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Airbrush pressure settings

RELATED TOPICS: AIRBRUSH
Q: I read where different modelers use various airbrush pressure settings, e.g.: 15-18 pounds, 20-25 pounds, 30+ pounds, etc. What happens if you use a setting that is too high or too low for a specific type of paint?

- Loris Schmidt
via E-mail

Ken: Good question, Loris. Air settings are typically determined by the consistency of the paint, not the type of paint (although there are exceptions).

The air-to-paint ratio isn't cast in stone, and most painters develop their own mixtures and use the ones that give them the best results - hence the difference in favorite pressure settings from modeler to modeler.

Generally speaking, thinner paint will require less pressure to atomize the material and blow it onto the model. Thicker paint may require greater pressure to do the same thing, and to add to the equation, you may need to position the airbrush closer to the model so the atomized paint won't dry before reaching the surface of the model.

Here's an exercise that will help you get to know your airbrush a little better:

After mixing the paint to the consistency of milk, start by shooting with approximately 20 pounds of pressure from a distance of about 12 inches from the surface. Move the airbrush closer to and farther from the surface, and observe what happens: The closer you get, the more the paint will run; the farther away you get, the drier the paint will be when it hits the surface - creating a powdery, dry texture.

Crank up the pressure a bit, go through the same maneuver, and you'll see even more of a difference in the results.

Turn the pressure down, and see what happens. After that, add more thinner to the paint, and watch the results.

Keep a good set of notes detailing your findings, and use it for reference.

This experiment may sound superfluous to readers who are already airbrush-savvy, but practical experience like this can go a long way in demonstrating what an airbrush can or can't do.

Give it a try, Loris, and let us know how it turns out.


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