Airbrushing is a common artform that enables artists to create gradients, smooth blends of color, "soft-focus" effects, and a lot more! The basic supplies needed to start air brushing, are: an airbrush,air hose, air source, airbrush paint, paint thinner (matched to the type of paint you're using), airbrush holder, stencil film or frisket film
(not necessary for freehand airbrushing), cutting mat
, X-Acto #1 knife with #11 blade
, old toothbrush, round wooden toothpicks, masking tape,
dust mask, metal ruler
and paper towels.
Compressed air and a connector hose are required to run an airbrush. Two common air sources are aerosol propellant cans and electric compressors. Compressors come in all sizes, but the best ones for airbrushing provide at least 1/3 horsepower. If your compressor doesn't have a storage tank, make sure to get a regulator, to control and smooth out the flow of air.
Aerosol Propellant Cans
It’s wise to have two cans of air. Air cans cool as they're used, and become unusable until they return to room temperature once again. Switching to the second can allows the first one time to warm to room temperature. To turn the air off and on, propellant cans require an adapter (regulator valve) for the top. Use a vinyl hose to connect the airbrush to the propellant.
These are the easiest to use but most expensive type of air source. The personal-size compressor equipped with an automatic shut-off and a regulator is very convenient for serious airbrushers. Use a 10' braided hose with a moisture trap to connect the air brush to the compressor (instructions come with the compressor).
Airbrushes can spray any type of paint that can be thinned to the consistency of milk. Airbrush artists have created airbrushed masterpieces using oils, acrylics, watercolours, gouache, enamels, fingernail enamels, automotive paints, inks, dyes, body paints, face paints, cosmetic and stage make-up, tanning paints, and more. Many of these types of paint are available pre-mixed and ready to go into your airbrush. Others require mixing to flow smoothly through an airbrush.
Make sure you use the right cleaner
for whatever paint you're running through your airbrush! Use lots of cleaner, and clean your airbrush often--before and after you start painting, between each colour change, and run cleaner through your airbrush regularly when using multiple "refills" of the same colour--to keep your airbrush running smoothly.
Also, be aware that many paints labelled "non-toxic" become toxic when sprayed through the air (and thus breathed)! Always wear a face-mask in an adequately ventilated space when airbrushing.