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​Types of Airbrushes. things to know when buying first airbrush:

​Types of Airbrushes. things to know when buying first airbrush:

Airbrushing is simply a painting technique that involves the use of an air-propelled unit (airbrush) to spray a mist of paint on a surface.

Here are a few things you need to know to choose the right airbrush for your needs:

Control type

All airbrushes work with a single trigger, although the trigger operates differently in some cases. Airbrushes can be categorized into 4 categories based on control type:

1. Double action or dual independent control

Most popular type among professional users. In a double action airbrush, the trigger manages the paint volume and airflow. When the trigger is pushed down, the air passes through the airbrush. When you pull the trigger backward, paint begins to flow out. The more you pull the trigger the more paint is delivered. This allows users to control the amount of paint coming out of the airbrush. The flow of paint can be adjusted even while painting.

Double action (dual action) airbrushes can take a while to get used to because they do two things at once.

Here are few of most popular double action airbrushes:

Harder and Steenbeck ULTRA;  Badger Thayer & Chandler OMNI 3000;   Iwata Eclipse HP-CS

2. Automatic or double dependent control. 

This type uses specific trigger design so it doesn’t require a user to push it down for air. Paint flow still controlled by pulling trigger backward, same as double action airbrush, but air flow will start automatically when trigger pulled back.

Looking for an automatic airbrush? Top choice:

Harder and Steenbeck GRAFO;  Hansa 281

3. Pistol grip type airbrush. 

This type uses a different trigger shape. It’s located under airbrush body, and very like paint spray gun: when pulled backward, it opens air valve first and then air flow follows. Harder pull gives more paint flow.

Some pistol grip models:

Sparmax GP 850;  Iwata NEO TN

4. Single action airbrush. 

This airbrush type will feel very similar to an aerosol can spray painting. The trigger in a single action airbrush controls the airflow. When you push the trigger downwards, air passes through the airbrush and atomizes the paint. When you release the trigger, the airflow stops. The paint volume is controlled by adjusting the depth by which the needle travels to the nozzle. The screw on the airbrush adjusts the needle depth.

Top choice for single action airbrush is Badger 200

A double action airbrush is considered more flexible than the single action airbrush because it allows users to modify paint volume accordingly. This is more beneficial when building scale models. However, this does not imply that the single action brush cannot be used for painting models. Some users prefer to choose airbrush with automatic or a single action because they are easy to use and handle.

In any case, it is important to choose airbrush that allows you to achieve your objective and the desired finish and SprayGunner team are here to help! 

Please feel free to contact us with any questions.


For an airbrush to work well it needs paint and air. The air supply can be obtained simply by hooking the brush to an air source (compressor or air tank). There are three types of airbrushes based on feed: Gravity, side and siphoned feed.

A gravity feed airbrush has a paint cup at the top of the airbrush where the paint is poured. Gravity pulls small amounts of paint into the mixing chamber where atomization occurs.

Siphon fed air-brushes feature a bottle or cup connected to the bottom of the airbrush with a tube running through. Air is drawn into the top of the tube causing paint to be “siphoned” into the mixing chamber where atomization occurs.

Side feed air-brushes are somewhere in-between. They can use side gravity cup or side siphon feed bottle. Most side feed airbrush sets include cup and bottle.

The advantage of the gravity feed airbrush comes from the fact that it will feed paint regardless of the amount of air pressure, which is not the case with a siphon fed airbrush. A gravity feed airbrush can work at low-pressure levels. This is beneficial when painting fine lines on models because the lower pressure translates to less overspray.

Siphon feed airbrushes also have their advantages. The paint bottles in siphon feed airbrushes can hold significant amounts of paint. This may not be quite beneficial when painting small models, but is very advantageous when painting large models. It eliminates the need for frequent breaks to refill the paint bottle. Although both types of airbrushes can be cleaned the same way, some people find it easier to clean gravity feed airbrushes than siphon feed ones. The cleaning procedure involves putting paint thinner in either the cup or the bottle and blowing it through the airbrush. If you have to disassemble them for a thorough cleaning, then cleaning a siphon feed brush would probably take more time because it has more parts than gravity feed brush.

Side feed airbrushes may have advantages of both, gravity and siphon feed but they are not so popular because of the most difficult cleaning process and higher chances of getting paint leak from side feed connector.


Airbrushes can be categorized according to mix i.e. internal and external mix airbrushes. Internal mix airbrushes work by atomizing the paint inside the airbrush. This means that paint flows directly into the body of the airbrush from the cup or bottle. On the other hand, the paint nozzle of external mix airbrushes is located directly below the body of the airbrush. Very first airbrushes were designed as an external mix but they’re now almost entirely replaced by internal mix airbrushes because internal mix giving much better control and higher quality of spray pattern.

If you still have questions, please feel free to contact SprayGunner team by email, online chat on our website or via any of our social media pages. We are here to assist! 

Nov 12, 2016 SprayGunner

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