AIRBRUSH: Learn the Basics of Airbrush Technique Part 2:  Air Sources

AIRBRUSH: Learn the Basics of Airbrush Technique
Part 2:  Air Sources

When you are first learning airbrush technique, the process can be intimidating. Not only do you have to learn a new painting technique, but you must learn how to use the equipment that goes along with it, as well. Unlike a paintbrush, the airbrush must be attached to an air source to be operated. Here are some simple instructions to follow for the three basic types of air sources available: compressor, carbonic gas tank and propellant can.

Become familiar with the following terms:

air source—a device or unit containing, or capable of producing, pressurized air.

cfm—a measurement of air flow: cubic feet per minute.

moisture filter—a device for removing water from air.

oil filter—a device for removing oil from the air source.

psi—a measurement of air pressure: pounds per square inch.

air regulator—a device for adjusting air pressure (psi).

Diaphragm Compressor (Air Medea Silent Compressor) – This compressor is usually designed to propel one airbrush. All compressors have 1/4″ pipe thread fittings to attach airbrush hoses. On a diaphragm compressor, the airbrush hose is attached directly to the 1/4″ fitting with no air regulator, moisture or oil filters attached beforehand. All airbrush hoses have a 1/4″ fitting designed to be screwed onto the compressor. It is recommended that an in-line moisture filter be used in the airbrush hose. The hose can be purchased with a built-in moisture filter, or one can be inserted after cutting the hose 18″ from where the airbrush is attached.

Piston Compressor – This compressor is usually more powerful than a diaphragm compressor and produces more air than normally needed to propel an airbrush. Therefore, the air needs to be restricted before it reaches the air hose. This is accomplished by attaching an air regulator (Medea F A600 or F A700) to the 1/4″ threads that come from the compressor. The air regulator usually has an attached moisture filter which captures the moisture that is developed inside the compressor before it reaches the air hose. If the piston compressor uses oil, then an oil filter must also be attached after the regulator and before the hose to remove any oil that may work its way into the air source. Attach the airbrush hose–with or without an in-line moisture filter–after the regulators and filters. Medea carries a full line of accessories to meet your needs.

Propellant Cans (Medea SprayCraft Air Propellant) – Propellant cans are an inexpensive substitute for a compressor. A regulator is screwed onto the top of the can. In the center of the regulator is a brass screw that activates the propellant. NOTE: Before attaching the regulator to the propellant can, make sure that the brass screw is totally unscrewed so you don’t inadvertently activate the propellant while attaching the regulator. Once the regulator is attached, a vinyl hose is screwed onto the threads of the regulator. One end attaches to the regulator and the other end attaches to the airbrush. Once the airbrush is attached, you can then turn the brass screw clockwise to activate the propellant.

Carbonic Gas Tank – The third method of propelling the airbrush is with a carbonic gas tank. The tank is filled with CO2 or nitrogen and is under extremely high pressure (800psi), so caution is advised when hooking it up. Each tank requires a regulator specifically designed for carbonic gas tanks. This device enables the adjustment of pressure to the user’s requirements. The braided airbrush hose is attached to the 1/4″ male thread on the regulator, and the other end is attached to the airbrush. When using a carbonic gas tank, there is no need for either an oil filter or a moisture filter.

After the airbrush hose is attached to the air source and the airbrush is attached to the hose, you will need an airbrush holder to enable you to set down the airbrush so it doesn’t tip and spill paint, such as the Medea Airbrush Holder with regulator bracket. Now you’re all set to begin airbrushing.