How to Airbrush Paint (Part 2)

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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!

Koi Sleeve Temporary Airbrush Tattoo

Airbrushed Koi Sleeve Tattoo

> 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!

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Jason Sipe Jason Sipe (68 Posts)

Jason Sipe is an artist, craftsman and writer. He has spent the last 20 years working in the art and media fields. He now turns to this blog and helping others learn about creating art as his main focus.