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I am fairly new building wooden ship models with only one prior project. In my younger days (and a few more recently since  retired) a built a wide variety of models, primarily plastic. I usually relied on spray cans and paint and brush when working on these kits. About a year and half ago I purchased Billings Smit Rotterdam for my first wooden ship kit. I should state that this wasn't my effort at working in wood; I used to build rc planes at one time. 

While the Smit Rotterdam turned out ok (for a beginner I think it turned out good) it could have been better in a few ways. I have acquired a few tools to improve the build itself but I am pondering about investing in an airbrush setup and I'm sure of its value on large scale kits. I am awaiting the arrival of Billings HMS Victory (BB498). From what I have read, many would consider this to be a bit more than I could chew, but I like a challenge. 

I digress, in short, is the investment of a few hundred dollars towards an airbrush setup worth it?

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Do a search here as there are several discussions on airbrush use where your questions will most likely be answered.  If you then have specific questions go ahead and ask for clarification or more data.

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What Kurt, the air brush guru, said. 

 

It depends upon the level of your modeling skill. There's little point in putting lipstick on a pig. When you're ready for an air brush, you'll know it. If you aren't an accomplished brush painter, that will be sooner, rather than later, as your skill grows. Most of the masterpiece models displayed in museums were build before air brushes were invented, but they knew how to paint with brushes in the old days. The learning curve is much less steep with an air brush.

 

That said, don't throw out your brushes just yet. A brush in the hand of an experienced painter can do just about anything an air brush can, and then some, while the same can be said about airbrushes. Each have their unique capabilities. I'd expect most serious modelers use both with equal ability.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, many of the museum-modells were and are built by workshops in which there are people with specialist skills, such as painting. Some hobby model-builders become skilled in almost all trades and others struggle with certain skills ... that normal. Both spray- and brush-painting require practice (and knowledge) the latter probably more than the former.

 

However, I think that you can probably get a reasonably good airbrushing kit for less than a couple of hundred quid, rather than 'hundreds'. It also depends on the size you require, which in turn depends on the size of the model(s) you want to paint.

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100% worth it. The time saved in painting many parts at once with out the spray can tidal wave of paint, the accuracy, and the smooth coverage are all worth it. I’m an not a good painter but my airbrush makes me look good at times. Also check out lots of posts here and good old YouTube for tips. I’ve also gotten into using oil paints and acrylic washes to good effect (at least I like to think so). I just wish I had paid more attention in art class years ago. 

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I have done many types of models, medieval figures , WWI airplanes, horses, and of course many types of naval subjects. Both paint brushes and airbrushes have their use and I use both. You buy a single action airbrush (a good one) for less than $100, the expensive side is the compressor. For wood models (only 2 so far) I have not needed an airbrush. Tamiya paints in spray cans are amazing, make sure you keep the can warm, put the can in a cup with warm water over one of those cup warmer, makes the paint flow better.

Just like the Seems ok to me (cute cat, I like those orange boys) you van achieve amazing results with oil paints and acrylic washes. There is another technique by which you change the hue bu over painting with a very diluted color (10% paint 90% thinner).

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May I chime in?

Here's my take on airbrushing - it's very well worth getting the skills involved, at the end it boils down to quality of "brush-gun" and quality of paint.

I work exclusively with the Vallejo brand (not saying it's the best or worst), it's a brand I am comfortable with.

Using their regular brush paint and getting a nice coating requires again good quality of brushes and patience.

My conclusion: investing in a double tank compressor and high quality "brushes" are all worth it.
Here is my comparison of my compressors and go to posting 2813.

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I built dozens of 1/700 ship models using paintbrush long time ago. In this scale airbrush is not a must , my thought. But if you enter the world of dioramas an airbrush is a great tool for creating different shades of the sea water, making your work looking very real.

Now I am scratchbuilding large projects about 1 meter long using spray cans. Although I get the job done, for painting smaller parts airbrush is essential as it can regulate the amount of paint and prevent overflow. However its still a big machine with a considerable cost. So I am about to buy a starter kit with dual action airbrush to see how it goes before I opt for a big set of airbrush+compressor.

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