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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Learning the airbrush - screamers of tzeentch

Hey there folks!
I have finally decided to try the airbrush. Everyone here is already used to it and there are some who already mastered it quite well. It's time for me too I thought. The upsides of using airbrush are pretty obvious, lets sum them up:
- easy and extra fast covering with the main colour,
- extremely smooth colour changing, effects similar to really time consuming glazing technique,
- it's more convenient to paint several minis at a time, so we're saving time by working on the whole units rather that on single miniature,
- mixing paints is easy to menage and repeat thanks to the bottles specific to the airbrush paints

After the first session with airbrush there are also some dowsides I noticed:
- cleaning the airbrush is time consuming and can be confusing at first, the multitude of parts you have to clean and reassamble after cleaning is quite discouraging. It takes some time to get used to it.
- depending on the compressor you're using it can get very noisy. If you choose small and quiet compressor it can get hot rather fast making long session impossible. The bigger and noisier compressors guarantee long and uninterrupted work but are... well bigger and noisier.
- using paints specific for airbrush is a must. Their consistency is ideal. I haven't even tried to mix regular paints with water or special airbrush medium, it seems too hard for a beginner. The Vallejo Airbrush paints which I was using are really great and all but there are some lacks in their colour palette (for example I couldn't find a nice equivalent of GW Emperor's Children Pink).
- there is no way you can do more detailed parts of the minis, especially being such a noob as I am :). I can imagine after years of experience and a bucketload of work and practice you can get to the point where you do magic things with airbrush. But as a newbie there will be most likely only one colour you'll be working on with airbrush.

All right, so I prepared the miniatures by cleaning them and basing with GW skull white. The colour scheme was limited by the number of paints I had in my disposition. I went with blue to white main colour scheme - the same one that is traditionally used for power weapons. This way I thought I will be continuing the tzeentch choice of colours and at the same time it's a nice reference to screamers being killer machines to all that has any armour saves :)

Then I painted all the screamers with Vallejo French Blue. I tried to cover them with rather thick layer so the white prime won't be visible and the blue has the same intensity on each model. I cleaned the airbrush twice during this process - the big surface I had to paint and a lot of paint it was required to cover it all well caused the airbrush to clog a bit from time to time.

The next part was really a test of my newbie airbrush skills. It was was the phase of a first smooth highlighting. I poured Vallejo Light Sea Blue and I started with gentle and delicate moves. It turned out it's not very difficult - it required few minutes of practice but the process seemed to me rather intuitive. On each model I started from the place that was supposed to be the brightest. Maintaining the same stream of paint from airbrush I was moving up while increasing the distance between the airbrush and the mini. That way the layer was more and more thin and the darker colour of previous layer became more and more visible.

The third and last stage was the final highlight with Vallejo White. Using exactly the same technique as for the previous layer I tried to make a smooth, glazing-like colour change. I painted all white on just the tips (#wink to all the Ray William Johnson's fans).

I must say I'm very pleased with the results knowing it was my fist time with airbrush. I am pretty sure with experience, practice and maybe after watching some guides on the web I will be able to improve untill the point that I will be satisfied completely. One thing is obvious - airbrush has an amazing potential and it's possible to save a tone of time even when used solely to put one main colour.

Untill the next time!


  1. Pozwolę sobie po polsku napisać. Super, że się uczysz i rozwijasz Marcinie w "sztuce" malowania miniaturek aerografem. Mam tylko jedna uwagę co do Twoich uwag na temat kompresora. Nie zgodzę się z nimi. Można bowiem kupić kompresor, który będzie mały, cichy, miał porządne parametry techniczne i można z nim pracować w sposób ciągły przez kilka godzin.

    Rozcieńczania farb odpowiednim rozcieńczalnikiem, opóźniającym zasychanie i nadającym odpowiedniej konsystencji (tez firmy Vallejo) można się nauczyć już po pierwszej sesji, zwłaszcza gdy ma się obok farby Vallejo Air i można podglądnąć ich konsystencję. Owszem są one wygodne i przyspieszają pracę ale to zdecydowanie nie jest "must" :)

    Powodzenia w dalszej przygodzie z aero :)

  2. What pressure do you have your compressor set to? If it's not enough, it might be what's causing the paint to clog in the airbrush frequently.
    It's definitely not too hard to try out some airbrush medium acrylics, just try to keep close to a 1:1 ratio, and you can get a good blend to go through the airbrush.
    As for the cleaning of the airbrush, I recently got an ultrasonic cleaner, probably the best investment I got for my airbrush. Cleans it like new every time I pop it in for a quick clean.

    1. I agree, I am using an ultrasonic cleaner too and it makes life much easier.

      But I have a question, sometimes my airbrush uses to produce a very small splatter effect around the area that I am trying to hit, sometimes more like a fog sometimes very very very tiny points. Any idea on how to improve this or avoid it?


    2. Splatters and tiny spots can happen with a tankless compressor due to the airflow. With a tankless compressor the airflow is generated as it is used and the compressor can't run smoothly indefinitely. I always start my spray before I get to the miniature if I can, if I can't I will spray just air onto my work station to try an remove any paint build up. I'm not quite sure what you mean by fog, sometimes if the airbrush is too far away you could get an effect similar to dust and the paint will feel a little grainy when dry.

  3. Well, thanks a lot Coyote for your comment.
    The pressure, I try to adjust it in the process so I don't the exact value. But from what you're saying I should increase it to prevent cloging?
    About cleaning - we would really appreciate a link to this wonderfull device :) How is it working? It certainly sounds complicated :)
    Thanks again for sharing.

    1. Try around 30-40psi, that should be enough for airbrushing acrylics. With a good thinned acrylic in the airbrush, you shouldn't have any watery sprays and it dries fairly quickly. If the paint still "moves" around on the figure's surface as your blasting air from your airbrush, it's probably thinned down too much.

      For an ultrasonic cleaner, I got one similar to this -
      It's got to be the easiest thing to use! Simply add some water, I use warm water and squirt a bit of airbrush cleaner in it, drop my disassembled airbrush inside, and press start. It's best to let the airbrush sit at least a day after cleaning to dry out all the water inside the parts as you don't want to spray water with your paint when you get back to work.

    2. Thanks a lot :)
      We deffinetly have to give it a try.

  4. Co jakiś czas moją to urządzenie w LIDLU poniżej 100 zł :)


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