For painting you have basically three choices:
airbrushing, spray painting, or hand painting. Airbrushing gives the best
finish but takes a lot of work. If you buy an airbrush the instruction
manual should have some basic painting techniques and explain how to use
the airbrush. Always remember to gently depress the trigger or else you
will probably get a splatter. Also be sure to have an even, constant movement
or else paint will pool. You should begin spraying off of the model, then
move onto it, and then finish off the model. This will ensure even coverage.
Always wear a breath mask and goggles when airbrushing, and make sure
your painting area is well ventilated.
Airbrushing is an incredibly diverse subject. Airbrushing can be used for everything from wide painting of entire hulls to small detailing of blast marks. I like to use it to do details only because airbrushing is a lot of work and for covering large areas you can just as easily use an aerosol can of paint as long as they make the color you want. Airbrushing is far superior to hand painting and even aerosol cans. It makes a nice even coat that really can not be matched. If you use an internal mix airbrush as opposed to an external mix airbrush it will make an even finer coat. I did not have an airbrush for the longest time so most of my old models are hand painted. I now use a Badger 175 airbrush that came with 3 separate needles and tips, Large, Medium and Small. Large is good for thick paints and wide coverage. Whereas the Small is better for thin paints and fine detail work. Thinning down paints to be used in an airbrush. All paints are different so you must experiment to find what works bets. Finer quality paints take less thinning whereas lower quality will often take more. This is because the pigment in the cheaper paints is not as finely ground and needs to be broken down. For thinner based paints you can use specially made airbrush thinner. This makes for a nice clean breakdown. I usually use very little thinner because I like a nice thick coating. I'll probably use anywhere from 1 to 2 parts thinner to every 4 parts paints. For water based acrylics you can use water to thin it down but that doesn't always work very well. You can actually use windshield washer fluid to thin it out. Don't worry about the color, that won't make a difference. I usually use the same ratio for thinning acrylics. Like I said, all paints are different and depending upon what tip you are using, different amounts of thinner are needed. I suggest just experimenting. If the paint won't come out at all, use more thinner. If the paint flies out and runs everywhere or is transparent, use less or add more paint. To make an airbrush work, you need a source of pressurized air. You have a couple of choices when it comes to this. You can use small tanks of compressed air, but those are expensive, run out fast and lose pressure when you are using them. You can also use CO2 tanks like what they use for paintball. This is very similar to the idea of the air tanks but you can refill them pretty cheap. The other choice, and the one that I use, is to get an air compressor. I use a Campbell Hausfeld. You can find it at Wal-Mart for around $90. The advantage to an air compressor is that it is a constant source of air that can automatically refill itself. Make sure you get a compressor with an attached air tank. If you don't, the airflow will fluctuate and not work as well. The other good thing about getting a tank is that you can fill it and then airbrush in silence until it runs out. The only disadvantage to compressors is that when they have to refill themselves they are kind of loud. Other than that they are the best choice. If you live in a warmer/moist environment make sure that you get an in-line moisture trap. This filters moisture and other particles from the airflow before it gets to the airbrush and ruins your paint/tool. Cleaning your airbrush is the most important thing to do when you are done using it. If you don't it will die very fast. Make sure you expel all remaining paint when you are done and run lots of appropriate thinner through it. After that, disassemble it if possible and clean all parts by hand. Your specific airbrush should have care instructions in the manual.
There are many different types of paint
available to today's modeler. They come in thousands of colors, several
different size bottles, and many different lines. There are basically
two types of paint: enamels that require paint thinner or mineral spirits
to clean, and acrylics that need water to clean. I prefer the acrylics
for their ease of use, lack of smell and overall less health hazards.
I often get the question: "Which brand is best?" or "Should
I buy this kind of paint?" I personally prefer the water-based
brand Polly Scale by Floquil. However, should you like to learn about
the other brands out there, I will share my experiences and thoughts
on each type:
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