How to Operate an Airbrush Machine


Obviously, you can't operate and use an airbrush without first operating and knowing how to use an airbrush machine. In this article, we will explore how to use and operate the two basic components of the airbrush machine, which are the compressor and the actual airbrush itself.

Things You'll Need

  • Oil-less airbrush machine Air hose Airbrush Extension cord, if needed Easel 18-by-24 inch pad of newsprint paper Double action airbrush Tube of favorite color airbrush paint Small pan or old bowl
  • Learn about the two types of airbrushes that every airbrush artist is familiar with. They are called single action and double action. Single action airbrushes are airbrushes in which the air and paint comes out of the nozzle at the same time, once the trigger is pushed down to begin spraying. In order to make an adjustment on the thickness or thinness of the lines, the artist must stop spraying and utilize a nozzle adjuster. Then, the artist can resume spraying. This is not so with the double action airbrush.
    With the double action airbrush, the thickness and thinness of the lines can be adjusted while the artist is spraying. It is capable of doing so by means of a dual action press down / pull back trigger, and an adjustable needle inside of the airbrush itself. Another significant difference with the double action is that pressing down on the trigger produces no spray lines. The artist must push down and pull back the trigger at the same time to produce any lines. This feature of the double action allows for greater control and precision when producing airbrushed works.

  • Choose an air compressor. For the sake of simplicity, you should choose an air compressor that is oil-less and requires nothing more than electrical current from a socket to give it power. Gas-powered compressors are just too messy and too complicated to work with.
    Your basic air compressor should have a simple on and off switch, an air tank, pressure relief nozzle, pressure gauge, and a nozzle of pressure adjusting knob. The pressure guage shows you the PSI or pressure per square inch. It is just another fancy way of saying how much air pressure you are using in any given application. For most airbrushing projects, such as pictures, t-shirts and other clothing items, ideally you should be operating anywhere between thirty to maybe forty PSI. Any rate of pressure higher than that is not necessary.

  • Work with your compressor. After you have connected your air hose to the compressor and the other appropriate end to the air brush, it is time to get started. For a basic air compressor, you will probably need to let actual pressure build up in the machine. If this is the case, turn your pressure regulaton knob all the way until it is in the absolute closed position. Then turn your compressor on. More than likely, your compressor will make some noise that may sound like a small engine and then the noise will stop. However, your compressor will still be on and then you will know from the first time that the noise stops, that enough pressure has been built up to use. At this point, you should turn your pressure regulation knob to unleash the amount of pressure you want in the airbrush.

  • Turn off your air compressor when you are finished. Remember that even though your compressor is off, there will still be compressed inside of it. You can use this time while there is extra air in your compressor to spray some cleaning solutions through your airbrush. Always blow cleaners through your airbrush when you are done using it. Also be advised that if you disconnect your air hose from the airbrush, the built-up pressure will cause your hose to violently dance and wave around the room. It is nice if you like to see your air hose dance, but it could present some danger, possibly poking you in the eye or knocking things off shelves and tables. A more effective way to allow the pressure to release is to still disconnect your air hose from the airbrush, but firmly hold the dancing air hose in your hand, letting the additional air safely blow out.

  • Drain the air tank. Be advised that your air compressor sucks in more than air. It also sucks in moisture in the surrounding environment and tiny bits of dirt and dust. All of these debris particles will collect in the air tank and may need to be drained from time to time. Simply locate the open / close nozzle of the tank on your air compressor and turn it open. Be sure to have a pan or old bowl underneath the tank to catch the draining debris from the tank. You don't want any of that mess onto your floor or carpet. Afterward, make sure that the nozzle is twisted back into the closed position before using the compressor again in another application. Draining your compressor will keep unwanted moisture from blowing through your airbrush and onto your projects.

Tips & Warnings

  • Be careful when using your air compressor. There is always a risk of it all literally blowing up in your face. From time to time, you may have to utilize your pressure release nozzle to allow extra, unneeded air to escape from the tank. This ensures that the pressure will not build to the point where it is in danger of exploding. Furthermore, many compressors have smart sensors that will automatically shut the machine off if its sensors sense that there is too much pressure inside of the machine. As with any machine, always read over your instruction manual and take the proper precautions recommended.

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