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What airbrush setup should I get? (specific goals mentioned)

Discussion in 'Beginners Airbrush Questions!' started by redlayers, Jun 23, 2019.


  1. redlayers

    redlayers Young Tutorling

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    Hi everyone! Sorry for the long post but I wanted to be specific with what I wantto do with airbrushing as opposed to being vague.

    I've recently been interested in airbrushing. I intend to use airbrushing on paper size 11 x 17 in (27.9 x 43.2 cm) standard American comic book page size. Maximum size I would work at is about 22 x 17 (55.8 x 43.2) for double page spreads. Budget $500 for the Iwata double piston compressor but if I can do with the single piston, that's fine. Brush(es): $200-300. Not worried about the cost of cleaning acc. hoses and paints.

    I want to use airbrushing primarily for setting background atmosphere. Mainly sky gradations, orange to blue sunsets, smoke, haze, etc. I'm talking wide passes. I would also want to use it on metal objects in the illustration to give them a smooth shine. For reference as to what I want to go for here are 3 illustrations from Ghost in the Shell and Appleseed creator Masumune Shirow: (post continues after images)
    210048.jpg
    1320795.jpg
    40607520761af2268f218b9f094df023.jpg

    Notice the backgrounds and mechs are done with airbrush while organic characters I assume are masked with frisket film and then painted with watercolor and acrylics after the airbrushing is done. I just love the smoothness on the mech on the second image and the smokey red haze on the final image looks great. This is the general aesthetic I want to achieve.

    So knowing that I want to achieve big passes for background atmosphere on paper 11 x 17in at the smallest and 22 x 17in at the largest and also go in on medium sized elements what would be a good brush to get? Is there one brush that will fill all my needs or should I get two?

    Based on my minimal research, I feel an Iwata HP-CS would be good not only as a starter brush but because it's advertised as versatile. One concern is those big sky passes. Looking at the first image I linked, notice how the black sky is wide and only two colors, I wonder if a large coverage brush like an Iwata HP TR1 would make spraying across 22inches of paper faster, easier and more consistent as opposed to doing it with an HP-CS which seems like it would be slower.

    Another concern is paint brand. From what I've researched there's transparent and opaque paints but I can't seem to find an answer as to the difference between the two so I don't know what's best for what I want to do.

    What brand of paint is considered the best? I know it's a subjective question but from what I've read it seems E'tac Private Stock is very well liked. Surpringly I've seen people say Iwata's COM paints aren't good. If it helps anything I will be paining indoors in a studio office and once again painting on paper/art boards.
    ALSO I would be going over the airbrush paint with acryling paint so it would be nice if the airbrush paint
    doesn't reactivate when other paint comes into contact with it.

    Lastly, when it comes to compressors, is there a reason I should get the Iwata double piston compressor? Would I be just fine with the single piston?

    I think I covered all of my concerns. Thank you to anyone who read all of this and gives me suggestions. Like I said, I'm not doing photorealism and fine line details. Medium to big passes of paint.
  2. markjthomson

    markjthomson AKA QuickDraw and very happy #nobrushleftbehind Staff Member Mod Artist of the Month!

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    1. You won't go wrong with the HP-CS
    2. Plenty of high quality airbrush specific paints are acrylics (and yes, use air brush specific paint!)
    3. Fine lines can only be achieved with patience and practice - there is no short cut...
    4. Have a look at the summary of compressors the Airbrushtutor does non his youtube page...
    5. Transparents vs opaques... what do you want to know... as a starter, opaque cover fully, transparents you can see through... Opaques are good for building colour, transparents do so but slowly and can shift colours... maybe not the best explanation but it gives you the idea. I think there is something by Airbrushtutor on the youtube but I couldn't find it... I'm sure there will be someone along soon to help with that!
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  3. markjthomson

    markjthomson AKA QuickDraw and very happy #nobrushleftbehind Staff Member Mod Artist of the Month!

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    Other thing... how about an intro...?
    :)

    76D29BE6-B2B6-417C-9257-D194AE83EB90.jpeg
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  4. JackEb

    JackEb The Dragon Hunter Staff Member Admin

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    @redlayers
    A lot of question in one post..... so while we are waiting for you to do the polite thing and do your intro lets see if we can help out with your specific questions:

    All effects mentioned above are achievable with an airbrush. WITH PRACTISE

    Personal Opinion: Eclipse HP-CS
    Its achievable with one colour. EG: transparent Burnt Umber, it's just a matter of layering more colour on top than the bottom
    upload_2019-6-24_9-35-29.png

    Personal Opinion: Not necessary to have two brushes for what you want to achieve

    Transparent get darker with every layer you add. Opaques stay the colour that you mixed or bought

    Personal Opinion: Definitely personal choice, I love createx Wicked Detail and Illustration range but they can be painful too. If you have access to E'tac then that would be my suggestion for starting out.
    Personal Opinion: I don't think there is an Acrylic paint that wont reactivate when re-wetted without a barrier coat of some sort (happy to be proven wrong)
    Courtesy of Google:
    Single Piston Compressor: A small, low air output (CFM) compressor that is typically used for light-duty use at very low air pressures. Depending on the model, some allow the user to regulate the air pressure, however the maximum pressure is still very low.
    Dual Piston Compressor: These compressors are more powerful than their single piston counterparts. They produce various ranges of output (CFM), depending on the model. Because they produce more air than is normally needed to propel an airbrush, they are typically equipped with an air regulator, which restricts the air and allows the user to set the output to a desired level. Most well-equipped compressors have an air regulator and moisture filter that come with the unit, which add to the value and versatility. These upgraded features make piston compressors capable of heavier use. For large volume CFM requirements, industrial grade compressors may be needed

    Personal Opinion: PowerJet Pro will be my choice if you are looking at Iwata, there are other brands but keep in mind if you go for something that will cope with giving you 60psi then it will be more than fine for what you want to do, also something with a tank is preferable.
    Given that you haven't held an airbrush before remember it will take time and practice (lots of practise) to get a feel for how this magic all happens. Its not simply a case of loading the paint in, firing up the compressor and going for it. There are a few variables to be dialled in so it works where you live.

    I'm sure you'll have many other questions, at least I hope so .. .. .. ..
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2019
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  5. JackEb

    JackEb The Dragon Hunter Staff Member Admin

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    Regarding your other post about cleaning an airbrush....
    This is how most of us will clean our brush

    Click the lower edge in the box to expand it out to the full quote
    here are some other threads you may find informative
    https://www.airbrushforum.org/threads/cleaning-japanese-air-brush-question.21788/#post-342286
    https://www.airbrushforum.org/threa...er-to-show-what-was-still-in-the-brush.14250/

    and these two sections of the forum will answer many questions you have, and some you haven't thought of yet lol

    https://www.airbrushforum.org/troubleshooting/
    https://www.airbrushforum.org/beginner-airbrush-questions/
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  6. SiRoxx

    SiRoxx Party Boy UK Style Very Likeable!

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    What Jackie and Mark said LOL.
    The HP-CS is exactly the brush I was going to suggest for your purposes. At this point I don’t think there would be any need for a wider spray pattern. You may decide to add some brushes to your stable down the road. But to get you up and running, you can’t do any better than the Eclipse.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  7. redlayers

    redlayers Young Tutorling

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    Thanks for the info!
    So if I want to lay down a solid color for a background, that would be when opaque paints would make that process a lot faster as opposed to building up a solid base with transparents. I assume you would be using up more paint in that specific case. You wouldn't use opaque paint on for example clouds or smoke because you can't get gradations. What I would hate is using opaque or transparent in an area or effect that would benefit from the other.
  8. haags

    haags Young Tutorling

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    I'd start with transparent. With some practice can get the same effect as opaque. There's a lot of gradients in the reference pics that will be achieved with transparents easily.
    Best option is get primary colours in both
  9. redlayers

    redlayers Young Tutorling

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    Thanks for all the information!

    So when it comes to choosing opaque vs transparent paint, it depends on the desired effect. If I wanted to make a solid color base layer, use opaque. it I want to do clouds or smoke, build up a rounded metallic surface, use transparent.

    While I was researching airbrush paints I came across this reddit post that throws the Createx Wicked and Com-Art under the bus. Yet you love Createx which makes me wonder why this person didn't like that brand. User error? I really want the Madea Com Art grey set because I could see that grey scale being useful for metallic surfaces and black and white. I don't know how people generally feel about this brand. In any case I will definitely be getting E'tac.

    I'm still unsure about compressors and don't really understand psi, this is the part I've neglected looking in to. I think I misunderstood the word piston to mean airbrush port. As in double piston = double airbrush attachment and I thought that because that particular model shows two airbrush holders. Since I would be fine with one airbrush, I wouldn't use the other port until/if I ever decide to get another brush.
  10. redlayers

    redlayers Young Tutorling

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    I screenshotted this. I know this is going to be useful but I did not understand past step three lol. Is it better to mix 10% alcohol and 90% water as opposed to using airbrush cleaner? Words like "backwash," "backflush," just went over my head. When it comes to text descriptions on something I;ve never held, it's hard to understand unless it's explained in detail. I need to see it done and done with the exact airbrush I get so that I can follow along and do it right. Like i said, with expensive tools I do not want to break damage something. I'll be looking at those links. Much appreciated. I'm definitely more calm from all the feedback I've been getting here.
  11. markjthomson

    markjthomson AKA QuickDraw and very happy #nobrushleftbehind Staff Member Mod Artist of the Month!

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    Yup, that is the basic idea... there is a little more to it than that but in essence you've got it.
  12. JackEb

    JackEb The Dragon Hunter Staff Member Admin

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    As you are discovering, it can be very confusing when you first start out :D That's why we are here, to help you out and hopefully stop you wasting money like many of us did !

    The reddit post is actually by one of our members here and as he said at the end of his post, "its all subject to personal preferences". Many have a love/hate relationship with their paints and your location has a bit to do with it too. what works for someone in the tropics will be a problem for someone living in a more arid area. You will need to find what works for you. Initially just get a set of small bottles of primary colours and have a play, you'll soon find a paint you like :)

    Compressors (
    Without getting technical)
    PSI: the higher the number, the faster the air exits the airbrush. If you are painting T-shirts you will need a higher PSI than you would if you are paint a 5" x 7" picture. If your paint is thick (metallics / pearls / textile paint) you will need higher PSI than you will if you use inks.
    The air causes a vacuum which sucks the paint from the cup and out of the end.
    CFM: this is the volume of air that your compressor can supply. again with out getting technical, a spray gun used for painting cars will need a high volume of air constantly, if you are painting an airbrush for artwork then you wont need a huge amount of air constantly.
    Tank or tankless: Most will prefer a tank, it means the motor works less because it has a 'store' of air for you to use and when you've used some, then the motor will cut back in to refill the tank. A tankless compressor means that all the while you are pressing the trigger the motor has to run to keep up with your needs, which could lead to overheating, which is never any good for anything/anyone lol

    There is no 'recipe' of what PSI you'll need, it changes with each project you do. If you are only going to do artworks with an airbrush then you probably need a compressor that can deliver ~60 - 70 psi at the brush( if you are using your airbrush you will see the regulator on the compressor drop, that is normal, you always set your pressure regulator with the 'air on' on your airbrush. If you plan on using a mini spray gun then you would need a 'better' compressor.

    I hope that helps

    PS: backflushing is a term used for making the air bubble up in the airbrush cup, to either mix paint/reducer in the brush or when you put in airbrush cleaner its done to get the cleaner into the paint channels and dislodge any small clots of paint. Again, some users do it regularly with no issue, others have problems/dont believe it is necessary.

    Everyone here (me included) will have a preference on how they airbrush and what they use. All I can say is start slow and learn the basics and we are here to help guide you.
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  13. Electric Cat Dude

    Electric Cat Dude Double Actioner

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    My recommendations? You really can’t go wrong with an HP-C for that kind of work. It’ll do just about all the iron hauling you need here. You can also upgrade to a larger nozzle size, if needed.

    Back in my day, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth and men were men, there was an airbrush artist named David Kimble. He did some of the most kick ass car cutaways fro the major automobile manufacturers on large formats. This guy made use of a small spray gun, an Iwata W88 if I recall correctly, but only for very large backgrounds. For all other work ranging from fine lines to general painting, he was simply using an HP-SB. You may find that, with a little practice an HP-C or -CS is all the gun you’ll ever need for your work.
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  14. redlayers

    redlayers Young Tutorling

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    Funny you mention money because I've got the equipment in the cart and it's pretty pricey.
    -Iwata double piston Compressor: $500
    -Eclipse HP-CS: $150
    Around $650 and that's not even including paints and cleaning tools. So it's gonna be around $700. Something tells me some of you have spent way more than that and $700 is almost nothing.
  15. redlayers

    redlayers Young Tutorling

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    I noticed you have Golden Hi Flow paints listed on your header. I ran into a post on reddit about paints and the OP says that Golden Hi Flow paints have nasty stuff in the binder that makes them have to use a respirator and the paints aren't good to use indoors. Can you attest to that?
  16. JackEb

    JackEb The Dragon Hunter Staff Member Admin

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    Look on the bright side.. the airbrush and compressor are a once of... unless you get more airbrushes :laugh: The paints won’t cost a huge amount and you’ll be surprised how little you actually need to use, most of the time the paint is reduced
    As others have said, the eclipse is more than capable of doing what you need for now, with practise you’ll be doing more detailed work than what you currently are capable of so it will grow with you for quite awhile.
    If you get primary sets of paint you’ll be able to mix every colour you need - but that’s not one of my strong pointslol
    When I first started I wasted a lot of paint because I kept 3/4 filling the cup because I didn’t realise how little paint I actually needed.
    I did do a quick audit for insurance but scared myself how quickly the $$ added up lol
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  17. redlayers

    redlayers Young Tutorling

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    I looked up David Kimble. Definitely know I've seen his work and the funny thing is that I wouldn't have guessed airbrushing as the medium used. I would have thought digital. I can't imagine doing something like that with an airbrush. The originals have to be huge I would think.
    Yeah I'm going to be buying an Eclipse HP-CS with an Iwata Studio Power Jet Pro Double Piston compressor. I'm looking at about $700 inclding the paints.
  18. markjthomson

    markjthomson AKA QuickDraw and very happy #nobrushleftbehind Staff Member Mod Artist of the Month!

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    First principle... if it isn't air it doesn't belong in the lungs! Now my recommendation is always go see what the manufacturer says... they don't mention this and they are sold in California... the worst place in the world for that sort of thing. I would have to ask what they are referring too before i could make any comment. As far as toxicity goes it is really low on the list! In his post "from experience" he doesn't state what the material is... he also bags createx without noting it is intended for fabric application. While he may have the "experience" I would question what he has writing just from what is said there.
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  19. redlayers

    redlayers Young Tutorling

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    So here's the supplies I have sitting in carts ready to checkout. I need the threaded hose so I will probly get the brush at Coast or get it on Amazon. One thing about the hoses I want to be absolutely sure they will fit and I don't need an adapter because I'm noticing there's adapters you can buy.
    The reason there's two frisket films is because I can't find consistent reviews. Unless anyone here knows a brand that works perfectly. There's always people saying they're great and a few saying it's trash so I figured I'll just try two. The lube I don't know if I really need right now. I'm also going to need brush cleaners so I thought this might be good unless you have a better suggestion. And of I'm getting E'tac paint.

    Hopefully I have most of what I need. Let me know if I'm wasting money. I'd like to pull the trigger on this purchase by the end of the week.

    Airbrush supplies.JPG

    paint.JPG
  20. JackEb

    JackEb The Dragon Hunter Staff Member Admin

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    You really probably wont need the lube, the iwata blue stuff has no business being anywhere near an airbrush (Sorry Iwata, its rubbish) I haven't tried the clear one, or read any real reviews on it. If your brush is properly maintained you shouldn't need it. a tube of Chapstick will suffice for 90% of your needs

    The spray out pot and filters you can get the identical unit for half the price... I know because I've both genuine and generic and you'd be pushed to pick the difference with the last version when they didn't have Iwata embossed on the jar, V1 were just a frosted glass jar with a brand name sticker on it lol
    upload_2019-7-3_11-55-10.png

    Frisket is very personal and if you want to practise then the self adhesive book covering or I believe those in the US have access to "press and seal"
    which I have heard many people successfully use this.
    upload_2019-7-3_11-45-40.png

    Coast airbrush,
    brush, hose and compressor and 300ft of 6" wide masking tape.
    upload_2019-7-3_11-42-54.png

    As for the ETAC paint, it will depend on what surface you plan on using to decide if you should go Private Stock or EFX. I use the EFX and only need to use water to clean my brush afterwards.

    @basepaint and @Ronald art both use ETAC exclusively so they would be the advise I would listen to.

    Hopefully this has helped some :)
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