Product Recommendations

productThe airbrush is a tool that provides artists and artisans with enormous advantages and convenience. From illustrators performing at the highest level of realism, to make-up artists creating HD ready seamless applications, to T-shirt artists rapidly producing of eye-popping custom designs…the possibilities of putting an airbrush to good use are endless!

Purchasing new airbrush equipment should be a fun and exciting experience. However, with so many models available it can also raise a lot of questions for those not in the know. This can often turn the experience into one that is a bit confusing or even overwhelming. It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the available features and specifications of airbrushes so that you can choose with confidence.

Image result for ken johnson airbrush
Airbrushed Tshirt by Ken Johnson


Recommended Airbrushes
A bottom-feed airbrush with a medium or large nozzle size is perfect for T-shirt artists because they are looking to good coverage and want to be able to change colors fast in order to boost production. Use at least a .5mm nozzle when using Createx Colors original formula.
Paasche VL, Paasche MILIwata Eclispe HP-BCS, Grex Genesis XBi, Badger Anthem,

Recommended Compressors
The compressor requirements for painting T-shirts will depend on production volume. If you are just looking to paint a few T-Shirts per week a 1/6HP compressor will be sufficient. If you plan on running a commercial T-Shirt operation your going to need a larger compressor. If your looking for something to just help you get started or plan a just paint a shirt here and there look for something that produces at least 1 CFM.
Paasche DC850R, Paasche DA400R, Iwata Power Jet Plus, 

Recommended Paints
The key with T-shirt paint is that it has to be washable. Meaning it can go through the washing machine without washing off. Make sure you heat set your painted T-shirts with a heat press or flat iron. Or, at least provide your customers with instructions on heat setting and care.
Createx Colors, Wicked Colors, Jacquard Airbrush Colors

Galaxy Shoes by Sal Amezcua @kickstradomis
Galaxy Shoes by Sal Amezcua @kickstradomis

Sneakers (Leather)

Recommended Airbrushes
Most artists use a combination of hand-painting and airbrush when customizing sneakers, depending on the desired effect. A gravity-feed airbrush will work well and in recommended to conserve paint; unless you’re really cranking out some volume and therefore need the paint capacity of a bottom-feed airbrush.
Paasche TalonIwata Eclispe HP-BCS, Grex Tritium, Iwata Neo

Recommended Compressors
A smaller compressor will work fine especially if using a gravity-feed airbrush.
Paasche D500SR, Paasche DA400R, Iwata Smart Jet Pro

Recommended Paints
You’ll want to use a paint that works well on leather. It must adhere well to the leather as well as be flexible so that it does not crack. Some sneakers also have other materials such as plastic that need a primer such as Badger Stynylrez.
Angelus Leather Paints Jacquard Airbrush Colors, Badger Stynylrez

Recommended Additives
2thin can be used to thin out Angelus paints for airbrush use. Flexible Adhesion Promoter can be used as a base coat or added to Createx or Wicked airbrush colors making them suitable for sneaker painting.

Painting by Meinrad Froschin


Recommended Airbrushes
Illustrations are typically small in size and use finely pigmented paints or ink. Therefore you have the option to use a very small nozzle size. However a very small nozzle may or may not be necessary depending on your painting style. Air control is key with illustration so consider using a MAC valve of some sort. Because only small amounts of paint are needed consider using a side-feed model or a gravity-Feed model with a small cup, as to not obstruct your line of sight.

Under $100: Iwata Revolution BR, Harder Steenbeck Ultra, Paasche Raptor, Sparmax SP-35F
Over $100: Iwata HP-B+, Harder & Steenbeck Infinity, Paasche Vision, Grex Genesis XGi

Recommended Compressors
Illustrations only require about 15-30 psi. Air control is key so be sure the compressor has a good regulator and or consider using a MAC valve.
Sparmax AC-501, Grex AC1810, Paasche D500SR, Badger TC908, Iwata Sprint Jet

Recommended Paints
You’ll want to use a highly pigmented color and paint line that provides a wide variety of transparent as well as opaque premixed colors.
Createx Illustration Colors, Golden High Flow

Chuck Close Airbrush circa 1970
Chuck Close at work circa 1970.

Fine Art

Recommended Airbrushes
Fine artists may deal with larger surfaces and thicker paints then illustrators. Consider using a gravity-feed airbrush with a larger cup or even a bottle-feed model for larger projects. (And make sure you have a lid for that gravity cup to prevent making a mess!) Select an airbrush that has a large or medium sized nozzle. Or better yet, one that offers multiple nozzle sizes.

Under $100:  Badger Patriot Paasche VL, Badger 360 Universal,  Paasche Talon,
Over $100:  Grex Tritium TG, TS,, Harder Steenbeck EvolutionGrex Genesis XGi, XSi,

Recommended Compressors
You’ll want to have a decent sized compressor ( at least 1/6 HP.) Consider purchasing one with a tank if you planning on running it for long periods of time or if your working in a humid climate.
Paasche DA400R, Badger TC-910, Sparmax TC-620X, Paasche D3000R, Iwata Smart Jet Pro


Recommended Paints
The paint you choose really depends on the surface you will be painting on. For porous surfaces like canvas, fabric or wood a paint with a high viscosity such as Createx or Golden Fluids will be more suitable than a thinner bodied paint.
Createx Colors, Wicked Colors, Golden High Flow

Model aircraft by Bryant Dunbar


Recommended Airbrushes
Again here we’re typically talking about small scale projects. However the scale of detail can vary greatly. If your just needing to apply broad strokes of solid colors to you model a single action airbrush with a wide nozzle will work perfectly. If your needing to achieve super fine detail on small scale models or miniature figures you will need an airbrush designed for fine detail.
Broad Stroke Recommended: Paasche H, Paasche SI, Badger 250, Grex XA, Revolution SAR
Detail Recommended: Harder Steenbeck Ultra, Badger Krome, Grex XGi, Iwata HP-CH

Recommended Compressors
Small scale projects require lower PSI so a small compressor will be sufficient. Some hobbyists are very concerned with the quality of their airflow and look for compressor models with tanks and good moisture traps.
Badger TC908, Paasche D3000RGrex AC1810, Sparmax TC-620X

Recommended Paints
The paint you choose really depends on the surface you will be painting on. For porous surfaces like canvas, fabric or wood a paint with a high viscosity such as Createx or Golden Fluids will be more suitable than a thinner bodied paint.
Badger Minitair, Mission Models


Custom Automotive

Recommended Airbrushes
Most custom automotive artists prefer a fine to medium sized nozzle, gravity-feed airbrush with a large cup. Likely reasons are that there is usually some amount of detail involved and at the same time fair amount of surface to cover. Those artist slated to paint hard to reach areas also find using a side-feed airbrush handy so that they can adjust the paint cup as needed. Iwata has the Kustom series specifically designed for the automotive artist.

Iwata EclipseHarder Steenbeck Evolution, Badger Krome, Grex XGi, Paasche Talon, 

Recommended Compressors
The compressor you choose will depend on the size of your project. Moisture and air pressure control are paramount here considering these are permanent application on valuable objects.
Sparmax TC-620X, Iwata Smart Jet Plus, Paasche DC850R, Paasche DA400R

Recommended Paints
Use an automotive grade paint that is properly thinned for the airbrush. You can either go with an old fashion solvent-based paint or a water-based paint with proper additives.
Auto-Air Colors, Wicked Colors, AutoBourne Sealers, Candy2O