Air brushing is something I’ve held off getting into for some time, pretty much based solely on the cost of entry. With my Firestorm campaign underway I’ve re-discovered my love for late war Flames of War games, and there was really no other way to paint my Grenadiers vehicles than with an airbrush.
I’ve tried a few brush techniques in the past and never truly been happy with the results. Building up from a weak paint mix gives that sprayed on look from arms length, but I really wanted it to look sprayed on up close. After asking around my regular gaming crew, and doing a bit of research, I became somewhat overwhelmed with all the options.
Salvation came in the form of a loan offer from a friend who already had one. No decisions to make, I just took the kit on offer and set to work. My Twitter followers got these images Sunday, but I wanted to say more that 140 characters allows.
Here’s the starting point
A real mixed bag of undercoated black, a dry brushed Panzer platoon, and some 88’s I had left over from my Afrika Korp. The first thing that really struck me when I picked up Vallejo’s Middlestone was how “green” the dark yellow was compared to previous tanks I had painted.It’s really apparent in the image above between the 88’s painted with a dark-yellow-Vallejo-colour-I-can’t-remember and the dry brushed middlestone Panzers in the foreground. If I am goi8ng to have a coherent looking army, that just isn’t going to cut it.
So, I loaded some paint into the air brush gravity feed, fired up the compressor, took a deep breath, and started work base coating. An hour and half later I had produced this…
Some really mixed results, I think largely due to paint mix. Getting the right fluidity was tricky, and I struggled to be consistent. Item #1 for the shopping list, a pipette. I’d also had some issues with the airbrush “spitting” water, and throwing very watered down paint on the models. Not sure if that was condensation on the brush, or a faulty moisture trap. Regardless, I was able to avoid it in most cases by running the air away from the model before introducing paint.
While I hadn’t finished all the vehicles (and have since found five more that need assembling!) by this point I was getting somewhat tired of painting the same colour over and over, and knew that I’d have to revisit some of the models, so switched to some camouflage schemes.
For a first try I am pretty pleased with the end result. While I think with practice I could get the lines thinner, and there are some spots where the paint has gone on too heavy, I think this is far from a horrible result and has that sprayed on effect I just can’t achieve with a brush. Not to mention base coating some 23 models in an evening!
I think too it was getting late and I was more determined to get three tanks done than I was to perfect my technique, and probably rushed these guys more than I should have. I will revisit them later with the Middlestone to see if I can get rid of some of those hard lines. I’m also going to have to work my way down to the recon half tracks, because those things are tiny, and I’m going to need my technique a lot more practiced for those.
Cleaning the airbrush was a piece of cake, and it’s cleaner now than when I borrowed it. Overall, everything that I was hesitant about getting an airbrush for seems to have been dispelled.
All up I’m sold. For the price of four spray cans I can pick up a starter kit, so if I use it for nothing more than undercoat and base coating it will have paid for itself. On top of this there are a heap of other benefits such as paint matching, (something I switched to using Army Painter paints for) and no fumes!
So, for anyone thinking air brushing is too hard, I recommend grabbing one even if it’s just to undercoat models. You can work on more advanced techniques once you have one.