How to Start Airbrushing

How to Start Airbrushing

If you’re a perfectionist who loves paint to be spread evenly across a surface, then airbrushing is almost certainly the way to go for you. Whether you have the intricate job of applying colour to plastic models, or you want to spray paint your car, airbrushing will give you that pristinely smooth finish you’ll be after.

The tools you’ll need

The obvious place to start is with the airbrush itself, and the right needle and nozzle size will depend on the project. You’ll also need to decide which kind of airbrush is right for you – whether you want the paint to be gravity fed from a cup above the airbrush, dual action so you can control air and paint, and so on. 

A compressor is also a vital piece of kit, and one that comes with a storage tank will remain quiet while you work. A pressure regulator and moisture trap will enable you to set consistent air pressure, while a hose and adapter (that connect the compressor to the airbrush) should also come with it. Then of course there’s the paint itself – acrylic paint is the most commonly used and is very versatile.

Keep it safe

The fumes from airbrushing won’t damage your health if you take appropriate precautions each time you paint. Your room must be well ventilated, with windows open and several fans on. You should also wear a face mask to minimise inhalation. 

Select paint marked as non-toxic. Acrylic paint is water-based, which is far safer than solvent-based paints, but you should still always take precautions. If you’ll be spray painting a fence, ensure you choose paint that’s specifically made for the airbrush system you use as anything too thick risks clogging the system and leaving you with a patchy or unfinished job.

Practice makes perfect

Don’t jump straight into your project without getting a feel for it first. It takes time to get used to it, so find old sheets of paper and material to practice on first. Start with simple shapes like lines and circles to help you work out how best to grip the brush and how much pressure you need to apply to get the desired result. Once you’ve gained in confidence, you can begin airbrushing for real!

Choose your first project

You’ll probably already know what this will be before you buy your airbrush, but once you have one it’ll open up a new world of creativity. You can use it to create paintings on canvas, or you can turn a bland piece of clothing, such as a T-shirt, into something custom-made that looks amazing. And don’t stop at clothes: jazz up boxes, coasters, wooden toys – you name it – with your own signature style.

From fixing a small paint job in your house, to designing personalised Christmas presents and even press-on nails, air brushing can help you grow that artistic side.

Once you’ve bought an airbrush and its accessories, you can use it to create designs on just about anything you like. And if you get the knack of it quickly, you might be giving your loved ones some unique Christmas gifts this year.

About the author

Tom Bernes

Tom Bernes is the Editorial Director at The Next Hint Inc.

Prior to joining The Next Hint Inc, Tom had a hand in a number of online and print publications, including as chief copy editor and Government Technology Magazine as managing editor. He also did a stint in Sydney as group editor of RBI Australia's manufacturing group, which is when he also developed an affinity (a love, really) for cricket.

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