A form of painting known as airbrushing is a process that involves the passing of ink, dyes, and paint through a nozzle by the process of converting the aforementioned paint and coatings into a mist or fine spray. Applying ink, dyes, and most often paint to a substrate using an airbrush can be manipulated by the depression of the trigger (single action) and adjustment of color and air by depressing the trigger and moving it back and forth (double action). Ink, dyes, and paint can be fed through the airbrush via different feed systems. Those feed systems are known as gravity feed, bottom feed, and side feed. The ink, dyes, and paint are fed by gravity from a bottle or container mounted atop the airbrush. Bottom feed and side feed use the process which involves air pressure moving the chosen medium through the airbrushes conduit.
Paint is used most often by artists that airbrush so moving forward I will be focusing on the type of paints used in airbrushing. Paint for use by artists airbrushing are either water based or oil based. Paint contains diluting agents, pigments, and binders. Water based paint contains an ingredient known as a diluting agent that allows the artist to dilute the paint or “thin it out”. Pigments are small particles within the paint that gives the paint its color. A binder is an ingredient in paint that binds the particles together, gives the paint its consistency and facilitated adhesion to a surface.
Water based airbrush paint contains water based acrylic polymers or emulsions that give the paint its base properties. Airbrush artists want the paint they choose to have excellent durability, flexibility, excellent adhesion to substrates, excellent flow when sprayed, reduced splatter, quick drying after application, crack resistant, reduced nozzle tip dry, reduced airbrush clogging, and the paint doesn’t bleed during application to the chosen surface.
There are many types of colors that airbrush artists use and they include water colors, acrylic colors, oil colors, gouache colors, sign colors, candy colors (water based), and urethane colors. Water colors are water based, transparent colors, and are low viscosity. Acrylic colors are specially made for airbrushing, are long lasting, are high viscosity, and to retain its permanence to the substrate a heat set process is required. Gouache colors are also water based and similar to water colors, but the difference is they contain a white pigment which makes the paint not transparent.
There are many different roles and professions an artist can play in various other industries than just the paint and coatings industry. A few examples include the movie industry, automobile industry, tattoo industry and various others. A multitude of surfaces can be painted on by the airbrush artists. These surfaces include t-shirts, motorcycles, automobiles, boats, motorcycle helmets, all sports helmets, canvas, the human body, fingernails, concrete, fabrics, etc.
The “green” advantages to using water based paint are that it is environmentally friendly, user friendly; the artist can dilute the paint with distilled water and not harsh toxic thinners or chemicals. Water based airbrush paint has low VOCs as appose to oil or solvent based paint. When using an oil or solvent based paint the user must wear a mask because of the high VOCs and follow strict safety guidelines. When diluting the paint with distilled water the artist must make sure they use the right amount of distilled water or they will thin the paint out to much. Therefore if they dilute the paint too much the artist can reduce or eliminate the properties that the water based acrylic polymer or emulsion gives the paint.