Airbrush Archive

Yesterday I was able to gain access to the garage at home (there’s normally a car in there), so rather than waste my time as the Dreadnought was ready yet, I experimented with my new Iwata HP-C Plus airbrush.  This bit of kit is worth it’s weight in gold.  The control you have over laying paint onto a surface is fantastic, although I still have a lot left to learn – including how to hold the thing without getting cramp in your hand.  I experimented with a Vindicator and Rhino tank that I had and tried a technique called ‘Salt Weathering’.

The basic concept of salt weathering is that you paint your surface one colour, then apply rock salt to that surface (using something like hair spray), then apply a second colour and wash the salt off under a cold tap.  This reveals chips of the first colour through the second.  I actually did double salt weather.  Firstly the tank was undercoated black, once dry I applied a moderate spray of boltgun metal from an old can I had.  First layer of salt got applied and then once the hair spray dried I airbrushed the whole tank with a 50/50 mix of Adeptus Battlegrey and Codex Grey (very nice colour).  Second layer of salt got applied now, which was airbrushed over with straight Codex Grey.  Once everything had dried I rinsed the salt off under the cold tap and using a soft toothbrush.

Now I discovered a few things.  Firstly if left under water too long, the micron-thin layer of airbrush paint will quite easily rub off, this actually can be used to create some really cool wear effects on areas that would naturally wear, however you have to be very controlled else you rub off strips of paint rather than little scratches.  Secondly, the codex grey layer wasn’t thick enough, in comparison to the layer underneath is rubbed off very quickly, this may have been the hair spray however.  Thirdly, the rock salt used for the first layer was too large, I ended up with some ‘chips’ that would actually be the size of your head :s  Fourthly, I would have been better using a salt grinder for the second layer of salt application.  This would have created a much finer and more controllable effect and given the effect of being more battered than battle damaged.

Overall I’m well chuffed with the outcome and will be refining it and using it for my Dreadnought.  The tanks look battered and worn enough for them to be classed as above gaming level already – and they still have details that need to be picked out, tracks to be painted and mud effect applied.  My biggest disappointment is that I decided to paint a red/black door on the top of the rhino.  Mixed my paint up without any hassle, sprayed it and it looked fantastic – but I realised this morning that my triangle point isn’t dead centre – shit 🙁  I need to work out the best way of fixing this – thinking about it, I could just spray the doors black and then go over the top with red again and hope for good enough coverage.  Might be easier than trying to strip the door – thinking about it, I could always spray that area codex grey as a base coat…

One thing that I have come across now though is the subject of storing paint.  In order to put regular acrylics through an airbrush it’s necessary to thin them down.  There are a number of different ways of doing this, but I am currently thining with Halfords Screen Wash (like you use in a car).  This contains various lubricants, chemicals and wood alcohol, it atomises in the airbrush brilliantly, is cheap (and relativly safe) and appears to disolve most lumps that can occur in the paint.  Now due to the nature of the new airbrush (gravity feed + dual action) I used significantly less paint than I did in my old airbrush (vacuum fed + single action) – in fact to do two tanks I used less than 2ml of actual paint, unlike the 12ml (a whole pot) to do two tanks and two marines.  Coupled with the fact that I don’t need to filter it through gauze to remove the lumps, means that I can get paint ready to go into the airbrush in a matter of a few minutes.  Using 2 to 3 parts screenwash to paint means I’m mixing up around 3ml of physical liquid every time – putting this into a 25ml glass jar is a little excessive to say the least.  So the solution I’ve found is to purchase some 3.5ml plastic paint pots the same as you get in childrens paint sets.  I’ve also ordered some 7.5ml dropper bottles for larger quantities of paint.  The price of these (just under 8p each) means that they’re disposable.

4 thoughts on “Airbrush

  1. Pingback: Tattoo | RuneBrush
  2. Thanks a lot, I’m quite motivated to try airbrushing some miniatures.
    I found a some “cheap” airbrushs, I’ll start with a simple version to get a look at it. Sadly I have to buy a digital camera first (for good miniature photos).

    I need to show you some photos of my Salamanders Ironclad Cybot…


  3. Hi Lenni,

    Personally you can use an airbrush for pretty much any type of miniature if you put your mind to it. I’ve just recently basecoated a couple dozen Space Wolves with Fenris Grey – took me a couple of evenings going at a slow steady pace. GW paint can be quite happily put through an airbrush, thin the paint down to roughly the consistency of semi-skimmed milk (green top). The thing that you will need to be careful of is that sometimes GW paint will contain bits which can clog up your airbrush.

    As to choice of airbrush that’s a huge topic of conversation :s Quality certainly does cost money, but people have had good results with a low-end (thus cheaper) double action airbrush. My personal opinion would be to have a look on the CoolMiniOrNot forums (link on the right) and search there as there has been numerous topics on airbrush choice.


  4. Hi,

    I’m thinking about getting a airbrush but I wasn’t shure if it is suitable for painting Spacemarines, Eldar… I don’t have that many vehicles (except Cybots, I love painting them). Is there a way to use GW-Colors in a airbrush and is there a “cheap” airbrush you could recommend?

    Best whishes,


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