Lessons Learned Part 2.
It has been quite a while since I posted about what I have learned about airbrushing and painting models in general. As I have not really had much time over the last few weeks to really work on models I feel that it is a good time for reflection.
1. PSI. When I first started airbrushing I think I was spraying at something like 30psi or above though my Patriot 105. It was impossible to do any kind of detail work and I was wasting a good deal of paint. I figured out pretty quickly that with properly thinned paint I had much more control and used so very much less paint. I now spray paint at 10-15psi and inks at around 5psi (inks are another lesson further down the page).
2. Thinning. I was one of the folks that fell for the VMA "you can spray it right out of the bottle" line. You can.... but for better results I have found that mixing VMA at 1:1 is about right. For others like GW, P3, VGC, VMC ect I mix at 3:1 (paint to thinner).
3. Nozzle size. At first I only had the Badger Patriot 105 with its 0.5mm nozzle. It is a true workhorse and I still use it for priming models, large models and terrain. For just about everything else I now use a Badger Khrome. I love the Khrome it has a 0.2mm nozzle and can do some astoundingly fine detail work. I really like being able to get a specific color into a tight area without too much over spray.
4. Trigger Control. Being able to control both the air pressure and the paint flow is a blessing now. When starting out it was more of a curse. Oh how many times did I mess up a perfectly good paint job by not having a good feel for my airbrushes and hitting it just a bit too hard. I would recommend practicing till you "just know" how hard or soft to pull back and push down on the trigger.
5. Inks. I have only recently discovered the amazing power of using inks though an airbrush. I love using its transparency to my advantage. I am a huge fan of being able to build up the highlights with ease and having it look so very seamless. I use both Dalor Rowney - FW and P3 inks. The Dalor Rowney tend to be a bit darker and are great for the first coats to give the model really dark shadows and the P3 are very bright and extremely useful for the last coats to smooth and blend the highlights.
6. Cleaning. Proper maintenance of equipment is not just for airbrushes. However we are talking airbrushes so I might as well stay on topic. I have found that a proper cleaning and lubing will prevent so very many headaches that it is worth the time after every session. For most applications a basic cleaning of taking out the needle, removing the nozzle housing and nozzle cleaning them and the cup of paint, then a thin coat of lube on the needle and screw in parts is all you need. When dealing with inks I have found it very important to break down the entire brush for a deep down cleaning (the stuff just gets everywhere).
7. I'm still a beginner. I feel like I have learned so much over the last year and a half, but have so very much more to learn. My goals over the next 6 months are to learn more traditional blending, and to work with smaller models. I still have no idea how some of the folks on YouTube can paint an entire model with just an airbrush, but hey, ya never know where I will be in a year or so.