Just Buy a Damn Airbrush, Already



Spend time around any kind of modeling community anywhere on the internet, and sooner or later you’ll run into a variation of these:

“Help! I need some tips for German mottle camoflage!”

“How do you shade panel lines?”

“Tips for painting white?”

Some questions seem to crop up more often than others, but whatever, right? This is the internet – perhaps the single greatest thing to happen to scale modeling in my lifetime. It’s helped me immeasurably, and so I, for one, like to try to give back when I can.

Then the original poster comes back with…

“Oh lol I don’t have an airbrush”

Okay…then don’t ask how to paint German mottle camoflage!

Once upon a time, I was rather into offroading. It’s possible to do some amazing things and have a hell of a lot of fun offroading only a moderately capable vehicle. But inevitably we’d always have some overeager tool join our club trying to offroad his Toyota RAV-4 or what-have-you. And it would inevitably get stuck climbing over the curb to get to the actual offroading.

Moral of the story? Sometimes yes, you need a bare minimum of equipment to do something.

Are there modelers out there who can wield a brush to amazing effect that puts most airbrushers to shame? Yes. And those people are the lucky few freaks of nature who can pull that off. If you’re asking questions on a Facebook group, or a forum somewhere, about how to paint white, you’re not one of that elite cadre.

The way I see it – if you’re serious about this hobby at all, buy an airbrush.

  • If you’re worried about fumes and painting inside, use water-based acrylics like Lifecolor, Vallejo, AK Interactive or AMMO.
  • If you’re worried about space…an airbrush is the size of a pen! You can find small compressors that are about the size of a paperback book!
  • If you’re worried about overspray…don’t be. If you’re getting paint on things eight inches away from your model, you’re using the airbrush all wrong.
  • If you’re worried about price…go cheap for a starter brush. There’s no need to start with a Harder & Steenbeck Infinity or Iwata Custom Micron! PleasedShop.com sells a wide selection of knock-off airbrushes and compressors for dirt cheap. I’ve tried several of their airbrushes and they are actually rather good – particularly for the price. For around $66, you can score a dual-action airbrush AND a compressor. That’s cheaper than many 1/48 aircraft these days.


It’s one thing if you’re just starting out and trying to figure out if this is the hobby for you. Or if you’re a kid or stuck in some situation where having an airbrush is simply verboten like, I don’t know, prison maybe. But if you’ve been around this hobby enough to join groups and forums and build several kits and start to acquire an actual stash and ask about techniques that essentially require an airbrush to pull off…buy an airbrush.



14 Comments Add yours

  1. Chris says:

    Here here old boy, I use the cheapest of both and get results……not always good but results.

  2. Andrew Fraser says:

    Totally with you there!
    When I got into the hobby, getting an airbrush was a no brainer.
    Why spend loads of tom on a kit only to attack it with a bunch of hair.
    First time I used the airbrush was like discovering the joys of sex.
    Okay, maybe wrong comparison, but you catch my drift.
    I fish for tuna offshore and you still see guys out there with tackle that is gonna create a world of pain when mr yellowfin grabs the bait.
    Mind you, its kinda fun watching someone get his ass handed to him by a bus of a tuna.
    No, masochism isn’t my scene when it comes to fishing and modelling!

  3. jeff says:

    Well put. If you’re going to do the job make sure you have the right tools.

  4. Tim Wilding says:

    Yes, but ONE – not like me and buy four.

  5. Fred says:

    patronising rubbish!

  6. Martin says:

    In English, we normally start a sentence with a capital letter.
    Ergo – you need to put a capital letter at the beginning of your sentence.
    How’s that for patronising?

  7. kermitsbench says:

    I disagree with my esteemed collegue Fred here…
    For more advanced modelling techniques you simply need an airbrush. That’s not patronising in my humble opinion but the stating of an (obvious) truth.

    Ofcourse you can brush paint on a german mottle for instance and have lots of fun doing that. But let’s face it. It’s going to look like umm….. rubbish

  8. George R Cole says:

    Can you spray acrylics over enamel? My concern has always been the fumes because I don’t have an elaborate spray booth with venting to the out side, etc.

    1. Doogs says:

      Yes, just need to give the enamel plenty of time to outgas and cure first.

  9. I do agree on the fact that if you want to advance in areas of paint, that learning to airbrush is important. On the other hand one must master the art of using the artist paint brush also. You can with technique paint faded German mottling without an airbrush. Thin layers are always better, but if going down that road be prepared for the long haul.
    Cheers Murph…

  10. willpattison says:

    ha! dude, the more of your mindless babble i read…..the more i’m convinced we’re brothers from another mother. 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.