Tips & Tricks Airbrushing...makeup and paint

Discussion in 'Costuming and Props' started by Karma, Apr 28, 2004.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
Moderators: Commander-DWH
  1. Karma Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Aug 16, 2000
    star 3
    Hi everyone!

    I'm looking into buying an airbrush setup, but am not sure what exactly to get.

    1) I'd like some kind of dual-duty kit that I can use for both hobby use (model airplanes) and costume use (makeup). I doubt anythig like that exists...do you know of a particular compressor that can handle both applications? I know the typical PSI of a hobby compressor (40-60) is way too high for body art, and many don't have a pressure control valve.

    What is an acceptable pressure for makeup application?

    2) Say I wanted to travel with the airbrush, as I do hobby conventions as well as costume-related cons. Do I have to have a big, bulky compressor? Are there systems that employ small, reusable air bottles I can travel with? Would an air bottle system be any good?

    Thanks for your suggestions!
    -Karma

    S_S edit: just unlocking.


  2. Jorg_Sacul_from_C3 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 26, 2004
    star 1
    Before I say anything about airbrushes, let me preface it with this: Breathing protection! Airbrushes atomize paint, and you don't need to breathe that, no matter how good it may smell. :)

    Now, I don't know nothin' about makeup airbrushing, but for models and non-organic stuff..

    For a great starter setup, I'd suggest Aztec, made by Testors Corp. The airbrush is very easy to use and clean. Cleaning your airbrush parts is time well spent, as it assures long life of the unit. They have a myriad of tips available, also. They have a compressor that is small but powerful, and is very quiet.

    Yes, you'll want a pressure regulator, and also a moisture filter/trap. For a few extra bucks it puts your work in the big leagues.

    With this set up, you could be up and running for about $200. I know that sounds steep, but it is the most bang you'll get for your buck. Also, don't mess with those compressed air cans unless absolutely desperate. They are very expensive and you'll have a problem taking them on airplanes (This was told to me by a professional airbrush artist. They gave him no trouble for the trunk of other equipment, but the pressurized cans make the Security guys edgy.)

    Your local hobbyshop or website vendor should be able to take care of your needs, but also craftstores like Jo-Ann or Michael's or Frank's carry airbrush supplies.

    Before you buy, be sure and ask all the questions you can think of, too.

    Good luck, hope to see your work at CIII!

  3. Karma Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Aug 16, 2000
    star 3
    Thanks for the tips....I am concerned about taking stuff on airplanes, too. I know o2 and co2 bottles are complete no-nos. If I have to, I can always ship the compressor ahead of my and pick it up at the hotel.

    In other questions, do Testor's paints come airbrush-ready, or would I need to thin them?

    -Karma
  4. Jorg_Sacul_from_C3 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 26, 2004
    star 1
    The "metalizer" paints are designed to be airbrush ready, but as for the rest, there are formulas to thin them depending on use. A rule of thumb is "practice first, paint second". :)

    If you have lots of money to blow, go with Tamiya acrylics. I love their paints! You can airbrush with them, hand-paint, whatever. They have a nice selection of translucent colors, also. They are water based, and clean up easily. Once on the model they are as durable as enamels.

    If you buy any of the Fine Molds brand Star Wars kits, there are specific Tamiya paints indicated. I don't read Japanese so these multiple brand color guides are a blessing. I spent $50 on a selection of colors to paint the X-wing, TIE, and Jedi Starfighter. I'll probably waste more paint than actually hit those small models!
  5. VillieGee Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 30, 2002
    star 3
    Fine Scale Modeler had 2 issues recently with reviews of dozens and dozens of airbrush models. A local Hobby Town can probably get you those issues if you like.

    A little bit of research can go a long way. There's several options with airbrushes. Single action, dual action, gravity feed, suction feed, side feed, top feed, internal mix, external mix and any combination of those. For models, most people recommend a dual action, gravity feed, internal mix airbrush. It gives you the most control with thicker paints. Dual action means that pushing down on the trigger starts the airflow, and pulling back starts the paint flow. Gravity feed means the paint is pulled into the brush by gravity (instead of a suction feed, where the air movement pulls the paint up into the brush). Internal mix means the air and paint are mixed inside the brush (instead of at the front of the brush).

    I would think these features would be fine with makeup too.

    Compressors can be pretty small if you want to take it with. Mine only weighs a few pounds. Like maybe 6 or 7. 40 psi is good for modeling, but from what I've read, you need to turn it way down to about 15 for makeup. If it's anywhere near the eyes, you have to turn it down to about 5. So you'll DEFINITELY need a regulator for makeup.

    So yeah. There's some info to get you started.
  6. Jediwoman Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 17, 2003
    star 1
    I bought an airbrush kit online for under $100 bucks for my Aayla Secura costume that I am putting together. I can't remember the exact website offhand, but I can look into it for you if you like. there's a pic of it in the following album:

    AaylaSecuraTutorial

    hope that helps some. good luck with it!

    -Tanya
  7. zamweasel Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 10, 2003
    star 1
    Yea! Airbrushing makeup.

    I've started doing a lot of things involving airbrushing and makeup. I've tried several different setups. Here is my favorite for both makeup and general painting:

    I have a Paasche VL airbrush. It is dual action and very easy to clean (which is important). I don't recommend using a single action airbrush for make up and here's why. With a dual action you have control over both the air and paint coming out of the nozzel. A single action only let's you control the amount of paint. This means that it always comes out with the same pressure.

    Now imagine yourself with your eyes closed and getting paint sprayed on your face. With a single action you get a cold unexpected blast of paint every time. It's hard no to flinch and screw up your eyes while this is happening. With a dual action the artist can slowly work up the amount of air and paint which is much more comfortable for the one in the chair. Dual action - gotta love it.

    As for your air supply, you've been given a lot of advice. Depending on how much you need painted, there are aerosol cans filled with compressed air you can use for travel. These should be fine in a suitcase. You pack hairspray right? One large aerosol can has enough to paint one Aayla Secura.

    I've since gone with a very tiny compressor that doesn't take up much more room than an aerosol can. It's a single phase 1/8 HP compressor made by "Central Pnematic" and it works great. You don't need a giant compressor to do make up. Those are necessary for things like cars and t-shirts, but makeup doesn't take much.

    As for choice of makeup I only have one recommendation: Ben Nye Magicolor Liquid. The colors are vibrant and easy to custom mix. It can easily be mixed with a sealer such as Ben Nye final seal for smudge proof wearing. (As Aayla Secura I had the palms of my hands painted and nothing came off.) Go in layers - don't try to get maximum coverage the first pass. For Aayla Secura it took three passes.

    If you are going to be airbrushing over joints, particularly the neck I would recommend going over it with a coat of sealer only when you are done.

    And remember - always run some acetone though your airbrush both forward and backward when you're done. It will last a lot longer that way.

    Happy spraying
    -e
  8. Diva_Shaliqua Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Apr 16, 2002
    star 3
    A dual-action airbrush is definitely better for makeup. When airbrushing around the eyes the pressure should be on 1. And if you're wanting the colour right up to your lower eye rims you'll have to hand paint it because obviously you can't airbrush your eyes with them open.
    Ben Nye paints are great - anything waterbased. I've heard silicone-based products last longer but it's very hard to get them where I live so I haven't used them.
  9. studiocreations Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jul 18, 2000
    star 3
    My advice...

    First and Foremost... CLEAN YOUR equipment after each use. Those nibs and needles are very expensive to replace, so always block out time at the end of the day for clean up. You'll be very remorse later on if you do not.

    I highly recommend a DUAL ACTIOn airbrush. they are a bit more pricey, but they offer the best control for a novice user.

    I use a Paschee VL airbrsh for most of my work, but the Aztek is a good airbrush as is an Iwata. Price will determine what you buy. I recommend you stay away from Badger, they look good, but I have had two dual actions literally fall apart on me over the years.

    Paints. I use what I can afford. Spray can paint pooled up in a cap, Testors Modelmasters, Tamayi... I've used it all. If the model project is profesional work, I tend to use automotive paints for the vast array of colors that can be custom made.

    For body paints I too recommend Ben Nye for FX makeup. For temporary tattoo work I recommend "Artool"paints by Medea for realistic tattoos.
  10. Karma Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Aug 16, 2000
    star 3
    Thanks for all your tips and advice!

    I think the most fun will be the practicing part... fun!

    -Karma
  11. Sister_Sola Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 19, 2002
    star 4
  12. MxPxRobbie Columbia, TN FanForce Chapter Rep

    Chapter Rep
    Member Since:
    Feb 2, 2004
    star 1
    Does anyone know if a regular air compressor will work with an airbrush? My father in law has a huge compressor with a regulator, and I cannot find an affordable compressor here in town. Will this work to paint with an airbrush?

    Thanks for your help!
    -Robbie
  13. abodeofthedamned Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 30, 2004
    star 1
    It will, but (and there's always a but), i would recommend putting at least two or more moisture/oil traps on the line. Industrial compressors are oil lubricated and that will come through the air line and into your airbrush messing up your paint. One airbrush artist I know has four traps in between the line and the compressor.

    Fortunately the moisture traps are inexpensive. You can find them for less than $4 if you look around.
  14. MxPxRobbie Columbia, TN FanForce Chapter Rep

    Chapter Rep
    Member Since:
    Feb 2, 2004
    star 1
    Thanks for the heads up. I would have screwed up my work big time! I picked up a cheapo single action airbrush at Harbor Freight Tools today for $4.99 on sale... I'm going to use this to get the practice in, then upgrade to a dual action hopefully.
  15. MxPxRobbie Columbia, TN FanForce Chapter Rep

    Chapter Rep
    Member Since:
    Feb 2, 2004
    star 1
    Does anyone know if you can spray liquid latex through an airbrush?
  16. DARTHLARS Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 12, 2002
    star 4
    Liquid latex can be sprayed with an airbrush, but I have heard that it is difficult because latex clogs easily. Also, depending on your air brush, clogs can be very hard to get out if they occur.
    I would recommend against using liquid latex for body paint, because it seals up the skin so much. Have you seen the episode of Mythbusters where they tried to recreate the James Bond gold-paint myth? Their test subject overheated. Not good.

    Something different:
    I found a listing of various Body paints for airbrushing. Some can also be brushed or dabbed on.

    I plan to use an alcohol-activated body paint, but I have not decided on brand yet. I think it is great that there are a few brands to choose from these days. They stay on long and do not smear. They do crack with wear and skin flexing, though, and they tend to be more expensive than others.
    One has to be careful when airbrushing also, because alcohol evaporates quickly and cools the skin. It is also important to use moisturizer after removal.
    BTW., I saw that the alcohol-based paint from Krylon is not available anymore in the exact hue that some recommend for Aayla Secura. :(
  17. RedHeadKevin Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 18, 2004
    star 2
    I'm not sure how well Aztek airbrushes work for doing makeup, but I've used mine on model airplanes for a while, and I really like it. I know that Wal-Mart usually has a set with a Testor's (Aztek makes the brush) double-action airbrush, a nozzle, a hose, a paint carousel and a dozen little bottles of paint for around 40 bucks. It's a double-action version of the Aztek A320 airbrush, and it works quite well for most applications. Whenever anyone asks about trying out a new airbrush, I always recommend this set. Even if you don't like it, you still get all the paint and the carousel, which is worth almost 40 bucks anyway.

    IF you're thinking about airbrushing while you travel, and you don't have a ton of airbrushing to do, you might be better off finding a local store (Wal-Mart always carries it) and finding some canned "airbrush propellant." It's a can of compressed gas used for painting, and it should last about 20 minutes of spraying. They're not very cheap (around 10 bucks for the big can) but they'd probably be a heck of a lot cheaper or easier than shipping a compressor, or trying to smuggle one on a plane.
Moderators: Commander-DWH
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.