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If you want to learn how to airbrush, but you are not yet familiar with it, choosing the right airbrush kit can be difficult. Each one has its advantages and disadvantages. In our Airbrush Kit Guide, we give you a comprehensive overview of the best airbrush kits and reveal our test winner.
Table of Contents
- 1 What is an Airbrush Kit?
- 2 Advantages of an Airbrush Kit
- 3 The Best Airbrush Kit
- 4 Best Professional Airbrush Kit: PAASCHE AIRBRUSH Double Action Airbrush Set
- 5 Best Affordable Airbrush Kit: VIVOHOME Professional Airbrushing Paint System
- 6 Important Components for Choosing Airbrush Kits
- 7 Valuable Tips for the Purchase of an Airbrush Kit
- 8 Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
What is an Airbrush Kit?
Airbrushing is becoming increasingly popular not only among artists, but also among do-it-yourselfers and even among amateur bakers. Of course, you would need an airbrush kit for airbrushing. You can create one yourself, or buy a fully pre-assembled kit. This usually consists of the following basic parts:
- Airbrush Gun
- Airbrush Compressor
- Hose with suitable threads
- Possibly different nozzles
- Possibly a stand for the airbrush gun
- Possibly an airbrush cleaner
- Possibly airbrush paint
Airbrush Kits are suitable for many applications, for example model making, handicraft, nail art and food decoration of all kinds. With the latter, it is essential to ensure that the paints are food safe.
Advantages of an Airbrush Kit
The first advantage of a complete airbrush kit is obvious: You have all the individual parts immediately at hand and do not have to search for different nozzles, a suitable compressor, or the right hose. All parts are compatible with each other, so you won’t get a nasty surprise when you connect the airbrush and find you do not have the correct part. Complete airbrush kits are often not as expensive as buying the individual parts. So it is worth looking at it just from the point of view of the price.
Here we have for you all the advantages of a complete set at a glance:
- Not as expensive as buying separate parts
- Guaranteed compatibility of all parts included in the set
- Easy resale of a complete set if you find that airbrushing is not for you
- High compatibility of paints from the same airbrush kit manufacturer
The Best Airbrush Kit
You will need a top-quality airbrush kit to ensure that you produce the best results. We have put the following airbrush ktis through their paces for you. Here are our recommendations:
Best beginner Airbrush Kit: Master Airbrush Cool Runner II Set
This airbrushing kit is our top pick due to the fact that it offers the artist everything they would need with regards to the basics. This makes this kit ideal for beginners. The kit comes with three types of airbrushes, a selection of acrylic paints, cleaning brushes, a beginner’s guide, and even an access card to the Airbrush Resource Center online.
- Professional Master Airbrush Multi-Purpose Airbrushing System with 3 Master Airbrushes
- Model TC-320 Cool Runner II superior performance powerful 1/5 hp single-piston compressor
- U.S. Art Supply Primary Colors Water-Based Acrylic Airbrush Paint Kit included
The compressor in this kit is equipped with two cooling fans to allow it to run for longer periods of time without overheating. It comes with an airbrush holder than can hold up to two airbrushes. The three airbrush types included in this set will allow for a variety of effects. You will receive a selection of six acrylic paints in opaque primary colors as well as a color mixing wheel so that you can begin experimenting right away.
This product is designed for ease of use, coming with a built-in handle for carrying as well as an air-on-demand system. This system works by switching off the airbrush when it is not in use, so that it only works when you do. This airbrushing kit is the perfect choice for anyone wanting to begin airbrushing for the first time.
Best Professional Airbrush Kit: PAASCHE AIRBRUSH Double Action Airbrush Set
This airbrush set is a premium product best suited to those well-acquainted with the art of airbrushing. This airbrush comes with a dual-action gravity feed airbrush that is available in three different interchangeable head sizes. The compressor will switch off automatically when not in use. This airbrush set also comes with a cleaning kit comprising of seven brushes with which to clean all the different parts of your airbrush.
The airbrush itself is coated in a chrome plating and can spray any solvent or water-based paints. The compressor makes very little noise whilst in operation and is relatively compact in size. This airbrush is not ideal for particularly long operations, however, as it can overheat after continuous use.
This airbrush is an advanced one that allows for a great amount of control and detail. You will be able to cover a large surface area with the fan air cap. Individuals that consider themselves experienced in the field of airbrushing should definitely opt for this product.
Best Affordable Airbrush Kit: VIVOHOME Professional Airbrushing Paint System
This airbrushing kit is perfect for those looking for a more affordable option without having to sacrifice on quality. You will be able to purchase this airbrushing set on a budget whilst still receiving professional results. You can expect consistent performance with this airbrush, as it is fastened with a piston framework that is designed to produce a steady amount of air.
- Multi-purpose-use - 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;
The set is equipped with three different fluid tips, allowing for multipurpose use. You can attach up to two airbrushes to this compressor, which produces very little noise and is oil-free. The airbrush system is designed to switch itself off when it begins to overheat, so you will not have to worry about damaging your product.
You will be able to use this airbrush for a multitude of purposes, from decorative art pieces, illustrations, and crafts to temporary tattoos, cake decorating, and cosmetics. This quality kit is ideal for beginners on a budget, as it contains nearly everything that you will need to begin airbrushing a masterpiece.
Important Components for Choosing Airbrush Kits
A general airbrush kit recommendation can surely not be given, as different components and properties are important for different users. A hobby baker who wants to decorate cakes with many tiny details needs a different gun or different nozzles than a craftsman who wants to spray large areas.
However, there are some things that are universal in every airbrush system. In the following section, we will introduce you to the basic components of high-quality airbrush kits. If you prefer to assemble your own airbrush kit, this is of course also possible – all components are also available separately. Under the respective category, you will find our recommendation for which one to buy.
What would an airbrush kit be without a gun? But choosing the right airbrush gun is not as easy as it seems. Because one generally differentiates between two different types of airbrush guns:
- Single Action: Single Action lets you use a wheel to control the amount of paint you add when spraying. You can regulate the air supply yourself. This gives you optimal paint results even as a beginner, because you don’t have to regulate both the air and paint supply yourself.
- Double Action: In Double Action, the user regulates the air and paint supply simultaneously with the same finger. This makes it a little more difficult to use, but it allows you to work on very fine details.
Apart from this distinguishing feature, there are airbrush guns with a flow system and those with a suction system:
- Guns with a flow system have a small funnel on the top of the gun into which the paint is filled. This then flows into the nozzle by the simple principle of gravity, which means that the air pressure with which the gun operates must be very low. Of course, you cannot spray overhead with such a system, but horizontal spraying is possible due to the special angle of the nozzle.
- With the suction system, however, the paint is sucked into the nozzle by negative pressure. This offers the user several advantages: Not only is it possible to work overhead, but very large paint containers can also be attached to the gun. This allows the user to spray large areas comfortably without having to constantly refill paint.
In principle, an airbrush compressor is not absolutely necessary – you can just as well use a compressed air bottle. However, this has the decisive disadvantage that the compressed air is simply used up at some point. When you have finished a longer airbrush session, you will sometimes find that you have emptied several airbrush bottles. So buying a compressor not only has the advantage of a one-time purchase, but also the advantage of a lower price and is much more sustainable. If you often have longer airbrush sessions, it is definitely worth buying an airbrush compressor.
Of course, there are some things to consider. If you want to buy an airbrush kit, the appropriate compressor is often already included. We will, however, still tell you what makes a solid compressor:
- One of the numbers that you should look out for is first of all the capacity. Most compressors work with too much pressure, so this must be regulated to ensure the optimum air output of 1.5 to 2.2 bar. So make sure that the compressor contains a pressure regulator. The pressure of your airbrush compressor should then be good and easy to regulate.
- A pressure gauge should be standard so that you can adjust the pressure to the optimum level and keep an eye on it.
- Also check if there is a water separator already built into the compressor. If this is not the case – treat yourself to one! A water separator will ensure that no droplets of condensed water mix into your paint and distort your spray pattern. Especially if you are an ambitious artist, an airbrush water separator is a must. The same applies if you have a compressor that works with oil. Then you should get an oil separator.
- By the way, a good tip is compatibility with an adapter: Once you have that, you can use the airbrush compressor for other purposes. This makes the purchase doubly worthwhile.
- If you are sensitive to noise, pay attention to the volume. Compressors are not known to be particularly quiet, but there are so-called whisper compressors. An alternative is an air tank. This is connected to the compressor and is first filled with compressed air. When the air tank is full, the compressor can be switched off and you can work in peace until the tank is empty again. Only then is it refilled. Another advantage is that you can work with several airbrush guns at the same time.
A shortcoming of this technique is the threat of wear and tear due to rust. The air tank requires a lot of care because you have to remove the condensed water after each use. Otherwise your tank will rust from the inside out within a short period of time.
- If you want to work not only at home but also in other places, you also have to pay attention to the mobility of the unit. There are compressors that are small and light and relatively easy to transport.
Tip: Think of your neighbors. A large, heavy and noisy compressor is more likely to make the tenant below you knock on the ceiling than a handy compressor that only causes minor vibrations.
- Automatic On/Off Shutoff;
- At 1/5 Horsepower this unit delivers more Air Volume (CFM) and Air Pressure (PSI) than any airbrush demands;
- Oil-less Piston Motor Low Noise: Very Quiet Operation, only 59 db. Backed by our support, so you can be assured of Quality and Reliability;
- Precise Air Adjustment:True Diaphram Pressure Regulator with Gauge and Water Trap Filter that provides precise adjustment of airflow and will ensure clean, dry air;
- "Air-On-Demand": Designed to work only when you do, produces air on demand at the your regulated pressure. Thermally Protected: Automatically turns itself off if the unit becomes over heated.
The cleaning agent is not only dependent on the respective manufacturer, but also and above all on the paints used. As explained below, there are water-based and solvent-based paints. The cleaning agent used should be adapted to the respective paints. Therefore, if you use solvent-based paints, make sure you also use a solvent-based cleaning agent, otherwise paint residues could remain in the gun and clog it quite quickly.
Airbrush paints are in principle compatible with any airbrush gun. Mostly they are not included in complete sets; however, you can find kits with paints. Pay attention to whether the paints are solvent-based or water-based. Not only do various properties such as color brilliance, intended use, and potential health hazards depend on this, but also the use of a suitable cleaning agent.
Water-based paints are acrylic paints that contain an acrylic resin dispersion or plastic in addition to a binder and either organic or inorganic pigments. Solvent-based airbrush paints contain the name-giving solvent in addition to pigments and must also be removed from the gun with a solvent-based cleaner.
Many different Paints are available on the market. The most common manufacturers of airbrush paints are Schmincke, Liquitex, and Vallejo.
Valuable Tips for the Purchase of an Airbrush Kit
Expensive does not always mean high-quality workmanship, but more often than not it does. If you are unsure whether airbrushing is really an artistic avenue for you, you can of course start with an inexpensive airbrush kit for beginners. The advantage of this is of course the unbeatable price and also the spray pattern is often not much different from expensive airbrush kits.
However, difficulties often arise during cleaning, because many cheap airbrush kits for beginners do not include various components. Often the simple construction of the gun suffers from this – and therefore you can’t disassemble it easily for cleaning. Therefore it is possible that a cheap airbrush gun will clog relatively quickly. Furthermore, you often don’t get spare parts for your gun, and as such you have to buy a new one immediately after even small damages. And whether the supplier of a “cheap tool” keeps to the warranty as strictly as it should be is also questionable.
Tip: Therefore, our airbrush kit recommendation would be at least a medium-priced model, with which you don’t only get a lot of accessories included, but which is also a higher quality product.
Also make sure that the nozzle size is suitable, because not only the choice of paint depends on it, but also the area of application. It often makes a difference whether you buy an airbrush kit for model making or one for painting car bodies. This, in turn, will determine whether you buy a gun with a suction or flow system. Of course, the set should really contain all the parts you need.
Not only a nice gimmick, but an airbrush gun holder makes sense. This sounds banal, but yes, you can just put the pistol on the table next to you. However, you should remember that there is a hose attached to the pistol, which can pull it down with its weight. There is hardly anything more annoying than an airbrush needle that is bent after the first use, just because you saved on the holder and put the gun on the table – from where it landed on the floor.
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
How to Clean your Airbrush Kit?
The airbrush kit should be cleaned after each use. But that’s not all: Cleaning is also necessary with every paint change, otherwise the color result can be distorted by undesirable effects.
- The last used paint is poured out of the container first. This is then cleaned of all paint residues with a cleaner and a cotton swab.
- The container is then filled with a cleaner and the airbrush gun is operated until clear liquid without paint is sprayed out.
- The container is emptied again and dried.
- Easy-to-use, insert one of the included filter pads in the filter tube
- Heavy glass jar; prevents the weight of an airbrush and hose from tipping over the pot
- Add solvent to your airbrush's color cup and spray through the rubber port in the cover, flushing the pigment from the brush and into the pot
- This clean pot also can be used as an airbrush holder
Tip: Always use either clear water – for water-based paints – or a cleaner without ammonia, otherwise your nozzle could be damaged over time.
Where to buy an Airbrush Kit?
Airbrush kits are mainly available on the Internet, but you can also find them in shops that offer artists’ supplies. Of course, the Internet is usually not only cheaper, but also a more convenient way to buy an airbrush kit. Usually, the customer service offers support by mail or phone if you need them.
When should the Airbrush Needle be Replaced?
The needle should always be replaced if it is damaged or bent. You will notice this, for example, by the fact that the spray pattern is no longer even. Especially fine and filigree strokes can show interruptions or irregularities. If you notice these errors in your work, check whether it is due to a bent airbrush needle.
Why is there no Paint coming out of the Airbrush Gun?
If no airbrush paint comes out of the gun, the nozzle may be clogged because it has not been cleaned properly. You can try cleaning it again with a suitable cleaner. Do not use force to do this, as this could damage the gun. If you are not able to do this yourself, contact a specialist or the manufacturer of the airbrush gun if necessary. If this is not the case, check all connections and make sure that enough compressed air is expelled from the nozzle.
Finding the right airbrush kit is not as easy as it sounds. Due to the increasing popularity of this art form, more and more products are appearing on the market. We hope we could give you an overview of the best airbrush kits to make your decision easier.