A person entering the world of the airbrush will inevitably ask, “What's the right airbrush for me?” Pose this question to expert airbrush artists and you'll get the same answer in one form or another: “It depends”. For an artist, an airbrush is just a tool. It's as much an artist's tool as a pencil, a regular brush or a camera. You would definitely not choose an artists brush to paint the side of your barn, would you?
Choosing the right airbrush depends, first of all, on what you want to use it for, and secondly, how you intend to use it. This brings us back then to the different types of airbrushes: what they can do, how they are best used, and what results they deliver. And, don't forget the element of cost. Start out by asking yourself some basic questions like …
What do I want to airbrush? If you're out to airbrush a car, you'll need a different type from the one that's ideal for airbrushing a fingernail.
How much do I want to spend? Some airbrush types are much more expensive than others. Depending upon what you want to do with it, one type of airbrush may be “overqualified” for your requirements and set you back a pretty penny unnecessarily.
Do I have any special requirements? You may want a special type of airbrush if you're left-handed or right-handed. If you're after minute detail you might have to figure out a compromise between getting a fine mist or having maximum visibility at all times.
A Single-Action airbrush is probably best for a newbie. Its simpler trigger action will help you get used to the basic functions of the airbrush and prepare you for the more complicated and sophisticated Double-Action type. If you've used an airbrush before and are after more artistic results on smaller surfaces, then the Double-Action type would be a better choice.
The Feed System offers the most variety and demands your careful attention when choosing an airbrush. If you work with a lot of detail, a Gravity Feed airbrush will produce the finest spray that's ideal for your kind of work. The down side is that this type blocks your view of the job. The Suction Feed airbrush types give you a clear view of the work, but with a spray that's less fine. If you're left-handed or right-handed, choose the Side Feed variety that's appropriate for you. If you're airbrushing a large surface like a car, or if the paint you use is quite viscous, a Bottom Feed type might be your preferred choice. It can support a larger paint container and save you time having to replace your paint supply often.
Again, if your work involves a lot of detail, an Internal Mix airbrush is better at giving you the fine mist that you need. If a coarse spray suits your purpose, or if you're using viscous paint, then pick an External Mix type.