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Creative design with the airbrush technique has become very popular in recent years, not only among professional artists, but also as a hobby that is relatively easy to learn. This is not least due to the fact that the airbrush technique can be used in an absolutely versatile way in the most different areas. To get started with this exciting art form, the basic equipment needed is a compressor, an airbrush gun, an air hose, a cleaning kit and of course suitable airbrush paints. With a professionally assembled airbrush kit, you receive these materials as a complete package and can start right away.
Table of Contents
- 1 What is an Airbrush kit?
- 2 The most important components of an Airbrush kit
- 3 The many advantages of an airbrush complete kit
- 4 Popular products in comparison: The big Airbrush kit Test
- 5 Helpful tips for the purchase of your Airbrush Set
- 6 Important questions and answers on the topic
What is an Airbrush kit?
Basically, you can of course put together the above-mentioned components of an airbrush basic equipment yourself from the range of different brands and price categories available in specialist shops. If you already know a little bit more about the airbrush technique, you can also take your own needs into account when doing artistic work with airbrushes.
But there may also be good reasons to purchase a ready-assembled airbrush kit consisting of compressor, air hose, airbrush gun, cleaning kit and airbrush paints. After all, you can save time in the first instance if you don’t even have to deal with the compatibility of different equipment parts. Besides this, the financial aspect can also be an argument for a complete airbrush kit, after all, complete kits are sometimes cheaper than the total bill for self-assembled individual parts. The smallest airbrush kit for beginners should at least consist of compressor, connection hose and air brush gun. However, an airbrush kit with compressor often includes additional components such as differently sized nozzles, the obligatory cleaning kit or a certain selection of airbrush colors.
In the meantime, specialist dealers no longer offer only entry-level kits for all-round use, but many an airbrush kit that has been put together for a very specific purpose. After all, model builders, for example, prefer air brush kits with a particularly compact and extremely quiet compressor. An airbrush complete kit for body art in the areas of body painting and tattooing, on the other hand, is usually equipped with a very special air brush gun for particularly precise and controlled application of paint.
To be really fully equipped, you could also purchase an airbrush kit with several interchangeable nozzles or even with several different airbrush guns. In the “luxury version”, an airbrush complete kit even includes additional accessories such as a holder for the airbrush gun, templates for certain design techniques or a breathing mask. With a short research you will quickly notice that the airbrush kits have different compositions and price categories.
The most important components of an Airbrush kit
Of the many possible components that an airbrush kit can contain, the airbrush gun, compressor, an initial supply of paint and the essential cleaning kit are the most important parts. Before you make your decision to purchase a specific airbrush kit, you should pay special attention to the design and quality of the compressor and airbrush gun.
The right Airbrush Gun
In order to be able to estimate whether your choice of the best possible airbrush gun for your purposes has been made, you should first of all be clear about what exactly you want to use your airbrush kit mainly for.
The differences between different models can best be understood if you know about the 4 functional principles in the regulation of paint volume and air flow in airbrush guns. The design of these functional parameters ultimately has a serious influence on how well an airbrush gun can be used for different purposes:
Single Action Principle
With this type of a classic airbrush gun you turn a wheel to adjust the amount of paint continuously. The lever on the airbrush gun is only used to regulate the current air volume. The advantage of this design is the very simple operation. However, it offers comparatively little flexibility. For primers or the relatively coarse application of paint on larger surfaces, however, a Single Action airbrush gun is definitely suitable.
Double Action Principle
The air brush guns of this design also have a lever that you can operate with your finger. However, this lever serves for two different functions: While the amount of air can be varied by pressing the lever a little, the amount of paint used can be controlled by pulling the lever. You will probably need some practice with a beginner’s airbrush kit until you can handle the principle of a double action airbrush gun without any difficulties. However, with enough practice you will be able to work very fluidly and flexibly.
Flow cup system
If your airbrush gun is designed according to the flow cup system, the paint is filled into a cup that is attached to the gun above the nozzle. Gravity alone allows the paint to flow downwards into the air stream, from which it is atomized. For an airbrush gun with flow cup system, a compressor with low air pressure is sufficient. For relatively small areas this system is quite suitable. However, due to the construction of such an airbrush gun you cannot spray “overhead”.
Suction cup system
For an airbrush gun with suction cup system, the paint cup is attached to the bottom of the paint spray gun. With this system, the paint is captured by the suction created by the airflow passing above. The paint is therefore sucked out of the paint cup and then atomized by the movement of the air flow. Airbrush guns with suction cup system offer a significantly larger paint holding volume than models with flow cup system. Thanks to the suction cup, even larger areas can be treated with a single paint fill. You should note that a slightly higher air pressure is required on the compressor side for the operation of an airbrush gun with suction cup system.
The most flexible way to use a Double Action Air Brush Gun with the flow cup system offers you the most flexibility. This is probably the reason why this system is used by many airbrush artists very often and with pleasure.
The Selection of the right Compressor
If you already own a standard compressor from the DIY store, you can of course also use it as part of your personal airbrush kit. But we also don’t want to hide from you the main advantages of using an airbrush compressor that has been specially designed for this purpose:
A water separator can avoid a lot of trouble
While “normal” compressors from the DIY store usually do not have an integrated water separator, with the special airbrush compressors this provides one of the most important advantages with regard to the way the airbrush works. After all, it is based on physical principles that the air compressed by the compressor simply loses liquid. Inside an ordinary compressor, this liquid usually collects at the bottom and is then usually transported out of the pressure vessel together with the air at some point. If this happens through the air hose and the airbrush gun, the result is uncontrolled and sometimes very unattractive splashes of paint on the surface being worked on.
You can prevent uncertainties and quality deterioration of this kind by using a high-quality airbrush compressor with built-in water separator. Unpredictable paint splashes and unsightly paint blotches do not even occur with such a device, as the water condensing due to the pressure is efficiently filtered out of the compressed air.
Pressure regulator with a pressure gauge for fine adjustment
Since the compressed air used is to a certain extent the operating medium for an airbrush gun, it is immensely important that the operating pressure can be kit to match the situation perfectly at any time. If the compressor is equipped with a pressure regulator with pressure gauge (for pressure indication), the required pressure can be easily kit between approx. 1.5 and 3 bar. The exact value depends on the air brush gun used, the viscosity of the paint used and the desired spray pattern.
The air tank – luxury or must-have?
In principle, an air tank is not technically necessary to operate an airbrush gun with a compressor. However, it can prove to be absolutely pleasant and useful, especially when working frequently with the compressor and the airbrush kit. After all, equipping the compressor with an air tank allows the compressor to switch off after the first pressure build-up and only switch on again when the pressure drops below a certain level. This way, the quite noisy operation of the actual compressor unit can be omitted for most of the time during airbrushing.
In addition to the noise saved, a compressor with an air tank usually delivers a more constant pressure. This in turn can have a more than positive effect on the spray pattern during airbrushing.
Special airbrush compressors with integrated air tank, pressure regulator and water separator are also often designed to operate with particularly low vibration. You should not underestimate the difference to an ordinary DIY compressor, especially if you work with it in a home with good hearing, near sensitive neighbours or in other noise-sensitive areas.
Last but not least, airbrush compressors are often also available in particularly compact versions so that they can be transported to different locations relatively easily if necessary.
Which airbrush colors to use?
First of all, it should be said that actually almost all types of liquid paints are suitable for application with an airbrush gun. However, different types of surfaces can have specific requirements for the colors used. For a start, water-based acrylic paints are ideal. With these paints you do not necessarily have to do an airbrush test to check the compatibility of the painting surface and the paint. After all, water-based acrylic resins are easy to dilute, are available already mixed in some cases and can be used without any problems.
In addition, acrylic paints are by far not as hazardous to health as some other materials when processed. Therefore they can be used for airbrushing without any special precautions. Nevertheless, it is of course always advisable to ventilate the respective workspace as well as possible and, as a precaution, to wear a suitable breathing mask.
It can happen that an airbrush kit with compressor already contains colors that are still undiluted. In this case we would recommend that you order a suitable thinner. Alternatively, you can also use water for this purpose, but then the colors will not last as long as when using a professional thinner.
The regular cleaning: Mandatory program for airbrushing
A well equipped airbrush complete kit should usually include a well sorted cleaning kit. After all, regular cleaning of the various parts is absolutely essential for this art form. Only if you clean your airbrush gun thoroughly enough often, you will be spared unwanted paint mixtures and annoying blockages with dried paint residues. In addition, with a regular cleaning program, you will certainly enjoy your airbrush kit longer, since fine components and sensitive seals will last longer.
According to our recommendation, the absolute minimum variant of a cleaning kit should consist of Airbrush Cleaner, different brushes and if possible also a Cleaning Pot.
The many advantages of an airbrush complete kit
- The first advantage of purchasing a complete airbrush kit is obvious: You can save time that you would otherwise have to spend on researching and matching different components. After all, the well-assorted specialist dealers for airbrush materials have a wide range of quality grades and brands of the various product categories available. However, you will have to invest at least some of your saved time in the question of what exactly you expect from your airbrush equipment. This is the only way you can choose the complete airbrush kit that will best meet your personal needs when you work with it later on
- With many airbrush kits, you can even save money by buying in a kit compared to buying the different parts separately. This is because many manufacturers include cleaning kits or a basic kit of paint with their compressors and airbrush guns practically free of charge.
- Even after a more detailed research it can happen that the individual parts you put together are only suboptimally matched to each other in the end. In a complete airbrush kit with compressor, however, experienced professionals check the compatibility of all individual parts. This saves you from unpleasant surprises such as unsuitable compressor connections and hoses. The compressor from such a kit delivers the perfect pressure for airbrushing even without additional hose adapters.
Important Info: Even though the individual parts of an airbrush kit are usually perfectly matched, in some cases not all components will be included for your planned projects. So it will probably be necessary for you to get some accessories for your new hobby in the course of time. This is also true, of course, because your artistic demands on the airbrush works will increase with every plus of experience. For the start into an exciting, new creative hobby you are certainly not badly advised with an appropriate airbrush kit for beginners.
Popular products in comparison: The big Airbrush kit Test
Especially for beginners it can be tedious at first to rummage through the multitude of offers in the airbrush area without the appropriate experience. With our concise recommendation for a suitable airbrush kit, we want to help you to quickly select the optimal airbrush kit for your planned purposes.
Best Airbrush Kit for beginners: Master Airbrush Cool Runner II Set
The Master Airbrush kit includes the obligatory compressor, a well-fitting double action airbrush gun with a proven flow cup system and a useful combination of a total of three nozzles in sizes 0.5 mm, 0.3 mm and 0.2 mm. In addition, you will find an air hose with a length of 1.90 m in the practical storage box of this kit as well as the pipettes required for mixing and filling in the paints.
- High quality airbrush system ready to go for Airbrushing
- The Master Airbrush Model TC-320 compressor is a powerful single piston compressor with two cooling fans that allow it to run much cooler for longer continuous operation time without overheating
- Also included: Airbrush paint / Airbrush Stand and Quick Start Guide
The airbrush kit with compressor is equipped with an oil-free compressor with pressure regulator and pressure gauge, which can deliver a pressure of maximum 4 bar. With a net weight of only 3.6 kg, the compressor can be easily transported. With a noise level of only 47 db, it can also be used relatively easily in a normal apartment.
Our conclusion: As a quite useful airbrush kit for beginners we can absolutely recommend the airbrush kit from Master Airbrush which is available at a fair price. After all, the compressor included in the scope of delivery is not only pleasantly compact, but it also works very quietly. In the practical airbrush test, however, it can be determined that the compressor, which is only suitable for continuous operation to a limited extent, should be given a short “breather” every 30 to 40 minutes if possible. During the first tests in the field of airbrushing, the Double Action airbrush gun delivers absolutely useful results. Also the spray pattern of this airbrush gun does not give cause for complaints. It is also pleasing that spare parts that may be required can be easily obtained directly from the manufacturer. However, before you start with the airbrushing you should get a well composed cleaning kit in addition to the airbrush complete kit.
Second place: PointZero Airbrush Dual Action Airbrush Kit
Cheap Airbrushing Kit: VIVOHOME Professional Airbrushing Paint System
- 3 different multipurpose airbrush guns included: Spray, Inflat, paint and do airbrush jobs
- Low noise, oil-free compressor with 1/5HP, with air filter water trap delivers 23-25L/min airflow and 0.8cfm air volume
- Comes with a compressor-mounted airbrush holder that holds two airbrushes;
Helpful tips for the purchase of your Airbrush Set
You can save yourself time by buying a complete kit with compressor, but you should still do a certain amount of research on your own before buying a kit. We recommend that you pay particular attention to the following aspects when choosing a suitable complete kit:
- Explore the construction of different models of airbrush guns so that you can choose the optimal principle of operation for your planned work.
- Another important aspect is that spare parts should be available for the airbrush gun included in the airbrush kit.
- Different nozzle sizes are necessary for different types of work when airbrushing. Therefore you should be aware of what kind of work you want to do with your airbrush kit before you buy it. Accordingly, you should have, for example, a nozzle with a diameter of 0.2 mm for fine work or a nozzle with a diameter of 0.4 mm for priming. Optimum flexibility is therefore offered by a kit in which different nozzle heads are already available for replacement.
- You should not make any questionable compromises regarding the technical specifications of the compressor included in the kit. Only with good data on parameters such as weight, dimensions, vibration strength and noise level is it possible to work with the compressor in a relaxed manner.
- The absolutely essential basic equipment for airbrushing always includes a cleaning kit.
- If the selected airbrush kit for beginners already contains colors, they should also be suitable for your intended use. Keep in mind that different areas of application such as food decoration, textile design or special make-up art also require specific color formulations.
It is up to you to decide on a specific airbrush kit, how extensive this kit should be in a specific case. You can of course choose to purchase only the basic equipment consisting of compressor, airbrush gun and cleaning kit and later purchase additional accessories separately. But you can also look at a comprehensive complete package, which already includes additional accessories such as a transport case, a practical holder for the airbrush gun, some masking film or even prefabricated stencils.
It may be quite tempting that an extensive airbrush complete kit is available in specialist shops, some of which are very cheap. Our recommendation for you in this respect, however, would be not to decide for the cheapest of all offered complete packages. At first glance, the spray pattern of different airbrush guns may only differ slightly. However, it can become more expensive and therefore more annoying if cheap airbrush guns become prone to faults after a relatively short time and then perhaps not even spare parts are available.
Important questions and answers on the topic
How do you proceed with the cleaning?
Actually, all you need to do is to regularly clean the airbrush gun itself really thoroughly. In comparison, the compressor shouldn’t really require much maintenance. You may just want to change the lint filter and the air filter occasionally.
If you are using a professional airbrush compressor with a water separator, the collection container should be checked and emptied as necessary when starting work. If the water separator is full, no further liquid can be taken from the compressed air. The result is a functionality like a compressor without water separator, whereby the spray pattern can be ruined very quickly by water splashes.
With every color change it is actually necessary to rinse the air brush gun used briefly. This is the only way to avoid that the remains of the previously used paint mix with the currently used paint and to avoid undesired color effects.
The procedure for cleaning an airbrush gun is as follows:
- First, the excess paint is removed from the paint cup.
- In the second step, clean water is poured into the paint cup for the rough removal of paint residues. In addition, paint splashes can be removed from visible areas with small cleaning aids such as paper tissues and commercially available cotton swabs.
- The airbrush gun is then briefly and thoroughly sprayed with the filled water.
- After you have poured out the remaining water, you can clean the nozzle with airbrush cleaning fluid if necessary, which is then sprayed through the nozzle of the airbrush gun as before.
- Every good cleaning kit should also include a brush that can be used to scrub off any paint residues that have become stuck.
- During all cleaning work your attention should be paid to the careful handling of the fine needle of the airbrush gun. It should not be bent or damaged in any way.
- Finally, you can disassemble the airbrush gun as far as possible into its individual parts for particularly thorough cleaning. Usually, the enclosed operating instructions will give you information on how to disassemble and reassemble the airbrush gun. This is to enable you to clean components such as the needle and nozzle particularly thoroughly.
- At the very end the airbrush gun is then reassembled. After you have cleaned the airbrush gun a few times according to these instructions, you will hardly have to think about disassembling and reassembling the airbrush gun.
Attention: You should not only clean your airbrush gun between different colors, but also at the end of the work for the day in question. This is the only way to effectively prevent annoying blockages and also to keep the airbrush gun with its precision mechanical components and the sometimes somewhat sensitive seals optimally functional in the long term.
Our recommendation: When disassembling the airbrush gun, it can be helpful to store all individual parts in a suitable cup in the meantime. In this way you can make sure that even small parts are not lost. You can also clean the parts very well in an ultrasonic cleaner.
Where can you buy a well equipped airbrush kit?
Many budding airbrush artists sometimes do not want to rely solely on their own Internet research and would like to receive expert advice tailored to their individual needs before buying. With this claim, you are of course in good hands in the specialist trade for artists’ supplies.
Here you can also get useful tips for your first practical steps with an airbrush kit for beginners from the appropriately trained specialist advisors. The experts are not only very familiar with the technical features of the individual components, but are usually also available to help you with individual difficulties or equipment defects. However, this expert advice comes at a price, because the competence has to be financed somehow. That is why you will usually have to pay relatively expensive prices for the materials you select.
However, you can usually buy comparatively cheaply in special online shops. These often offer you an amazingly wide range of brands and products. With a little research of your own, you should be able to find the right equipment and materials for your personal airbrush kit online. On the pages of the well-known online marketplaces or directly in the online shops of well-known manufacturers you can find air brush materials in all imaginable designs and price categories.
When is the time to replace the needle?
Among the various components of a modern airbrush gun, the needle is still one of the most sensitive parts. However, one cannot necessarily say that the needle is a wearing part in the classical sense. It is simply that there may always be a moment of carelessness at some point when the needle is damaged by a small mistake of the user.
After all, the needle can be damaged very quickly, not only when working without the needle protection cap, if you accidentally touch the painting surface with it. Changing the needle or cleaning it can also cause damage if the user is not careful and has not enough experience.
If this should happen now, the needle does not necessarily have to be due for replacement. Sometimes the following tips can help in such a case:
- Clamp the bent needle between two glass plates and try to bend it straight when pulling it out at an angle. Sometimes it is possible to get the needle almost straight again with several attempts of this kind.
- Any unevenness that remains can then be treated with high-quality wet sandpaper with 1000 or 1200 grain. To do this, always carry out a smooth rotary movement from the tip downwards.
Attempts to straighten the needle on a wooden plate are unfortunately doomed to failure from the outkit. Wood is simply too soft for that. If you press the needle onto the wood, it will usually only deform the wood and the damage to the needle can even be made worse.
In the meantime, however, some quite helpful tools have been developed for repair attempts on bent needles. For example, the so-called Sharpen Air Tool has a total of 4 differently angled and grained channels. With this repair tool you have to guide the bent needle through all 4 channels one after the other starting from the right side with a slight turning movement and you can hope that the needle is more or less straight again at the end.
What is the reason if no paint comes out of the air brush?
- If no paint comes out of your airbrush gun, you should first check the connection of the gun and the air hose to the compressor. Sometimes kinked spots in the hose can be the reason that no air gets into the airbrush gun.
- Also check the air pressure prevailing in the compressor or its air tank. If this check also shows the presence of correct pressure conditions, the problem can actually only be found in a dirty air head or even in a nozzle clogged with paint residues.
- If necessary, you can also unscrew the air head and clean it thoroughly.
Sometimes a malfunctioning airbrush gun cannot deliver optimum performance because individual seals are not in order or the nozzle head has not been properly screwed back on and properly tightened after cleaning. It can therefore sometimes make sense to check the various components one after the other and to tighten individual threads well.
From time to time, the fault of a not optimally functioning airbrush gun cannot be found even through extensive testing and cleaning work. Even if a complete cleaning and reassembly does not help, it may still be because the nozzle and air head do not fit together properly. From the principle of operation it is basically necessary that there is a narrow gap between the nozzle and the air head for the compressed air to flow through. If this gap is not present, the air head and nozzle do not fit together and the airbrush gun cannot function properly. In this case, you can be sure that a specialist dealer will be able to help you solve the existing problem with suitable parts.
We would be pleased if our guide about the purchase of an airbrush kit were helpful for you. In any case, we wish you much joy and success with this varied hobby!
Larissa Meyer is a 32-year-old mother from Michigan and creative spirit since childhood. Her passion for painting and drawing has led her to an education as an illustrator and a career as a freelance graphic designer. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration and a degree in Graphic Design. Larissa is a talented artist who is able to master a wide range of styles and techniques to bring her artistic vision to life. Her greatest passion is currently fluid painting and epoxy resin art. Larissa’s love for art and her knowledge and experience in illustration make her the perfect Creative Director for our fluid-painting.com team. She is the creative head of our team and shares her passion and knowledge with our community through articles and tutorials.
As a mother of a 2-year-old daughter, Larissa also understands the importance of fostering creativity in early childhood. She uses her experience and knowledge to help other parents inspire their children and develop their artistic skills as well.