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What is airbrushing?

Airbrushing is a technique used mainly in art, illustration, and photography to apply paint or makeup in a controlled and uniform manner. It consists of using an airbrush, a small hand-held device that sprays a fine mist of color or pigment onto a surface.

Airbrushes work with compressed air, which is used to atomize the paint or makeup, breaking it down into small droplets that can be sprayed onto the surface. In the field of fine arts, it has applications in several disciplines: illustration, car painting, and scale models. 

What do I need to get started in Airbrushing scale models?

To apply airbrushing, several essential products are needed. First, the airbrush is a hand-held tool that controls the flow of air and pigments for precise and controlled application. Compressed air provides a reliable source of pressurized air through a compressor. Thinners are also needed to use any modeling paint with this tool. 

Alternatively, you can buy airbrushing paint that is usually thinner than traditional paints to ensure smooth flow through the shutter. On the other hand, Mediums are used to regulate liquid flow, ensure even application, and adjust viscosity, drying time, or transparency, among other things. 

Finally, it is recommended to purchase a specialized cleaner, such as Airbrush Cleaner, which effectively removes residues and prevents clogging or obstructions without damaging the tool.

How to do Airbrushing scale models?

The process begins with the preparation of the equipment. An airbrush consists of three main components: the air source, the tool itself, and the paint tank. The air source can be a compressor or a can of compressed air, which provides the pressure needed to propel the acrylics. 

To begin, the artist holds the tool at a constant distance from the surface. By manipulating the trigger or control mechanism, he regulates the airflow. This control allows the thickness of the lines, the intensity of the color, and the texture of the final work to be varied.

Airbrushing offer a wide range of techniques and effects. For example, using stencils, artists can create precise shapes and patterns. They can also achieve gradients, shading, and blurring by adjusting the airflow and blending. In addition, they can work on a wide variety of surfaces, such as canvas, metal, plastic, fabric, and even human skin.

How do I thin acrylic paint for airbrushing? 

To thin acrylic paints, pour a small amount into the mixing bowl or a mixing paint palette. Gradually add distilled water or acrylic thinner while stirring until the desired consistency is achieved. The goal is to achieve a smooth, fluid, milk-like texture that flows easily through the tool without clogging.

The ratio of the mixture to the thinner varies depending on personal preference, the type of acrylic used, and the requirements of the airbrush equipment. A common starting point is a 1:1 ratio, but you may need to adjust this ratio depending on the thickness of the ink. Testing on a surface or scrap paper is important to ensure the spray is smooth even before applying it to the actual project. 

How to make a stencil for airbrushing? 

Before making an airbrush stencil, ensure you have all the necessary tools: a sheet of paper, a pencil, a hobby cutting mat, and a modeling cutter. Additionally, depending on the type of stencil you want to create, you may need a printer and thick paper for printing. The steps to follow are as follows:

  1. Draw on the paper what you want to add color. 
  2. On a cutting mat, separate the drawn figure from the rest of the sheet. 
  3. Go over the details of the drawing that you want to mark with the airbrush so that the paint can pass through the incisions that you make.
  4. Do not get rid of any of the parts, as both the silhouette and the figure are useful when painting. 

In case you want to change the dimensions of the drawing or have a more resistant template, you can scan your drawing and make the necessary retouches from the computer. Then, print it on the type of paper you want. Another option is to trace it on adhesive paper if you paint on a flat and solid surface.

What paint do you use?

It can be worked with various media, such as watercolors, acrylic paints, acrylic inks, dyes, and even car paints. The characteristic that differentiates airbrush paints from the rest is their consistency. To flow properly in the device without clogging it, they must be more liquid than traditional ones. For this reason, there are specific paints for this technique, and they can be acquired in any specialized store in the sector. However, there are alternatives to these products.

Model paints can be adapted for airbrushing scale models. By using a thinner, the consistency required can be achieved. These colors can be opaque or transparent, which allows artists to achieve various effects and layering techniques. On the other hand, a medium can regulate liquid flow, and viscosity and ensure uniform application, as well as improve blending ability.

Can you thin acrylic paint with water?

Yes, acrylics can be diluted with water, although it should be noted that its characteristics will change. Specifically, it will become matte because the water diminishes the satin resin, eliminating the shine of this acrylic resin

Another way to dilute them is using an acrylic medium, with which it will not lose the resin-pigment biomix. The finish will depend on the medium used: neutral, matte, glossy, or satin. In any case, the amount of thinner will depend on the desired finish and the density of the ink used. 

Can you use a regular air compressor for airbrushing scale models?

The compressor is the most important part, so it is always recommended to choose a medium-high-quality compressor that allows the pressure to be adjusted for each project. In the miniature world, a pressure between 1.7 and 2.3 kpa is usually used. Not only is it possible to work with the necessary precision, but it does not force the artist to endure constant noise, as quality compressors, such as the one offered by Green Stuff World, are silent. 

Do you need ventilation?

One of the most important aspects when using this technique is ventilation. During an airbrushing scale models session, paint and thinners are sprayed, leaving particles in the air. Many of these products contain toxic substances for people if inhaled, so it is essential to work in a well-ventilated area and use masks, ideally a 3M respirator mask or any mask containing 2 mouth filters.