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Best Airbrush and Paints for Miniatures
Once you have your miniatures, all 3D printed, filled, and sanded to perfection; now it’s time to make them come alive with a coat of paint!
It’s very satisfying painting your creations, but painting with a tiny brush isn’t always the best choice, you’ll need a steady hand and plenty of patience.
Airbrushing, with a little practice, is faster and produces the best results with smooth blends and professional finishes.
Buying an airbrush can be a bit of a minefield; you may need to buy compressors and fittings, learn about flow rates and viscosities.
In this guide, I’ll show you which airbrush systems are perfect for painting your 3D printed miniatures, so you don’t have to get lost in a sea of jargon.
Timbertech Airbrush System
The first airbrush system I have chosen here is great if you’re a newbie. This option is perfect for testing the water to see if airbrushing is right for you.
This airbrush system comes from Timbertech and is one of the cheapest airbrushes you can get that is up to the job of painting miniatures.
The Timbertech model has a 3-liter air tank with the pressure automatically maintained by a compressor; this is an excellent help for a beautiful, consistent finish and no unexpected spluttering from the brush.
There is also a cool down fan, so the constant running won’t overheat your brush in use. It’s a piston-type compressor and doesn’t require oil, you start with pressure, and it’s maintained throughout.
This system comes with two airbrush sets and a hose, also a user manual, in English as well as French and German.
The compressor can be used with any airbrush guns nozzle sizes from 0.2 to 1.0mm, which is very handy if you want to upgrade just the brush at some point. This set comes with a 0.2mm, 0.3mm, and 0.5mm nozzle for different applications.
The airbrush works 100% on mains electricity, no batteries required, the system is also low noise, around 50 decibels which are probably just below the threshold to wake someone up. So, if you’re a bit of a night owl, this is a handy feature to avoid annoying your household!
The airbrush system will turn off automatically if not in use, and you can also adjust the pressure for the trickier parts of miniature painting.
Iwata-Medea Eclipse HP CS Dual Action Airbrush Gun with Gravity Feed
The Eclipse airbrush system is also moderately priced. It comes with a 1/3 oz gravity-feed paint cup. The reviews are good, and most users find it very easy to use with excellent coverage and great for fine detail, it can also handle pre-mixed and heavier paints without clogging up the needle.
If you run into problems, the technical support from Iwata is also excellent. Replacement parts can be ordered easily without fuss, and advice is available if needed.
The Iwata Eclipse is the industry standard, the results for fine detail are great with paint strokes possible from the width of human hair upwards, it’s a very consistent, and very impressive airbrush.
Badger Air-Brush Co. 105 Patriot Fine Gravity Airbrush
Next up, the Badger 105 Patriot is a little easier on the pocket, sat in the budget price range.
This is a dual-action gravity feed airbrush for spraying all mediums, acrylics, enamels, lacquers, glazes, and many others, we will be looking at the paint mediums suitable for miniatures in more detail a little further down this article.
Badger states that this airbrush is easy to clean and operate for both seasoned users and anyone new to airbrushing. It is advertised as low maintenance and ideal for illustrative work and graphic arts, both known for intricacy, which makes it an ideal item to finish your gaming miniatures to a high standard.
One of the selling points of this airbrush is that they have eliminated the need to have different size needles/nozzles. The two angled needle tip combined with the cone-shaped nozzle enables a .50mm single configuration to spray pretty much any desired medium.
It is also shown to be comfortable and reliable as well as cost-effective, and this is also born out in the good reviews.
Please note this airbrush does not ship with a compressor, so you would have to source that one along with the fittings.
Airbrush Paints for 3D Printed Miniatures
Once you’ve chosen your airbrush, the next step is to buy some paints.
The airbrushes above will all work with a large range of painting mediums. The main thing is to check the paint you choose is meant for airbrushes as the viscosity is important.
Usually, anything as fluid as skimmed milk or thinner is good. It is also vital that you keep the airbrush clean, do not allow the paint to dry up in there. If you finish your airbrush strokes with air, this should prevent clogging.
So, what kinds of paint can you use on your miniatures? Well, enamel paint works providing you use enamel thinners, and in a well-ventilated area for your safety.
High flow acrylics are great, just beware of the metallic colors as larger particles may not flow through the airbrush.
Watercolors thinned with distilled water can produce interesting effects, then there are inks and also leather paint or Angelus Paint to give it the correct term.
Here are my favorite airbrush paints for 3D printed miniatures.
Badger Air-Brush Minitaire 12-Color Ghost Tint transparent Acrylic Paint Set
The first set of paints we are going to look at comes from Badger, who also makes one of the quality airbrushes I recommended earlier.
The set comes ready for airbrushing, no thinning or mixing required, and they are all safe and non-toxic. These paints are quick-drying, and the viscosity enhances the detail of the miniature rather than conceals it.
There are over 80 different colors to choose from; this particular kit contains 12 of those and is a good price for the quality you get.
It’s a good idea to get a set like this, and then once you know which color you are going to use the most, you can invest in a single large bottle of that specific color.
The great thing is that none of the Badger paints require thinning, which saves you time and money and also reduces the health risks associated with thinning chemicals.
If you are happy to mix your own thinners, there are many choices, but it would be better to stay with the ready to go ones, particularly if this is new to you and you are keeping costs down.
Below is a link for an acrylic thinner that I recommend.
U.S. Art Supply 36 Color Deluxe Acrylic Airbrush Paint Set
Here is a great kit, airbrush-ready with a big range of colors and a color wheel for mixing along with the sticks, cups, airbrush extender, and cleaner.
This kit will set you back around $100 for 36 colors in 1oz pots, but the variety may well be worth your while depending on what you are painting.
They can be used straight from the bottle, but the airbrush reducer is supplied
The kit provides you with 12 pots, each of Primary Opaque colors, Secondary opaque, and Pearlized.
U.S. Art Supply 12 Color Acrylic Transparent Colors Airbrush Paint Set
The last kit on my list is a little smaller and cheaper.
In this US Art Supply Kit, you get twelve 1oz pots in a variety of transparent colors or for almost the same price, you can choose 12 pots in Primary Opaque Colours or the same but the pearlized paint, so basically you can build your large kit a bit at a time.
Hopefully, my guide to airbrush paints for 3D printed miniatures has given you the answers you were looking for. If you have any more questions, please leave me a message below, and I’ll be happy to help!
Always check the labels on the paint that you buy and read the instructions on your choice of airbrush. The market is saturated with solutions, and I hope that while this article cannot cover all, it has given you a good starting point, and this leads to a positive airbrushing experience!
Last update on 2021-10-10 at 10:54