Best Airbrush Compressor for Models (10 Recommendations)

Are looking for the best airbrush compressor for miniature painting and hobby scale modeling? Airbrushing miniatures requires that you have a source of compressed air to spray your paint. But, unlike automotive airbrushing, you’ll need an air compressor that gives you fine control over the air pressure. You’re working with at a small scale after all, and not all air compressors are created equal. So, which one should you get?

Contents show

In this article, I share my experience as a commissioned miniature painter and how I leveraged airbrushing to paint miniatures. Of course, a part of this includes using good equipment that I tested through trial and error. Here, I go into some thoughts about how to choose the best air compressor for use in scale modeling and miniature painting.

Best Airbrush Compressor for Models - best air compressor for airbrushing miniatures and models - recommended compressors for miniature painting

In a Hurry? Check Out the Top 3 Editor’s Picks for Hobby Air Compressors

  1. SilentAire Super Silent 20-A Compressor (Best Silenced)
  2. Iwata Neo Air Miniature Compressor (Most Portable)
  3. Master Airbrush Compressor Cool Runner II (Best Value)

Read on for a brief overview of airbrushing miniatures and models, and what to look for in a reliable, functional, and easy-to-use air compressor. I also review the 10 best airbrush compressors that I recommend for painting miniatures and models.


What is an Air Compressor?

An air compressor is a device that compresses air and stores it in a tank. Air compressors are used in a variety of applications, including automotive shops, construction sites, and home workshops.

Air compressors work by using a motor to drive a piston that compresses air and forces it into a tank. The compressed air is then released from the tank and used to power tools or inflate tires, or simply operate your miniature painting airbrush.


Fun facts about air compressors

Air compressor technology is very, very old. Some estimate that the first artificial air compressor was developed more than 3000 years ago, and were used in the early practice of metallurgy (source). Driving fresh air into a forge to heat and shape metals was essential to the craft.

The concept of air compressors can be traced back to the very beginning when humans first understood how their lungs worked. After all, our bodies contain a muscle-driven diaphragm with two air bags that operate in an identical fashion as mechanical air compressors would.

Air compressors have become essential in many industries and activities, including manufacturing, construction, automotive repair and even painting! Air compressors are used to power tools like nail guns, sprayers, sanders and saws.

They are also a key component of refrigeration systems and air conditioning units, and are used in medical facilities to power ventilators and other life-saving equipment. Air compressors can be found in factories all around the world, providing pressurized air to run machinery.

In recent years, advances in technology have allowed for more efficient machines with higher pressures and larger capacities that require less maintenance and use less energy. For the miniature hobbyist, there are many smaller, portable models available (my top choices are shown below).

Whether you’re running an automotive shop or painting a miniature, the air compressor is an powerful tool for many projects.

There are two types of air compressors: positive displacement and dynamic

Positive displacement compressors work by trapping a volume of air in a chamber and then reducing the volume of that chamber, e.g., diaphragm compressors. This type of compressor is typically used in home air compressors and small workshop compressors, e.g., airbrush compressors.

Dynamic compressors work by using centrifugal force to draw air into a spinning impeller. The air is then flung outwards into a diffuser, where it is collected and compressed. This type of compressor is typically used in larger industrial applications.

Air compressors are rated by their maximum pressure (measured in pounds per square inch, or PSI), flow rate (measured in cubic feet per minute, or CFM), and power (measured in horsepower, or HP).

What to look for in the ideal air compressor for painting miniatures?

When choosing the right air compressor, it is important to select one that is appropriately sized for the application. I also will state from experience that you’ll want an air compressor that is reliable.

An unreliable airbrush compressor is the worst. You’ll experience the most profound sense of frustration…Ugh…when a compressor fails at an inopportune moment–right in the middle of a project, even while you have paint in your airbrush.

Look for an air compressor that will do the job you need and will work all the time.

Best Airbrush Compressor for Models - best air compressor for airbrushing miniatures and models - Imperial fist warhammer 40k space marine on a painting handle
Miniatures don’t need big equipment. But sometimes, reliability, power, and compact form factor come at the cost of more expense. Well, it’s kind of like a Warhammer 40k Space Marine; immense potential in a small human shaped, armor adorned, fighting machine package, designed to face-off against the horrors of the galaxy–xenomorph or not.

Anyway, I digress. Get the correct size, power output, and least noisy airbrush compressor you can afford. If you’re a casual hobbyist or professional, starting with these top attributes when deciding what to get will help you choose the best compressor, or any tool really, for your project.

For example, a small air compressor may be the right airbrush compressor for your work, e.g., cosmetic makeup, painting miniatures or scale models, but would not be suitable for operating a jackhammer.

For airbrushing miniatures or scale model kits, e.g., military dioramas, 3D printed models, gunpla, Warhammer 40k, an air compressor is essential. It will deliver a consistent and reliable stream of air at low pressure.

Many compressors also have an adjustable pressure regulator, which allows you to control the amount of air flow. This is an important feature as too much air flow can result in paint splatter or overspray (read more about this below).


Does My Airbrush Matter for Painting Miniatures?

For my recommendation for the best airbrushes to use for painting miniatures, their pros and cons, check out this airbrush overview.

Best Airbrush Compressor for Models - best air compressor for airbrushing miniatures and models - necron warhammer 40k airbrushed based model
Even for small projects, an airbrush can make quick work of tedious paint jobs.

In general, you want a dual action airbrush that allows you to independently control your airflow and paint mixture. Additionally, I suggest using a gravity feed airbrush, since these airbrushes can operate at very low air pressure without losing spray consistency.

Best Airbrush Compressor for Models - best air compressor for airbrushing miniatures and models - gravity feed airbrush for painting miniatures and scale models
Gravity feed airbrushes are the perfect choice for painting miniatures because they can operate at very low air pressure (<30 PSI).

The Badger Patriot 105 is an excellent example of a gravity feed airbrush with a dual action trigger system. It is an ideal airbrush for new and veteran miniature painters.

Best Airbrush Compressor for Models - best air compressor for airbrushing miniatures and models - Badger Patriot 105 airbrush for general hobby work

For the budget minded, looking for an affordable alternative to the Badger Airbrush, you can check out the Master Airbrush. Although I haven’t tested the Master airbrush, I’ve heard fairly good things for those using it for light duty miniature painting.

Best Airbrush Compressor for Models - best air compressor for airbrushing miniatures and models - airbrush glazed model with gradient color on cloak warhammer mini
Smooth….

When it comes to pairing your airbrush with a compressor, it doesn’t matter what airbrush you use as long as the hoses and fittings are compatible. There are inexpensive adapters for the female-male ends of the airbrush hose to compressor, depending on the model, e.g., Iwata versus Badger (read about airbrush hose and compressor adapters below).


8 Features to Look for in an Air Compressor for Airbrushing Miniatures and Models

  1. Power
  2. Consistent air pressure
  3. Moisture control
  4. Noise
  5. Weight
  6. Durability
  7. Other features
  8. Cost

Power

The best airbrush compressors will have sufficient power to deliver air with a constant flow rate. Air flow capacity is often measured as cubic feet per minute (CFM).

While you don’t need much horse power to deliver the required air flow capacity for airbrushing miniatures, you’ll want to ensure it’s powerful enough when you need it. If you’re a heavy airbrush user, you’ll want to have enough power to ensure proper paint flow.

For example, powerful airbrush compressors often have the underlying benefit of being more durable. They have to “work less” to deliver the pressure you need and are often more efficient.

Almost all compressors have a pressure gauge that you can adjust. The Iwata Power Jet Pro, for example, is a premium compressor for miniature painting that has dual regulators with its pressure gauge setup.

Best Airbrush Compressor for Models - best air compressor for airbrushing miniatures and models - Iwata power jet pro compressor

The ability to regulate air pressure is important to keep enough air delivered for your work with consistent pressure. The total air volume you use while airbrushing miniatures should remain the same throughout the painting session.

The max pressure of a compressor for miniature painting should never be used, as air power reliability and consistency decreases as you saturate the motor’s output power jet.

This is actually one of the reasons why I don’t recommend you use compressed gas canisters you find in budget airbrush kits.

Compressed gas cans attached to an airbrush are cheap, but in the long run won’t have provide the air delivery you need for fine scale model work. Always, always try to use a motorized air compressor if you’re serious about painting miniatures.

Consistent air pressure

As with any compressor, you’ll want to make sure yours comes with an accurate pressure gauge. The air pressure gauge gives you a readout of how much air is pumped through the hose to your airbrush.

To control the airflow, compressors have pressure regulation valves which modulate the flow through the air outlets in the system. Too much air flow, or too little, will lead to problems with paint atomization.

Best Airbrush Compressor for Models - best air compressor for airbrushing miniatures and models - best PSI for airbrushing miniatures
The best air pressure for operating an airbrush for painting miniatures will vary. Try using the skin dimple test for an easy way to confirm that you’re using the ideal regulator setting.

For diaphragm compressors, a good regulator should keep your airflow consistent and avoid the dreaded “pulsing” or “breathing” artifact that some compressor engine or motor systems produce. A consistent flow of air between 20-40 PSI is ideal for painting miniatures.

Airbrush compressor miniature gauge and regulator system
The air regulator knob and pressure gauge on my Badger Aspire Pro airbrush compressor controls the air flow to the airbrush.

For fine scale modelers, the ability to regulate the flow of air at low pressures is how you’re able to create the smooth blends of color with spray paint.

Any experienced miniature painter will know that the finer the application, the smoother the gradients you can make with your color blends. 

Moisture control

Excess moisture in your air line is bad. Whenever air compresses, squeezes together, solubilized water in the air, e.g., humidity, will precipitate and condense on nearby surfaces.

Because an air compressor is in the business of squeezing air and letting it out again, it will create the perfect situation for pulling water out of the air, e.g., condensation.

close up photo of wet glass
Photo by Pratik Gupta on Pexels.com

Liquid water in your air line, hose, and airbrush is a nightmare for the airbrush artist. Water condensation will drip into your air flow, splatter through your airbrush, and create a mess all over your working model’s surface. It sucks.

So, when you’re looking for the best compressor for your airbrush, find one that has features that control excess moisture. Pressurized dry air means less problems when you’re atomizing paint through your airbrush.

An airbrush compressor can control moisture in several ways.

A moisture trap is a small chamber that you see at the outlet from your compressor to your air hose. The trap collects condensed water and prevents build up inside your hose.

A close look at the moisture trap between the compressor and the air hose shows where the condensed water collects before it enters your airbrush (preventing problems).

A bleed valve at the bottom of a moisture trap allows you to empty the chamber and excess humidity from the hose. These two devices can help you control the moisture that can lead to problems with spraying at low pressure.

On more dedicated compressors for painting miniatures, you’ll find an air tank. An air tank with your compressor services as a air pressure reservoir to allows your motor to rest. 

A hot motor leads to warmer air that carries moisture into your air hose. With an air tank, your motor will have time to cool off periodically.

I highly recommend you choose an air compressor for airbrushing miniatures that includes an air tank; especially if you think you’ll be using it on any regular basis for an extended period of time (i.e., your painting sessions last more than a hour at a time). 

Finally, a major factor that also helps control excess moisture is the ability to reduce your operating air pressure for your airbrush. Less air flow means less water moisture and vapor in your airbrush hose.

For this and other reasons, I highly-recommend using a gravity feed airbrush for painting miniatures. With a gravity feed airbrush as compared with siphon feed airbrushes, you’re able to spray at low operating pressure. 

The lower airbrush pressure will help reduce the amount of water that could potentially condense in your air hose line.

Noise

Noise is measured by sound pressure levels, which are usually expressed in decibels (dB). The higher the dB level, the louder the noise. Noise exposure can damage your hearing if you’re exposed to it for a long time or if it’s loud enough.

The good news is that almost all air compressors for airbrushing fall under the decibel threshold for harm (~70-80 dB) so you shouldn’t have to worry about noise exposure when you’re airbrushing.

Best Airbrush Compressor for Models - best air compressor for airbrushing miniatures and models - compressor noise level chart in decibels
The noise level of your air compressor will depend on its size, power, and construction. Most hobby compressors will fall within the 40-50 decibel (dB) range.

When it comes to comfortable noise levels, however, it’s relative. A single piston compressor for miniature painting will produce a lot of noise. When I lived in a small apartment, I had to avoid airbrushing late at night because the sound would wake my roommates trying to sleep.

Not all airbrush compressors make the same amount of noise. A smaller, compact airbrush compressor can vibrate during operation and some even have that lawnmower chugging noise. 

Other mini airbrush compressors can operate pretty quietly, but don’t produce enough air pressure for larger airbrush projects.

You’ll find that more expensive airbrush compressors often come with mufflers or noise control features. And, most of these may even have air tanks built-in, so the motor doesn’t need to keep running through an airbrush session.

Of course, you’ll have to decide for yourself if the extra cost is worth the reduction in noise. 

An air compressor for miniature painting that can do-it-all will always produce some level of sound that be disruptive to bystanders. Below, you can see my review of a few air compressors that have tolerable noise decibel levels.

Weight

Are you going somewhere with your airbrush? Weight is my least important factor when deciding what airbrush compressor to buy for painting miniatures. 

As long as air compressor delivers air with the same pressure over time, has some kind of air filter water trap, and a good air regulator, I’m not concerned with how heavy it is.

In fact, I’ve found that heavier airbrush compressors produce the least noise. This is probably because they tend to have large piston displacements and don’t need to cycle as quickly as a smaller compressor. I’m guess, of course, but you’ll find that an air compressor with a single piston motor will have a larger sound signature than dual or quad piston compressors.

Somewhere in this metric, there’s a balance between weight, noise, and size that you’ll have to find works best for your airbrushing needs.

Durability

Most hobby airbrush compressors are small, compact machines with low-maintenance designs. Often, to keep costs down, these compressors lack the ability to operate continuously for long periods of time without overheating.

To prevent the compressor motor and other parts from degrading prematurely, these air compressors have an automatic shut off feature or cooling fans that trigger when the motor reaches a certain temperature.

However, for some budget-level portable compressor units, there is no such protection. You will have to protect your compressor from damage by manually turning them off. Moisture filters in some compressor models may need replacement or changing at some point.

As I’ll mention below with air compressors, you’ll often find that you get what you pay for.

Other Features

If you run multiple airbrushes, then you may want airbrush holders. Some airbrush compressors have an airbrush holder compartment or system built into the frame.

For those using a simple mini airbrush kit, such a feature may get in your way. You want to keep things compact. When I was moving around to different living spaces, I knew that “less was more” when it came to my hobby equipment. If it didn’t have a clear purpose, I would eschew buying it.

Best Airbrush Compressor for Models - best air compressor for airbrushing miniatures and models - airbrush holder stand and pot
An airbrush pot and holder is an essential feature for any dedicated hobby workstation where airbrushing is part of the workflow.

Looking at larger air compressors, you’ll find some with twin pressure gauges with dual regulators to fine-tune the amount of air that traveled through your air line. This can help act as a proxy moisture filter, as well as give you more control over your more detailed airbrush work.

Master airbrush compressor miniatures review and top down view - two airbrush holders, air pressure gauge, and tank
The Master Airbrush Compressor for Miniatures, the Cool Runner II with air tank model, has a number of features you’ll want for low-pressure airbrush spray applications, e.g., miniature painting. Read more about this popular air compressor below.

But, for those of us who aren’t using our airbrushes to paint those tiny details (which I don’t do myself), such extra control isn’t necessary. And in my estimation, I don’t know of any painters who need such fine control over their spray pattern.

Two airbrushes may not require a larger, more powerful compressor. But, do realize that if you’re operating both airbrush guns at the same time, you’ll need enough air power to provide the same pressure through both airbrushes. In this case, a mini compressor, such as the portal Iwata-Medea Studio Series Ninja Jet, may not be powerful enough for you.

Cost

Are airbrush compressors expensive? Air compressors for operating airbrushes can be expensive or budget-friendly (starting around $50-100 USD).

But, you’ll find that even the basic compressor models are affordable for the budget-minded hobbyist. They are much better than the pressurized air cans that you see in arts and crafts stores (don’t bother with them).

My recommendation here is to “buy the quality you need”. Think carefully about how much airbrushing you’ll be doing with your miniature painting or scale modeling hobby. Are you 3D printing large terrain pieces and want to paint them alongside your D&D miniatures?

Most airbrush compressors that are worth getting for these kinds of miniature painting jobs will cost between $120-200 USD. 

Of course, compressors from major airbrush ranges, brands like IWATA or Harder & Steenbeck, will be much more expensive (upwards of $300-400 USD). And, I’m not sure they are worth what you’re getting in terms of reliability and function.


Top 10 Airbrush Compressors for Miniature Painting

  1. SilentAire Scorpion I Airbrush Compressor
  2. SilentAire Super Silent 20-A Compressor
  3. Iwata Neo Air Miniature Compressor
  4. Master Airbrush Cool Runner II Dual Fan Tank Air Compressor
  5. Master Model C16-B – Black Mini Airbrush Air Compressor
  6. VIVOHOME Professional Air Compressor
  7. Testors Mini Airbrush Compressor
  8. Iwata-Medea – Power Jet Pro Air Compressor
  9. Badger Air-Brush Co. TC910 Aspire Pro Compressor
  10. Master Airbrush Model TC-828 Compressor

Whether you’re painting tabletop wargaming minis, historical scale models, gunpla plastic model kits, or simply refreshing the look of your nail art (cosmetics), air compressors alongside your airbrush setup can help you do it with ease.

While there are many compressor types and sizes available, they all work on the same basic principle: Pressurizing air and releasing it in an efficient manner to apply paint media onto a working surface.


The SilentAire Scoprioin I airbrush compressor is one of the more compact, quieter compressors you can find for airbrush.  With automatic shutoff and oil-less operation, you can be sure to get consistent performance.

Its single-piston design delivers up to 0.55 CFM at a maximum pressure of 30 PSI, and its moisture trap and filter are great for keeping the air hose in free from excess moisture.

It also comes with a coiled plastic airhose. This unit is great for an airbrush hobbyist that needs a reliable, low-maintenance compressor.

Key Features:

  • Power: 1/5 HP
  • Voltage: 110/60
  • Output: 0.88 CFM
  • Max Pressure: 55 PSI
  • Operating Pressure: 35-55 PSI
  • Noise Level: 50 Decibels
  • Tank Size: None
  • Dimensions: 12x7x10”
  • Weight: 8 lbs

Who is this for?

This is an ideal compressor for model makers and general airbrush work. It’s compact size makes it great for hobbyists who don’t have a lot of space to work with. With an oil less piston motor, the compressor requires almost no maintanence. Plug and play.

I do not recommend this compressor if you’re going to be airbrushing a lot, as the lack of an air tank precludes working for longer sessions with continuous use, e.g., you’ll need to let the motor rest. Nonetheless, it’s a superb light-medium duty airbrush compressor.


The SilentAir Super Silent 20-A Compressor is a high end, professional airbrush compressor for serious hobbyists, modelers and artists. It features a powerful 1/5 HP motor that can handle up to two airbrushes with ease. The ultra quiet design allows you to work in any environment without worrying about noise pollution.

This compressor also has an adjustable pressure switch that can be adjusted from 55-85 PSI, allowing you to preserve excess air pressure in the included tank. You can down regulate the air flow much lower as you may want to do when airbrushing miniatures or scale models. The 0.4 gallon tank ensures ample air pressure and the lightweight design makes it easy to move around the workshop or studio.

Key Features:

  • Power: 1/5 HP
  • Voltage: 110/60
  • Output: 0.7 CFM
  • Max Pressure: 85 PSI
  • Operating Pressure: 55-85 PSI (can regulate lower)
  • Noise Level: 30 Decibels
  • Tank Size: 0.4 Gallon
  • Dimensions: 16.1×6.9×12.3”
  • Weight: 37 lbs

Who is this for?

This is the professional system for the extra-serious hobbyist. It’s perfect for someone who needs the ultimate in control and flexibility when airbrushing models and miniatures. You can even use this for much larger spray applications, e.g., motor vehicle spray applications, or other large projects.

The adjustable pressure switch allows you to regulate your air flow for any project, large or small, while the ultra-quiet design ensures that you can work without disturbing others. Incredibly low at 30dB! This is a great choice for serious hobbyists looking for a high end compressor that fits all their needs.


The Iwata Neo air miniature compressor is the smallest air compressor that I would recommend. It has an adjustable air flow of 1-15 psi max, a weight of .95 pounds, and a size of 5.1 inches by 3.9 inches by 2.5 inches – making it very portable to carry around from place to place.

It also includes on/off and three-speed control buttons, an airbrush holder, an air hose, and a 100V-240V power supply. This compressor is great for makeup artists, hobbyists, and cake decorators who are looking for an affordable, lightweight option that won’t take up too much space.

If you’re traveling and want to bring your airbrush kit without the bulk, this is a good choice. On the other hand, the Iwata Neo Miniature Compressor is not for heavy duty airbrushing.

The small compressor motor will not provide higher air pressures (>15 PSI) that you’ll want for applying thicker layers of paint. The system also lacks moisture control, so be careful when you use this compressor for long periods of time. If you airbrush in short spurts with thinned paints, e.g., inks or washes, this is a great choice. For bigger projects, look elsewhere.

Key Features:

  • Power: 1/5 HP
  • Voltage: 220
  • Output: 0.37 CFM
  • Max Pressure: 15 PSI
  • Noise Level: N/A (probably very low)
  • Tank Size: None
  • Dimensions: 6x4x3”
  • Weight: 1.65 lbs

Who is this for?

The Iwata Neo Air Miniature compressor is a great choice for beginners and hobbyists who need a light, portable compressor that won’t break the bank. It’s also suitable for travel and can be used with most airbrushes.

It is not ideal for heavy duty projects or large-scale airbrush work due to its limited power and pressure capabilities (the max 15 PSI limits you to very thin media spray applications, e.g., inks). This should not be the first air compressor you get, unless you’re planning to work on very small projects only, and won’t need to spray hobby acrylic paints over large surfaces.


The Master airbrush brand is commonplace among the miniature painting community. The Cool Runner II Dual Fan Air Compressor is no exception. This is one of the most popular, budget friendly compressors for miniature painting airbrushes.

This airbrush compressor is equipped with two cooling fans and a large three-liter air storage tank. This allows it to maintain constant air pressure while providing a noise level of around 47 dB (tolerable). Because of the air tank, the compressor won’t need to run the motor for very long while you’re airbrushing.

Cooling radiators on the Master Airbrush Compressor for miniatures and models - review and recommended air compressors
Passive cooling radiators on the top of the compressor help maintain lower motor temperature and allow this machine to run longer.

The compressor comes with an adjustable pressure regulator, water trap filter and air hose as well as two holders for airbrushes. All in all, this is a great compressor for anyone looking to get started with airbrushing.

Although it’s not the lightest compressor, the Master Cool Runner is portable, and perfect for taking to conventions or classes. I highly recommend this compressor for anyone looking to start airbrushing or looking to upgrade from an older model.

Key Features:

  • Power: 1/5 HP
  • Voltage: 120
  • Output: 0.88 CFM
  • Max Pressure: 57 PSI
  • Noise Level: 47 Decibels
  • Tank Size: 3 Liters
  • Dimensions: 14.25×12.9×6.3”
  • Weight: 12.3 lbs

Who is this for?

This is my favorite and most recommended air compressor for both new and experienced miniature painters who want to get into airbrushing. It’s affordable, powerful, portable and relatively quiet. The air tank, moisture trap, and other features make it a great all-around compressor.

If you are looking to invest in an airbrush compressor that will last you many years, this is the most recommended choice by miniature painters and scale modelers.


This is a low-cost, affordable air compressor for airbrushing at low pressure. At under $50 this is a budget-friendly option for your airbrush needs. It features a direct plug-in 110V AC Adapter, making it easy to use in any home or office setting.

It comes with an airflow control knob for adjustable air pressure, and a maximum pressure of 25 PSI. Because of this higher operating pressure, I would recommend this over the IWATA Neo Air compressor (see above) if you’re able to find this for a good price.

The auto shut off feature ensures the Mini airbrush compressor motor won’t overheat when not in use, and it has an auto start at 15 PSI, so you don’t have to keep turning the compressor on and off.

At less than two pounds, this Master Model C16-B Black Mini Airbrush Compressor is compact, portable, and easy to carry from place to place. It even comes with a 6 foot long braided hose.

Whether you’re an occasional airbrusher or a professional, this mini airbrush compressor offers a great balance of features and performance at an unbeatable price. If I was traveling more with my airbrush, I would definitely pick one of these up for my tool kit.

Key Features:

  • Power: N/A (likely low but sufficient)
  • Voltage: 12
  • Output: 0.37 CFM
  • Max Pressure: 25 PSI
  • Noise Level: 30 Decibels
  • Tank Size: None
  • Dimensions: 2×4.25×4.25” (tiny!)
  • Weight: <2 lbs

Who is this for?

This mini airbrush compressor is perfect for the occasional and budget-minded beginner. It’s a great option if you’re looking for an affordable, reliable way to get started with airbrushing.

This is not for heavy-duty airbrush work. The airbrush stand and small size make this one of the better choices for those who travel with their miniature painting supplies, or want something that will store away quickly and for those quick spray sessions.


The VIVOHOME is a brand that I’ve come to recognize more and more in the miniature painting hobby space. They make a number of useful products for us hobbyists, including spray booths, lamps, and other tools. One of those tools is their Professional Air Compressor.

The VIVOHOME air compressor is a direct competitor of the Master Air Cool Runner II Compressor (shown above). Sometimes their prices fluctuate and you can find one cheaper than the other. But regardless, what I like about the VIVOHOME is that it comes with many features that make airbrushing miniatures straight forward.

The VIVOHOME has a 1/5HP oil-free piston air compressor, which is capable of delivering 23-25L/min air flow (or 0.88 CFM). It also comes with an air tank to provide smooth air flow and ensure zero pulse while in operation. The automatic shut-off mechanism helps keep the motor from overheating and it also features safety protection devices for the air tank as well.

This also helps control excess moisture that can seep into your air line and cause a mess through your airbrush. On top of that, the VIVOHOME is designed for quiet operation with 47 dB of noise (kind of the standard for this tier of compressor).

I would recommend this compressor for those looking to paint miniatures with an airbrush for extended periods of time. Although this compressor comes with a gravity-feed airbrush, do not get this bundle for the airbrush (it’s not very good; I’d highly suggest you pick up a Badger Patriot 105, especially if you’re new to the airbrush). In general, the VIVOHOME Professional Air Compressor is an excellent choice.

Key Features:

  • Power: 1/5 HP
  • Voltage: 110-120V
  • Output: 0.88 CFM
  • Max Pressure: 57 PSI
  • Noise Level: 47 Decibels
  • Tank Size: 3 Liters
  • Dimensions: 6.3×6.3×12.6”
  • Weight: 11 lbs

Who is this for?

This is a fantastic starter bundle (as is the Master Cool Runner II Air compressor). It’s great for those just getting started in the miniature painting hobby and need a reliable air compressor to help them spray paint miniatures.

The VIVOHOME Professional Air Compressor is also an excellent choice for experienced painters who are looking for a reliable, low-noise air compressor. As mentioned, this comes with a cheap gravity-feed airbrush. But at some point, you’ll want to upgrade this brush for something more capable and reliable.


For decades, Testors has been a household name for hobby supplies, paints, and other tools for scale modeling. I expect that they make some of the best airbrush compressors on the market.

This mini airbrush compressor made the list because of its tiny size. It’s perfect for hobbyists and artists of all kinds as it can fit just about anywhere.

It has an oil-less diaphragm that makes minimal noise when running and is able to work with a max pressure of 40 PSI.

The fan cooling system allows the compressor to run efficiently and provides ample cooling for long-term use. Notably, I the price is affordable. While I don’t recommend this for heavy-duty work where you need to spray lots and lots of miniatures or big pieces of terrain, this could stand in for a more expensive compressor for your smallest projects.

If you’re looking for an affordable and portable airbrush compressor, then Testors Mini Airbrush Compressor is an intriguing pick.

Between this and the Master Mini Compressor or the Iwata Neo Air compressor, I’d have a hard time choosing other than to say find what fits your budget. The Testors Azteck Compressor is a good compromise for power, portability, and durabilty.

Key Features:

  • Power: 1/4 HP
  • Voltage: 115V
  • Output: 0.35 CFM
  • Max Pressure: 40 PSI
  • Noise Level: N/A (could be very loud, according to other users)
  • Tank Size: None
  • Dimensions: 1.87×1.87×1.87” (tiny!)
  • Weight: 0.17 lbs (very, very light)

Who is this for?

This is a light-duty only air compressor designed for hobby use with an airbrush. It’s likely very loud, but will produce high pressure air flow for those times you need it in short sessions.

Plan your work ahead so you don’t leave this airbrush compressor running for too long. There is no moisture trap filter or other humidity mitigating features, so use caution if you’re spraying in a humid environment.

Overall, it’s great for hobbyists and artists who want an affordable and easy-to-manage airbrush compressor that can fit into tight spaces or travel easily with them. If you don’t need the extra power of a professional model, then this could be a great choice for you.


Iwata is a major airbrush company brand based in Japan. They have created some of the most highly-regarded airbrushes in the World. Disney Animation studios used Iwata airbrushes back when artists painted animated stills with real paint.

The Iwata Power Jet Pro Air Compressor is compact, making storage and transportation easy. The encased metal housing around the compressor and 2 liter air tank comes with a carry handle and two airbrush stands. As a stand alone compressor for professional level airbrushing, few compressors can beat this configured system.

The 1/6 Hp motor provides very powerful reliable performance with a maximum pressure rating of 75 psi. Of course, all this power in this small size means the compressor is a tad louder at 55 decibels. But with the two air pressure regulators, you can operate two airbrushes at the same time and regulate pressure independently to two airbrush stations.

If you’re painting a lot of miniatures and have multiple airbrush setups (e.g., one for base coating and another for fine detail), then this compressor will fit the bill.

The Power Jet Pro also features an automatic shutoff function, which saves energy and extends the life of the compressor. The airbrush hoses connect right to the compressor so you don’t need extra attachments.

The Iwata is an exceptional choice for anyone seeking a reliable and powerful air compressor. Yes, it has a premium cost, but it’s an excellent choice for artists or hobbyists who are serious about their craft. For an slightly more affordable option, check out the Badger Aspire Pro (reviewed below).

The Power Jet Pro comes with everything you need to set up right away including a 5-foot air hose and adapters for use with most brands of airbrushes.

Key Features:

  • Power: 1/6 HP
  • Voltage: 120V
  • Output: 1.15 CFM
  • Max Pressure: 70-75 PSI
  • Noise Level: 55 Decibels
  • Tank Size: 2 liters
  • Dimensions: 6.97 x x12.99 x 12.32” (tiny!)
  • Weight: 26.5 lbs

Who is this for?

This is for serious hobbyists or professional artists who need a powerful and reliable airbrush compressor. This is an ideal choice if you’re working with multiple airbrushes at once, or planning to do large scale painting projects.

The Iwata Power Jet Pro provides exceptional performance, even in the most demanding situations. Are you going to a convention or teaching a workshop? This is probably the best air compressor for the professional instructor or traveling artist.


This is my personal favorite air brush compressor for painting miniatures. I’ve owned a Badger Aspire Pro compressor for more than 10 years and it has performed flawlessly. It is super reliable, quiet and does not require a lot of maintenance or lubrication.

The compressor’s automatic shut-off feature when you disconnect the airbrush from it is very useful. It has a sturdy metal outer case with handle, adjustable air regulator, pressure gauge and built-in moisture filter plus two airbrush holders. This compressor includes a 1-gallon (or 3 liter) air tank, 1/8th-inch hose connection and a 1/8th to 1/4th-inch hose adaptor.

Close up badger aspire pro airbrush compressor
The Badger Aspire Pro Compressor comes with everything you need to control excess moisture that tends to build up with continuous airbrushing use.

The powerful motor runs on 110V and has an on-off toggle switch. It offers maximum pressure of 57 psi, which is more than sufficient for any spray application you’ll need for miniature or scale model work. If you’re looking for an airbrush compressor that will perform reliably over many years, and while kind of expensive, then this is the one to get. In my opinion, the Badger Aspire Pro is worth every penny if you’re serious about the hobby.

Key Features:

  • Power: 1/5 HP
  • Voltage: 110V
  • Output: 0.81 CFM
  • Max Pressure: 57 PSI
  • Noise Level: 47 Decibels
  • Tank Size: 3 liters
  • Dimensions: 16.5 x 6.75 x 14.5”
  • Weight: 18.08 lbs

Who is this for?

This Badger Aspire Pro is ideal for miniature painters and scale modelers, providing powerful yet quiet airbrush performance. Its adjustable air regulator, 3 liter air storage tank, pressure gauge and automatic shut off feature make it an excellent choice for experienced hobbyists who require reliable long-term performance from their airbrush compressor.

And while the price tag may seem a bit high, in my experience I know the quality and performance of this Badger airbrush compressor make it worth every penny in the long run, making it an excellent investment for serious miniature painters.


The Master High Performance Twin Cylinder Piston Air Compressor is a supped up version of the popular TC-326C model, i.e., Cool Runner II shown above, with higher performance that is designed to meet the needs of advanced airbrush users. It offers a massive 1.6 CFM of airflow, so you can operate two airbrushes simultaneously without sacrificing pressure or volume.

This compressor also comes equipped with a 3 liter air tank, which allows air to be delivered with constant pressure and zero pulsation. It is equipped with a precise air adjustment regulator with gauge and water trap filter, plus an additional moisture filter for maximum protection of your compressor motor.

The Master Airbrush Model TC-828 Twin Cylinder Piston Compressor offers a range of features that make it ideal for airbrush studios and workshops. It is highly durable, very powerful, easy to use and portable with the built-in handle. Plus, it can support airbrushing for all types of applications, paint media and levels of users from beginners to advanced artists.

Would I recommend this air compressor for those simply painting miniatures? Sure, but it may be overkill for the smaller scale projects. The TC-828 is intended for serious airbrushing, and as such comes with a mid-tier price tag. That said, if you’re looking to work with multiple users or work with several airbrush setups, then this is a great option.

Key Features:

  • Power: 1/6 HP
  • Voltage: 120V
  • Output: 1.6 CFM
  • Max Pressure: 57 PSI
  • Noise Level: 62 Decibels
  • Tank Size: 3 liters
  • Dimensions: 12 x 8 x 13.4”
  • Weight: 15.4 lbs

Who is this for?

If you’re looking for a low-cost compressor that can operate multiple airbrushes at the same time, or run two workstations without switching out hoses, then the C-828 is ideal.

It’s perfect for advanced users, miniature or scale modelers, and artists who want a powerful yet portable compressor that they can take with them wherever they go. Now, it is a tad bit louder to operate given that it has a larger motor, so make sure you have a dedicated place if noise is an issue.


AIr Hose and Compressor Adapters for Any Airbrush Brand

So you got a new air compressor? Now, you want to attach it to your air hose and airbrush. You’ll need to make sure you have compatible air hose connectors.

Badger and Harder & Steenbeck brand airbrushes use a 1/8″ male connector to attach to air hoses. Some air hoses will use the Iwata sized 1/4″ female connector. In this case, you’ll need a Badger to Iwata adapter.

Best Airbrush Compressor for Models - best air compressor for airbrushing miniatures and models - air hose adapter for badger to Iwata compressor

For air compressors that use a 1/4″ male attachment for air hoses, but want to use the smaller 1/8″ female sized air hoses , then you’ll need an adapter that can convert it to the 1/8″ male side.

That’s where the Master Airbrush Brand Airbrush Fitting Conversion Adapter comes in handy. This conversion adapter is designed with a 1/4″ BSP female thread side and a 1/8″ BSP male size thread on the other, allowing for a secure connection.

Best Airbrush Compressor for Models - best air compressor for airbrushing miniatures and models - airbrush adapter for iwata and other models

If you’re totally unsure what adapters you’ll need for your particular air compressor, air hose, and airbrush setup, then just pick up an all-encompassing adapter set (it’s not expensive!).

Best Airbrush Compressor for Models - best air compressor for airbrushing miniatures and models - adapter kit for compressors and airbrushes

It comes with everything you’ll need to attach any connectors, air hoses, airbrush brand to your new air compressor. It even has a quick release system with micro air regulator. The micro regulator allows precise adjustment of air pressure.

Best Airbrush Compressor for Models - best air compressor for airbrushing miniatures and models - adapter and quick release kit for airbrushes and compressors

I wish these adapter kits existed when I first started airbrushing. They would have made fitting any airbrush to my air compressor much less of a hassle.


Summary: Best 10 Airbrush Compressors for Painting Miniatures and Models

Image Product Recommended Use Price
SilentAire Scorpion Airbrush Compressor SilentAire Scorpion I Airbrush Compressor Ideal compressor for light-duty model makers and general airbrush work Check Price
SilentAire Super Silent Compressor SilentAire Super Silent 20-A Compressor Professional system for the extra-serious hobbyist (nearly silent operation) Check Price
Iwata Neo Air Miniature Compressor Iwata Neo Air Miniature Compressor Great choice for beginners and hobbyists who need a light, portable compressor (small projects only) Check Price
Master Airbrush Cool Runner TC-326T Master Airbrush Cool Runner II Dual Fan Tank Air Compressor Highly recommended all-purpose compressor for new or experienced airbrush painters or an upgrade from an older model Check Price
Master Model C16-B Mini Air Compressor Master Model C16-B – Black Mini Airbrush Air Compressor Perfect for the occasional and budget-minded beginner or traveling artist Check Price
VIVOHOME Professional Air Compressor VIVOHOME Professional Air Compressor Similar to the Master Cool Runner II, and is an excellent choice for experienced painters who are looking for a reliable, low-noise air compressor Check Price
Testors Mini Airbrush Compressor Testors Mini Airbrush Compressor Light-duty air compressor designed for hobby use with an airbrush, and can fit into tight spaces Check Price
Iwata-Medea Power Jet Pro Air Compressor Iwata-Medea – Power Jet Pro Air Compressor The best air compressor for the professional instructor or traveling artist; ideal for working with multiple airbrushes and large projects Check Price
Master Airbrush Model TC-828 Badger Air-Brush Co. TC910 Aspire Pro Compressor Perfect for advanced users, miniature or scale modelers, and artists who want a powerful yet portable compressor Check Price
Badger Air-Brush Co. TC910 Aspire Pro Compressor Master Airbrush Model TC-828 Compressor Our personal favorite air brush compressor for painting miniatures Check Price

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  • What compressor should I get for airbrushing?

There are many miniature compressors for airbrushing at low pressure. Remember to choose one that has enough motor power to deliver the airflow you need, as well as built-in moisture control, e.g., air tank, moisture trap. The tips above should give you a solid idea of what you’ll need for your miniature painting projects.

Cool Runner II Master Air Compressor for Painting miniatures close up photo
My Master Air Compressor, the Cooler Runner II, has been a workhorse alongside my Badger Aspire Pro. Indeed, I run two air compressors in my hobby workspace.
  • What PSI should I use for airbrushing models?

For airbrushing models and miniatures, I set my air pressure regulator to deliver between 20-35 PSI. This gives me sufficient air flow to spray thin and thick paint media through my Badger Patriot 105 or Iwata HP-C hi-line airbrushes. For more details about how to operate your compressor and settings for airbrushing miniatures, check out this complete airbrush guide

  • Can you use any air compressor for airbrushing?

Yes, you can! But why would you want to use a sledge hammer when a regular hammer will do the job. As long as your compressor has a regulator that allows you to lower your air flow below 30 PSI, then you can use that compressor for airbrushing miniatures.

There’s a reason compact, quiet, and efficient mini compressors exist. Get one that fits your needs for the hobby; rather than try to repurpose something that you may have in your garage or use to pump your bicycle. Big and powerful air compressors are loud and take up a lot of space. Aim for quiet, powerful, and discrete.

  • How much CFM do I need for airbrushing?

The ideal CFM or cubic flow per minute of air for airbrushing is between 0.5-0.8 CFM. This equates to around 20-40PSI. If you can regulate your airflow from a compressor down to these air pressure ranges, then you can use your airbrush for painting miniatures and models perfectly fine. 

  • What is the best airbrush for painting models?

Check out this article for 10 recommended airbrushes for painting models. 

  • Is an airbrush worth it for miniature painting?

Yes, airbrushing is worth it for painting miniatures. But they can be hard to learn if you want to use them regularly for miniature painting. 

For anyone willing to put in the time, however, an airbrush will deliver returns in speed, fun, and great results that you would have hard time achieving with a regular brush alone.


Conclusion

Well, there you have it: The best airbrush compressors for miniature painting, scale modeling, and hobby crafts. The small compact factor of dedicated compressors for airbrushing is why they are so valuable.

They fit within our precious hobby spaces, don’t make a lot of noise, and will last years and years. 

An airbrush compressor is an essential tool for any hobbyist looking to use their airbrush for any length of time and want something that delivers every time they need to atomize paint.

I hope you found this article helpful! Are you currently airbrushing miniatures? Looking to upgrade your equipment? I’d love to know your thoughts on what works for you. Leave me comment below!

Still NOt Sure? This is THE Most USER Recommended Airbrush compressor for Painting Miniatures

Master Airbrush Compressor Cool Runner II (Recommended by Most Painters)

Enjoying Your Visit? Join Tangible Day

Free newsletter with monthly updates (no spam)

Leave a comment below! Follow on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Free photo backdrop bundle for miniature photography - tangible day - backgrounds for photographing miniatures - free gift image
Grab your FREE photo backdrop bundle for miniature photography in the shop.
Best Alternative to Winsor & Newton Series 7 Brushes for Painting Miniatures - cheap sable kolinsky sable brushes for painting miniatures - good budget brushes for painting miniatures - blick masterstroke brush for model paint
DriveThruRPG.com

Favorite tabletop miniature and wargaming finds on etsy - tabletop miniature and wargamer favorites on etsy image
135 Unique Hobby Gift Ideas: Fast 2 Days or Less Shipping!
Full metal dice for rpg games - polyhedral dice for dnd and tabletop gaming - forged gaming dice sets

Blick Art Materials

1 thought on “Best Airbrush Compressor for Models (10 Recommendations)”

  1. Pingback: Best Airbrush Compressor for Models (10 Recommendations) - Toy Newz

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: