Thursday, March 31, 2011

Adventures in Airbrushing: Chaosheade and M4XVLTG3 Take the Plunge

Hey everybody.  Chaosheade here (in white) introducing what will be our first jointly written series, Adventures in Airbrushing where M4XVLTG3 (in orange) and I will be detailing an account of our journey to infinity and beyond on the path of the airbrush.  We will share our inspiration for getting an airbrush, the research we did to decide what type of setup to buy, our ultimate decisions on which airbrush/compressor/accessories to buy, and eventually we will have some painting to show for it (hopefully... if not, something has gone horribly wrong!)  We will also be working on a page to add to the blog that will serve as the ultimate airbrushing resource for anyone who wants to know anything about airbrushing miniatures.


I got the airbrushing bug a couple weeks ago after discovering LBurseley's blog Awesome Paint Job.  As you may have read in my previous posts, I am a big fan of his wash recipe and knew of his website and youtube videos but just recently found out that he also has the blog.  As I was browsing through I noticed that he seems to do quite a bit of airbrushing.  I had considered purchasing an airbrush before but dismissed the idea as something that I would sink a ton of money into but hardly ever use.  My situation, however, has changed since then.  My sudden cravings for an airbrush come just as I am sitting on a nice tax refund and am contemplating splurging a little bit on a new army.  I knew the time was right to invest in an airbrush.  I wanted my Tyranid army but it's not like I could build and paint the whole army in one hobby session.  The airbrush would speed up the painting process, allowing me to actually paint my future army and maybe even finish my semi-abandoned Black Legion.  I'll hand it over to M4X now and let him share his inspiration for getting into the world of airbrushing.

Well my motivation is along the same lines. Although I'm a primary Necron player I find myself expanding into other armies like 'Decent of Angels' Blood Angels builds and 'Imperial Traitor' Imperial Guard theme armies. Gradients for tanks, light sourcing, and many other things are made easy and look great with a airbrush. I also hear gesso has a recipe for airbrushes. This opens the door to assembly line processes that would make a Techpriest blush. The less time spent on redundant tasks the more you can spend on details. I'm all about the details, baby.

Really, we just wanted to make awesome shirts like this one from under the highly appropriate (and hilarious) category "Redneck Airbrush Tee Shirt Designs."  M4X says he wants one for every day of the week.
Now that I had made the decision to I started doing more research, finding another set of blog posts that I had read a while back and dismissed as I was still in the "airbrushes are too expensive" phase of my hobbying.  A while back, The Painting Corps blog ran a series of blog posts appropriately entitled Airbrush Week.  This was a great place for me to start as they covered all the basics, had a ton of advice on what type of airbrushes and compressors to buy, and plenty of places to buy them.  In these blog posts I also found the video "Getting Started" Advanced Miniature Painting Techniques by Lester Bursley which covers some airbrushing basics and other useful information.  There is also a link to a thread on DakkaDakka by atropos907 that serves as a guide to airbrushing at the mini scale.  It is a long thread but has a metric buttload of great information and some examples of his unbelievably good work with an airbrush.  I've also talked to Dave G from Wargaming Tradecraft about an airbrush setup that he recently purchased and we had a great conversation that we both learned a thing or two from.

From atropos907's airbrushing thread linked above, nearly 100% done with an airbrush.  Simply amazing work, and there's more where that came from in his thread.  
Research - Airbrushes

I did most of the research on airbrushes and shared my knowledge with M4X (I also taught him 99% of what he knows about Warhammer) but if there is anything else he would like to add, I'll leave him a little space for it here.

Yes you will leave me a spot. As for all this mess about showing me the biz I would like to mention that I was in 40K back in 96. Blood Angels just finished being errata and recived their first Codex. Come to think of it the Tyranids looked pretty awful back then comparatively. I guess changes is good. Regardless he got me back up to speed painlessly. I missed allot of rule changes.

Now, on to some of the basic guidelines we had for choosing our Airbrushes
  1. Double Action
  2. Gravity Feed
  3. Ability to upgrade/change nozzle sizes for different uses
It's not a long list of requirements, and there is no consensus at all in the community on which airbrush or brand is "the best" so we have plenty of options.  I've read recommendations for just about every major brand out there as well as a couple not-so-major brands.  Here is a list of some of the airbrushes that fit our requirements mostly in order of most to least expensive.  These prices are accurate as of the date of posting and may change.  Unless otherwise specified, all the pictures are from

Edit:  For some reason Blogger decided to change the color on some of the text so it was invisible unless you highlighted it.  It should be fixed now.

H&S Infinity
Harder & Steenbeck Infinity - Top of the line for this brand and also quite pricey.  It's been said all over the internet that you can get a good starter setup for around $200.  This airbrush will break your budget all by itself even before you buy a compressor and anything else you might need.  That being said, you will probably get what you pay for.  These airbrushes have the cutaway design and a quick-fix end piece with numbered dial to make adjustments on the fly.
$204.80 Infinity Solo - comes with the airbrush and one needle and nozzle
$265.60 Infinity Two-in-One - For the extra money, you get an extra needle and nozzle and an extra paint cup and a distance cap.

Iwata Hi-Line HP-CH
Iwata Hi-Line - A higher end Iwata with plenty of extra features.  It has the pre-set cut-away handle and adjustable main lever tension and a Micro Air Control (MAC) valve.  The MAC valve lets you control the airflow at the head of the airbrush, giving you more control over your spray pattern.  There are even more expensive Iwatas that go up to well over $500 but I'll skip over those. 
$197.86 Hi-Line HP-CH - Has a much larger paint cup than the other 2 Hi-Lines and a larger nozzle.
$213.96 Hi-Line HP-AH - Smaller nozzle than the CH and does not have a paint cup, just a little fluid cavity that holds 0.9 ml of paint.
$213.94 Hi-Line HP-BH - Same as the AH but with a small paint cup.

H&S Evolution Silverline

Harder & Steenbeck Evolution Silverline - Middle of the line for the brand, offers a balance between cost and features.  The Evolution Silverline is an upgrade over the standard Evolution for only a little more (less than $5).  They feature an "altered solvent-resistant middle piece and additional paint volume limitation."  These come in a case.
$130.00 Evolution Silverline solo - Standard model, one needle and nozzle
$175.60 Evolution Silverline two-in-one - Comes with an additional needle and nozzle, and an additional paint cup.
$200.00 Evolution Silverline fPc two-in-one - Same as the standard two-in-one but also has a valve that can regulate the air supply.

Badger Universal 360
Badger Universal 360 Series - A unique airbrush since it can function as either a gravity-feed or siphon-feed.  It is a top of the line model but I don't think all the extra features are really necessary for our needs.
$135.98 Universal 360-7 Complete Airbrush Set
$159.98 Universal 360-9 Complete Airbrush Set - Both sets come with the same airbrush but this is a newer kit that has more extras and comes in an aluminum storage case.  For $20 you get an extra needle and nozzle plus the case.

Iwata Eclipse HP-CS
Iwata Eclipse - A popular airbrush that has been recommended by a lot of people.  Features the cutaway design.  There is very little difference between the two models.  They have different paint cups but aside from that I can't tell any difference.
$125.96 Eclipse HP-CS
$125.96 Eclipse HP-BS

Badger Patriot 105-1
Badger Patriot 105 - A double action from Badger that is gravity fed only unlike the 360.  Features the cutaway design.  There is very little difference between the two, the only thing I can see that's different is the paint cup.
$87.75 Patriot 105-2XR
$89.25 Patriot 105-1

H&S Ultra
Harder & Steenbeck Ultra - The starter airbrush of the brand with limited features.
$80.00 H&S Ultra

Paasche Talon - Picture shows extras from the $89.98 package
Paasche Talon - Pretty much the only option for this brand since it is the only gravity-fed model.  Fulfills all the requirements and is fairly inexpensive for an airbrush of this quality.  Has the cutaway design with pre-set needle stop and a crown aircap. 
$74.97 - Airbrush Only
$89.98 - Airbrush plus a couple extras including air hose.
$115.29 - Fully loaded with all the extras of the middle set plus lots more.

Master Precision Detail Control G43

Air Pro Tools PS900 -
Master Precision Detail Control and Air Pro Tools PS900 - Both of these are essentially the same airbrush with a different name.  These two brands are very interesting as they are knockoffs of Iwata airbrushes but from everything I heard they are just as good as the original for a fraction of the price.  Some people swear by these as the best value you can find in an airbrush.  I even read of one account where someone took apart one of these and an Iwata Eclipse HP-CS and every little piece was identical.  They feature the cutaway design with a fluid control knob and a version of Iwata's Micro Air Control Valve, using different names of course.  If these airbrushes are truly as good as everyone says, they are by far the best value for your money.
$49.95 Air Pro Tools PS900 - You can also do an eBay search and can probably find them cheaper or with more extras thrown in.
$59.95 Master Precision Detail Control G43 - The model shown in the picture above with the bowl shaped cup 
$59.95 Master Precision Detail Control G44 - Same as the G43 but with a funnel shaped cup  The G45 and G48 are also the same price but with different paint cups
$79.95 Master Precision Detail Control G444 Set - The G44 airbrush plus extras including 3 nozzles and a quick disconnect with air control valve

I is tired wurk too hard

Whew, that's a lotta postage.  This is definitely going to be a multi-episode adventure.  I wonder if we could get a TV show.  It will probably air on *CENSORED* err... I mean FOX... and it will get cancelled before the end of the first season just like 9 out of every 10 great shows that have gone the way of Family Guy, Futurama, Firefly... Wait a minute.  I understand now.  It's a conspiracy against shows that start with the letter F, as in FOX!  I better go hide before those FOX *CENSORED* send a strike team to erase my memory.  Yeah, I think it's time to sign off for today.  Catch you on the flip side.

I think we have a pretty good idea of what we are looking for. We will let you know what we finally decide. We will see all you loyal cultists in the next installment. 

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