Best airbrush kits: Quality airbrushing for miniature modeling, ceramics, textiles, and more

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Whether your favorite hobby is miniature model painting or spraying stenciled designs onto ceramics or textiles, having an airbrush kit will help you achieve some pretty neat outcomes.

Sure, traditional paint brushes and sets are great for bringing your projects to life — especially if you’re an advanced crafter who has honed your skills over time.

However, working with an airbrush will provide simplicity, versatility, and efficiency during different phases in your work, from priming to coloring.

If you’ve been snooping around the internet for the best airbrush kits, you’ve come to the right place. Find out all you need to know in this handy guide!

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Best value
Best single-action
Best for heavy paints
Best value
Description:

This complete kit includes three airbrushes and a high-quality compressor, an excellent value for beginners and pros alike.

$129.99
Best single-action
Description:

The perfect single-action airbrush kit for small projects and starters on a budget (no compressor included).

$68.89
Best for heavy paints
Description:

The best dual-action, gravity-feed airbrush for heavier liquids and acrylic paints. No need to thin paints with this model!

$170.00
09/27/2023 05:35 pm GMT

What is an airbrush, and how does it work?

If you’re a beginner miniature model painter or have a passion for other miniature creative hobbies, you might wonder why you would need an airbrush.

Well, for one thing, airbrushes are convenient, not to mention efficient, versatile, and super fun to use.

Are they expensive? Yes. Are they worth it? Also, yes — big yes.

Airbrushes are potent, air-operated tools that spray ink, dye, primers, and more, with the simple control of a trigger. So whether you want to achieve detail and refined lines or opaque, uniform coverage, an airbrush won’t only speed up the process but will get the job done fuss-free.

Compatible with everything from paints, primers, varnishes, and more, airbrushes are also way more environmental-friendly than, for instance, aerosol sprays— these release toxic fumes and leave you with a bunch of cans to dispose of.

While airbrushing won’t replace the art of meticulously painting directly onto mediums, it will undoubtedly benefit you when priming your piece and aid you in obtaining eye-catching textures and effects, color layering, and shading.

Airbrush kits are fantastic additions to your craft station, especially if you enjoy activities like miniature model painting, cake decorating, nail art, illustration, DIY ventures, and more.

That said, keep reading to find out what type of airbrush is best for you!

Dual-action vs. single-action

Typically, you’ll come across four main airbrush models for home crafting and miniature hobbies: Dual-action, single-action, automatic, and pistol airbrushes.

However, the most popular of the bunch are dual-action and single-action airbrushes.

Dual-action: These are the most sought-after airbrushes by ambitious beginners and advanced crafters. In this case, the trigger manages both paint volume and airflow, giving you more control of both release types. Therefore, while this tool requires some mastery, it provides greater versatility.

Single-action: This airbrush type offers a single-action trigger to control airflow. As you push the trigger down, air passes through the tool and sprays paint. But this doesn’t allow you to control paint volume or flow as much as dual-action airbrushes. These models are best for starters getting the hang of things and perfect for achieving uniform coverage.

While dual-action airbrushes are more flexible and allow users greater control, single-action airbrushes are ideal for scale modeling. In addition, with some practice, there are ways to manually adjust single-action airbrushes for more versatility.

If you’re on the hunt for your very first airbrush, I suggest keeping your skill level, budget, and expectations into account. But remember, there are no wrong answers!

If buying a dual-action airbrush is worth the investment in the long run, I highly encourage it. On the other hand, if single-action airbrushes are all you’ll ever need, many great, quality options are available.

Gravity feed vs. siphon feed

Aside from trigger action, when looking for airbrush kits, it’s crucial to consider what type of feed your airbrush will have — the mechanism that transports paint from the cup through the tool and out of the airbrush.

The two most popular types are gravity feed and siphon feed airbrushes.

A gravity feed is the most common. These models feature a cup at the top of the airbrush and rely mainly on gravity to push paint down into the tool’s body and tip, where it then flows and atomizes for spraying.

On the other hand, a siphon feed (or suction feed) is much like an old-school spray gun. In this case, you’ll find a paint reservoir/container below the airbrush. Applied air pressure will push ink upwards through a straw, into the tool’s body, and out of the airbrush’s tip.

While both work very well, they do have distinct features:

Gravity feed airbrushes

  • Easy to mix ink directly into the cup as you work
  • Requires less pressure, resulting in more refined finishes
  • Minimal overspray
  • Can spray a lot with a smaller amount of paint
  • May clog depending on paint consistency, model, and cup size
  • Cleaning is easy

Siphon feed airbrushes

  • Straightforward and easy to use
  • Can fill multiple individual cups with different colors
  • Will require more air pressure vs. gravity feed airbrushes
  • More affordable
  • Can use larger bottles for greater amounts of paint
  • Does not block view vs. gravity feed airbrush

Airbrush compressors

As you research airbrush kits, you’ll soon realize that having an airbrush compressor is crucial.

An airbrush compressor is what provides the power and airflow that pushes paint, ink, or dye out of an airbrush and onto surfaces. This machine is connected to the airbrush by an air hose, enabling airflow between the tools.

And while not all brands offer complete airbrush kits with compressors, many compatible, easy-to-find options exist for different models and airbrush types.

That said, keep the following in mind when outsourcing an airbrush compressor:

  • Consider project size/airbrush type (dual-action, automatic, piston, etc.)
  • Select a product that is compatible with your airbrush brand
  • Know differences between compressor types (piston, tankless, and diaphragm)
  • Check HP (motor performance capacity) and PSI (amount of force/pounds of pressure delivered)
  • Evaluate tank capacity, size, and weight
  • Hose length according to your workstation
  • Water trap size (collects the moisture generated during airbrushing)
  • Check noise levels — large compressors can be very loud

Best airbrush kits

Time to get into our picks of the best airbrush sets to bring your miniature masterpieces to life!

Best beginner airbrush kit: Blick Complete Airbrush System by Iwata

Blick Complete Airbrush System by Iwata

First up is the perfect option for newbie crafters looking for a high-quality airbrushing experience from the get-go.

This kit is somewhat of a special edition on our list and is the outcome of a collaboration between renowned Japanese airbrush brand Iwata and art supplier Blick.

While targeted at beginners, this set includes a superbly designed dual-action, gravity-feed airbrush, paints, and a powerful compressor to ensure optimal coverage. It’s also suitable for different paint consistencies, including thicker acrylics, while still achieving fine detail.

Although a dual-action airbrush may seem challenging if you’re coming from zero experience, the learning curve will be worthwhile — once you’ve got technique down, you’ll have an airbrush for life.

However, note that if you’re on a budget, this complete kit will likely cost you more than you’d like. Still, this is the option to consider if you’re looking for durability, quality, and versatility.

Blick also sells a slightly cheaper Essentials kit with an American-made Badger Model 150 airbrush plus other accessories by the brand. That one also comes with an instructional DVD, although you can probably find better tutorials on YouTube.

Best value for money: Master Cool Runner II Dual Fan Airbrushing System Kit

Master Airbrush Cool Runner II Dual Fan Air Compressor Airbrushing System Kit 

Seasoned crafters looking for complete airbrush kits with a compressor will love this Master brand multi-purpose set.

This comprehensive kit offers excellent value for money, considering its many features and tools: three airbrushes, a portable compressor, a hose, airbrush holders, and a starter guide.

To provide versatility, this Master set includes two dual-action gravity feed airbrushes and a single-action siphon feed airbrush — a convenient way to accommodate all project types and surface coverage without outsourcing materials.

However, the main highlight of this kit is its compressor. This device has been built to endure long hours of uninterrupted airbrushing and remains relatively quiet when powered. Its ergonomic design is easy to use, and its performance is smooth, regardless of the pressure applied.

While a highly reliable product, I believe it may be too elaborate for beginners. However, suppose you aim to airbrush daily or work on projects requiring different coverage types. In that case, this is an investment worth making, even if it initially presents a slight learning curve.

Best premium compressor kit: GREX GCK03 Tritium Airbrush Combo Kit

Grex GCK03 Tritium.TG Airbrush Combo Kit with Tritium

Next up is one of the most popular and sought-after airbrush kits, the Premium Grex Tritium airbrush set. 

While paying over $400 may seem a little over the top for most hobbyists, this is an excellent price for professionals and will provide everything needed for a superb airbrushing experience.

This kit includes a quiet, portable compressor, two gravity cup sizes, and a siphon bottle. The airbrush features a unique pistol-style trigger to enhance comfort and control. In addition, the compressor is lightweight, easy to carry, and features a modern design that enables easy management of pressure and airflow. 

And, of course, there’s a world of surfaces you can spray on with this tool, whether ceramics, canvas, or scale models. Note that this particular kit does not include paints. However, suggest these Upgrey airbrush paints; they’re ideal for dual-action tools.

You can find this complete kit on Amazon as well as a single airbrush set if you already own a compressor and are just looking for a premium pistol-design airbrush. 

Best mini airbrush kit: Gocheer Mini Airbrush Kit

Gocheer Mini Airbrush Kit

Whether you have a smaller craft station or are looking for easy-to-carry airbrush kits, this mini airbrush set is a fantastic alternative to standard-sized dual-action tools.

This mini airbrush set is lightweight and easy to master — even if you’re trying these tools for the first time. Besides quality built and spraying capacity, I would say that this product’s main selling point is convenience on a budget.

Aside from a gravity-feed airbrush, this set contains a mini compressor to ensure you have everything in a single pack — one that you could easily take with you on the go.

However, remember to take breaks between continuous crafting to ensure your tool doesn’t overheat. Also note that due to its size, this airbrush cup will have less room to accommodate thicker or more significant amounts of paint.

This product is ideal for crafters on a budget and an excellent pick if you’re one to work on personal projects while away on vacation or long weekends or simply find yourself having to go back and forth from your workshop frequently.

Best single-action airbrush kit: Paasche Airbrush H-Set Single Action Set

Paasche Airbrush H-Set Single Action Set

If you’re looking for something a bit more straightforward, a single-action airbrush is a little easier to manage and will provide you with a good range of possibilities — as long as you use a quality product.

The Paasche single-action siphon feed airbrush is an excellent choice. It includes three spray head sizes to provide optimal coverage across different project types (0.45mm, 0.65mm, and 1.05mm). You can also buy a complete kit with a compressor.

Although not as advanced as the previous products, this airbrush will work like a charm, mainly if you stick to small-scale projects. Because it has a siphon feed mechanism you’re likely to spray at a slower pace, but this won’t affect your final results.

Besides affordability and quality, the highlight of this tool is that it’s suitable for all kinds of creative hobbies and home crafting ventures, from ceramics, miniature modeling, and stenciling to makeup art and cake decorating!

Considering this product is by a well-known brand, it will be easy to find on several online retailers. Nevertheless, know that prices and delivery options may vary, so check out all of the options below before purchasing to get the best deal.

Best dual-action airbrush kit: Iwata NEO CN Gravity Feed Dual Action Airbrush

Iwata NEO CN Gravity Feed Dual Action Airbrush

There are tons of dual-action airbrushes, but I highly recommend this Iwata model if you’re looking for easy control and versatility.

This gravity-feed airbrush provides an excellent experience for crafters getting into more ambitious work and, while on the more expensive side, is worth every penny.

The beginner-friendly kit provides three compressor speeds, two cup sizes, and even online practice exercises to give you the guidance you need! Whether you want thicker coverage or fine details, this airbrush will get the job done easily with its ergonomic design and smooth trigger.

Cleaning cups will also be a breeze since they’re coated with polish. Also, cups come in different capacities, which reduces the need for constant refills. Because this is a gravity-feed airbrush, mixing paints directly in the cups as you work will also speed up and enhance workflow.

This is undoubtedly one of the best beginner airbrush kits you’ll find and is available on both Amazon and Blick at the same price. However, if you eventually want to replace nozzles or purchase a NEO series airbrush with a siphon feed instead, Blick is the place for you!

Best professional grade airbrush kit: Iwata High Performance Plus Airbrush

Iwata High Performance Plus Airbrush

For something a little more professional, this Iwata airbrush is one of the most state-of-the-art, top-quality models on demand.

Designed with sophisticated machinery, this double-action, gravity-feed airbrush stands out for its short passageway between its cup and tip, allowing it to shoot paint exceptionally quickly with little pressure.

It also features a large cup size — helpful if you’re one to mix colors and create new hues as you craft. Because of its larger cup, this tool may feel slightly heavier than what you’re used to, but not to the point where it interferes with performance or comfort.

Cleaning is also made simple with the airbrush’s easily removable nozzle and Iwata Lube solution for preservation. This product works exceptionally well for all applications, but particularly in achieving thin lines and detail.

As expected, this professional-grade airbrush isn’t the cheapest. However, it will provide you with the control, precision, and comfort you’re looking for if you’re an experienced hobbyist or artist.

Best airbrush for miniature modeling: Badger 105 Patriot Fine Gravity Airbrush

Badger 105 Patriot Fine Gravity Airbrush

Are you looking for the perfect model airbrush kit? This Badger airbrush set offers precision, comfort, and flexible paint options to keep miniature modeling exciting and efficient.

This model airbrush kit is excellent for novices seeking affordability and quality and provides ease for just about any miniature creative hobby, whether war gaming, model building, bonkei, or putz house painting is your thing.

One of the highlights of this dual-action, gravity-feed airbrush is that it adapts to an assortment of inks and dyes, from watercolors and solvents to thick acrylic paints — a plus for hobbyists exploring variety in their work.

These airbrush paints, for example, are perfect for this tool! And if you’re not a modeler, no problem; I also strongly suggest this tool for illustrators and textile artists looking for the same effect.

If you want an airbrush for even thinner, ultra-fine details and precise spraying, the Badger Renegade Velocity airbrush is another great product by the brand.

Best airbrush kit for heavier paints: Iwata Eclipse All-Star Versatility

Iwata Eclipse All-Star Versatility

Last up is the Iwata Eclipse airbrush, built to accommodate heavier liquids and acrylic paints while providing sublime performance and results.

This dual-action, gravity-feed airbrush presents a funnel-shaped cup to ensure paint flow is fluid regardless of thickness, perfect for creative hobbies incorporating textiles, ceramics, fine arts, and model painting.

You won’t have to worry about thinning out paints with this airbrush! Whether you’re a seasoned crafter or just starting out, this tool is suitable for various project sizes, designed to guarantee comfortable crafting, and controlled spraying.

I advise using quality acrylics with this airbrush, as it will impact the outcome and durability of your paint in the long run. And if maintenance is something that makes you shy away from using an airbrush, fear not.

This tool is super easy to clean, thanks to its funnel-shaped cup. If you buy an entire kit, you’ll also get Iwata’s especially fabricated lubricant to help preserve the needle and main lever.

How to choose the best airbrush kit for you

With quite a few specifications and details to consider, deciding on your first airbrush kit can feel a little overwhelming.

We’ve based our picks on quality, performance, and experience level to steer you in the right direction.

However, here are a few more tips to help you narrow down your options:

  • What project sizes with you be working through? Are you focused on detail and fine spraying or aiming for something more all-rounded?
  • Is mastering a more advanced airbrush a goal, or does something more straightforward suit you best as a beginner?
  • Be sure to understand the difference between dual-action and single-action airbrushes and gravity and siphon feeds to see what best meets your crafting.
  • I recommend making a more significant investment from the start: airbrushes are expensive overall but will last you a lifetime if you go for quality vs. cheap knock-offs.
  • Consider your inks and dyes. For example, will you work with thick acrylics? Watercolors? Primers? Ensure your airbrush accommodates your mediums of choice.
  • Go over product details and characteristics! There are a lot of specs to keep in mind, so be sure to fully understand what’s on offer regarding performance, technique, and tool maintenance before going all in!
  • Be sure to check if your kit includes a compressor. If you want to buy a compressor separately, check brand and airbrush model compatibility beforehand.

That’s it for our guide of the best airbrush kits you can buy! Any advice for other intrepid crafters? Let everyone know in the comments below!

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