy luxury and in no way necessary. It makes quick changes and cleaning a bit easier that's all.
The final large item of kit I have is an extractor. My hobby area/space isn't a permanent man cave so all my solutions need to tidy neatly away. When I airbrush, you'll see later that it all comes out on the dining room table and takes place as the wife watches Downtown Abbey. Therefore fumes aren't particularly endearing (plus 1 or 2 years of paint particles can prove problematic on a march out). I bought the common Expo extractor for around £100, again from eBay. There isn't much choice when it comes to budget extractors. Fortunately the Expo is equal to a 2-3 hour session without struggling or overheating. It folds away easily and comes with a lazy susan turntable which does come in useful. The power lead is long enough and neatly retractable.
Two problems with the unit are that it requires a lot of rear clearance. Not a problem for me, but for those of you who would want to leave it up permanently you should be aware that not only does the front 'hood' fold out a long way from the unit itself, you also require at least 20cm at the rear for the hose mounting. The second issue is the hose itself. The standard hose isn't very flexible OR very long. I gave it to my kids to play with and bought a tumble dryer hose for about £3 with 3 meters to reach any window I choose. The flat nozzle fits on the end and means I don't have to have gaping windows in the middle of winter (Brrrr) or summer (Bzzz).
So that's the evolution of my kit, now for how it is applied. My setup lives in a large box (pictured below) in the garage. Once a month or so I have a session, an entire evening where I get base coating, undercoating, shading and zenithal lighting done in one go. I set up on the dining room table. Set up is an important part of Airbrushing in this style. I spend a good half an hour laying everything out in the right order. Experience has told me what I'll need on which side and at which stage. Here is the kit, fresh out of the garage and taken out of the box. In this picture you can see;
1) The big box
2) The compressor
3) The extractor with long hose & nozzle
4) Window cleaner
5) empty jam jar
6) Airbrush cleaner fluid
7) Cotton buds (Q tips for my American brothers)
8) Loo roll (I prefer kitchen roll but we've run out)
9) Face mask (keeps the wife happy)
10) Extension cord (you'll need three plugs, compressor, extractor, lamp)
13) cleaning bristles