Airbrushes allow you to give depth and precision to your work. They give you the ability to go over an area several times, to give it shade or shadow without brush strokes being on your art. Using an airbrush means that you aren’t losing a portion of your paint in a paintbrush or sponge.
Our Top Picks
- Editor’s Choice: Harder & Evolution Silverline Airbrush 2 in 1
- Best Airbrush for Scale Modeling: Badger Air-Brush Co. Sotar 2020-2F
- Best Airbrush Kit for Models: PointZero Dual Action Airbrush Kit with 3 Guns
- Best Airbrush for Beginners: Iwata-Medea Eclipse HP CS Dual Action Airbrush Gun
- Budget Pick: Paasche H-100D Single Action Airbrush & Compressor Package
Some of the best airbrushes for models can also be used on t-shirts, paintings, and painting metalwork. You can also use some airbrushes for cake decoration. Being able to use an airbrush allows you to get the fine details with color on to your model; a process that you may have had to use several colors to pull-off with a paintbrush. The ability to switch out needles or nozzles so that you can get a more detailed work rather than having to use another brush, sponge or possibly a toothpick to pull-off makes an airbrush a great product to have when painting.
What is the best airbrush for models?
This buying guide will show you what works for a beginner just using an-airbrush Vs. a long-time user who knows how to control the airbrush flow. Find out what kinds of needles will work best for your level or ability. Also, find out which airbrushes are most versatile compared to the airbrushes that will work airbrushing for painting models or certain art.
1. Harder & Evolution Silverline Airbrush 2 in 1 – Editor’s Choice
- 0.2 mm and 0.4 mm nozzle set
- 2 ml and 5 ml paint cup
- Cleaning Brush Set Included
The Evolution Silverline is a high-quality airbrush that is made in Germany. It has a small nozzle of 0.2mm that allows you to do incredibly fine detail work to your models or art. There is a 2ml paint cup on the bottom side of the airbrush that makes it possible to siphon your paint through the brush instead of sucking it up into the pen from an external cup.
This airbrush has a silver body with nickel plating. The Evolution Silverline has solvent-resistant PTFE seals, which are seals that protect against high temperatures and pressure, this is something that all Harder & Steenbeck airbrushes have. These airbrushes are easy to handle with a futuristic design. You can use universal pieces along with this airbrush but you can find different add-on pieces from the Harder & Steenbeck website.
- Great control
- Can do very fine-detail work
- Relatively expensive
2. Badger Air-Brush Co. Sotar 2020-2F – Best Airbrush for Scale Modeling
- Gravity feed 2ml cup
- 19 mm nozzle
- Has an extra-fine needle
The Sotar 2020-2F is a professional grade airbrush with a 19mm nozzle that will allow you to do incredibly fine detail on your model work. The pen is black with a button on top and the 2ml cup underneath. It has an extra fine PTFE needle, that is able to handle the high pressure and temperatures from this airbrush.
These airbrushes are made to use finely pigmented, properly reduced paints, watercolors, inks, dyes, and low viscosity acrylics. The body of the airbrush is made so that you can hold it comfortably which makes it easy to handle. Badger Sotar airbrushes are made in the USA.
- Easy to use
- Runs well
- Makes fine details
- Easy to handle
- Hard to clean
- Easily damaged
- Not meant for beginners
- Doesn’t come with an air hose
3. PointZero Dual Action Airbrush Kit with 3 Guns – Best Airbrush Kit for Models
- Premium airbrushing set
- Multipurpose use
- Includes 7 exclusive downloadable e-Book airbrushing guides.
- Airbrush Essentials – Master the Basics DVD and access to exclusive airbrush knowledge base downloads
- Braided 6 ft. air hose
The PointZero Dual Action Airbrush Kit with 3 Guns is an airbrush pen that comes with a multi-purpose kit that allows people to paint not only models but also crafts, auto & cycle graphics, taxidermy, photo retouching, t-shirts, murals, fine art & illustrations. The three different airbrush guns that come in this kit are a fine-detail dual-action, internal-mix, gravity-feed with a low-profile 2cc and a pre-installed 0.2mm nozzle set.
This kit comes with a DVD that will help a new airbrush user know how to use the airbrush. It also shows the different methods and techniques that can be done with the airbrushes. It has guides that teach you how to decorate a cake with an airbrush, how to clean your airbrush and how to do letter-work with your airbrush.
- Can also be used to airbrush cakes and many other art mediums
- Works for beginners
- Comes with three brushes
- Can be difficult to clean
- Needs to be cleaned often
4. Iwata-Medea Eclipse HP CS Dual Action Airbrush Gun – Best Airbrush for Beginners
- 35mm spring steel needle and drop-in self-centering nozzle
- 7ml sized gravity-feed cup is created with a new funnel shape
- Single cut-away handle
- Spray pattern – hairline to 2″ (50-mm) round
- Head cap snapper
The Iwata-Medea Eclipse HP CS Dual Action Airbrush Gun gives you 5 possible ways you can spray your paint. You can spray all the way from extra-fine detail work to extra wide. This airbrush accommodates both airbrush beginners and airbrush experts.
It’s a gravity feed airbrush that has a 0.35mm needle and nozzle to pull-off the fine detail work. This airbrush can spray premixed paints, along with heavier acrylics and Medea textile colors, which makes it very versatile. This is a multi-purpose, high-detail and high paint flow airbrush that has a 1/3oz size cup to hold the paint.
- Easy to clean
- Easy to use
- Makes great detail work
- Cost a bit more
- It has been known to clog
5. Paasche H-100D Single Action Airbrush & Compressor Package – Budget Pick
- Single action airbrush
- Compressor with regulator and auto-shutoff
- Includes 7 brush cleaning kit
- Great beginners kit
The Paasche H-100D Single Action Airbrush & Compressor Package is a great beginner airbrush kit that comes with 7 different cleaning brushes. This airbrush pen has 3 spray heads that allow it to spray almost any kind of paint. The compressor gives 20-35 PSI which is a great power behind the paint spraying.
The body of this airbrush has a chrome-plated finish and at 1.1 lbs, it is a very lightweight airbrush. The compressor for this airbrush makes it incredibly quiet compared to other airbrushes. This airbrush is great for model work and other pieces of art.
- Great for an airbrush novice
- It is quiet
- Great directions
- Works well for small projects
- Low power use
- The compressor has a lot of vibration
Buying Guide + FAQ
Types of airbrushes:
Gravity Feed Vs. Siphon Feed Airbrush
The major difference between a gravity feed and a Siphon Feed Airbrush is the method with which paint is passed from the cup to the mixing area.
With a Gravity feed airbrush, well, it does what the name says. The paint cup is located on top of the airbrush, and therefore, paint is pulled into the atomizing chamber of the airbrush. The major advantage of the gravity feed method is that it allows for lower air pressure to be used to operate the airbrush.
Also, A Gravity feed airbrush allows you to paint fine lines and details on very small figures and models while avoiding an overspray.
The Con of Gravity feed airbrush is the fact that they utilize small cups for storing paints to reduce the weight on the spray gun. Therefore, you will need to refill your paint cup more often when working on large scale models.
Siphon Feed Airbrush systems have their paint cups located at the bottom of the whole paint unit. The paint bottle is connected to the mixing chamber with the use of a connecting tube. When air is passed into the tube to the mixing chamber, it also siphons paint int.
Since the paint cup is at the bottom, the siphon system allows for a larger amount of paint to be stored. This will be an advantage when you are painting larger models.
The major advantage of the Siphon delivery system is that it allows large spray areas to be covered very quickly.
The downside of using a siphon system is that it requires more time to perform cleanups, and it also uses more paint than a gravity system.
Single Action Vs. Double Action Airbrush
In the simplest of terms, the difference between a single action and a double-action airbrush lies in the manner in which paint is delivered by the mechanism.
In a Single Action Airbrush, the paint is delivered with only one press a button. What this means is that you have minimal control over how much paint is delivered at a given time. However, this means that a single action Airbrush is pretty useful for painting solid colors or coats as it allows a broad or thick layer of paint to be painted at once.
In a Double Action Airbrush, there are two mechanisms used for the paint delivery system. The first button allows air to pass through the delivery mechanism when it is press down. The second action performed by the trigger is paint flow. When you slide the trigger backwards, the paint is allowed to pass through the delivery system, and the further back the trigger is pulled, the more paint is allowed to pass through it. A double Action airbrush is mostly used for its ability to allow the size of the paint stream to be adjusted, as well as how much paint is being delivered.
Double Action Airbrush offers incredible precision and flexibility as it can perform the job of a single action spray too.
Internal Vs. External Mix Airbrush
All gravity feed airbrushes make use of an internal mix system for painting. While a siphon feed airbrush can make use of either an internal or external mix system.
An internal mix system is one in which the air and the paint are mixed together internally before it is sprayed through the nozzle of the airbrush. Therefore, in a gravity feed airbrush, after the paint is drawn into the barrel of the airbrush. The air passing through the airbrush is mixed with paint in the barrel of the airbrush. This mixture is then delivered through the nozzle of the airbrush onto the model.
In an internal mix airbrush system (which is limited to the siphon delivery system in this case). Air is allowed to pass over the tip of the needle, which then draws the paint from the paint cup through the tube. Air mixing with the paint at the delivery point right before it lands on the model.
A condition known as dry tip happens more often with an external mix airbrush system. Dry tip is a situation in which some of the paint coming out of the nozzle of your airbrush dries on the exit point of the needle, therefore, blocking the delivery system.
After choosing the right airbrush type and compressor to go with it, you might also need to get various kits, also known as accessories to help improve your airbrushing experience. Some of them are listed below:
- A Spare Airbrush: it is almost a general knowledge at this point that the airbrushes that come with airbrush compressor kits are not usually great. They are the cheap kinds and will perform properly for a little while before they start to fail. However, you don’t have to go for the expensive paintbrushes just yet. You can use some cheap ones as practice brushes and when you are comfortable with handling an airbrush, you can make the transition.
- Airbrush Compressor: An airbrush compressor is also considered an accessory. Actually, this is more of a necessary equipment than an accessory. The point here is to get an air compressor that produces less noise. If you want to go for an overkill option, you can get an automotive air compressor, this one has a large tank. Which means you can store compressed air in its tank for days without needing to run the motor again. However, an automotive compressor is way louder than a dedicated airbrush compressor.
- Airbrush Wash Station: This is one of those accessories that would be considered very important for your airbrush system. This is very useful and cheap as well. It allows you to stand your airbrush when you are not painting with it. This is very important since you cannot lay an airbrush down while it is still full of paint.
The major function of the wash station is to allow you to spray the waste paint in its container while you clean out the airbrush. This will help to prevent you from causing a mess when you have to clean your airbrush and spray the waste out of the nozzle.
Without a compressor, you will be unable to push air and paint through the delivery system of an airbrush for painting. An air compressor produces compressed air that is used to push a liquid medium such as paint through the airbrush. An air compressor is used to supply consistent airflow to the airbrush.
An airbrush compressor is the most essential part of an airbrush system, but it is also the most expensive and power-hungry part of an airbrush unit.
When looking to buy an airbrush system, here are some of the things to look out for:
- Auto-off function: An airbrush compressor with an auto-off function will automatically shut off when you are not spraying. This will help to reduce the noise produced by your airbrush system. This, however, will make an airbrush compressor more expensive.
- Power: Power is an important factor as it determines how effective and efficient your compressor unit will be for you. If you perform little painting jobs like nails or something in that size range, then a compressor with 10 LPM rating is sufficient for you.
However, for larger jobs like modeling and body art, you might want to step up to a compressor with 20 LPM rating. For really large painting jobs like trucks and cars, then you should opt for one with a rating of 30 LMP.
Wrapping it up
This list is the best on airbrushes for models. It also includes the best airbrushes for scale modeling, for model cars and for plastic models. An airbrush is a pen-shaped product that uses pressure to spray paint on your art surface instead of you having to manually do that. You can keep your airbrush in one spot to get precisely in on a spot or you can continuously move your airbrush to get color all over at different amounts.
This list may only have five airbrushes included in it but they all are amazing modeling airbrushes. The Iwata-Medea Eclipse HP CS Dual Action Airbrush Gun, PointZero Dual Action Airbrush Kit with 3 Guns and the Badger Air-Brush Co. Sotar 2020-2F are the best of this group.
Not only do they give you that fine detail work that an airbrush pro would love, they are also easy to handle and have great versatility. No matter which airbrush you choose, this group includes the best airbrushes for miniatures and are fantastic airbrush kits for models.