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Airbrushing/which Airbrush?


Hi, I am a photo realism artist, pen/pencil and graffiti with experience in tattoos. Recently I used a airbrush (a micron I believe) and really liked it, and want to get my own system together. I am finding it extremely overwhelming, there are so many choices and good and bad reviews and opinions on each.

My question to you is, my work is highly detailed, precision work, a lot of portraits, city landscapes etc.  Which airbrush would you recommend for this? I do prefer gravity fed, dual action trigger. I'm looking into purchasing two different airbrushes, one as a main workhorse and the other for fine detail.

I've been looking at:

Iwata Hi-Line HP-CH and
Iwata HP-CS
Badger Renegade Krome

I would like to get a micron, but that's a lot of money to drop in one place, as I will still need to get an air compressor, hose, and any quick disconnects I may need, and of course paint, which aren't cheap

Also, I was looking into scorpion air compressors, but now i am looking into California air tools compressors, seems they offer a much greater life span as well as better CFM.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. My main concern is finding the right airbrush that will allow me to do that detail I am looking for, thank you for your time!

Hi, J.
I've been doing a little research on the compressor section of your question and I just found my favorite online. I had to dig out my manual and warranty stuff. This is from the listing on Amazon:
GMC Syclone 6310
   Ultra Quiet - Only 60 Decibels - Less Noise than someone talking!
   Oil-Free - No Maintenance - Extra Long Life - 3000 hour life cycle
   Large 6.3 Gallon Steel Tank with Wheels
   3.80 CFM @ 40 PSI & 2.35 CFM @ 90 PSI - MAX 120 PSI
   Low Amp Draw - 7.6 Amps - 1hp
I have had this for a few years and I love it. It's the best one I've ever had. Seeeeriously.
You can get the hoses and quick connects you need from the hardware store for not too much money.

Now that we have that out of the way, to the airbrushes.
For the work horse, you will never regret your Iwata. I started out with Paasche VLs and used them for many years with great results. They will take a beating, work well and have cheap replacement parts and are easy to work on. My Iwata Eclipse BCS, though, was my upgrade airbrush. I can get better detail and accuracy with the that than with my Paasche.
From what I read about the two you mention, the Hi Line seems to have an extra air control at the head. This would be ok, but you can learn to do that with the trigger, too. You can change the nozzle, cap and needle on the Iwatas for even more tip control. Practice is also always important, of course.

I have to tell you I have never used a micron. I got scared away from them after reading about how touchy and temperamental they can be and I just don't need the stress. I also don't need that level of detail, but if you do, see if you can find an art store that will let you try them out until you find one you're comfortable with. I have tried a couple of Badgers over the years out of curiosity and while I'm not familiar with the one you mention, I just find that their quality overall is more hobby level.

So, in short: good, quiet reliable compressor with very decent CFM is the GMC Syclone, and go with the Iwata you like best. Save up for the micron if you still crave it after getting to know your day to day airbrushes.
check out Dixie Art Supplies, Dick Blick and Jerry's Art-a-rama for good deals and sales on equipment and supplies. Air Brush Action Magazine is a good resource for new technology and paints.  Paint lots and have fun!


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Ellen Choate


I can answer questions relating to basic and advanced airbrushing technique, general how-tos, preparation and compatible media for different substrates, proper paint-to-air ratios, troubleshooting, color theory, maintenance and repair, stencil cutting and use, and most other areas relating to airbrush. I'll be posting tutorials in the future if that would be helpful, and if possible.


I learned to airbrush the hard way, watching and collaborating with people who didn't know much more than I did. Later I got instruction from people who knew what they were doing and learned what I had been doing wrong. I have been airbrushing for over 30 years; the first two years were in an amusement park painting as fast as I could, often for 12 hours a day, six days a week. You get good real fast. I have painted on almost everything imaginable, from walls to a bus to prosthetic limbs.

I studied art at the University of Texas at Arlington for three years but haven't made the time to complete my now obsolete "graphic arts" degree. We did layouts and color separations by hand, thank you very much. It has served me well, but not in the way I expected.

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