You feel the urge to paint minis, perhaps in the morning, or in the late evening after the day’s duties are done. It’s a weekday, or a Saturday, who cares. You’ve got the itch to pick up a brush.
You hobble to your desk, littered with art supplies; oh, so messy. But, beautiful because you spent years gathering that magical alchemy together and it all works just fine.
You take a seat in your creaky desk chair, the cushion torn right between your crotch. Yet, you don’t mind, because this is YOUR space and coffee stains be damned, you love it here.
Your eyes glaze over your melange of tools and doodads, and hover right there, where your favorite brush lies in-waiting.
Then, like a distracting voice from above and the tinkle bells of angels, you spy a reflection of metal.
Your airbrush. It calls to you like a siren wooing a poor sailor toward the precipice of….
No, you say to yourself. Not today.
You don’t need the hassle of working with the airbrush. That was last week and the flashbacks of clogged tips, dirty cups, and splattering paint still haunt you.
You don’t need to put on your magnifying visor headband. It was already on from the night before.
You were prepared for the perfect time, that urge, and the perfect congregation of conditions for your marathon painting session.
You stare at your airbrush again, and realize that you spent way too much money on a tool that you don’t need. The forest of junk, the spray booth, the cleaning fluids in tall dirty bottles; all that crap you need to keep that bad boy happy.
The airbrush screams at you, “pick me, pick me!”
But, your eyes hover back to the end of the line, and you pick up the regular ol’ brush for the perfect painting session.
1) Your first child should always be your favorite, and if you’re a veteran miniature painter, your first child was a regular brush with bristles
2) You enjoy painting every nook and cranny on a miniature with a brush, which makes you feel like a pro, or less “cheat-y” and more elite
3) So, you can say you spent 20 hours or more…base coating
4) …And become a much better painter in the process
5) As a result, you learn much more about how your brush handles, the way paint behaves, and overcome many of the technical challenges your airbrushing self could only dream of
6) And, the feeling of achieve that perfect wet-blend is just…well, you know
7) You give your brain a huge intellectual boost, the part of you that truly attracts the opposite sex
8) And, there are no short-cuts; you have to go in with a plan and practice a level of patience; your technique will be improving all the time
9) Meaning that when you do pick up the airbrush, and your stare at a scary miniature, you’ll know how to drive that tool like that pro-painter on YouTube
10) But, you won’t go to the airbrush. You’re thinking about how you’ll feel like Rambo taking on that special dry brush technique
11) Appreciating the extra control before you sweep your bristles along that narrow sculpted pipe, or dark-lining the edges of a model’s sleeve
12) …And, how you know there’s a significantly greater chance you’ll slip into a pre-painted area and totally screw up everything you did before
13) So when you don’t screw up, and blaze through that hard-to-paint area, with your tongue sticking out, you’ll see Jen Haley or the Miniac, instead of your own reflection in your water pot
14) Also, “DaVinci”, “Series 7” , or “Raphael eighty-four-o-four” are much cooler words than “Badger“, a furry temperamental animal
15) And, you feel the roar of power when you’re into painting miniatures with a regular brush, riding the high of a wooden stick like an evil witch on crack-cocaine, or realizing you’re not inhaling sprayed lung-poison
16) You don’t have the price tag of a finicky tool, and the maintenance cost of breaking a nozzle or bending a needle when you’re in the painting flow
17) Because less moving parts means less upkeep…and, if it’s old analog tech that works, why would you upgrade now?
18) …And, that extra bit of thrill when paint spreads like butter on warm toast, and after you pull back to admire your handy-work, you are seriously stoked, or whatever the hip thing young people say for feeling good
19) Especially, when you feel your hands cramping, your shoulders in knots…
20) You probably feel like you’re painting faster, better now; but, well…even if you’re not
21) So, when you look your fellow miniature artist holding that shiny chrome airbrush in the eyes at the end of the day, you know you suffered that much more; you earned that painting, damnit
22) Which is obviously a good thing, because it means you’re a badass mini painter
23) And, nothing, absolutely nothing can take away that feeling; you didn’t airbrush…
24) Except that you did, but only for the prime and base coat… but that’s okay, you finished the job
25) And this all adds an extra bit of justification to ending the painting session with a cup of joe, or that other brew
Summary: Why Airbrush? (Seriously)
So, you’re debating with yourself about whether or not to get an airbrush? It’s a tough choice!
Ultimately, tools are merely a way to an end. What you end up using should help you achieve a specific goal.
Are you looking for improving your paint blending? A regular brush and airbrush are both great for blending paint over surfaces.
But, you’ll find that a regular brush is easier to use on smaller surface areas, or especially when you need to restrict paint to a certain part. On the other hand, an airbrush can speed up blending paint color over much broader surfaces.
Do you want to speed up your base coats? Yes, airbrushing will help you paint your first layers of paint much quicker than a regular brush. It will also provide you with a more even coat of paint than regular brushwork.
Here are the advantages of using a regular brush versus an airbrush:
- Less expensive
- Easier to master
- Low maintenance
- More portable (requires less equipment)
- Versatile across a wide-range of blending techniques
Here are the advantages of using an airbrush:
For more information about paint brushes for painting miniatures, e.g., what to get, how to care and handle them, take a look here.
If you’re looking for more information about airbrushing, check out this guide for airbrushing miniatures.
I love painting miniatures, and no matter what you decide, remember to have fun and not worry so much about the tools!