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A long wait for paint to start to fly

Discussion in 'How to Control an Airbrush' started by st.bede, Jun 22, 2019.


  1. st.bede

    st.bede Double Actioner

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    When I have the pressure low and am trying to pull thin lines, often I have to wait for the paint to spray. The wait seems weirdly random. I can just barely pull the trigger and sometimes nothing comes, other times I get paint. I have even checked this problem by setting the trigger stop.

    I have a new needle, and am pretty sure that the airbrush is clean. I end up pushing up the pressure and then it is hard to get really soft lines. Since it is random I can not practice controlling the value (darkness) of the line.

    Another thing I have noticed is that the paint can come out in random pulses. I have not checked that problem with my new needle. Do I have moisture in my air. I have a California tools air compressor so I did not think I needed an moisture trap. I am also in a really dry climate.

    These issues are driving my crazy.

    Thank you for any help.
  2. AndreZA

    AndreZA Elite Member! Elite Member! Very Likeable!

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    The lower the air pressure, the thinner the paint needs to be.
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  3. basepaint

    basepaint Air-Valve Autobot! Very Likeable!

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    Will the airbrush spray water at lower air pressure? If it will then you have to thin the paint some more (I start at 5 drops thinner to 1 drop of paint) you might try this? Also you might be getting tip dry (paint drying on the end of the needle due to the dry climate )
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  4. MarcosD

    MarcosD Mac-Valve Maestro!

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    What brand and color are you using? It could be debris in the paint that clog the nozzle.


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  5. st.bede

    st.bede Double Actioner

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    Thank you both. I did not think I would have to thin com art.
  6. st.bede

    st.bede Double Actioner

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    I wonder about the debris...

    The com art bottles are acting weird. I can not open them with out getting paint everywhere.

    The story is: a number of years ago, I spent nine months airbrushing every day. I was getting better. I decided to buy some paint. I was painting in my garage. Being in Fresno Ca it does not really get cold until well into winter. Cold here is not really that cold, but it cold enough to hurt my hands. I deal with carpel tunnel stuff. I asked my ex wife if I could airbrush inside. She said no. I could never figure out a safe inexpensive way to heat the garage. I started playing music again and the paints I bought sat in the garage for years. It does get hot here: many days over 100. I wonder if that had any impact on the paint.

    What do I thin com art with?
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2019
  7. MarcosD

    MarcosD Mac-Valve Maestro!

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    If your paint is comart take for sure that it is a debris issue, Ive that issue every time I use comart


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  8. st.bede

    st.bede Double Actioner

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    Oh... ok, solutions?
  9. crazyvet

    crazyvet Elite Member! Elite Member!

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    I use com art alot and I sometimes get debris. My solution is to make sure I clean the bottle cap and nozzle to ensure no paint is left to dry. I also strain my paint using a small peace of pantyhose ( I stole from my wife lol) As far as thinning. I use distilled water to thin my com art. For a .18 set up I start at 1-1 ratio .
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  10. MarcosD

    MarcosD Mac-Valve Maestro!

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    shake it a lot, strains it with a good automotive paint filter, strains it again, and then use it, that is what I do with comart paints


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  11. st.bede

    st.bede Double Actioner

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    Thank you both.
  12. Electric Cat Dude

    Electric Cat Dude Double Actioner

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    Unfortunately spraying thin lines takes practice. Many artists remove the nozzle caps off of their airbrushes so they have ease access to periodically clean off paint from the nozzle and needle with a tissue or soft cloth during use. You have to be pretty careful doing this as it can be easy to bend or dull the needle doing so, but sometimes this is the only way to get dried paint off of these parts while doing fine line work.

    Pressure to use will depend on the airbrush you are using. Typically most airbrushes can operate on between 15 and 50 psi (1.03 to 3.45 bar) and good fine line work will usually be done down around 15 to 25 psi. If you airbrush has a pre-set handle for controlling spray width, you can make use of this as well.

    Typically I found that a user had to have a test sheet nearby where they could pre-set the spray width using the handle, then begin work on their art. Periodically, you will have to wipe off the nozzle and needle tip of any kind of dried paint and may require additional adjusting on a test sheet before continuing your work.

    If you're finding you want to do a lot of extreme, fine detail work freehand, you might look into a used Paasche AB. These turbine airbrushes are capable of extreme fine detail work with largest variety of controlled spray patterns, but they're not for beginners (see my other posts on ABs on this forum). The AB has for years been a last resort tool for this kind of precision work.

    As for thinness of the paint, it all depends on the medium as well as the spray head on your airbrush or gun. A little bit of trial and error are going to be needed for this to empirically determine your thinning process but the following are good indicators of properly thinned medium.

    - Paint should flow from the color cup into the airbrush and spray with little resistance for a full range of needle travel
    - Spray patterns should produce a soft, feathered edge, delivering rich color to the canvas with no runniness.
    - No stippling or otherwise coarse spray patterns should be visible to the naked eye.
    - The paints should not regularly clog or inhibit color flow through the airbrush and should be resilient to drying or otherwise gunking up inside of the spray head of the airbrush.

    One final note on using airbrush medium for your artwork: Why torture yourself? Just use pre-formulated airbrush paints unless you must use some kind of other medium for your artwork. I've always been happy with Iwata's Com-Art line of colors, but other lines such as Golden airbrush colors, Holbein AeroFlash, are excellent as well. These pre-formulated airbrush acrylics have several other advantages such as:

    - Ready to use
    - Can be added judiciously into color cup as needed for work without excess waste or expensive paints.
    - Rugged and durable compared with other traditional airbrush mediums like gouache.
    - Easy to clean up.
    DaveG, MarcosD and JackEb like this.

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