Sunday, January 24, 2010

Reader Question: What Airbrush/Compressor?

by SandWyrm

Chris Writes:

       I was just reading your blog about painting the Tallan tanks and was just wondering what type of spray gun and compressor you use as I was looking into getting one and was just curious if you could give me any hints or tips on getting a good one. (more...)

Any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated.




It's funny you should ask Chris, as I already had the compressor and other gear out for painting my Vendettas. :)

A good compressor and airbrush are not cheap, but they will last you a long time. I bought mine back in '98 when I first got into 40K. I'd used compressed air tanks and cans prior to that when I painted WFB minis, but they just weren't as convenient or as economical as a compressor.

My compressor is a Paasch D500, which according to the Paache Website currently sells for $131.00, though you can probably get it for less through your local hard-core hobby or art supply store. You can spend more on higher-end models, but honestly this is all you'll ever need.

Next up is a moisture trap. Mine is a simple in-line model with a screw adjustment. It's purpose is to remove any water that may build up in the air line. Without it, you'll get random squirts of water through the airbrush that will mess up your nice even paint flow. Mine came with the hose, but beware... Some hoses you can buy don't come with one.

My airbrush is a Paache single-action model H. Which retails for $49.00 on the website. Again, look for all-in-one deals at your local store.

Make sure that you stick with a single action brush, as these are the cheapest and easiest to both use and clean. By single-action, I mean that the button on top controls only the flow of air, letting you adjust the amount of paint sprayed according to how far down you press the button. The air/paint mix is controlled by turning the cone-shaped piece at the front of the brush.

Double-Action brushes have the same pressure control as the single-action brushes, but they also have a forward-back slide mechanism to let you control the aperture of the paint nozzle. Which lets you control both the amount of air and the air/paint mix at the same time. These are VERY difficult to use properly and are a real bear to clean. They have 2-3 times the number of moving parts and use long needles that have to be periodically replaced when the tips get bent (and they always do). I originally bought a dual-action brush because I thought it was "better". But ended up just buying the single-action after having to replace my 4th needle ($10+ each). So learn from my mistake and stay simple!

Happy Airbrushing!


  1. I have almost the same exact set-up for airbrushing. Except I got my compressor at the local hardware store, but again it looks almost identical.


  2. Thats excellent, I have been looking into getting one for a while and have trawled around looking for a decent guide or some advice but I think it is always best coming from someone that actually has had the experience.

    Thanks again for the good advice, swift response and interesting blog.

  3. Have you changed your min on the airbrush thing then, Chris?

    Thanks for the informative post. I may have to have a look into getting one for the slew of imperial guard tanks I'm intending to make...

  4. Handy Post!

    I'm going to be building a slew of Guard vehicles as well, and after basecoating my first Chimera by hand I feel like my hand is going to fall off.

    Have you used the Games-Workshop brush with the canned propellant? It seems more cost effective than going out and spending $200 on a compressor and brush that I may only use for around 8 more vehicles...

    Big fan of the blog!

    1. Back in the 80's I used a Badger canned-air brush that was pretty much identical to GW's current one.

      It's more cost effective for small numbers of models. But pretty soon you'll find yourself spending more on canned air than you would on a compressor or a large air tank that you could refill with a car-tire compressor. You'll also always run out right when it's least convenient.

      I've never regretted buying the compressor. Only that I bought a $120 dual-action brush when all I needed was a $50 single-action one.


out dang bot!

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