The 5 Best Airbrushes 2017

airbrushing

After months of research and talking with true airbrush painters, make-up artists and even cooks, I conclude that the best airbrushes are generally from the company Iwata.

They are not the cheapest around but every experienced user will tell you to get one instead of a cheaper alternative.  Popular opinion is always not the most reliable so I went even deeper in my research to make sure that you have the latest and most accurate information possible. The following article will discuss the best and potential budget alternatives.

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Best Airbrushes for Beginners

best airbrush

#1  Iwata HP-CS

PROS

  • Great for small to medium size projects
  • Great all purpose airbrush

CONS

  • Not suitable for large areas

Everyone, and I do mean everyone loves the Iwata HP-CS. At this point I would say it's a self-fulfilling prophecy, a loop that has started and will now never end. It features gravity feed and dual action. Both beginner friendly features, recommended by professionals but not only for beginner airbrush artists. Professionals too use it. It will last you years. The 0.35 needle tip will alllow you to vary between a spray of a hairline to 2" (50-mm) round.

iwata revolution CR Dual Action Large Gravity Feed Cup

#2 Iwata Revolution CR

PROS

  • Great Price

CONS

  • Nothing

The Iwata-Medea Revolution CR is a great versatile airbrush perfect for model work. A professionals favorite dual action, internal-mix and gravity feed design coupled with a great price. A large cup that although might make it harder for you to control the smallest detail will allow you to work longer. The combination of a big nozzle and a long fine needle 0.5 mm will allow you to define for yourself what kind of airbrush artists you are. Do you need a finer tool or something rougher?

The Cheapest Airbrush Kit

#3 Master Airbrush MAS KIT-VC16-B22

PROS

  • Great Price

CONS

  • Unreliable

Now this one of the best sellers on amazon right now because of it's very affordable nature. I would urge caution because if you read reviews a lot of users who need it beyond their first or only project encounter problems such as the equipment material being cheap and breaking on them. Like I said before your best and safest bet is paying a little more for an Iwata airbrush. But if you only need to get 1 small project done then this is the model to go for. 

Best Airbrush for Miniatures

#4 Iwata-Medea Eclipse HP CS

Iwata-Medea Eclipse HP CS

PROS

  • Gravity feed
  • Fine needle 0.35 mm
  • Needle stop
  • Reliable brand
  • Dual action

CONS

  • Not as cheap as the cheapest alternatives

When choosing an airbrush for plastic models the choices are not too difficult. You will want a gravity feed because it's compact and small. You will prefer a finer needle, something around 0.2 mm, because you will be doing a lot of detailed work. And your trigger should be dual action because we want to be fully in control of our technique. Considering all these factors and assuming that you want a quality airbrush that will last you years, I recommend a branded airbrush from Iwata, Badger or Paasch in the 100 dollar range. Something like the aforementioned Iwata HP-CS. The needle is 0.35 mm which is good because if you're just getting into airbrushing you do not want the finest needle because the finest needle will be the hardest to control.

Best Airbrush for Cake Decorating

#5 Badger King of Cakes Bakery Kit

cake decoration airbrush

PROS

  • Siphon Feed
  • Fine needle 0.35 mm
  • Reliable brand
  • Single Action
  • Includes compressor

CONS

  • Not as cheap as the cheapest alternatives

As before if you are only interested in using an airbrush once then you might aswell go for one of the cheap choices like the Master Airbrush Cake Decorating System. But if you are a professional cook who wants reliable tools for mass production without sacrificing quality. Then I suggest you stick with a reliable choice like Iwata or Badger. An added benefit of choosing Badger over Master is that Badger is an American company. Additionally Badger is one of the most trusted airbrush companies and a lot of airbrushing enthusiasts start out with Badgers.

Best Airbrush Compressor

portable air compressor

Porter-Cable C2002-WK Oil-Free

Here's the skinny about choosing the best air compressors. If you're a casual DIY person then you will be fine with an entry level air compressor that is oil-less. But if you know that you're going to stress your air compressor often then we know that an oil-less solution will not last you long. For heavy users it's smarter to get an air compressor that you'll have to oil yourself. This way you'll have a machine that will last you longer.

What paint do I use?

If possible get paint or decorative material that's made for the purpose you need it for. If you want to decorate cakes, get food paint. If you want use your airbrush to apply makeup then clearly use cosmetic paints and not industrial ones. These choices will normally be prethinned and will need no further preparation.

What about using primer?

" You don't have to prime previously painted surfaces if the paint is in good shape—no chipping or peeling. Interior walls usually don't need priming except in the case of stains, repairs or a paint color that's drastically different. Interior painted woodwork usually needs spot priming at a minimum. " - as seen on FamilyHandyman

Best Airbrush Brands

Iwata and the Copycats

The Iwata airbrush designs are not patented. This means that other companies can make their own models of this distinct look. Although these airbrushes might look like the similar they are not the same. The materials used and the quality assurance Iwata has is simply better. Everyone with experience from professional to amateur will tell you to stay away from the knock offs. Every person I've seen who has bought a cheaper model has ended up saying that they regret going that route. I've read of a man who bought 3 cheap knockoffs and each of them broke. His 4th and last airbrush was Iwata. Those 3 airbrushes were equivalent in cost to the Iwata he ended up getting. 

Other Brands:

  • Harder and Steenbeck Infinity CR Plus 2 in 1
  • Badger Krome
  • Badger 360 for large areas.

How to choose an airbrush?

There are essentially 4 steps to picking an airbrush. Although there are various choices quite often the answer is the same regardless of your purpose for the airbrush.

Type of Surface

Fine Art

  • For a finer stream of paint you need a needle. A 0.15 needle is the smallest but also possibly the hardest to handle.
needle

Covering Large Areas

  • For something that acts like a spray gun you need a wider nozzle. The Badger 360 can go from needle point to a wide spray of 3 inches.
badger 360

Type of Paint feed

Gravity feed airbrush

  • Limited volume of paint
  • Efficient
  • Smarter For Beginners

Siphon feed airbrush

  • Better for bigger jobs
  • Easier to clean
  • Great for spray tanning

Side feed airbrush

  • Better for multipurpose jobs
  • The optimal choice

Type of Trigger

Dual Action

  • Better For Beginners
  • Prefered by artisans

Single Action

  • Better for automated, repetative work.

Trigger Action

  • Better for typical paint sprayer feeling

How the Paint is Atomized

Internal-Mix

  • Better for more accurate work
  • For Beginners

External-Mix

  • Better for rougher, uglier jobs

FAQ

Will the airbrush clog?

It can and will clog if you do not take good care of it. This means you need to clean it after each use properly.

Conclusion

For beginners and professionals alike I would suggest a gravity feed airbrush with a smaller cup you'll be able to make the finest works of art. Dual action, if you haven't already developed a preference because it's the most versatile for any technique you want to develope. Last, but still equally important is the internal-mix which I would recommend over an external solution. The simple reason being that the spray pattern is far from precise and I believe most people who opt for an airbrush will prefer a fine instrument and not a blunt tool. As said before in this article you can not go wrong with Iwata because their brand has proven time and again to be the most reliable, capable and trustworthy over decades.

About the author

John Thatch

John Thatcher is a computer science educated artist. He uses technology to solve artist problems. His friends don't like it when he speaks of himself in the third person. But John does it anyway, because he's a rebel.

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