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.