The quality airbrush kit set up is incredibly flexible and versatile, giving you the opportunity to create the kinds of paint jobs and finishes that just aren’t possible with more traditional tools.
Airbrush solutions allow you to spray ultrafine particles of liquid paint onto pretty much any surface of imaginable, but to do so with a degree of control and consistency that you won’t get anywhere else. This results in an immediately impressive finish you won’t soon forget.
At the same time, finding the right airbrush for your specific needs is nowhere near as simple or as straightforward as a lot of people make it out to be.
No, it’s not that there are a few top-quality options out there to choose from – but that there are so many!
Trying to find the perfect set up for your needs can be a bit of a chore, just because you have to wade through so many top contenders. To help you narrow down your options and find the perfect airbrush kit and set up for the kinds of projects you hope to tackle moving forward, we’ve put together this quick buying guide.
Let’s dive right in!
Just what kind of airbrushing projects are you going to be tackling in the first place?
The very first thing you’re going to want to do – even before you start to think about researching different airbrush kits and bundles – is to figure out EXACTLY how you plan to use your airbrush moving forward.
Not only airbrush solutions are created equal, that’s for sure.
Some are designed to be used by newbies and hobbyists that are really all that interested in extreme performance, whereas others are delicate instruments that can unlock extreme creativity and picture-perfect finishes in the hands of people that know how to get the most out of them.
On top of that, certain airbrush solutions are designed for use soft materials – canvas, wood, paper, and the like. Other airbrushes are better suited to harder materials – metal, stone, plastic, etc. Most of the time a quality airbrush will produce solid results across the board on ALL materials, but if you’re going to be working in one specific media more often than not it’s probably a good idea to for something that specializes in that area.
Finally, you’re going to want to think about how often you plan on using your new airbrush set up, too.
Quality starter kits can be picked up for next to nothing these days and are perfect for regular use or hobbyists. But if you’re going to be using your airbrush on a nearly daily, semi-daily, more consistent basis – or in a professional setting – you are going to want to step up to slightly more expensive and more durable units you can depend on.
Are you looking for pure coverage capabilities or are you looking to do detail work?
There is a world of difference between airbrush systems that have been set up for spraying an area and getting even coverage over the reasonably large amount of material and more detail-focused airbrush systems that are designed to translate even the smallest movements of your hand with incredible precision and detail.
Those looking for plenty of coverage are probably going to be best suited with airbrushes classified as “spray guns”.
Usually, gravity fed (you pour the paint into a hopper situated above the airbrush or airgun itself and allow gravity to feed the spray as you go along), these painting solutions can be fantastic for those that need to cover large areas in a hurry with a consistent finish that can be depended on.
Most commonly used by carpenters, painters, woodworkers, and those that need to finish walls, cabinets, and major projects has quickly, as efficiently, and as consistently as possible, this can be a great first step into the world of the airbrushes – but only if you’re interested in coverage first and foremost.
If you’re more interested in detail work, you’re going to need to get your hands on a detail-oriented airbrush.
These are the kinds of airbrush systems that utilize very long, very pointy, and very narrow needles on the airbrush gun itself. These narrow apertures for paint allow the users to have complete and total control over everywhere the paint ends up going, as well as the density and the definition of the spray as it is coming out of the airbrush itself.
You wouldn’t ever want to try and paint an entire room or a woodworking project with one of these detail-oriented airbrushes, that’s for sure. But for airbrushing models and tight detail work, it doesn’t get any better than this!
What kind of skill are you bringing to the table already?
A beginner just getting started in the world of airbrush solutions is going to want to get their hands on a system that forgives as many mistakes as possible.
Anytime you learn something new – anytime – you’re going to inevitably make a handful of mistakes along the way as you begin to understand the lay of the land, so to speak. This is just as true in the world of airbrushing as it is in anything else.
But when you’re talking about working with paint you’re almost always talking about a permanent mistake that might not be able to be rectified unless the airbrush system you’re working with is giving you a helping hand in this department.
You’ll want to stay away from extreme detail airbrushes, at least at first, and instead want to move forward with new systems that allow you to learn the ins and outs of airbrush routines before you dive into more serious detail oriented equipment.
These kinds of new be friendly airbrushes will allow you to get the hang of cleaning and maintaining these kinds of systems, dialing in the motor that drives the airbrush itself, rigging it up to the compressor and getting a consistent level of pressure, and figuring out how to create the kind of reliable and repeatable results you’re looking to get from your airbrush moving forward.
Those with a little bit of experience under their belt using airbrushes are going to be able to lean more towards the more “experimental” pieces of equipment on the market today.
You’ll be able to start tinkering around with technology that has more settings for even greater control, solutions that allow you to dial in specifics regarding the spray coming out of an airbrush in ways you wouldn’t be able to with a traditional beginner’s set up, and you’ll be able to play around with more detail-oriented tools, too.
Should you go with an internal mix or external mix system?
The way that the paint you have in your airbrush system hits the airstream pushed up by your compressor is incredibly important, because it’s going to determine the way that the spray of paint looks when it collects on the surface of the project you are working on.
In the overwhelming majority of situations, the odds are pretty good that you’re going to want to look for an airbrush set up that utilizes internal mix capabilities. This is going to produce the most consistent, the most reliable, and the most repeatable results when you are using your airbrush – regardless of whether or not the technology is designed for newbies or experts.
Internal mix systems push the paint directly into the center of the airstream in your set up, and that’s the secret behind the consistency.
External mix solutions might be a better way to go, but only if you’re comfortable with a slightly grainier and less consistent spray – or you aren’t all that interested in doing fine detail work but are looking to cover a larger area with a spray that can have a higher level of variance.
What kind of action are you interested in leveraging?
Your airbrush is obviously going to do the overwhelming majority of the heavy lifting for you when it comes to producing that consistent and repeatable spray paint you are looking for.
But when you want to physically manipulate the airbrush controls – when you’re actually guiding the airbrush throughout the workflow of your project – you’re going to need a trigger system that you can comfortably use and manipulate.
Dual action systems are going to allow you to press down for air control and then pulled back for paint control and are certainly the most popular systems on the market right now. Dual action airbrushes allow you to “rock” the system back and forth to enjoy a lot more consistency and are perfectly suited for detail work.
Single-action systems are going to depress and release air and paint at the same time. You’ll have to fiddle with an adjustment knob to better control the paint flow as you go along, which affords you a little bit more control (at least at first) over dual action systems but can become more than a little bit tedious and cumbersome.
This is especially true if you’re going to be using your airbrush system over longer blocks of time in a single session.
Single-action solutions are probably better suited for people that are going to be spraying a consistent amount of paint pretty much all the time. They are also very friendly for beginners to hit the ground running with, simply because you don’t have to learn to rock back and forth between air and paint supplies the way you would with a dual action system.
Trigger action setups
Trigger action systems also are quite popular and are the exact same kind of system you would have used if you been painting with a spray gun in the past. For people that have used a spray gun previously this kind of action can be very familiar, and it’s going to be a lot easier to start using your new airbrush with this kind of action rather than forcing you to learn a whole new way of manipulating your paint gun.
What kind of feed system should you be using?
There are three popular ways to feed paint into your airbrush:
- Gravity feeds
- Siphon feeds and
- Side feeds
Gravity feed solutions are very popular, as they use the laws of nature to pull paint down into the nozzle of your airbrush. There aren’t any mechanical parts to get in the way, to break down, or to impede the flow of paint – though they aren’t quite as high speed, quite as efficient, or quite as dependable as some of the more mechanical based options below.
Gravity feed solutions also use less air pressure to analyze the paint that you are using. A lower level of pressure means that there is a lot more potential to create finer detail in your finished product then you would with other feed systems.
Siphon feed solutions are going to create low-pressure zones at the nozzle tip by pumping fast-moving air throughout the gun itself.
This is going to draw paint through the stem of your airbrush while it becomes atomized, and is a great way to produce some stunning results (particularly when you have multiple air guns rocking and rolling off of the same compressor).
Sure, you’re going to need a higher level of the air pressure to utilize a siphon gun appropriately – but the higher level of pressure in the siphon system is going to allow you to hold a lot more paint in a single run, and that’s a pretty big advantage.
Side feeds solutions are a bit of a hybrid between siphon and gravity options.
These are incredibly flexible solutions and really bring the best of both worlds from the other two feed platforms mentioned above.
You will, however, have to manipulate your airbrush at a sideways angle to get the most out of everything that this setup has to offer. But at the end of the day – particularly if you want to use a single airbrush at a time, rather than run a multi-gun set up – there’s nothing better than this.
At the end of the day, you’re going to have plenty of different options to pick and choose from when it comes time to get set up with your new airbrush.
Top-quality manufacturers are regularly putting out impressive pieces of technology you’ll be able to use with no headache or hassle whatsoever. Just a bit of research and due diligence will help you find the perfect airbrush for your needs – especially if you use the inside info we shared above!
Best of luck going forward!