Sunday 4 May 2014

Free-hand airbrushing - hit and miss

Ever since I started airbrushing (a year and a half ago), my ambition was to try free-hand camouflage. My first airbrush (Revell) was not suitable for this, so I kept masking with silly putty and getting good results. It kept nagging at me though. Now that I have an Aztec, airbrush control has greatly improved, so I really wanted to try it again.

The trick to free-hand airbrushing is to set the pressure really low, get the tip of the airbrush really close to the model and go very slow. This has proven rather easy for post-shading panel centers in a lighter colour, but that's always with slightly lighter paint than the base coat, so overspray is invisible and you keep adding until the result is satisfying.

Camouflage colours tend to contrast highly with the base coat, and the overspray is very visible. I already demonstrated this last time, when I did the turret.

This time, I tried to go even slower and though I'd best achieve that by thinning the heck out of the paint. Basically I filled the airbrush with thinner and added 1 drop of brown paint. I experimented with thinner (both the old and new Vallejo thinner) but ended up settling for the matt varnish, which seemed less likely to make the paint too runny and create those beautiful spiders we all hate to see on our models.

Initial results where promising : because the paint is so thin, overspray is far less visible. You have to go over the same spot a dozen times, but it does feel more "in control".

The difficult part now is to find the sweet spot between "thin enough" and "not too thin". The airbrush is finicky and will occasionally stop spraying. The instinct to pull the trigger back further is hard to resist, because when you do and the paint starts flowing again, it will be too much and then you get the aforementioned spiders.

I ended up respraying the entire thing again with the base coat. I'll try again ... later.

Purely as an experiment, I have succeeded and made some clear progress, but again I find myself struggling to find the balance between all those different variables that make airbrushing not always as easy as you'd like.

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