KILLER AIRBRUSH Q&A: HOW TO BUY AN AIRBRUSH

I used an airbrush in an art class recently, and now I’d like to make a purchase. What should I look for when buying my first airbrush?

Retail prices for airbrushes vary, so if you surf the net you’ll get an idea of costs. However, in many respects you get what you pay for. Cheaper airbrushes generally rely on less expensive materials and will wear out faster. More expensive airbrushes simply are built better (stainless steel needles and chrome-plated internal parts, for example). Also, more expensive airbrushes tend to be more versatile. In order to establish price range, establish your needs. Certainly, a BMW will outperform a Ford Focus, but if you are only looking for basic transportation, the Focus will do fine. In assessing your airbrush needs, there are two rather important considerations. First, what spray patterns will the airbrush yield? Does it spray fine enough or go wide enough? Can you achieve a consistent stipple effect easily? Does it spray a variety of paint media in the patterns you desire? The second major consideration is how the airbrush feels in your hand. This assessment may be a bit more difficult, but it’s a very personal thing. Is the airbrush too heavy? Do your fingers feel cramped up? If you plan to spray for long hours, you need more than a five minute trial demonstration. Many airbrushes feel great for the first few minutes, but 12 hours later your hand will tell you which is more comfortable. If you trade at the same art supply store, ask the dealer if you can take a demo airbrush home. Or, if you can invest the time and money, attend an Airbrush Getaway (http://bit.ly/1kvcNaE) workshop before you buy anything airbrush.  The Getaways provide all materials and equipment, affording you the great opportunity to try everything.  There is simply no substitute for hands-on experience. To sum up, price, material, versatility, and feel are your major considerations when buying your first airbrush. These, determined by a needs assessment, will get you going in the right direction. For more detailed information and a listing of the best airbrushes, check out the 2014 Annual Airbrush Buyers Guide in the November-December 2013 issue of Airbrush Action.

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