Airbrushing essentials

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What is it?

A tool designed to atomise a liquid into a fine spray, using compressed air to project this liquid onto a surface. The air has to be produced by an external source and the air and liquid are both controlled by a trigger.

Keep your distance

If spraying at the recommended low pressure, you need to be fairly close. Between 3in and 6in (75mm and 150mm) is about right for most jobs. When weathering, you can get right up to the surface, but this takes a bit of practice!

Think thin

Always use the thinners recommended by the paint manufacturer. Water can be used with some acrylics, and white spirit with certain enamels, but these will result in longer drying times.

Under pressure

We only need to work with low pressures, usually between 10-18psi, so a controllable air supply is preferable. If using a compressor or propellant can without a pressure control, try an in-line valve. Use trial and error to set the pressure for correct paint flow.

Teaching aids

Model Rail’s airbrushing guru George Dent has produced numerous books, articles and DVDs on the subject. Add George’s Model Rail’s The Definitive Airbrushing Expert DVD (Tel: 01524 735774, Web: or Airbrushing for Railway Modellers ( to your library.