Tools of the trade

//Tools of the trade

Just a quick post today. In part to answer a question Jon posed, but to be fair it’s something I’ve been asked a few times now; what airbrush and compressor do I use? Technically there isn’t one I use all the time, but switch between three depending on what it is I’m trying to achieve. The one I use the most is an ageing Revell Flex. A dual-action gravity fed brush it isn’t actually one that’s particularly well renowned or rated, but nevertheless I’ve found it to be a sturdy and reliable workhorse for 80% of what I do. I swapped out the spring a few years back to a stiffer one which gives me a smoother return action and even with a medium needle it’s my “go to guy” for most tasks whether it’s priming, base-coating, highlighting or pre-shading. All of the initial airbrush basing and pre-highlighting/shading on the Deadzone Plague was achieved with the Flex.

For the rest of the tasks, namely all the fiddly camo in 15mm I use an Iwata Custom Micron C Plus. There probably isn’t much needs to be said about the CM-C Plus as it’s a joy to use. Overpriced? Possibly and I certainly  wouldn’t recommend it as a brush to start off with! That said I know Iwata also make much more accessible airbrushes price wise and have heard the Revolution is well rated in terms of bang for buck.

Finally, I also have an equally elderly Badger 200G single-action which I used to use for laying down panel lines consistently. To be fair I don’t tend to use it all that much these days as it has been superseded now by the Custom Micron, but it’s still pretty handy when I want that consistency in line density or I’m experimenting and don’t want to risk the more expensive Iwata. For completeness sake I do also have a Revel Master Class Vario kicking around somewhere, but as I didn’t find it half as good as the cheaper Flex, it doesn’t get a look in. Between the Flex and the Custom Micron I find all my needs are catered for.

Compressor wise, it’s a rather noisy Ripmax T-RCP104 Tank Compressor. I would love the have a nice quiet compact and pretty compressor, but as this one has provided sterling service for years and years there’s no real need to replace it. It’s a pretty standard affair with double water trap (the other one is at the airbrush end). I only have it fitted for one airbrush at a time and just swap between the Flex and the Iwata using quick release sockets. Rarely ever have the need to run two brushes at once.

That’s pretty much all there is to it. I’m not sure how illuminating that was, but hopefully it answered a few questions. I would just add at this point I am no Airbrush black-belt and am just about competent enough to know one end from the other and can use one without injuring either myself or the brush (too badly). As such don’t take any of the above as expert recommendations or anything. The kit above is simply what I use day-to-day and I have found it serves me well. If I had to offer any advice to the would-be speculative airbrush purchaser it would be to go for a dual-action pretty much all the time. They are far more forgiving to the beginner compared to a single action. I would also look to a gravity (cup) fed rather than a suction. Unless you are planning on airbrushing the  entire deck of an aircraft carrier in one sitting, gravity fed means you can use a lot less paint and clean between colour swaps much easier. Even when I’m priming up a dozen Panzers at a time, I’d still rather have a gravity feed.

So there you have it. Until next time, have a great week.


By |2017-09-13T12:30:12+00:00April 29th, 2014|Categories: News|Tags: |3 Comments


  1. kmantgames April 30, 2014 at 12:16 pm - Reply

    Thanks Carl, really appreciate all the information!

    It’s helpful to know you use different airbrushes. I think one of the problems I was having was trying to find one to rule them all!

    Some of the larger scale effects I’ve seen achieved are amazing (your Deadzone terrain was a recent example) and this would be one of my first uses. I’ve picked up quite a bit of the Micro Art Studio “Made for Inifinity” terrrain range over the years and while spray paints have been good, you always feel like your colour choice and control is very limited.

    My 2nd use would be exactly as you said, German camo for vehicles and other small detailing. So picking up a couple of different airbrushes sounds like a good plan. (I’ll tell my other half you told me I needed 2 🙂 )

    Does your Revell Flex have a fixed needle size? The smallest I’ve seen recommended for the 15mm jobs are around 0.2mm, which I’m guessing is along the lines of your Iwata Custom Micron.

    Many thanks once again,


    • Carl Woodrow April 30, 2014 at 5:26 pm - Reply

      Actually I used just one brush for many a year and that was fine. I certainly wouldn’t recommend rushing out and buying two different brushes from the get go. Instead I would say get a decent mid-ranged brush with a medium to fine needle as it will be a lot more forgiving to any mistakes until you are used to where you need your paint consistency to be. The one on the Flex is a 0.5mm and believe me that does fine lines (0.8 to 1mm) easily. Unless you are some kind of ninja airbrush artist or doing nail art frankly 0.2 is excessive. I have used medium sized 0.7mm needles in the Badger and it does great panel lines.

      Also a lot more forgiving to clean. Ultra fine needles can be very easily damaged through incorrect handling and leads to a very costly and frustrating fix. Most decent airbrushes have optional needle and nozzle sets so you can start medium and once you can’t squeeze anymore out of it performance wise you could always stump up for a finer needle and head then.


  2. kmantgames May 2, 2014 at 10:14 am - Reply

    That’s good to know. While I like the idea of eventually becoming a Ninja airbrush artist the price of the quality 0.2 range was a bit scary for a newbie, especially since I probably wouldn’t get the use out of it.

    I was looking at a mid range Iwata, Badger or Harder & Steenbeck with a decent compressor last night. I’ll start with some terrain jobs, which should give me a bigger canvas to practice on and I can work towards some more technical stuff.

    Really looking forward to giving it a go and I really can’t thank you enough for all your advice and the inspiration from your website!



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