The Best Airbrush for Miniatures & Models: A Beginner’s Guide

  • By: Richard
  • Date: August 8, 2021
  • Time to read: 13 min.

What is the best airbrush for miniatures and models? This is a question that many model painters, hobbyists, and artists are asking themselves. If you are one of them, then this article is for you! In this guide, we will discuss what makes an airbrush good for miniatures & models and list our top five picks. We hope that with some help from us on your search, you can find the perfect tool to complete your next project!

Types of Airbrush

  • Single action airbrush: This type of airbrush has a single button that does it all. The only control you need to adjust is the airflow!
  • Double action airbrush: Double-action requires two buttons; one for paint and another for airflow. These types are best recommended for intermediate users as they can be more difficult to master than a simple push-button but offer greater control over your work.
  • Airbrush with a needle-point: If you need more control for detail work or small projects, then this type of airbrush is your best bet. You can adjust the paint flow and airflow to suit the size of the project at hand without having to switch between brushes types!
  • Compressed Air System (CAS): This system uses compressed gas like butane or propane instead of an external compressor. The great thing about CAS systems is that they require no electricity, making them perfect for outdoor use; however, compared to basic compressors, these models take up more space in your gear bag.

Compressor System airbrushes, like the D8, blow heated air through a small nozzle and are best for painting delicate or detailed projects.

Single Action vs. Dual Action: What’s The Difference?

Single action airbrushes only allow one trigger motion; this means spraying and sucking back simultaneously (the most common type). They come with a built-in regulator, which enables users to control the paint flow with just a simple button push.

A Double-action airbrush requires two triggers; one for the paint and another for airflow pressure. These types are best recommended for intermediate users as they can be more difficult to master than a single action but offer greater control over your work. Beginner or casual hobbyists may find this type overwhelming at first, but practice will make perfect!

Dual Action vs. Single Action: Which Type Do You Need?

If you are a beginner or hobbyist, then a single-action airbrush is your best bet. They offer the perfect balance between ease of use and increased control for beginners without overwhelming them with too many bells and whistles to distract from their work. Intermediate users may find that the double-action brush offers greater precision in getting just the right effect they want, while advanced artists might prefer having more options at their fingertips–which means it’s not about which type is better but what works; best for you!

Airbrush Controls – Trigger & Paint Flow

  • Trigger: The trigger is the button that you squeeze to spray paint. This can be an easy-to-squeeze single action or a two-step process for more precise control with double actions.
  • Paint Flow: Paint flow controls how much of your desired color comes out onto your project, so it’s important to set this correctly! These are regulated by either turning a knob or adjusting the air pressure on certain models.
  • Air Pressure Control (APC): APCS come in handy when working with larger projects as they offer greater precision but can cause overspray if misused, which may lead to messy work surfaces!

Which is Better Gravity Or Siphon Airbrush?

Gravity airbrushes are the most common type on the market and work by spraying paint when you pull back on the trigger. Siphon airbrush, however, uses gravity to suck up paint from a container before releasing it through a nozzle!

Which is better? That’s for each artist to decide–as long as they get beautiful results in their desired style! The only thing that matters is what works best for them. Some artists might prefer one over another due to personal preference or even physical limitations (like arthritis). Experiment with both types until you find your perfect match!

Airbrush Nozzle/Needle Size for Models & Miniatures

The airbrush nozzle/needle size is a fairly important factor in how well the model or miniature will be sprayed. The larger the needle, the more paint will flow out of it onto your surface and vice versa. Larger needles are typically used for large surfaces like walls because they need to cover more area with less work from you (and there’s no point wasting too much paint). However, if your goal is to spray one small part of your project that may not require as many coats, smaller needles would serve you better – which can also help when detailing things like eyes or other small parts!

Smaller needles would suit models & miniatures best since their detail doesn’t require as many layers, so also having a finer needle helps when spraying.

The size and nozzle of the airbrush paint are also important to keep in mind since there are different types of paints for different purposes, like oil-based enamels, which require a stiffer brush or spray (most commonly used by artists) as opposed to acrylics that you would use on models & miniatures because they can be washed off. The type will affect how well each coat goes on, whether it smears or not but also what your outcome looks like – so it’s worth experimenting with both before committing!

5 Airbrush Brands That I Personally Recommend:

Many people ask for my opinion of airbrushes, and I’ll share some brands that I like with you.

  1. Badger Airbrush Company: These are a trendy choice for people of all levels, and they have some great starter kits available. They also offer the most variety in size, needle, nozzle types among their products. I personally recommend them because there is an excellent range of high-quality airbrushes that will suit any budget!
  2. Porter-Cable: A well-known company with reliable models which may be more expensive but come with better features – like being able to spray anything without clogging up your brush, easy cleanup, etc…
  3. Grumbacher Academy Master Series Brush Sets My personal favorite is beginner sets since they give you everything you need (plus brushes) at an excellent price point and come with some cool extras like a DVD instructional.
  4. Gamsol: An excellent choice for people who are new to airbrushing because they come with excellent quality and serve as an inexpensive introduction to the hobby without having to overspend just for your first setup. They also have some great colors, which work well on models & miniatures!
  5. Badger NeoAir™ Series: One of Badger’s newest releases, these brushes offer high performance combined with the low cost making them perfect for beginners or more advanced artists alike. You can even buy kits that include many different nozzle/needle sizes, so you’re not stuck trying out all sorts before deciding what’s best suited for your needs – plus, they’ve got tons of color options too!

My 5 top airbrush brands for miniatures and models – the list is by no means exhaustive.

Kits vs. Brushes

One more important thing to consider when deciding which airbrush is best for you: kits vs. brushes.

Kits come with everything needed to get started, so it’s a great way to do this if you’re on a budget or just starting. But if you’re a more advanced user or prefer to have the option of switching out different needle sizes, then buying brushes separately might be better for your needs.

There are pros and cons to each, so it’s worth spending some time trying both before deciding as there is no right answer – do what suits you best! I like kits because they come with everything I need, but I am open to using either type, depending on my situation.

Brushes are individual parts that will need their own paint and are generally better suited for people who know what they want, how much they can spend and have an idea of the experience level they need – I also find them easier when trying different paints since all your stuff won’t be mixed like with kits!

Airbrush Compressor for Miniatures And Models

What’s an airbrush without a compressor? Well, it can’t work… A range of different types are available, and the right choice depends on your needs!

The first consideration to make when choosing an airbrush compressor is how much pressure do you want. This determines how big your tank should be – as well as if there are any safety features like automatic shutdowns or protection from over-pressurizing. That way, you don’t risk hurting yourself by running out of paint halfway through painting something only to find out they’re not supplied with brushes/tips, etc… or worse, still, ruining all your hard work because the color bled into other areas while waiting for the compressor to catch up.

The other thing you need to consider is how much space you have available for it and what type of pressure the airbrush needs – which will determine if a piston or diaphragm pump would be better suited. Both can work, but some people prefer one style over the other, so try out both and see which works best!

Top 5 Airbrushes for Miniatures And Models

 

IRoadtec Airbrush Kit with Air Compressor, Portable Mini Cordless Airbrush Gun Kit


This is an excellent choice for people who are new to airbrushing because they come with outstanding quality and serve as an inexpensive introduction to the hobby without having to overspend just for your first setup. They also have some great colors, which work well on models & miniatures!

Pros

Never worry about your airbrush running out of batteries, wasting paint, or causing a mess with the IRoadtec Airbrush Kit. This package comes with an upgraded trigger airbrush and battery level display for easy use.

The dual action nozzle allows you to create anything from thin lines to realistic shading on any surface without making a mess. This Airfix kit has something for everyone with customizable spray patterns like the jet stream, soft mist, full atomization, and many others.

The 3 pcs indicator lights show if it needs more charging time before using and how much paint is left in the gun so you can go longer without refilling it again! Get yours today in either matte black or forest green!

Cons

It is not easy to use with your typical paint. Unless diluted by a hefty 50%, you’ll barely be able to get even coverage on the model!

Gocheer Upgraded 30PSI Airbrush Kit, Multi-Function Dual-Action Airbrush Set with Compressor


This is the perfect airbrush for beginners because it’s an all-inclusive kit that includes everything you need to get started. Gocheer offers a 30PSI compressor with easy nozzle adjustments, which means you don’t have to worry about buying one separately. The price point on this set is very affordable, so if money’s tight, this might be the best option for you.

Pros

The Gocheer Upgraded 30PSi Airbrush Kit is perfect for airbrush, model coloring, painting, airbrush tattoos, nail design, Art drawing, cake decoration, and much more! This kit includes professional quality cleaning tools and a high-pressure tube that provides excellent performance with results you can be proud of.

You’ll enjoy all the options this set provides: from heavy coverage to precise detail ability. If just getting started in airbrushing or an experienced pro looking to upgrade your equipment – get ready for clean, consistent spraying using the Gocheer Professional Airbrusher Set! Plus, with so many convenient accessories included – you won’t have to make a stop at the store before starting your project.

Cons

  • The brush is not good.

Master Airbrush Cool Runner II Dual Fan Air Compressor Airbrushing System Kit with 3 Professional Airbrush Sets


Master Airbrush Cool Runner II Dual Fan Air Compressor Airbrushing System Kit with three professional airbrush sets. Which is the best model for beginners? The Master Airbrush Cool Runner II Dual-Fan air compressor has a multitude of advantages that make it an excellent choice as your first kit, including a high-quality compressor motor and pump; durable construction made to withstand travel and long sessions in artist’s studios without overheating or failing prematurely; includes multiple nozzles for different effects such as line work and detail painting; plus this system also comes with five paint set colors so that you can start at once!

Pros

The dual-fan design provides optimal airflow to keep cool. It also includes two airbrushes for ultimate precision, utility, and versatility: a Gravity Feed model G25 Dual-action with a 1/16oz gravity-feed fluid cup and 0.3mm tip; Model E91 Single-action siphon feed with a 0.8mm tip and 2 – 3/4 oz siphon bottles. In addition, it has superior performance due to its powerful single-piston compressor that will be sure to please even the most fastidious of painters! This is product can cover up 2 in x 2 ft (or 1 sqm) in about 10 minutes.

Cons

  • The compressor overheats quickly
  • You outgrow it really fast
  • Thicker paints clog

Timbertech Airbrush Kit, Multi-purpose Airbrush Compressor Set, Dual-Action Gravity Feed Airbrush Kit with Airbrush Gun

Introducing the Timbertech Dual Action Grav, a versatile dual-action kit that features an oil-free compressor with a manometer, air pressure regulator, and air filter to take your art to new heights. This kit comes equipped with a gravity feed Airbrush for fine detail (with accompanying nozzles from 0.2mm all the way up to 1.0mm), making it perfect for people of all skill levels and offers 40 minutes of use before overheating needs rest time after just 30 minutes of operation!

Pros

  • Oil-free reciprocating piston compressor with manometer
  • Air pressure regulator and air filter
  • Autostop(4Bar)-Autstart(3Bar)
  • Airflow 20-23L/Min
  • Uses nozzles from 0.2 to 1.0 mm
  • Gravity feed airbrush with 0.30mm(mounted) and additional nozzles of sizes 0.2mm, 0.3mm, and 0.5mm
  • This airbrush kit has an operating pressure of 1-2.5 bar and a metal capacity of 7 ml with the hose at just 6ft/1.9 m.

Generally useful for all modeling tasks, such as cosmetics, tattoos, lacquerings, etc.

Cons

  • After 40 minutes, the compressor will overheat
  • After 30 minutes of operation, and pushes condensate out through the hose, despite the presence of a water separator.

Grex GCK05 Genesis.XGi3 Airbrush Combo Kit

With a lightweight design and slip-on handles, the Genesis.XGi3 Airbrush Combo Kit is easy to use for beginners or experienced artists. The kit includes an airbrush compressor with stylish, quiet features that can be used on your watercolors, paintbrushes, inks – you name it!

The kit also comes with a carrying case and 6′ braided nylon air hose, so you’re ready to go right out of the box. Plus, don’t forget about our lifetime warranty, so even if something does happen to malfunction during normal use, we’ll take care of you!

Pros

  • Slip-on ergonomic grips improve control to maximize comfort when operating.
  • Grex AC1810-A airbrush compressor – Stylish, quiet, feature-rich, and portable.
  • Reservoirs included: 2mL, 7mL and 15mL screw-on lid
  • Full-length “Getting Started with your Grex Airbrush” DVD
  • Includes: 6′ Braided Nylon Air Hose, Airbrush Carrying Case

Cons

  • none

 

FAQs About Airbrush for Miniatures

 

What Airbrush is Best for Miniatures?

The best airbrush for miniatures is one with an interchangeable nozzle. This will allow you to use different-sized tips designed specifically to create the effects and shapes needed on miniature models. Airbrushes that come with a range of nozzles at the start typically have similar performance capabilities as those without them but may take longer to clean between paint jobs or require more care when doing detail work.

What Is The Best Airbrush Kit for Beginners?

For beginners, the best airbrush kit is a basic set that includes an air compressor and hose. It should also include at least one nozzle size, as well as an instructional manual to help you get started with techniques for different projects. The kit should also come with a comfortable grip or handle so you can easily control the airbrush.

A good starter-set includes:

  • Air Brush
  • Compressor
  • Air Hose
  • Compression Adapter
  • Nozzle Set (0,30mm)
  • Instruction Manual

This set is great for miniatures because it comes complete with everything needed to get started from one company in a neat little package!

How to Use an Airbrush for Miniatures?

To use an airbrush for miniatures, you’ll want first to assemble the compressor and make sure it is working. Then, attach the nozzle set onto your desired brush head (compressed or gravity feed), connecting with a female coupling that threads into your compressed air source.

Next, get some water-based acrylic paint in two different colors of choice and put them on a palette so you can mix as needed. Choose one color as foreground (basecoat) and another for background details like shading. You will also need to wipe off any excess paint from the surface before starting work since this should be done just before painting each stroke begins – generally using either paper towels or clean cloths. Finally, start spraying!

Airbrush Kits With a Variable Nozzle/Needle?

Some airbrush kits come with a variable nozzle/needle. This allows you to have more control over the type of spray coming out; for example, one that produces less paint than the other or is finer and detailed. A good beginner’s set will include at least two nozzles sizes so you can experiment as your skills progress to achieve different effects from thick lines to fine details.

The most popular needles are:

  1. 0-12mm – used typically for painting larger surfaces like cars
  2. 15-20mm – great for detail work on smaller models
  3. 25mm – ideal needle size if working with medium-sized objects such as miniatures
  4. 30mm – best suited for large surfaces like walls or vehicles

However, a good rule of thumb is to consult the manual for your airbrush to find the best one for you and what type of surfaces you’ll be painting.

How do I Clean an Airbrush?

Cleaning an airbrush should always be done with care because it can easily clog or break if mishandled. You will need water-based paint thinner, white spirit (or turpentine), paper towels/cloth, protective goggles & a mask. Avoid getting any liquid into the nozzle when cleaning by either using compressed air at its lowest setting or tilting brush, so nozzles are clear of fluid! Once cleaned, spray some cleaner onto a rag before wiping down inside tube and needle tip with another rag.

Conclusions

Hopefully, this guide has been helpful to you and made the airbrushing process a little less scary! If you have any additional questions, please feel free to reach out. I would be happy to answer them or find someone who can direct you in the right direction.

Richard

Hi! I'm Richard Baker, a miniature painter who has been painting for about ten years. My website is packed with great advice that I've learned from both books and personal experience on building and painting miniatures.

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