Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Entering the Airbrush Era - Preface

It hasn’t been a full 2 years since I started to take this hobby seriously. And by seriously I mean simply doing panel lines for the first time. Since that time when I first started working on the 1/100 Red Frame, I’ve learned a helluva lot and even started this blog in order to track my progress.

A short while back... near the middle of this month, I reached a turning point. Came to a crossroads so to speak. And I crossed it. I didn’t stick with what I knew and decided to do something that made sense practically and financially.

I bit the bullet and bought an airbrush.

It all started when I tried to paint my Sinanju bazooka in metallic black after priming. There was no paint left in the can. Not enough to paint even one part properly. And I said to myself that this was it. I wouldn’t spend any more money on these cans. It was a waste. A waste of space, paint, metal and probably money even though I'd thought that I was saving money.

Now I realize that as soon as you have an airbrush, the amount of money you spend on paint decreases considerably. Like almost next to nothing in comparison. You'll be using a lot more thinner though. However large amounts of thinner is much cheaper than large amounts of spray paint.

That said... I realize now that even with an airbrush you probably will need to buy the occasional can of paint and primer now and then. I painted my Sinanju with TS-40 Tamiya Metallic Black.

They don't make paint vials of that. If I wanted to stay consistent I'd have to buy another can of it... totally defeating the purpose of me buying this airbrush to begin with. The closest I could find was Mr. Color #78 Metallic Black.

I haven't tried it out yet to know if it will work or not. Either way I decided to use some left over flat black that I've had for years and also have an abundance of.

Sometimes I feel like I don't want to go through the trouble of using the airbrush and cleaning it when I can just spray the part one time with a can of spray paint and get it over and done with quick.

To each his own though right? I'm happy to at least have the option now. And the added control and creativity that an airbrush provides.

Considering all the paint like I’ve bought until now, I'd say the price has just about evened out. I have about 12 cans of paint and have already gone thought about 10 or so already, not including primers which are more expensive. At over 500 yen per can I’ve probable spent about 15000 on paint already. And that’s with me using paint semi frugally. I know for a fact that Gai Gun and ASM use paint and top coat considerably more liberally than I do.

So... I'd been to the shop earlier to buy some AM hands and aurora decals and while I was there I decided to browse the airbrushes just for the sake of doing so. I was curious.

There is no doubt that these things are expensive. I saw some set getting upwards of close to 40000 yen. That's pretty risky and intimidating for the beginning modeler who is just interested in recolouring and not much more than that. Some sets came with brushes but no AC adapter, or an adapter but no brush. Or just brushes with no compressors. I didn’t want that any of that. I wanted the whole set up so I could get off and running quickly and that's what I got and that's what I did.
I went for the simplest, most basic set-up I could find to suit the type of work I'd be doing. Recolouring. I don't need a super fine brush because I'm going to be painting flames or lightning on these things. I'm changing a grey part to blue, red to green. That type of stuff. I don't know about double action or single action or whatever, but the trigger grip looked like it was easy to use so... I didn't know anything about compressors either but it said it has a special molded body to reduce noise and that was enough for me.

But I have to admit that I did deliberate over it for some time. I must have walked around the store with all the stuff my arms for 30 minutes before I decided to just get it over with. I rationalized it by thinking that a couple hours of private tutoring will make enough money to pay for it. I can sacrifice that. Why I am such a cheap bastard! Just go for it already. No wife, no kids, decent, stable job, I've got money... so why not?!

After picking it up and using it for a while I have to say that I’m pretty happy that I did. It has given me the effects and finish that I’ve always wanted. And I realized that one of the things that got me into modeling was seeing all those finished products that had been done with airbrushes. We all know that if we want to get the most out of this hobby it’s going to result in an airbrush purchase eventually. I am no exception to this.

For the sake of archiving I'll talk about my first experience with the brush in a seperate post.