I've been interested in airbrushing miniatures for quite a long time, but what was holding me back was the start-up cost. Airbrushes can be expensive and I really didn't want to drop a lot of money on something that I might not like or use without being able to have a bit of a go and test the waters.
After buying a copy of Angel Giraldez's "How to Paint Miniatures from A-Z" I was inspired by the quality of his work - before that book I thought the only thing that could be airbrushed with good results was Eldar vehicles and power weapons! I was determined to have a go myself, but I didn't want to go into it and drop a ton of money on kit right off the bat.
I had a look on a few retailers and saw that Amazon were doing a full kit; compressor, airbrushes and hose for £60 ($90). At first I was sceptical, but the reviews were quite positive, so I thought "why not" and took a chance by ordering one.
|The complete FoxHunter KMS kit.|
The next day the whole thing arrived and I began to experiment. The first thing I did was set it up and then I began by spraying water just to get a feel for it. The pressure can be adjusted on the compressor - I've found that 1.8-2 bar is about right for miniatures as it gives a gentle spray that won't blast out too much paint in one go. The only thing is that as you spray the pressure will go down as the compressor is a bit budget. The way to get around this is to set it higher than you need and then spray air till the pressure stabilises to a steady flow at the pressure you want - then you can paint away!
In the box you get 2 airbrushes - one bottle fed and one gravity fed. The gravity fed one is the one you want for miniatures. The needle size is 0.3mm which is about right for larger models (Say Daemon Prince Size) and vehicles of all sizes. You can basecoat miniatures of any size with it, but it won't have the precision for highlighting etc at a small scale.
The other absolute essentials are Airbrush thinner and Airbrush cleaner. You're going to need these as much as you need paint. Vallejo make big bottles of them that aren't that expensive and I recommend using those products.
With the 0.3 needle, thinning to about 50/50 paint to thinner seems to work quite well. sometimes 2/3 paint to 1/3 thinner is right, depending on the paint consistency. With this airbrush you can mix straight in the bowl as it isn't too sensitive. I've since bought a finer 0.15 needle brush and it won't take that kind of punishment (it clogs easily as it is much finer). The basic KMS airbrush is a lot more forgiving!
The one thing I would recommend is using Vallejo paints with an airbrush. You don't need the pre-mixed airbrush paint specifically, but they flow a lot better than Citadel paints and seem to be a lot better engineered for airbrush use.
I also recommend starting the airflow when the airbrush is pointed away from the model as sometimes flecks of paint can clog in the nozzle and then you get a scatter-gun blast of flecks when you restart the flow. It is a small thing, but it can ruin the finish of your model, so it's worth remembering, especially if you were coming back for that last highlight!
The compressor does get hot and can vibrate across the floor - luckily at the low pressure you'll be using these problems are mitigated quite a lot and it won't really move. It also comes with an inbuilt moisture trap which seems to work reasonably well. The moisture trap basically removes any water that gets into the line, which in theory stops excess water getting into your paint or spraying out of the end unexpectedly. Unfortunately this can still happen and I plan to invest in a better one at some point.
I did a few test pieces of scenery before I took to painting any actual models. I'd recommend it while you get used to using your airbrush as the trigger mechanism is a bit sensitive and you don't want to blow a massive load of sticky paint all over your model!
After reading Angel's book I wanted to try my hand at painting a TAG from Infinity (big robot about the size of a Daemon Prince). I followed the guidance in the book about adding layers of highlight using the airbrush and it came out really well. It was a steep learning curve though, so be prepared if you're getting into airbrushing!
|The progress after my first night of airbrushing. I've outlined these panels in black and white to create a metallic look with an ordinary brush after the airbrushing was complete.|
|All of the blue armour and the sword was airbrushed with the FoxHunter KMS|
The one thing I would say is don't expect to get great results if you can't get them with a brush. The real advantage of the airbrush is speed and the ability to get smooth blends without tears. After that though you're still going to have to finish the model off yourself, so you can't throw away your fine detail brushes yet!
That said this is a fantastic kit for the money - whether you want something to basecoat with, or to paint your tanks and larger models it really is very good. The best part is that it all comes in one box, so there is no need to shop around or wonder what type of air hose you need as it comes with one!
09/10 - Perfection on a budget. You're going to need something better with time, but as a starting kit you can't go wrong.
|To say I'm happy with the results is an understatement.|