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Anyone ever try air brushing?


susanklein
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Hello,

The last year or so I have made quite a little "business" making adirondack chairs for wedding cake tops. I started by making the 1:12 scale, but with most cake tops being 6", I adjusted my pattern to fit on that. Apparently a lot of store bought chairs are too big because there are times where I am indundated with orders. That is a good news/bad news scenario. Because I make the chairs from scratch, there is quite a lot of time involved.

So I thought that when I had a big batch, I would try air brushing. Well, I have tried and have failed miserably. I am not sure if it is me (watering the paint incorrectly?) or the equipment I used. Has anyone had any experience air brushing? Is there a brand that I should be looking into? I realize that air brushing and miniatures don't usually go together, but I thought I would ask!

I am going to try and attach a picture (have never been able to do that!) of the last batch I made to give you an idea of the time involvement.

Thanks for any information from anyone!

Susan

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Susan, can you decribe what "failed" means in this instance? Clogged nozzles? Watery paint? Running? Uneven coverage?

It's probably worth your while to figure out the problem, as air brushing will give a beautiful surface.

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I agree, maybe of you keep experimenting, you'll get better. I have an airbrush and it does take a fair bit of practice (I am still crap at using it, but have improved). A good quality airbrush is good with the ability to vary the amount of paint coming out and the amount of air. I intend airbrushing shingles - would save a lot of hassle.

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Susan, do a "member" search for Doogster's posts on the subject of airbrushing, since that was a subject he frequently discussed; he had recommendations for airbrushes. Either Dollhouse Miniatures or Miniature Collector had an article on airbrushed effects on dollhouses (a few years ago). There are mini excellent airbrush applications for this hobby.

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I spent a semester of college learning how to airbrush. I agree with KathieB, could you describe how it isn't working out? Keeping an airbrush clean is a must, using the right kind of needle, right mix of paint / water, and if you want clean lines, templates are all factors. The end effect from airbrushing can be good, but its usually 90% preparation and 10% painting when using one.

Here's a link to one of my airbrush works in my Flickr account. Let me know if it doesn't work.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jcp_precision_miniatures/5013313860/in/photostream

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Since I couldn't get a picture here, I made up an album of some of the chairs I have been making. There are pictures of actual cakes that brides have sent me.

As far as my difficulty, it really is getting the water-to-paint ratio right. I spent about an hour one day working with that and I still couldn't get it right. I realize practice makes perfect, but it certainly is frustrating! And usually I am on deadline with these chairs. But I was curious as to the machine I was using. We had a Harbor Freight open in our area, so I got a kit from there and I know they aren't the highest quality. So I was wondering if that really would make a difference? I have looked on line and there are some pretty fancy kits out there! I would be willing to go more expensive if that would make a difference, but I am not sure if it would. Jeremy, when you say the right kind of needle, I don't think there even is a needle?? (And wonderful work on your ship!!)

I will keep trying because it is quite time consumming to paint these chairs- and most of them in white!

Thanks for helps!

Susan

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Susan, check if there's a hobby shop in your area amd google Micro-Mark to get ideas of other airbrush brands out there. I use Harbor Freight for tools I don't need a lot of precision with (although for mini purposes you'd be surprised how long they last and how well they do, if you aren't expecting a lot to start with). Also art supply shops like Utrecht's and Pearl will carry airbrushes.

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Have you just tried plain ol' spray paint. I use it all the time. Krylon is best for miniatures because it's the thinest of the spay paints. Don't spray up close. Spray standing back and keep the coats thin.

Also, I have found that if I do an thin coat on the parts before I assemble it, it's easier to paint the final product.

Good luck!!

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Thanks, Susan!

All airbrushes use needles. When you press down or pull back on the button (depending on what brand of airbrush you're using), you are pulling the needle back from a cone at the tip of the brush, releasing the air/paint mix. If you haven't seen a needle when cleaning your brush, then I suspect you're using an Aztec or imitation version of an Aztec brush. They have a small, screwed on nib. I started with an Aztec. They are easy to use, but I found it nearly impossible to thoroughly clean the nibs, so I was constantly replacing them.

I prefer Paasche dual-action airbrushes (the further you press down on the button the more air, the further back you pull it, the more paint you get). To clean a Paasche, the handle unscrews like an inkpen. Within the handle, there is a threaded brass knob that holds the needle in place. It requires more disassembly, but doesn't require frequent trips to the art supply store if cleaned properly.

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That sounds like the point of the Koh-i-noor Rapidograph pen, which I might still have had I known then what I know now about isopropyl alcohol and India ink.

Sort of, but larger. The Aztec has a small (but larger than a Rapidograph) cone shaped tip with the needle and spring built in. It makes changing out the tips easier, but you can't disassemble the nib without breaking it. That also makes it nearly impossible to clean it thoroughly, so they tend to clog up permanently after every use.

I use my Rapidograph pen for stippling my pen and ink art. The largest is 30" x 40" and took over 220 hours to draw. I have a few of those drawings in my Flickr account too. The link above will take you to them.

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Thanks for all the suggestions! As it turns out, Holly, the Paasche air brush kit is on sale right now at Micro-Mark! So I just placed an order for that and the air compressor. I have the air compressor that I got from Harbor Freight, but I figure if I'm going to do this, I might as well go all the way! Plus now is perfect because I have some extra money for playing for a choral festival last weekend.

I'll let you know how it goes when I get the new equipment! Now I am excited again!

Thanks!

Susan

Yes, Jeremy, you are an amazing talent!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Lovely, Jeremy! I worked as an artist for the herpetology department in college, drawing tiny frogs with my trusty Rapidograph, one dot at a time. I like the technique but never got back to using it after graduation. :hmm: <wondering how to use it in a mini setting . . . >

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Jeremy, that is absolutely amazing! I certainly don't have such lofty aspirations!! I can't even imagine creating something like that. But! I did get my new airbrush set from micromark/paasche and intend on delving into it this weekend. I have (at least) 12 chairs to paint. Cross your fingers for me! It wasn't cheap and hopefully it will be worth it and cut down on some of my time.

Thanks!!!

Susan

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...<wondering how to use it in a mini setting . . . >
Mini stippled pictures. Why not a wee snake picture on a wall?

BTW, speaking of snakes, DH finally met one of our resident indigos last week when we brought the empty garbage can back in from the road; the lid has been broken off since before we bought the house, so when he went to pick it up he saw about 3'+ of blue-black disappear under it, so he dropped the corner and came and got me. By the time we got back out front Wee Ess had poked its little head out and stuck it up looking around, but deliberately ignoring us! I am, of course, delighted! Not only are indigo snakes endangered but they eat all sorts of nasties including rodents and venomous snakes.

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Mini stippled pictures. Why not a wee snake picture on a wall?

BTW, speaking of snakes, DH finally met one of our resident indigos

The problem with reducing a stippled picture is that all of the dots would blend together, losing the effect. I think the stipling would be more useful as a faux finish of some kind.

Glad to hear about your indigo. Hope he has friends and family nearby.

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Please don't hit me, I wasn't suggesting reducing a stippled picture... We're pretty sure Wee Ess is an offspring, the neighbors described a snake as long as the width of our driveway when we were moving in, so that was probably Momma Ess.

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The problem with reducing a stippled picture is that all of the dots would blend together, losing the effect. I think the stipling would be more useful as a faux finish of some kind.

Glad to hear about your indigo. Hope he has friends and family nearby.

Actually, I've already reduced both of my train stipples to dh size. Because they're already produced in DPI (Dots Per square Inch) they reduce perfectly and actually look even more like a black & white photograph than the full-size originals. Having trouble getting GL to allow me to paste a copy, so I have attached a link:

http://www.greenleafdollhouses.com/forum/index.php?app=gallery&image=29827

Regarding reptiles, shortly after I graduated from college I had a pet snake I caught after righting several potted trees that were blown over in a storm. The snake was flattened out under the edge of a pot. It had a perfect Eastern Diamondback Rattler pattern, but it was definitely NOT a rattlesnake, so I picked it up. After a few weeks I let it loose since I knew from my roommate's pet Burmese that it would require more upkeep than I had time for. Wish I had taken a photo of it. It was pretty.

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I guess trying to stipple a 1:12 picture wouldn't be a realistic goal. I've never wanted a pet snake, but I sure do love having them in the yard, especially with fruit vines & trees. Until someone ran over our resident blacksnake in Havana I used to be able to pick wonderful muscadines along our front fence; once it was gone the birds and critters got them every one.

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