Hello guys,

I am planning to buy a new airbrush machine to paint my puppets and props, can anyone recommend a good quality machine?

My budget would be up to $ 500 USD. Also, I need some tips on what to avoid and how to clean it because I heard pax paint sometimes destroy the nozzle.

 

Thanks in advance!

 

 

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I use a Paasche Model H airbrush for painting my puppets and models. You can take out the nozzle parts for cleaning. I don't know the price today - I bought mine in New Zealand about 40 years ago. But they still make that model in the US and it is not an expensice model. It is a Single Action airbrush - you press down on the button to spray. You adjust the amount of paint by turning the nozzle. A double action airbrush allows you to press down to spray, and also slide the button back and forth to,change the amount of paint. This is good for fine artwork, but not so useful for painting puppets. I also have a double action airbrush I bought 30 years ago but I have hardly ever used it.

You also need an air compressor.



StopmoNick said:

I use a Paasche Model H airbrush for painting my puppets and models. You can take out the nozzle parts for cleaning. I don't know the price today - I bought mine in New Zealand about 40 years ago. But they still make that model in the US and it is not an expensice model. It is a Single Action airbrush - you press down on the button to spray. You adjust the amount of paint by turning the nozzle. A double action airbrush allows you to press down to spray, and also slide the button back and forth to,change the amount of paint. This is good for fine artwork, but not so useful for painting puppets. I also have a double action airbrush I bought 30 years ago but I have hardly ever used it.

You also need an air compressor.

Yeah, an external-mix single-action airbrush like the Paashe H would be the way to go. 

For a compressor it depends on your circumstances. A basic compressor is extremely noisy - even the pancake compressors that are supposed to be fairly quiet (I suppose they're quieter than the industrial compressors in use in automotive shops). So if you'll be using it where noise is an issue then you'll want a silent compressor, which are more expensive. If you're working in the daytime in a place where nobody will complain about a lot of noise then you can get just about any kind of compressor. But get one with a tank - that ensures a steady constant air supply. And get a pretty strong compressor - it's no fun to need more pressure than your compressor will supply. Though for painting puppets and sets you probably don't really need very much pressure, but don't get the smallest weakest model, get something in the mid-size range. 

You'll also want to get some extra tips and needles for the airbrush and a cleaning kit, plus something to spray it into when you're finished with a color and you need to spray out the excess paint and water before switching to a new color. There are boxes or canisters with filters in them for this that I wouldn't care to do without. 

You'll also need solvent for cleaning - I always used denatured alcohol which worked great. If drug stores near you don't carry it they'll probably order some if you ask them - that's how I had to get mine. 

And I suppose if you're painting big sets you'll need a respirator - actually one for each person that's in the same room. For painting puppets you probably don't need a respirator, but be sure to open a couple of windows and put a fan in one blowing out to keep some fresh air coming in. Or get a spray booth. 

Thank you very much guys I will go for the Paasche Model H.

 

Sorry about that, let me try again.

I agree with Nick about recommending a single action airbrush. It is a simpler instrument, less moving parts, and more intuitive to use.

That said, I exclusively use paasche VL3 guns, which are double action. I run over 20 of them simultaneously, one for each color, to save time switching bottles. I paint shirts, car tags, that kind of thing, and I mostly spray acrylics. Any liquid can be sprayed through an airbrush, just as long as it is thin enough. Airbrushes can be quite difficult to clean if you let paint dry in them, so always clean them when you finish painting.

Airbrushes are tougher than most people may think, at least VL's are. Many times beginners think it may be broken if it's not spraying correctly, but it is usually just a clog. Spray thinner through it or take it apart to clean it. A tiny piece of debris, such as a piece of dried paint in the tip is usually the problem.

The thicker the paint being sprayed, the more air pressure you need. Either thin your paint or crank up the pressure. I usually paint at 60 psi, though many people prefer it lower, sometimes as low as 15-20 psi. I've never sprayed pax paint, but like I said, any liquid will flow through with either enough pressure or if it is thinned out.

If you have the space, and don't mind the noise, I recommend a big compressor with a tank. It will run until the tank is full, and cuts off automatically when it reaches around 125 psi. Use a regulator to cut the pressure down to what you want to spray with. I like overkill. If you choose a small tankless  compressor, try to find one that puts out at least 40 psi, and doesn't 'pulse' air. Many times a small "airbrush" compressor from a hobby or art supply store will cost as much or more than a much larger one from a hardware store.

There are many brands of airbrushes, Iwata, Thayer chandler, badger, holbien, and lots of off brand or Chinese ones as well. I'm dedicated to paasche myself, but they all work.

Oh, yeah, try bearair.com , they have good prices.

Oops, I just repeated a bunch of what Strider already explained quite nicely.

You really didn't repeat much of what I said, and you added a lot of great info. Do you really spray at 60 psi even on hard surfaces like car tags? I use high pressure for shirts, but for paper or any hard surface I use a pretty low pressure - I mean like really low. Otherwise I always got spidering. But for fabric I need the high pressure to blow the paint down into the fabric, and it won't spider because the fabric absorbs it rather than letting it sit in thick drops on the surface. 

I ended up mostly using a nitrogen tank, which is totally silent and the guy at the welding shop where I bought it and got refills took a nitrogen regulator which aren't made to provide enough pressure for what I wanted, and put the guts from an oxygen regulator inside it - a sweet custom job that he did right there on the spot because he had an old broken nitro regulator and an extra oxy regulator he didn't need, it just took him a few minutes. That way I could work anywhere, even if there's no electricity (my plan was to set up a little stand on street corners or parking lots, but I never actually did that). 

To the thread starter - you could use a nitrogen tank rather than a compressor, if there's a welding shop near you. For working on puppets and sets I don't think you'd need high pressure, so a normal nitrogen regulator would work fine. Nitrogen is totally silent and provides good smooth pressure until the tank is about to run out - best to have 2 tanks so you've got a full one for when one runs out. 

And whether you're using a compressor or a compressed gas tank like nitro or oxygen, get an inline filter (moisture trap). It's just a little cylinder that goes on the air hose and traps mixture - otherwise the moisture that naturally builds up inside the hose will come spitting out the end of the airbrush at odd moments and ruin your paint job. 

Very useful info guys! I will get the machine with extra spare nozzles. Beginners tend to break things very quickly when they start  

 

Thank you very much!!

 

Hey, Strider

Yeah, I paint with 60 or even 70 psi on everything from shirts to tags, but you are absolutely correct about the spidering, or centipeding. But you get accustomed to it after while and it becomes 2nd nature. Just blowing air over what you just painted helps to dry it quicker. It's a 'felt' thing after while, you just don't have to use as much paint on a hard or non absorbent surface. It also helps on tags, big time, to prime it with some good ol ' aqua flow white first. I don't like the way aqua flow fluorescent paint spoils so fast, and I prefer createx for those kinds of colors, but aqua flow white is inimitable, it is, IMHO, by far the most opaque white that you can find. In the fall, when I'm done shirt-squirting for the season, I'd enjoy talking with you on the phone, I could share a lot of general info with you that I've gathered over the years doing this crazy stuff.

I've never used a nitrogen tank before, but I've always wanted to for just the reasons you mentioned, especially to be able to paint without electricity. I have wanted to set up a rig in a pickup truck or old school bus, but in the off season, I have only one hardcore obsession, and ya'll  know what I'm talking about...It's why we're now now...

You must be in Cali or Florida, where airbrushing never lost its popularity? 

I don't do it anymore - I hated the fact that most people would just expect me to read their minds and instantly paint exactly what they envision in their heads even though they were unable to clearly articulate it. I also don't like doing art in a crowd while everyone is watching, and I wanted to stop doing what the customer wanted and concentrate instead on making art that I wanted to make. 

Still have a bunch of airbrushes though, and my whole T-shirt setup, though of course the paints are all dried up now. But now I work mainly in oil paint, oil pastels, and photoshop. Heh - and when I say work I mean just do whatever I want, try to push myself to become closer to pro quality, and have fun with it. 

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