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First airbrush

Discussion in 'Artwork help and showcase for newbies' started by emack, Feb 22, 2021.


  1. emack

    emack Double Actioner

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    I moved this from the gallery as it belongs here.
    This was my first airbrush session shot with Createx water based paint on construction paper using a Harbor Freight brush and Central compressor. The first try went well as a learning lesson, this second pass came out better. So many things to dial in but that is half the fun. Looking forward to trying to air brush some scenes from my photography.
    My next air brush session will not be with a Harbor Freight air brush... it decided not to go back together so well after cleaning. Looks like the needle took a slight bend somehow. It's really cheap.
    Anyway, thanks for looking. ... comments are welcome and appreciated.

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  2. huskystafford

    huskystafford Needle chucking Ninja Staff Member Admin Mod Very Likeable!

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    good job buddy :thumbsup:

    I will use your thread for some info for you. You know you got a tool for fixing bend needles? I don't know if it works with Harbor Freight brush, but I mentioned this just so we start to fill you with all the info which may be usefull later down the road for you :D

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  3. emack

    emack Double Actioner

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    Thanks! I'll keep this in mind as I'm sure I'll run into the need to use something like this at some point.
    I think the HF brush has more than a needle issue... The guts of the thing are pretty cheap.
    Time to research air brushes.
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  4. jord001

    jord001 Air-Valve Autobot!

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    Just have a good check of the needle, check for bends and also check the very tip for a hook, this will stop the needle being inserted. It can be fixed real easy if its the needle. To straighten the tip if it has any damage roll it between 2 hard surfaces. I have used the handle of the airbrush before and a piece of glass.
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  5. emack

    emack Double Actioner

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    Thanks for the suggestion... The tip is fine.... what is happening is: when I turn the compressor on air is coming out the nozzle. It wont shut off. I can pull up on the trigger and sometimes it will stop. But it's not usable. The bulb on the back of the needle is not centered in the tube and the the nut that locks the needle rubs on the side of the back cap when the trigger is depressed. The inner pieces are sloppy and wiggle.... I tried a hack and put plumbers tape to tighten up the threads... but came to the conclusion its a POS. No harm... I learned how the air brushes work. I just ordered a iwata NEO CN4500 gravity fed air brush. It's not the best but has to be better than what I was using.
  6. Karl Becker

    Karl Becker Mac-Valve Maestro! Very Likeable!

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    Sounds like you are doing yourself a favor by upgrading the airbrush. It's hard to learn anything using faulty hardware.
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  7. CALz AyrWKz

    CALz AyrWKz Air-Valve Autobot!

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    I would suggest you get yourself an Iwata Eclipse. Depends what type of art you plan to do as to whether you get a top or bottom feed.
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  8. CALz AyrWKz

    CALz AyrWKz Air-Valve Autobot!

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    Hi Emack, many people buy the Harbor Freight brushes and find they don't work very well. Once you get yourself a good brush, it will make a big difference. It takes a while for beginners to get the psi, paint and thinners right. Even the temperature and humidity levels will effect how the brushes work. But, once you figure it all out and with some practice, your skill level will dramatically improve quickly. For your first skull, you did great! Don't toss it, but keep it so you can see your improvement. It's always fun to pull out the early work to see how much you've grown. Let me know if you have any questions, happy to help.
  9. emack

    emack Double Actioner

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    Thanks for the input and encouragement... In all fairness that old air brush had to be 10 years old and spent it's life forgotten about in a bin. I only pulled it out after watching spray paint videos as I have a motorcycle fairing to paint with rattle cans. I just bought a new Iwata air brush that hasn't arrived yet, but in the meantime I figured what the heck, I'll buy another HF brush to use as a spare ( I have one for parts). I must say the newer version of HF has a much better build quality. I haven't used it yet as I've got a lot going on... but it feels heavier and a bit more solid. I know it's still junk but I'm a hack and am just having fun with the stuff... Troubleshooting the broken brush led me to some videos on how to properly care for and clean stuff... and I have gained some knowledge on how brushes work... so it's all good. Learning will never end as like you mentioned the variables are constant. Paints, thinners, substrate, temperature, humidity, etc... never the same.
    Q: Is it odd that I only want to paint with black? At the moment I have no interest in colors. Maybe this stems from my love of B&W photography. ??
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  10. CALz AyrWKz

    CALz AyrWKz Air-Valve Autobot!

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    I'm glad you have a new Iwata coming. Once you get it, you'll see the difference. I started with the eclipse and have since purchased several more, including some microns. I will load them with different colors so I don't have to switch out when I'm working for a long time on a project. I tend to paint in layers going back and forth with my colors.

    No, it is not unusual to want to paint with just black and white. In fact, you should work with mono colors to learn and perfect your shading and linework. My typical paintings usually start with a foundation of neutral colors to establish the base of my artwork. Usually, sepia or paynes grey. Then I shift into my colors. You can do a lot with just black and the white of the substrate.
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  11. emack

    emack Double Actioner

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    I got my new airbrush yesterday and played around with it a bit. I had a hard time getting the paint to flow how I wanted it to. My research indicates I need to thin it a bit more I think. And of course practice. I also have to dial in what psi to use as well... a lot of variables to toy with. I also got a snazzy new booth. It's pretty sweet for what I use it for. Air flow is good and it has led lights which really helped a lot. It's a Tuffiom model TF-B02LA. Amazing how small the booth folds up for storage. Now to put down some paint.

    Attached Files:

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  12. JackEb

    JackEb The Dragon Hunter Staff Member Admin

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    Glad the HF brush taught you something, I started with 2 Veda brushes that met the same fate as your HF but like you, they taught me a heap about how airbrushes work and how to tear them down so it was a good learning exercise.

    I can see what series of paint you are using, you mentioned Createx but not what series.
    The 'airbrush colours' range is aimed at the t-shirt/hobby art area
    The 'Wicked / Wicked Detail range are versatile on most surfaces
    The 'Illustration' range is aimed more at the fine art area

    when you start, set the PSI at 25 on the compressor (while pressing the trigger on the air brush, that will give you your working pressure at the tip of the airbrush) reduce your paint by about 20% mix well and sometimes it helps to let it sit for 10 minutes (go put the kettle on ready for a good paint session) from there you can adjust the psi or reduction as needed. You are aiming for a consistency of milk

    if you are getting a lot of 'spiders/splatters' then reduce your PSI - I wouldn't recommend going below 15psi at this point in your journey
    if it seems your struggling to get paint out of the pointy end then reduce a bit more.

    Absolutely nothing wrong with black and white work, just remember that laying a light colour over a dark one will result in colour shift. - you'll see a bit of the darker colour from underneath - if you spray white over the black the white will have a hint of blue to it. If you spray yellow over blue the yellow will have a green tint to it etc etc.
    Try really hard to not paint the white bits on the painting and let the white background be your 'white' paint, so you are essentially just using black paint.

    Hope that doesn't seem confusing at your end lol
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  13. CALz AyrWKz

    CALz AyrWKz Air-Valve Autobot!

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    I'm glad to hear you've received your new brush. If you are working with the Wicked line of paints, you will find it difficult to nail down the right mixture of air, paint and reducer at first. Wicked is harder to learn with. However, once you find that right mixture, you can paint on almost all surfaces. I learned using the Wicked and it took some practice to conquer. Once you do, you're good to go.
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  14. emack

    emack Double Actioner

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    Thanks all... the paint I am using is Createx Colors. Maybe I should try painting some tee shirts? Once this stuff is gone I'll try to find a better paint. I am using 4012 reducer. Please don't hold me to a flame, but I have been putting a few drops in the bowl and then adding paint,.. a quick stir with a tooth pick.... and yeah... Probably have to make a little more effort when it comes to paint mixing. Part of the learning curve... it's steep at first. I was spraying at 25-35 psi. The paint would kind of surge... go from nothing to dam it. I am pretty sure the paint was too thick, and psi too low for it. I'm hoping to have a go at it tomorrow. Thanks for all the advice... it helps.
  15. Karl Becker

    Karl Becker Mac-Valve Maestro! Very Likeable!

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    Your head is in the right place. Get used to having to figure out how to properly reduce whatever paint you are spraying to make it perform. That's easier to do in the beginning if you reduce it in a mixing cup first and then put it in the brush. For it to atomize correctly, it should be the consistency of milk, but not quite water.

    There are other factors involved like PSI and needle size, even the paint color makes a difference, but I don't want to over complicate it. Createx Colors are good paint, but are thicker with larger pigment, so they will require more reduction than some of the other paint lines available. Regardless of what paint you are using, getting the consistency right for the brush you are using is what matters. Keep playing with that until you find a mixture that works and move on from there.
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  16. CALz AyrWKz

    CALz AyrWKz Air-Valve Autobot!

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    Putting the reducer in the brush first is a good practice. If you decide to paint t-shirts, you should use a thicker mixture and a higher psi. If you want to paint fine detail work, thinner mixture and really low psi. I sometimes go down to as low as 5. You'll dial it in. We've all been where you are and I know it can be frustrating. Stick with it and most of all have fun. Looking forward to more of your works.
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  17. emack

    emack Double Actioner

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    There's no frustration... I tend to geek out with equipment and find it challenging to figure out. Luckily there's a lot of information floating around the interweb that can help out. Just takes time for research and playing around. Art is much like photography for me,... I take images that satisfy myself. I make no money from it so I have no pressure to produce museum products. When things are fun I tend to excel.
    Some of my underwater and landscape photos can be seen on Instagram, search scubamack
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  18. CALz AyrWKz

    CALz AyrWKz Air-Valve Autobot!

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    Awesome pictures! I love the dragonfly one. Very cool macro shots. The undersea shots are cool too. I'll be watching for your paintings of them now!
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  19. emack

    emack Double Actioner

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    I had some time to play with the paint today. My objective here was to get paint to come out consistently, not so much to produce art. I mixed the paint with reducer in a cup first and noticed the paint was thick out of the bottle... so thinning is a must. Paint would spray pretty consistent for a spell, but then would thicken as time went on causing me to thin it out again. Instead of doing drills with lines and dots I find it more fun to try to shade and do lines of a picture. The wing on the left was where I started using stencils for an outline, and the wing on the right was free hand just following pencil lines. I need to lean to slow down and things get better. The head of course got botched as the paint was too thick for the fine lines... I tried to go back and fix it a bit with thinner paint. All in all the lesson on paint and trigger memory was good. My compressor wasn't too happy and got super hot and smelled.... I half expected it to flam bay. I had it set to 38psi. It will be a while before I get good enough to paint anything of worth, but I have my cameras. Not all is lost.

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  20. JackEb

    JackEb The Dragon Hunter Staff Member Admin

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    Playing is a great way to get use to the equipment and get a good feel for things. There is no magic recipe regarding paint/psi/reducer so the more time you get with trying to dial it in the quicker you will find your own base line.
    The beauty of the createx paints is that you can reduce with water - I'd only suggest this while you are learning and only on absorbent substrate, its no good at all on hard surfaces.

    with your photography skills I would suggest you have a good eye for what looks right, which will come in handy for shadows, lay outs/composition etc. The exercises that we all suggest are helpful in getting to know where the paint starts and ends and building muscle memory from the repetition involved but diving in the deep end and just painting something is also a great way to build both muscle memory and your knowledge bank.

    Regarding ''Paint would spray pretty consistent for a spell, but then would thicken as time went on causing me to thin it out again." -
    Either backflush regularly or don't load to much paint in the cup, settling/seperating of the paint can occur. So your nicely mixed paint sprayed nice, then the pigment started to sink and caused it to thicken at the bottom of the cup, which made it harder to spray - some colours are worse for it than others.

    You've got the right mental attitude to succeed, you realise it will take time but in the meantime you are going to have fun with it.
    there is maybe a handful of people here that airbrush as their income, the vast majority are hobbyists who do it because they enjoy it and its a creative outlet. we have modellers/gamers, lure painters, crafters, woodworkers all who use an airbrush

    well enough of my rant lol you are doing well, you are getting a feel for it and that is the important thing at the moment. I did the same thing and within half an hour of faffing around I knew this was something I wanted to know more about. !
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