Airbrush is quite important because it allows you to create a level, uniform
paint surface and allows you to create a vareity of interesting effects, all
in a relatively short amount of time. You don't have to have an airbrush, e.g.
painting with oils is an alternative. But I found it indispensible because it
saves me a lot of time.
My airbrush equipments are described in the tools and faq sections. For an explanation of different airbursh types and terms, see the article on Airbrush Talk.
Using the airbrush
Airbrushing is not difficult to learn, but is difficult to master. I'm still
Assuming you have a double action airbrush, the variables that affects airbrushing are:
There's probably more...
How much should you thin the paint? It really depends on the paint and the traditional wisdom is "to the consistency of milk". But it really depends on what you're doing. When I paint white or prime, I want a very thick, opaque color. So I retard the paint by adding retarder, thin it by adding less thinner and spray with higher pressure (~35 PSI) When I paint details, I use very thin paint, press the trigger very lightly and pulled it back only by a little, and crank the air pressure way down (~5 PSI) and put the airbrush really close to the paint surface. Experimenting with various configuration of these variables with the paint of your choice is a good way to learn how to gain control of your airbrush.
After you prime the kit, how do you begin? There are a variety of methods people use for painting figures and each has their own properties. I suggest trying each and find the one you like the best and the easiest for you.
From light to dark - If the prime the kit with white, you can start from the highest highlight of your skin color and gradually move to darker shades. A variation of this technique is to paint with clear colors (available from Tamiya or Gunze lines). Clear color can have different color variations based on the amount of layers. If you spray on more the color will be deeper. My Moe figure was the first I painted with this technique and I've gone on using it for a few kits later. However the problem with this approach is the difficulty of fixing mistakes. If you don't like an area being shaded too dark, reverting it back is very time consuming; you can reprime the area with white, but the areas around the new white area is very difficult to modulate. It is especially hard for clear colors. For this reason I stopped painting with this approach because I always go back and forth until the skintone is right. I recommend this only if you tend to paint skintone in one single pass.
From dark to light - If you prime the kit with grey, you can layer colors on top and the grey can act as a rather natural shadow. I don't use this approach myself, but many people do.
From the middle - You can paint the kit with the middle tone color and add the shadows and highlights. I use this approach, and is detailed in the skintone section.