- For washing the kit, you need dish washing detergent
and preferrably with Jiff or Soft Scrub, and a used toothbrush.
- For surface preparation, you need (hardware stores usually have better
- an Xacto knife with #11 blade - they have
one with rubber grip and hexagonal end. I love it, especially when
it won't roll down the desk and stab your thighs.
- sand paper (#220/#400/#600)
- a pair of scissors
- pliers (those for cutting wires will do)
or sprue cutter such as those by Xuron.
- files (buy a regular set and a needle set)
- a wire brush to clean the files
- putty (automotive glazing putty or squadron
green putty would do)
- super glue (e.g. Zap-a-Gap)
- epoxy glue (e.g. Z-poxy; don't buy the Devcon twin tube stuff,
they never work)
- aluminum wire (1/16" - some art stores
sell them as armature wires)
- pin vise + drill bits (1/16")
- dust mask - those for filtering very fine
dust, e.g. those manufactured by 3M.
- For priming, you need a primer. Gray automotive
primers work, see the priming section
for more details.
- For painting, you need
Remember, the cheaper the airbrush the faster you'll outgrow it. See
the airbrush section for more details.
- Paints - my paints
section lists a few alternatives; I recommend you pick the nontoxic
ones, and get the associated thinner.
- respirators - a "gas mask" that would filter out organic
vapor. The twin cartridges ones offers the best protection. If you
work with non-toxic paint this is not absolutely necessary, but
still recommended. Buy the ones that filters out organic vapor.
Ketone.com has competitve prices.
- Droppers - use them to transfer thinners.
You can also use them for paints, but they'rerather difficult to
clean. I use old paint brushes to transfer paint.
- Paint brushes - a pointed brush of size
0,1 and flat of size 2 would usually do if you plan to own an airbrush.
Otherwise you may need to get a few larger flat brushes (size 4/6)
- paper towels
- airbrush - you don't absolutely need this, but it's highly recommended
if you want a decent finish with the least frustrations. For an
explanation of different airbursh types and terms, see the article
on Airbrush Talk first.
I have worked with these:
- the cheapo Aztek 1000 something (< $30) that comes with
a can and it gets the job done and is probably sold in your
local art/modeling shops, but I quickly grew out of it.
- Pro: Cheap
- Cons: Cheap - sprays are not fine, cans don't last long
and are expensive
- Paasche-H single
action (~$30-40), which isn't that much more expensive and
remained useful for a while. Its spray pattern however is not
too fine due to the external mix. While the H is more sophiscated
than the above and works very well for basecoating, the sprays
are still not fine and single action can be limiting eventually.
- The VL double
action (~$40-50) is also a cheap alternative, but it's a bit
hard to clean compared with the later ones I use.
- I've heard good things about the Badger Athems
is a very popular brush.
- Finally, the Iwata
Eclipse BCS (~$75) is a brush I've kept on using for a long
time, until it's replaced by the superior Eclispe
- I have used the Aztek 4709 which is the top of Testor's line,
but don't like it at all and the double action feels very flaky,
- Sotar 20/20 from Badger is a low-end detailer airbrush that can
spray hairline patterns. It's quite temperamental, but it works
in general (approx. $150).
- The Iwata Custom Micron is a superb brush - besides allowing extremely
fine spray, it has many superior design choices. It comes at a hefty
price (>$250) though.
In general, I prefer gravity feed (easier cleaning) and double action
- Compressor - If you get an airbrush you'll need an air source.
- The compressed air cans doesn't last long and
will cost a lot in the long run, but it doesn't hurt if you're just
trying out. I used up my first can and never bought another one.
- You can buy an air tank (~$20-30) and fill it
with air in a nearby gas station too.
- CO2 tanks are also great alternative as I used to use one.
The gas supply is very quiet (i.e. no noise at all), moisture free
and lasts a while (provided you build a few hours each week) Refills
are cheap, about $6-$8, and you only need to do it every quarter
of a year or so. You can buy them from beer brewers or fire supplies
ranging from $40-80 depending on size, you'd also need a regular
for about $30.
- If you want to buy a real compressor, these are
things to look out for, besides price:
- automatic on/off - many cheaper compressors requires manually
turning the supply of air on and off, such as with a foot switch.
It bothers me, but they're cheaper. The auto ones tends to come
with an airtank (which almost guarentees steady air flow below).
- steady air flow - "pulsation" may occur in some piston compressor
resulting in uneven spraying pressure. Avoid.
- noise - if you don't own a basement you probably don't want
the compressor to be too loud. Compressors are in general very
loud equipments, but silent ones comes at a cost.
- pressure deliverable - You don't need that much pressure
for model kits, I don't remember every spraying above 30PSI.
- filters - you need some sort of air filter for your compressor
to filter out the dirt and moisture (moisture trap) from air.
Some compressors come with them built in, others you can attach
Dixie art offers competitve
prices and wide variety of choice on airbrush equipment (I'm not
affiliated with them) I own a Silentaire T-20A and is very happy
with it so far.
- Sears variants - real compressors sold in department stores
for home improvements. They are rather cheap and featureful,
their main drawback is the noise. They can be had around $100-130.
- Hobby compressors - there's usually a trade off between features
and the price you paid. The lower end ones are usually either
noisy or lacks an automatic on/off switch. The lower end ones
are around $100 to as much as $400.
- Mystery compressors - "Automist 2000" and "Airmaster" are
these compact compressors that are quite featureful. You can
do a web search on them. I've heard people say good things about
them. They're in the $100-150 range. I've tried Automist 2000
and it works, except I don't like the manual on/off. They have
since then upgrade the model I think.
- Gunze compressors - they're popular in Asia, and are pretty
low cost. I haven't read their specs and thus don't know how
they perform, but they're supposed to be quiet and is pulse-free,
since they use a magnetic vibration mechanism to generate air