To airbrush or not to airbrush?

To me it's definitely clear that airbrushing is the way to put colours on your models if you want a good result, but some times you have to ask yourself: Is it worth the trouble? When I was young the only way was to paint your kits with a paintbrush and the only paint available was Humbrol. When I started modelling again, years later, things had happened. There was new colour manufacturers, the airbrush had become more widely available, there was a choice between enamel and acrylic paints and, very notably, Humbrol had changed recipes due to law restrictions resulting in a more unforgiving product that, when applied by paintbrush became uneven and hard to get a good result with.

Soon I invested in an airbrush. After researching on the net my choice fell on Harder & Steenbeck's Evolution, a double-action (where you can control both air pressure and amount of paint), top fed, airbrush. Now, I did not believe this would be easy but...

At the beginning I continued to use Humbrol's enamel paint, soon realizing that I really had to dilute it with thinner if not clogging should be my main problem. But the real pain was to dismantle the airbrush and thoroughly clean it after every use. A time consuming operation and frustrating if it was only to fill it with another colour again. And all the trouble shooting: bubbles and splattering from the cup, air getting through but no paint, splatter from the nozzle...

Cleaning
I avoided the airbrush except for the finishing camouflage just because it was such a hassle.

Vallejo

Enter Vallejo's Model Air paints, paint made for airbrushes and acrylic at that, i.e. no thinner and better for your health. At the same time I really started to understand the importance of priming colours. Specially when you use acrylic paint as it improve the adherence to the surface. With the primer it is easier to find uneven joints and other blemishes that needs fixing before the final coat of paint. But even if the new colour has a better flow the paint dries so quickly so even with a constant flow it tends to clog the nozzle. It gets a little better with a few drops of Airbrush Flow Improver (Vallejo) but don't let the airbrush be idle to long with paint in it.

Cleaning pot

But even with the new paint the basic problem with the cleaning continues. At this junction in the narrative I find the Cleaning Pot SCP-700 a tool to effortless clean your airbrush between uses. Mind you, it is not as miraculous as some claims but it is pretty good. I've found that if I empty the paint out of the airbrush and then use it with Airbrush Cleaner (Vallejo) once, with cleaning alcohol once and then again with Airbrush cleaner the airbrush is ready for use again. It sure beats dismantling and clean the nozzle and needle every time. And the cleaning pot also doubles as a airbrush stand. But still when you're done for the day you still better dismantle and clean. And even so the occasional splutter or bubbles is still a pain.

Cup

As my Evolution airbrush now had some mileage I treated myself to a new Infinity CRplus the other week with more functions as Quick Fix accurate paint-flow control and varied lever resistance. To tell you the truth I do not note any significant effect of these controls and to me it's just as good as the Evolution. But that might just be me and my straight forward approach to airbrushing.

With these new products I chose the airbrush for most things except small details. When applying primers though I usually use it from spraying cans as it's less hassle and don't need any delicacy.

So to finally answer the question: Yes, airbrush when possible. The result is worth it.

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