This topic has 6 replies, 6 voices, and was last updated 4 years, 8 months ago by Rachael Claxton.

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  • #14954
      • Experience: 10-15 years
      • Scenic Status: Full Time Regular

      We’re planning to purchase an airbrush for our shop this summer and I’m looking for product recommendations. Also, I’ve only used an airbrush here and there over the years and would love to hear others’ experiences using airbrushes.



      APT Paint Charge

        • Experience: 5-10 years
        • Scenic Status: Full Time Regular

        You’ll definitely get what you pay for.

        I don’t have any good recommendations because well…. I got what I paid for. Which was cheap crap.

        Perhaps ask any body shops around your area. They should have some good advice.


        Air brush or production spray gun? Big difference. Regardless – If you are are buying an art airbrush, I suggest buying your own. All it takes is one person not cleaning it out and it’s ruined. Production spray gun? I suggest buying your own. All it takes is one person not cleaning it out and it’s ruined. If you own it, you take better care of it. Plain and simple.


        There are two main types of airbrush — “single-action” and “double-action.” Single-action means that the air flow and paint amount are pre-set: you push down the trigger and a set amount of paint comes out. Double-action means that as you push down the trigger, only air comes out. Then as you pull the trigger back, more and more paint comes out, allowing you to go from fine lines to heavy lines in one motion. Single-action guns are good for painting small areas with an even coat — small parts, stencils, etc.; double-action is for more artistic expression — think “T-shirt artists,” but take more time to learn to control.

        As for brands, I have used Paasche for many years (they were the original airbrush company) though there are many good brands. The more expensive brushes (Iwata, for example) are used for illustration work and may not handle heavier applications such as scenic work.

        In addition to single/double action, there is also the tip size, usually defined as 1, 3 or 5, with 1 being the finest tip and 5 being the heaviest. For my work (murals, marbling, prop painting) I use a double-action 3 or 5. If you only need a small spray gun for general purposes, a single action gun will suffice.


        The H Series Paasche is a single action available in bottom feed, and you can find pretty reasonably priced kits on amazon. The kit comes with all three head sizes and the basics of what you need (some of the pieces do double duty between the sizes, so don’t be worried if it looks like you’re missing pieces). I do large (4×6) airbrush portraits and that airbrush is a very simple and easy to clean piece that works well for what I do. Double action, to my knowledge, always sends the paint through the gun. Similar to a spray gun with a needle. To clean it you have to pull everything apart and rinse and run water and be careful not to hurt the needle. My external feed/single action has two small parts that require cleaning and it is the easiest tool to clean that I own. There are smaller parts that are easy to lose, but the time it take to clean a paasche H series is incredible. You’ll spend more time cleaning the pot than the gun. It’s sturdy and a good way to learn. The choice does really depend on what you’re doing. My most trusted brands are paasche, badger, and iwata.

        If you are looking for more of a gun, I buy hvlp’s at Harbor Freight. They’re cheap, but can last several years in a shop, which is great for a $13 gun. I’ve painted entire sky drops with four $13 guns and they work quite well.

          • Experience: 10-15 years
          • Scenic Status: Full Time Regular

          Definitely looking for an airbrush and it sounds like the single-action with a bottom feed you suggested might be my best bet. Looking to do more delicate stencil work and thought using our HVLP might be a little too much for what we want to do. We have several of those. Unless you disagree?

          I trust all the people in my shop to clean things properly.

           Rachael Claxton
            • Experience: 5-10 years
            • Scenic Status: Full Time Regular

            We have dual-action SATAgraph4 airbrushes in the shop and they’re a DREAM! (As are all Sata guns frankly.) They’re super easy to clean, they create beautiful soft lines, and once you get used to the way they’re shaped they’re easy to work with. I also like the Iwata Neo, which has a trigger design, so it feels more like a traditional sprayer in your hand.

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