|HSeng AF186 Mini Air Compressor, piston type with an air tank and regulator|
|Getting an air compressor with a tank is the better option in the long run|
With this being my initial investment in an airbrush setup, I had to forgo the expensive branded stuff. Getting tools and accessories to use superseded any personal wish for top of the range equipment. So with the perennial issue of a tight budget up front and center in my thoughts, I bought the affordable Haosheng (HSeng) airbrush setup during a store sale for a further discount. This made-in-China ensemble seems functional enough. But I honestly have no idea how good the setup actually is as I don't have a better system to compare it to. For now though, it will have to suffice.
|Made in China Haoseng airbrushes of the 0.3 and 0.2 mm variety|
|Cheap, no-brand 0.3 mm airbrush - a no-frills basic tool for beginners|
|Similarly priced, the 0.2 mm version is slightly better as it comes with a needle stopper and an air adjuster|
This being a cheap, no-brand airbrush meant imperfections were to be expected in the build quality (see immediate photo below). In addition, the various screw joints seem a bit rough on the edges (not shown) but thus far it hasn't been to the extent that performance of the airbrush is compromised. Meanwhile, the air compressor works like a charm. It's fairly quiet even when the motor kicks in to fill up the tank with air. Getting an air compressor with a tank is recommended as you will be able to work without the incessant sound of motors compressing air. You would also get to airbrush for longer periods simply because there is not need for the motors to run continuously thus overheat.
|Imperfections in the metal are evident as can be seen inside the paint cup of the 0.3 mm airbrush|
To make the airbrushing process a little bit more hassle-free, I bought a pair of quick release valve couplings (one of which is shown in the photo below). This piece of accessory makes is easier and quicker to disconnect an airbrush from the hose that itself is connected to the air compressor. I'm certainly game for anything that makes for a less stressful painting experience. I'm extremely clumsy as it is, so not having to fumble with unscrewing an airbrush from the hose in the middle of a painting session is most welcome. An airbrush would be disconnected from its hose for a variety of reasons e.g. for a quick clean in between colors; to switch between different sized airbrushes; etc.
|Generic no-brand airbrush quick release (disconnect) valve coupling: top and bottom connectors|
|Airbrushes with top connector of the quick release valve attached (bottom connector is fixed to the hose; not shown)|
My first airbrush spray test was with a mixture of Tamiya Acrylic Paints. This particular paint mix comprised equal portions of XF-58 Olive Green and XF-4 Yellow Green resulting in one of the many types of Russian green evident on their tanks during World War II. Initial results were terrible due to a combination of paint not thinned enough coupled with a ceiling fan being switched on during the airbrushing session. And the fact that it was also a hot day that day meant the paint dried well before it hit the primed plastic spoon. But after a bit of trial and error I managed to better results.
|Mixing a form of Russian Green for initial test sprays with the 0.3 mm airbrush|
|Adjustments to air pressure, working conditions, paint mix ratio, etc. eventually yielded a smooth coat|
After getting used to mixing the correct ratio of paint-to-thinner-to-retarder as well as mitigating windy (i.e. quick drying) conditions, other variables then came into play in my search for a smooth airbrush application of paint on a primed subject matter. These include distance of airbrush from the subject matter and level of pressure/pull-back applied to the airbrush trigger. The latter is based on the fact that both airbrushes are double action types i.e. pressing down on the trigger controls air flow while pulling back on the trigger determines amount of paint flowing into the air stream.
|Mixing a darker hue for testing out the fine line capabilities of a 0.2 mm airbrush|
|Squiggles and fine lines achieved with the generic 0.2 mm airbrush|
I'm itching to start painting figurines and model kits with the airbrush but I can't, not yet. It's doubly hard to continue practicing especially when the stuff being sprayed on are just plastic spoons, pieces of Tamiya Pla Plate or plain paper. However patience is key so I'm going to have to soldier on with the practice sessions until I'm fairly comfortable using the airbrush with different types of paint. It's better to bungle a paint job of a spoon than an expensive figurine/kit. Well, I had better get to it then.