Airbrushing can be a great way to express your inner creativity. Whether you want to become an expert in makeup and fingernail design, make your models and miniatures come to life or any of the hundreds of other fun and artistic applications.
However, choosing the wrong airbrush at the start of your endeavors can be a disaster and can put you off airbrushing for life.
A top-quality airbrush can cost hundreds of dollars but if you spend that amount and then find that airbrushing is not the hobby for you, you have wasted a lot of money.
On the other hand, if you get a cheaper model that’s low in quality you will find it lacks precision and you’ll also find that you spend more time cleaning it than actually practicing your spraying.
However, there is a happy medium to be found. A mid-range airbrush will give you the performance and features you need as an airbrush beginner, but it won’t break the bank.
Try to start with a known and trusted brand name and it’s generally best to ensure you use an internal mix airbrush that has a dual action and employs a gravity feed.
Below is a selection of the best airbrushes for beginners along with a buyer’s guide to ensure you know everything you need to know before spending your hard-earned cash.
OUR TOP PICK
The Iwata-Medea Eclipse HP CS is one of the most popular airbrushes around and is ideal for newbies and veteran artists alike.
The airbrush features dual action control, which allows for better control over the amount of paint you use and gives you better precision with the spray.
The 0.35mm self-centering needle is ideal for both fine lines and for wide spray patterns and by moving your airbrush further away, you can get a pattern of up to around 5cm (2 inches) in diameter.
The gravity fed airbrush has a funnel-shaped cup that is mounted on top that can hold up to 0.30-ounces of paint and has a stylish stainless-steel exterior with a polished chrome finish that not only looks the part but is also easy to keep clean.
It comes with a single cut-away handle which allows you to remove clogs by simply moving the chuck forward and back a few times and the rest of the airbrush can be very easily disassembled for cleaning.
- Versatile – Is equally useful for spraying fine lines and wide spray patterns
- Easy to keep clean – Easy to dismantle for cleaning the inner components and the exterior can be kept clean with regular wipe downs
- Easy to use – For those just starting out, it’s easy to get to grips with and will also become a favorite airbrush as you gain experience
- Great brand – Iwata has a reputation in the business for producing quality goods and this is seen by many as the best airbrush they make
- Expensive – Costs a little more than most of the other items on the list so those on a budget may be put off
The Badger Patriot 105 is a great airbrush for beginners and is ideal for everything from fine art, customizing your automobile, illustrations, and miniatures.
This double action, gravity feed airbrush is extremely easy to use and comes with a 0.30-ounce cup with a tight-fitting lid that allows you to adjust your angle without the risk of spillages.
The 0.50mm needle can handle thin lines, as well as being able to get a generous spray pattern of around 7.5cm (3 inches) in diameter.
A simple design with fewer parts makes it less likely that you will lose pieces and means less can go wrong in the long run. What’s more, a knob at the rear of the airbrush along with a large needle makes it very easy to operate.
The cut-away handle allows for easy trigger tension adjustment and makes clog removal very quick and easy. However, as the needle needs to be removed through the back of the brush, cleaning your product will be a little complicated at first.
- Extra tight lid – Reduces the risk of spillages while using the airbrush
- Generous spray diameter – With up to 7.5cm in diameter available, it’s ideal for larger projects while still being able to handle fine lines
- Simple design – With fewer moving parts, there is less that can go wrong with this airbrush
- Awkward to clean – The cleaning process can be a little difficult and take some time to get used to
The Paasche TG-3F Talon is a double action gravity feed airbrush that’s made from durable stainless steel in an attractive chrome finish with a gold tinted aluminum back handle and cup lid.
It comes with a generous 0.40-ounce paint capacity but manages to stay well-balanced and easy to hold while spraying.
The 0.35mm needle is ideal for fine lines as well as wide spray patterns of up to around 4 cm (1.5 inches) which can be achieved by holding the airbrush further away from the project.
It also comes with 3 head sizes and the fan air cap can be adjusted to 0.25mm, 0.38mm, and 0.66mm.
The TG-3F is generally easy enough to clean with the cut-away handle allowing for fast clog removal though as the needle needs to be taken from the back of the brush, the cleaning process can be a little complicated for airbrush beginners.
One problem with Paasche airbrushes is that the air hose is uniquely fitting to their products which can be inconvenient down the road but as it comes with 2 meters (6 feet) of braided hose, this shouldn’t be a problem.
It also comes with a hanger that allows you to put the airbrush down when not in use, has full instructions, and includes a useful booklet complete with airbrushing lessons.
- Large capacity – With a 0.40-ounce cup, you can keep spraying for longer though it remains lightweight and easy to hold and use
- Versatile – Ideal for use on both larger and smaller projects
- Fully adjustable – Allows for more versatility when spraying with 3 separate head sizes and a fan air cap that can be adjusted to 0.25mm, 0.38mm, and 0.66mm
- Fast clog removal – The cut-away handle lets you clear away clogs swiftly so you can get on with your painting with a minimum of fuss
- Handy extras – The TG-3F comes with useful extras such as a beginner’s guide, instructions for use, and a convenient hanger
- Expensive – A little more expensive than most on the list, this airbrush is worth the extra cash but not ideal for those on a tight budget
- Awkward to clean – The cleaning process for the interior can be a little fiddly and awkward for a novice airbrush user
- Uniquely fitting hose – Standard air hoses won’t fit Paasche products so when you need a replacement, you have to go through them (though the product does come with a substantial amount to get you going)
The Iwata-Medea Revolution CR is a very versatile airbrush that comes with a 0.30-ounce gravity feed cup and a 0.50mm needle which is designed for using thicker or heavier paints.
It has a dual action, internal mix design which is easy to use, though it can struggle with the finest of details. That said, for finer control, you can remove the tip guard though care must be taken as the needle is easily damaged.
For larger projects such as t-shirts, makeup, camouflage, and bigger models, the Revolution CR is ideal and can produce a spray pattern of up to around 4cm (1.6 inches).
It comes with an ergonomically designed handle, and the trigger mechanism and large needle-chucking nut makes it easy to dismantle and clean.
- Easy to use – Ergonomically designed and very light and easy to handle
- Easy to clean – Designed to be easy to take apart and cleaned, and even beginners should have no problems reassembling this airbrush
- Great for large items – Ideal for use on a variety of projects involving larger items including t-shirts, makeup, camouflage, and accents on vehicles
- Finer items – Struggles with the thinnest of details so not ideal for all airbrushing projects, such as models that require fine details painted
Unlike the other items on this list, the Paasche H-Card Airbrush Set is single action which makes it easy to use, less likely to clog, and useful when you have a substantial amount of repetitive work to get done.
This means that, while not ideal for more detailed projects, it is perfect for people on a budget who have larger spraying needs such as small pieces of furniture, basic accents on vehicles, and special effect prosthetics.
It is built to last and again it differs from the other items on the list as instead of being a gravity feed airbrush, it’s siphon fed meaning that the 1-ounce bottle it comes with can hold a large amount of paint.
It can produce a spray pattern up to around 4cm (1.6 inches) and cleaning it is relatively easy and just a matter of spraying paint cleaner through the airbrush.
That said, as it will have more parts than a gravity feed model, cleaning can take a little longer when dismantling is involved.
- Easy to use – As a single action airbrush, it’s easy for beginners to get to grips with this product in very little time
- Great for larger jobs – Ideal for spraying larger jobs and repetitive projects undertaken by airbrush beginners
- Cost effective – Tends to be a lower price than most on the list so ideal for airbrush beginners on a budget
- Not so great for smaller jobs – Smaller, more detailed projects can be problematic with the H-Card
- Harder to clean – Many artists find gravity feed airbrushes easier to clean than siphon fed ones due to the latter having more parts to clean when dismantled.
Best Airbrush for Beginners Buying Guide
Before buying your first airbrush, it’s important to understand the various different types that are available and what advantages and disadvantages they all have.
The way the trigger on an airbrush operates determines the control type of a particular model which can be divided into 4 categories.
Let's take a look at each of them in more detail below.
Dual action airbrushes (also known as a double action or dual independent control) get their name from the fact that the trigger does two things. By pressing down on it, you allow the air to pass through the brush, and by pulling backward on the trigger, the paint starts flowing.
The trigger is very sensitive and the more you pull it back, the higher the amount of paint that gets delivered. This allows for adjustments of paint flow while spraying giving the user the maximum amount of control.
Although doing the two actions at once does take a little getting used to, many experts agree that this is the best airbrush control for beginners as well as being the most frequently used control type amongst professionals.
When squeezing the trigger of a single action airbrush you control the airflow and the paint is automatically pushed through, making it feel much like using an aerosol spray can.
While many people do prefer the extra control of a dual action airbrush, others like the simplicity of the single action version and the fact that it’s so easy to use.
With a pistol grip airbrush, the clue is in the name as the trigger is situated under the body of the airbrush and looks like the trigger on a pistol.
When activated, an air valve opens which is followed by the paint flow, which can be controlled by the amount of force used to pull the trigger.
An automatic (or double dependent) type of control uses a trigger that is designed to automatically start the airflow when the trigger is activated to release the paint.
The feed type is concerned with how paint gets into the airbrush and there are three types to consider.
Again, we’ll take a more detailed look at these below.
An airbrush that uses a gravity feed has a paint cup positioned on top of the airbrush. It gets its name as the paint is pulled into the mixing chamber via gravity after which, atomization occurs.
A gravity feed airbrush will continue to feed paint into the mixing chamber regardless of the amount of air pressure, meaning that, unlike a siphon fed model, it can work at low pressure levels. This is particularly important when fine lines are being painted as it will mean less overspray occurs.
Siphon feed airbrushes have a cup or bottle on the bottom of the airbrush with a tube running through it. As the air gets pulled to the top of the tube, the paint is siphoned into the mixing chamber and atomized.
The paint bottles on siphon feed airbrushes tend to be larger and therefore can hold more paint, which is especially beneficial when painting larger projects as it reduces the amount of time you need to stop to refill your paint bottle.
Side feed airbrushes are something in between the other two. They can use a cup or a bottle to either siphon or use the gravity method to get the paint into the mixing chamber.
While it seems that side feeder airbrushes have the best of both worlds, they tend to be unpopular as they are difficult to clean and are prone to paint leakage.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best airbrush for beginners?
For a dual action, gravity feed airbrush, you can’t go wrong with the Iwata-Medea Eclipse HP CS.
However, if you want a single action, siphon feed airbrush, then the Paasche H-Card Airbrush Set would make a great choice for beginners.
What should I look for when buying an airbrush?
While there is no one correct answer to this question, there are some guidelines that can help. The best airbrushes tend to use an internal mix, have a dual action trigger and use a gravity feed, especially if finer spraying is needed.
However, if ease of use is your priority and you only have larger areas to cover a single action, siphon feed airbrush may be the option for you.
Is airbrushing hard to learn?
Like most forms of artistic endeavor, airbrushing will take a very short time to learn, but a lifetime to master. The basic principles are simple and with a little time and effort, you will be channeling your creative side in no time.
However, if you want to develop further and continue to improve, you will need to be willing to be constantly learning new things.