As an aside, but much to your advantage in knowing this, it was in this time that I discovered my favorite airbrush cleaner of all time, Denatured Alcohol. This clear liquid is similar to regular rubbing alcohol, but it will clean both oil AND acrylic-based paints pretty well, and it smells like whiskey. Most off-the shelf airbrush paint is acrylic based.
Some life changes happened in the meantime, but the next time I started airbrushing for money, I moved to a beach town in Oregon. I set up once again in a T-shirt shop, and painted actual beach scenes at an ACTUAL BEACH this time! For fun, I decided to try my hand at airbrushing temporary tattoos, and so, after some research, decided to go for an Iwata-Medea Gravity-Feed Airbrush. These types of airbrushes are different from the traditional siphon-feed airbrushes because the paint goes down into the air chamber–it doesn’t require a lot of air pressure to draw it UP from a lower bottle. The result is minimized pressure and better flow. You can paint lines as thin as a hair with some of these guns!
> Related Article: How to Airbrush Murals and Theatre Backdrops
For making temporary airbrush tattoos, What these airbrushes allow is for you to spray paint onto skin – which should never exceed 10-15 PSI (pounds per square inch) of air pressure on direct skin contact. A lot of people don’t realize this, and potentially maim or kill other people. If air is introduced to the bloodstream, you can cause an embolism, or a particle in the airstream can cause an injury. See here for more info on that.
Anyway, with my new Iwata, I decided to buy some (and design and make some) of my own temporary tattoo stencils, and had a lot of fun painting on happy people and making some CASH! I also really enjoy owning an Iwata – its versatility and fine line ability is amazing. These airbrushes are also top contenders for doing airbrush makeup and also in salons for airbrush nails.
So, in my opinion, I would say that, for a multi-brush workhorse (trading off extreme precision), I’d go for the Paasche VL and its ilk. This includes T-shirts, airbrushed motorcycle helmets, and airbrush tanning. For doing low-pressure, fine line work, like tattoos, nails and illustration, I’d go for the Iwata gravity-feed series. BTW, you need a compressor to run these puppies.
Aztek is fun, though, and you can do whatever you put your mind to. I will be adding more airbrush articles along with my other tutorials, so stay tuned!