Airbrushing: Single action or Double? - Warhammer 40K Fantasy
 

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  1. #1
    Member Ikalos's Avatar
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    Airbrushing: Single action or Double?

    Hey ya'll. As ya'll may know, GW is coming out with an airbrush and a brilliant scheme to sell air (hardy har har. )

    Anyway, from what I understand and from what I've been told, it's essentially a single action badger/aztek thingy (as you can see from my technical jargon, I clearly know precisely what I'm talking about =P) which makes me wonder: why would I need a double-action airbrush when all I would ever need an airbrush for is basecoating?

    When I think about it, the trade off is cash and space. Air-compressor + double-action airbrush = $200+, while a single-action + cans of air or even an Air-compressor ≤ $200. I'm ballparking the price by a lot but that's good enough to give you an idea.

    So, to hit the point again, why by an air-compressor and a double-action airbrush when I'm unlikely to ever need control and precision?


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  3. #2
    Nightlord frozencore's Avatar
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    Double action airbrushes offer a lot more control. With a double action you can control both the paint and air flow so you can adjust what you need to the specific model.

    Useful advice

  4. #3
    Ender of Threads Wraith's Avatar
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    If all you're ever going to do with the airbrush is basic, quick and messy basecoats, then by all means go with the GW one. And if the notion of spending $15 every few spraying sessions sounds good to you, then welcome to the world of canned air.

    If not, let's talk about some real hardware.

    The simple fact of the matter is that a double action airbrush (DA) gives you more control than a single action (SA).

    With a SA, you set the paint nozzle and push the button - it sprays X amount of paint. Let go and it stops, press again and straight back to X amount of paint. If it's set at, let's call it "medium", you're set for a decent mid-range, mid volume spray... But if you need to go in close for a little touch up, it'll blast the same spray out, and what works well at range will drench the model like a firehose up close. And if you try a broad, high coverage spray from further out, it's not putting out enough paint to do the job. But hey, this is fixable - you've just got to stop what you're doing and fiddle with the adjustment to get it right. And fiddle a bit more to fine tune it. And reset it when you want to go back towards medium. And then fiddle a bit more to fine tune it again... And odds are that no matter how much you adjust it, you'll never get the sort of fine line spray pattern that a DA is really good at.

    You see my point, right?

    Now with a DA? Push the button, you get just air. Pull the button back (it's a lever too) to add the paint - pull a little, get a little paint with fine control. Pull back more, you've got the medium spray. Pull all the way, it sprays at full power. Adjustment is instant and on the fly. While any really large change often requires you to change to a larger/smaller needle and spray tip, each needle/tip combo produces a wide range of spray sizes. And on top of that, a DA mixes the paint and air inside the airbrush (SA does this outside), resulting in better atomization and a finer, smoother spray.

    The SA does win out in a few areas though - they're fairly low maintenance, they'll spray pretty much anything thinner than roofing tar and they're much quicker to clean. DA's are a more sensitive tool - they tend to require that your paint be properly thinned and their more complicated mechanism requires more cleaning and basic maintenance.

    And as for canned air... A can will cost you $15. That $15 will last you for 2 or 3 good spraying sessions, plus cleaning and such. Its air pressure fluctuates according to how new the can is and how warm it is, and it's not constant - it starts strong and steadily drops away as the can is used up. And since air pressure is a big part in determining how well your airbrush sprays, you'll have to constantly adjust the valve to keep your spray more or less the same. This is complicated by the fact that there's no pressure gauge, so you're basically adjusting by feel alone. In fact, there comes a point where there's still a good bit of air left in the can, but its pressure is just so low that it's no longer capable of producing the necessary suction to draw paint into the airbrush, effectively meaning that you can't even use what's left in the can. Oh, and might I add, airbrushes with a siphon feed bottle system need much more suction to operate than airbrushes with a siphon feed colour cup or gravity feed systems, meaning that those airbrushes reach that tipping point even sooner, with even more wasted air in the can.

    Compressors, on the other hand, are constant. Set it for 20psi, you get 20psi. Today, tomorrow, next month, 20psi. They either run constantly (hope you've got a silent hobby model! ...or good earplugs...), or run for a minute to fill a tank that should last you up to an hour, depending on tank size. No constant tweaking of valve settings, no running to the store for a new can and best of all, after the (admittedly relatively pricey) initial cost of purchase, your only expenses are some very minor maintenance and the electricity to run the thing.

    The thing to remember is that a DA setup doesn't have to be really expensive. A basic silent hobby compressor and a good mid-level DA airbrush set should set you back no more than $200 - $225 for a really solid setup. And you can get a cheaper airbrush and compressor to cut that cost even further. I know people with the $500 advanced compressor system and the $800 ultimate airbrush... And yes, as you might expect, their stuff is incredible! I would absolutely love to get equipment like that for myself. But it's not necessary. Even my average compressor, Badger Crescendo and Paasche Talon setup is more than you really require.

    Go take a look at Dixieart or some other airbrush store and see what's really out there - A Paasche D500SR compressor and a Badger Vega 2000/Anthem 155 or Paasche VL/Millenium airbrush set will set you back around $190 for a good setup that will last for many years. Upgrade to a bigger DA300R compressor and a better airbrush (VSR90, Universal 360, Eclipse CS) and you're looking at $230 - $260 for a really nice setup that'll likely last you for life. Since you play Tau, here's a comparison: A good, fully capable airbrush and compressor, with basically no recurring costs other than paint, will cost you about the same money as 6 crisis suits. A great setup costs you the same as 9.
    We've got plenty of youth... How about a fountain of smart?


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    Member Ikalos's Avatar
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    O_O Now that's a lot of information.

    Well, that's sold me. Double-action + compressor is a minor set back but it last longer. And it looks like it'd be cheaper than upgrading my PC or buying a new console (meaning it might be easier to get a bit more funding from parents. )

    Thanks for the info! ^^ I've read a lot of the "single vs double" articles but they might as well be in russian for all I understood.

  6. #5
    Ender of Threads Wraith's Avatar
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    No problem - glad I could help.

    The best part is that you're not limited to using just the one airbrush. An entry level Double Action is the best place to start out IMHO, but if you decide later on that you'd rather have a single action to handle the grunt work and leave the double action for finer tasks, they're dirt cheap! A basic Badger 250 will only set you back around $18! It's a crude, ugly airbrush, but sometimes you just need a hammer instead of a scalpel, right?
    We've got plenty of youth... How about a fountain of smart?


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