Airbrushes: Easier than they look

Published, 4 years ago

A tool I’ve little doubt is familiar to those of you who are Illustrators or Designers is the technical marvel known simply as, the airbrush.

But whether you’re a Make-up Artist, Nail Technician or Fashion Designer, at some time or other you may well have considered expanding your skillset to include this simple, yet effective device.

Last month we introduced some things to consider about 3D Printers, this time we’ll attempt to overcome some of the mystique around airbrushes and compressors.

So, what are they?

Airbrush: In its simplest form an airbrush works in much the same way as an old fashioned perfume atomizer; a fast moving stream of air passes over a reservoir of paint (perfume, ink or dye) creating a vacuum, the change in pressure as the paint is drawn along with the airflow causes the formation of tiny droplets which are then ejected out of a nozzle onto whatever medium the artist has chosen e.g. paper, canvas, cloth, skin or nails … of course there’s more to it but that’s all you really need to know, at least for now.

Vintage Atomizer

The vintage style perfume atomiser (above) uses exactly the same method as the airbrush used by the Make-up Artist (below) to spray a fine mist.

Summer Intensive

Compressor: Quite simply a compressor is an air pump; however, using technical wizardry it not only delivers air in a constant stream it also can be adjusted to provide the flow at a variety of pressures.

The constant air stream is important for a smooth, even delivery of droplets whereas different choices of air pressure allow for different volumes of droplets. Higher pressure; means higher air flow so more droplets, this means greater coverage. Lower the air pressure and you’ll reduce the flow allowing for finer detail work.

A small compressor is by far the best option and for any commercial uses of an airbrush the only economical one.

What are they good for?

An airbrush is a fantastic way to deliver a fine spray of media in a controlled stream. The volume of paint (we’ll use paint as an example) can be adjusted by modifying the air pressure and using a trigger atop the airbrush for super-fine control, seamless blends and transitions in colour are easily achieved.

Essentially, any media form, be it paint (acrylic, enamel, watercolour etc) ink or dye can be used with an airbrush whether water, alcohol or silicon based, the airbrush doesn’t care providing the media has been thinned sufficiently to flow through the nozzle.

Using an airbrush in conjunction with stencils allow for pin sharp, reproducible images to be quickly created. Readily available in a staggering array of images, forms and shapes, stencils are a creative art form in their own right and a great way to achieve satisfactory results while mastering some of the finer techniques of airbrush artistry.

Pros and Cons

I think we’ve covered the Pros sufficiently above, but what about the Cons.

OK, this one is …

IMPORTANT: An airbrush generates very fine droplets of media which create an inhalation hazard. Depending on your media a spray booth that extracts airborne particles is advisable when using an airbrush in a confined space and certainly for prolonged periods of time. Also wearing a respirator or face mask is essential for both you and your client(s) when undertaking airbrush work. Check your Health and Safety regulations and responsibilities thoroughly.

This is going to sting; the setup cost is quite expensive; a decent airbrush is going to cost about £150-£200 and a compressor (with adjustable air pressure) £300-£350. On top of which there’s paint, thinners, airbrush cleaner/solvent and all the usual bits and bobs that go with a new artistic discipline, e.g. cleaning pots, mixing bottles, stencils etc. plus any additional costs to be compliant with Health and Safety.

Ordinarily I’d say “time” as a con when learning a new tool, however you will find you can achieve some very satisfactory and encouraging results with a modest amount of practice … of course, your personal artistic flair will take you further but the airbrush itself is not a difficult one to get to grips with.

I’m still not put off, but where do I start?

Getting started is going to be expensive, of course you can cut corners but this time I really don’t recommend it, and here’s why.

While you can buy cheap, knock off airbrushes and use canned air instead of a compressor this is a totally false economy. With airbrushes you get what you pay for, buying a quality airbrush will ensure better and more consistent results allowing you to quickly develop your skill with your new tool. If you buy a good quality-brand airbrush, apply a little tender loving care in maintaining it, not only will it last you for years it will also hold its purchase price should you wish to sell it on later.

Cans of compressed air as an alternative to using a compressor are a poor choice; firstly you’ll go through them like they were cans of fizzy-pop on a hot day as you learn/play with your shiny new airbrush. Also, cans lose pressure as they empty, and so trying to practice what worked yesterday you could find it doesn’t really work quite as well today … but it’s not your fault!

As with 3D printers, YouTube is an excellent resource for all aspects of airbrush; maintenance, use, techniques, tips and tricks for every level of experience.

If you decide to follow my advice and go for a quality-brand airbrush I suggest you start with checking out the following companies Paasche, Badger and Iwata (who also make an excellent range of compressors).

Paasche

Liked what you read? Share the article!

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pocket
Share on whatsapp
Share on linkedin

Get Noticed with Fashion Rider.

Get the recognition you deserve. Portfolio, Jobs, Social Media promotion and much more. All in one membership. 

You might also like

Bridging the Gap and Utilising Every Possible Income Stream

Identifying the income streams in your business is the essence of financial freedom.

Read More

Sustainability: 8 easy steps to make your brand more sustainable

In an environment where people are becoming more aware of the real damages of climate change, it is important to keep your brand green and sustainable. Read on for some great tips on how you can improve your brand’s eco-sustainability.

Read More

Relax, recharge, and let your business reap the benefits

Relaxing is a vital part of your success as much as hard work is, and so we at Fashion Rider present our brand new recharge page to help you relax and recharge, to give you the best chance of success!

Read More

Have you thought about creative competitions?

Creative competitions are different from most other contests. The prize isn’t just a money prize, but the opportunity and experience of entering. In this article, we go over the reasons why and which competitions you may like to enter

Read More

10 exciting events to look forward to in 2021

Events have an important role in the world of fashion and other creative industries. This is why we bring you the 10 exciting events to look forward to in 2021

Read More

Why Your Luxury Time Piece May Need a Watch Winder

A Look at the World of Automatic Watch Winders If you know anything at all about high-end timepieces and how they work, then you’ve likely …

Read More

Why 2021 is a great time to start a freelancing business

With the desire for working on own terms, starting a freelance business has become an attractive prospect. Know why 2021 is a great time to start a freelancing business.

Read More

How to Slash Your Monthly Expenses

Your monthly income will only stretch so far. If you often grab a cup of coffee on your way to work, treat yourself to many …

Read More

Innovative adaptive designs on the rise

In 2019/20, the charity Scope reported that there are 14.1 million people in the UK living with a disability, making the availability and range of suitable fashion …

Read More

We use cookies to offer you a better experience and analyze site traffic. By continuing, you consent to the use of the cookies following our privacy policy. You may choose to opt-out through our privacy policy page.