Airbrush vs brush to paint miniatures

The most commonly used tools for painting miniatures are the brush and the airbrush. Among figure painters, some prefer to use the airbrush and others prefer the conventional brush.

If your favorite option is the airbrush and you want to know what the best techniques are for painting miniatures using an airbrush, we will tell you all about it in this article.

What is the airbrush used for?

 

Before starting with the subject, we must say that an airbrush is a device that expels a small spray of paint on a certain surface.

The amount of air that the airbrush expels can be controlled by means of a trigger included in the device with which we can regulate said amount of air and also the amount of paint.

The results obtained with the airbrush can give your miniatures a fantastic look, but the level reached with this tool will always depend on the skill and experience of the person who uses it. This makes it an ideal alternative to classic painting with brushes.

Can a beginner paint with an airbrush without prior practice?

 

A beginner in the world of airbrush miniature painting is perfectly capable of using this tool, without the necessity of previous experience, he can start by applying base coats of color and even try out some lights and shadows.

Although the results may not be the most professional visually speaking, consistent practice will gradually make a big difference in the results you achieve.

What are the precautions to be taken when painting with an airbrush?

This tool allows you to paint without much effort and in a more efficient and faster way, however, a series of precautions must be taken into account when using it. These are:

The paint must be diluted

Many pigments have a thick, solid consistency in their original (undiluted) version, such as the Kimera pure acrylic pigment set, which has a characteristic consistency due to its high quality and durability, 

However, the paint in this state does not make it easier for the airbrush to do its job correctly, which affects the visual appearance of the finishes and the operation of the tool itself.

To avoid this, it is always recommended to dilute the paint very well, so that it is evenly distributed and does not clog the airbrush. Depending on this dilution, it may be necessary to apply several layers of paint to obtain the desired color.

You must have a good control of the tool

The pulse and firmness that you achieve when handling this device will be vital for the final result to be as expected.

You should always try not to go outside the area where you want to apply the color, and if you are not able to paint the areas of the miniature you are working on without damaging the rest of the work, it is better not to do it, and go with a more precise tool, like a brush. There is also the possibility of using more advanced auxiliary products such as liquid masks or masking tape, with which you can protect the details that you do not want to stain.

Do not paint small details

The finest details are the most difficult to paint with this tool. For this reason, we recommend that you do it with the help of a brush, since you will avoid ruining the work that has already been achieved.

Wear a mask and gloves

Painting your figures with an airbrush can be a very fun experience; however, it can also cause you to get stained or inhale harmful products such as some thinners. For this reason, we recommend that you paint your figures protecting your hands with latex gloves and wearing a mask during your painting sessions.

Types of brush to paint miniatures

 

Now we will talk about the different types of brushes that are used to paint miniatures.

For this reason, we will mention those types of brushes that will give you the best results when painting miniatures and even some with which you can achieve finishes similar to those of an airbrush:

Foundation Brushes

The bases are those first layers of paint that we apply over almost the entire miniature, before proceeding to apply or define the details. You will always need a brush with many bristles to paint these layers and therefore a slightly wider body and with bristles that are docile at the same time, so that the finish is as neat as possible. The Maestro Series 10 No. 3 brush is ideal for this task and you will find it very easy to apply the base coats to your figures when using it.

 

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Brushes for shadows and highlights

Brushes used for this task will always have a fairly fine tip, but still allow you to easily apply the paint to cover the main areas of the figure. An example of this type of brush are those included in the brush pack: “essentials” from the Davinci Maestro series, which are ideal for this task.

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Brushes for small details

Finally, we have the brushes that are used for the smallest details. They must be very fine and have a very sharp point, but at the same time they must be docile and resistant, so that they can provide firmness when drawing a line or a point. An example of this type of brush is the one included in the brush pack: “tiny things” from the Davinci Maestro series, which will be of great help in these cases.

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Types of airbrush to paint miniatures

 

We have a multitude of options to choose from when purchasing our first airbrush in the market. We want to recommend two perfect options for all types of painters, you will be able to know the airbrushes that our team of painters like the most on the info below:

PROFESSIONAL AIRBRUSH NEO SERIES N4500

We present the definitive airbrush for every painter who is starting in the world of miniature painting, it is a super versatile and comfortable option to use. This series is characterized by optimal performance with small compressors of reduced power, for its easy handling and high quality of its components.

If you want to get started in the use of this magnificent tool, this option is the best you will find and at a very interesting and adjusted price for all painters.

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AIRBRUSH IWATA HI-LINE HP-BH H2100

This is the most advanced model used by our artists at Big Child Creatives to do the amazing paint jobs you all know. This is a top-performing airbrush for painters looking for professional performance in all situations, incredible control and ease of use. The MAC regulator valve allows you to control the amount of air that the airbrush expels, which helps you achieve the best possible results.

Its price is super competitive and you can get it in our online store along with many auxiliary products that will help you get the most out of your miniature painting work.

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Which tool is the most practical when painting a miniature?

 

Now, we have arrived at the main point of the article. As you will notice, both the brush and the airbrush are very different tools, used in different ways and giving you different alternatives when painting.

However, your question may be: what is the best tool?

We are going to try to give you an answer explained by our professionals to find this out:

Brush 

This is the most used tool in the artistic world, since it allows us to make a large number of strokes or brushstrokes to achieve different effects in our works.

But when it comes to painting a miniature, we can find that it requires a lot of time, effort and precision to obtain good results. However, with proper practice and experience, using this tool becomes easier and faster.

Using a brush will require much more paint to evenly cover the surface of the figure, and also a greater technique to achieve the uniform finish that an airbrush provides, since you must give soft brushstrokes that do not leave a trace on the surface. The experience of painting with a brush and the control it allows you to have over your work is, however, a huge plus.

Airbrush

One of the main advantages of using the airbrush is its great ability to cover large areas of a figure in a few passes, and although it does not require much physical effort, if we want to obtain more precise results when applying the paint, we will need a certain amount of practice.

On the other hand, we will need less amount of paint to cover the figures, which is also deposited in a more homogeneous way, with which the finish will be very smooth in a simple way.

The characteristic finish of the airbrush is due to the fact that it spreads the pigments evenly for the most part, however if the tool is not perfectly clean and adjusted, part of the paint can dry so that denser drops are ejected or they can simply get stuck. This normally ruins the finish of the figure.

Conclusions

As you can see, both tools provide pretty good features and results.

If you are not a careful and patient person, we recommend that you use a brush to apply the paint on your miniature.

It may take a little more time and effort to do, but you won’t have to touch up the work that has already been done. If  for example you smudge your figure with an airbrush, that will cost you more time and effort.

On the other hand, if you already have experience painting with an airbrush and have a good technique for details, we must tell you that applying paints with this tool will be a good option for you. The advantages and characteristics of the airbrush are practically unique to this tool and very difficult to achieve with a brush.

Which tool wastes the least amount of paint?

 

When it comes to saving paint, the two tools work differently, so they do not have the same level of consumption.

Brush

It is no secret that brushes tend to absorb large amounts of paint and we need to remove some of it with absorbent paper. Sometimes a lot of this absorbed product goes to waste because we can’t use it all on the figure and we end up throwing it away, which is not a good thing. Also, if this paint dries on the brush, it can damage the bristles and shorten the life of the brush.

On the other hand, the type of brush used determines the amount of paint that is absorbed. Because the absorption level of a fine brush is not the same as that of a brush with a thicker body, we can end up wasting a lot of paint when we base coat using a larger brush.

Airbrush

On the contrary, you tend to waste less paint with this tool than with brushes. We’re not saying no paint is wasted, but by comparison, the amount wasted with an airbrush is considerably less than the amount wasted with the brush. In addition, using the most diluted paint reduces the amount of paint required.

It should be noted that with this tool you sometimes have to apply more layers of pigment than with a conventional brush because it projects a fine spray of paint that is not able to completely cover the surface of the miniature in the first application when we have diluted the paint.

Conclusions 

If you are one of those artists who likes to save every last drop of paint, we must tell you that the airbrush is the right tool for you. In addition, you will be able to finish your work in less time since the larger application area of ​​the airbrush greatly shortens the time, and the paint finish will be much smoother and more homogeneous.

You should, however, keep in mind that with this device you will have to apply more layers than with a brush, but doing so can be a lot of fun.

Which tool allows you to do a better light and shadow painting job?

 

The lighting and shading process is one of the most important things when it comes to painting miniatures.

Both the airbrush and the brush are valid tools for this job. But which one  is better in this case: the brush or the airbrush? We will find out.

Brush

In previous lines, we specified which are the ideal brushes for this task. Therefore, using that specific model of brush, the light and shadow effects that can be achieved are truly amazing.

Our miniature painting professionals point out that brushes are often the best tools for this task because they allow us to smudge applied colors very well. Also, they give us more control over the areas we want to paint and the detail we can get is really good.

Airbrush

We have mentioned that this tool is ideal for painting bases and parts of the work that do not require much detail. When it comes to applying lights and shadows, the task becomes more complicated if we use the airbrush.

The airbrush requires great precision when painting the lights and although the shadows can be easier to apply, they also require control over the tool. In conclusion, if you’re a person who is just starting out in the world of miniature painting, we don’t recommend using it for this task, but with a bit of practice, you can try to quickly apply some shadows and highlights with the airbrush, which you can then finish detailing with the brush.

Conclusions

As you may have noticed, in this case it is better to use a brush for the lighting and shading work. In this way, you make sure that the shades you apply are perfect and in the right place. However, the airbrush can be used in combination with the brush to speed up this process, without the need for a great experience.

Which tool is more affordable? Brush or airbrush?

Price is one of the most important factors when buying tools. And we have to tell you that airbrushes are considerably more expensive than conventional brushes.

However, you also have to keep in mind that you should always try to buy quality brushes in order to achieve better results and longer brush life. The quality of the product will always determine the price.

When it comes to durability, a well-maintained airbrush will always outlast the best of brushes.

Pros and cons of brush painting

 

Now we will tell you what are the main advantages and disadvantages of using this tool to paint your miniatures:

Pros

  • You can have more precision when painting
  • They are affordable and easy to find
  • They give the artist a lot of freedom when applying the strokes
  • Small details are impeccable
  • They allow you to spread or mix pigments according to your preferences.

Cons

  • Requires more effort when applying strokes
  • Absorbs a lot of paint that is not used well
  • If the paint is not well diluted, it is necessary to recharge several times
  • There is a risk of irregular brush strokes in the figures
  • Tends to dry out regularly which damages the bristles of the brush

Pros and cons of airbrush painting

 

We also tell you the advantages and disadvantages of painting with an airbrush. These are the following:

Pros

  • You finish painting in less time
  • Less pigment is used
  • Covers more space with less paint
  • Gives a smooth and very careful finish

Cons

  • It is more expensive than a brush
  • Requires some technique and precision to achieve good results
  • Not ideal for covering small or delicate details
  • Tends to splatter small drops of paint if not kept clean

Conclusions

To finish, we must say that any of these techniques or tools can give you great effects, it’s just a matter of learning to master them and always practicing with new painting styles.

The limits are in your mind. What better than art to get carried away? Always try to put your mark on your work and reflect on it.

Now that you know more about the use of airbrushes and brushes to paint figures or miniatures, share this interesting article with your family or friends.

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