Airbrushing is used in graphic design and precise detail work to crafting and home decor.
However, if you’re in the market for an airbrush kit, you’ll likely find the plethora of options available both exciting and slightly overwhelming!
You can buy all the items needed for airbrushing separately, but it is easier and sometimes cheaper to buy a kit.
So how can you know which one is the best choice for you?
Well, that’s where we can help out. We’ve put together this helpful guide to help you make the best decision possible. We’ll explain what the key differences are between different models, and recommend which are the best bang for the buck.
At a Glance: Our Choice of the Best Airbrush Kits For Beginners On the Market
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Here’s what we talk about:
- What is an Airbrush?
- Buyer’s Guide – Key Considerations
- Best Airbrush Kits For Beginners – Product Round-up and Reviews
- NEO CN Gravity Feed Dual Action Airbrush
- Master Airbrush Cool Runner II Professional Airbrushing System Kit
- Badger Air-Brush Co. Sotar 2020-2F Large Gravity Feed Fine Airbrush
- Master Airbrush Multi-Purpose Airbrushing System Kit with Portable Mini Air Compressor
- Iwata Eclipse Hp-Cs Value Set with Hose Cleaner and Paint
- Paasche Airbrush Talon Double Action Gravity Feed Airbrush
- Gocheer Mini Airbrush Kit
- So, Which Should I Buy?
What is an Airbrush?
An airbrush is a small, pen-sized tool that uses air power to spray materials with paint, inks, dyes, or even sugar coatings for cakes. Airbrushes are supplied with compressed air, which atomizes the spraying material at the nozzle. You can usually control how much paint leaves the device by varying the finger force used to pull the trigger.
Internal vs. External Mix
Internal mixing airbrushes will mix the compressed air with the paint at the tip with the airbrushes’ cap. The air flows evenly around this area so that the paint is atomized to a consistent, microdot size.
External mixing airbrushes mix the compressed air with the liquid outside of the device. This results in a larger particle size when the paint leaves the airbrush and produces a more splatter-prone spray.
Overall, internal mixing airbrushes are better for precise, fine line work, whereas external mixing is good if you need to cover large surfaces.
Single Action vs. Double Action
There are two main types of airbrush: Single Action and Double Action.
Single action airbrushes have a trigger that simultaneously releases the compressed air as well as the liquid you’re using. These designs are usually less complex and more affordable than double-action airbrushes. The downside is that they don’t give you as much control.
Double action airbrushes allow you to control both the airflow and the amount of paint being released. Usually, pressing down the trigger releases the compressed air while pulling it back lets you control how open the nozzle is and how much liquid leaves the airbrush. These designs are more expensive but offer more precision.
Gravity Feed vs. Siphon Feed
Gravity feed airbrushes have a cavity in the top or side of the body that holds the paint or liquid you’re going to use. They require less air pressure as the paint leaves the cup to reach the airbrush tip due to gravity. These models can spray more delicate lines as the paint particles flow more slowly and require less liquid making them more economical than siphon fed models.
Siphon feeding designs have a bottle of paint attached to the underside of the airbrush. This type holds more liquid and uses more air pressure to atomize the paint, making them an excellent choice when it comes to covering large areas.
Buyer’s Guide – Key Considerations
You can change the width of the spray line the airbrush produces by using different sizes of nozzles.
For example, if you need a fine spray line, then go for a 0.2mm- 0.3mm nozzle, medium spray lines will require a nozzle between 0.35mm- 0.45mm and thicker widths will need a nozzle that’s 0.5mm or larger.
Some airbrush kits come with different sized nozzles included, but just remember that you’ll also need to change the needle and needle cap once you adjust your equipment too. As well as this, different paints will only spray through specific sizes, so you should check the liquid’s requirements before changing your setup.
Stop Set Trigger Control
You’ll sometimes find stop set trigger controls on dual action airbrushes. This basically lets you set how far the needle reclines once the trigger is pressed so that you can control the amount of spray liquid that mixes with the pressurized air. This is a helpful way to be extra confident you’ll spray even lines of paint.
Simplicity of Disassembly/Reassembly
Using an airbrush that is easy to disassemble and put back together will usually take less time to clean compared to a more complex variety. Beginners will often find simple designs easier to get their head around too.
We don’t recommend that anyone buys the cheapest airbrush out there because the quality of construction is often low, and replacement parts are hard to come by. Instead, we’d recommend beginners choose something that is $45 or more and to check out the manufacturer before you buy. There are some really well-made products out there that cost inbetween $45-$150.
Best Airbrush Kits For Beginners – Product Round-up and Reviews
NEO CN Gravity Feed Dual Action Airbrush
NEO CN’s Gravity Feed, Dual Action Airbrush is an affordable, precision model that is an excellent option for anyone looking to spray fine lines and detail. It features a versatile 0.35mm needle and a novel nozzle design, which allows the artist to use different paints to spray patterns that are both fine and medium-sized if they wish.
The kit comes with two funnel cups, one large ⅓ oz, and a medium 1/16 oz, which are easy to use and assemble. The manufacturers, however, recommend that the dual-action airbrush works best with smaller air compressors that produce between 5-35 psi for best results. The construction here is high-quality, and NEO have included a five-year warranty to match their confidence.
The only downside we found was that this airbrush tends to get clogged up with paint when you use it for long periods. This can get annoying when you have to keep unscrewing and cleaning the tip to avoid getting splatter. That said, for shorter bursts of work, we didn’t notice any problems, so long as you clean the equipment after use.
Overall, we’d recommend NEO CN’s Gravity Feed airbrush to anyone shopping on a budget that needs a reliable device to spray detailed pieces. With the five-year warranty, it’s worth trying it out.
- Versatile – The needle and nozzle can spray both thin and medium-sized lines.
- Affordable – NEO CN’s kit won’t break your bank.
- Five-year warranty – The manufacturers guarantee that the airbrush is built to last.
- Gets clogged up with paint after long periods of use.
- Not suitable for large spray patterns.
Master Airbrush Cool Runner II Professional Airbrushing System Kit
Next up is the Cool Runner II, Professional Airbrushing Kit by Master Airbrush. The best aspect here has to be the three distinct airbrushes that are included. Two are dual-action, gravity-fed designs, and one single action siphon model, all of which have different needle and nozzle sizes. These allow you to perform anything from hairline details to wider 1.2″ patterns.
As well as this, the compressor is pretty durable and robust too. It can kick out up to ⅕ horsepower and has a built-in cooling fan system to allow for prolonged periods of use without risking overheating. That said, you do notice a slight change in power if you use it on maximum power for more than 10 minutes.
There are also six opaque, acrylic paints included in the kit, along with a handy color mixing wheel and cleaning equipment. So, Master Airbrush has been very generous, considering the affordable cost here. As well as all this, you get a one year warranty, so you can be sure the equipment is built to last or your money back. The only downside is that the included instructions are quite vague, so the full kit may require some time and patients to master.
Overall, we’d recommend this kit to anyone that wants a variety of airbrushes and paints to practice with. That said, you’ll need to be committed and willing to learn a lot of the technique and assembly by yourself.
- Value for money – You get three airbrushes, six paints, a compressor, and cleaning materials included.
- Versatile – The variety of airbrushes means you can paint fine detail and larger patterns.
- ⅕ horsepower air compressor – This is quiet and has a built-in cooling system to prevent overheating.
- Instructions are vague – They don’t fully cover how to clean and adjust your equipment.
- Jack of all trades – The equipment is excellent all-round, but artists that want a specific airbrush should choose a kit more tailored to their needs.
- Airbrushes can clog up with thicker brands of paint.
Badger Air-Brush Co. Sotar 2020-2F Large Gravity Feed Fine Airbrush
The best aspect regarding Badger Air-Brush Co’s Fine Airbrush has to be the quality of the spray pattern it delivers. Despite being versatile, easily accomplishing hairline detail, and 19mm spray patterns, the paint atomization, and evenness is always on point. This is mostly thanks to the micrometer setting, which allows the artist to fine-tune their desired spray.
There’s also a 1/12 oz color cup, which is designed to give you prolonged painting time before having to refill. That said, the Sotar 2020-2F can work with anything from watercolors to inks, dyes, and reduced paints, too, as well as standard acrylics.
In terms of handling, Badger Air-Brush Co have designed their airbrush to feel comfortable to use. The Sotar 2020 is evenly weighted, so it balances well in your hand, plus the trigger is firm and responsive to pressure to help control spray flow. In fact, the manufacturers are so confident in their product, they’ve included a lifetime guarantee for needle repairs.
The only disadvantages are that the brush doesn’t come with an air hose and that replacement or additional parts are quite costly. For these reasons, we’d recommend the Sotar 2020 to artists that are willing to spend slightly more on a higher-quality, versatile airbrush.
- Versatile – Can spray fine lines and wider patterns to a consistently high standard.
- Comfortable – The weighted, well-balanced design makes the Sotar 2020 easy to hold for long durations.
- Diverse – Can spray a variety of liquids, including dyes, acrylics, and watercolors.
- Doesn’t come with an air hose – So you’ll need to factor in the extra cost.
- Replacement parts or extras are pricey.
- No option to change cup sizes.
Master Airbrush Multi-Purpose Airbrushing System Kit with Portable Mini Air Compressor
This kit by Master Airbrush comes with decent equipment considering its affordable price tag. The best feature here has to be the compressor and airbrush that are included. The airbrush itself has a ⅓ oz gravity fluid cup and a 0.3mm tip that can spray both hairline and 1.5″ patterns with ease. The airbrush is believed to be capable of handling most types of spray materials too, but that said it is slightly fussy and works best with plenty of thinners.
The compressor is lightweight and portable but still capable of producing 25 psi of air pressure, which will suit most beginner’s needs. There’s also a handy 6-foot hose included so that you can work a fair distance away from the compressor itself. The kit comes with a manual and guide booklet, so you can start learning immediately from home, provided you’ve got some spray material and cleaning solution.
The only downside we should point out is that the compressor sometimes cuts off during use, due to the overheating protection system. That said, this isn’t a problem if you don’t use it for long periods of time. The manufacturers also give every buyer a year’s warranty for the airbrush and two year’s warranty for the compressor, which proves they have confidence in the kit’s durability.
Overall, we’d recommend this Master Airbrush kit to beginners who are shopping on a budget. Here you’ll get a set of standard equipment that is a great way to get familiar with the art of airbrushing.
- Affordable – Considering you get a compressor, airbrush and hose included, the price tag is very low.
- Portable – The compressor is compact and light, making it easy to move around.
- Fairly versatile – You’ll get to try out both detailed and wider spraying using one airbrush.
- The compressor cuts out occasionally due to the overheating system, which can get annoying.
- Works best with thinned spray liquids and can clog up with certain materials.
Iwata Eclipse Hp-Cs Value Set with Hose Cleaner and Paint
The Eclipse Hp-Cs kit by Iwata sells for a higher price than many airbrushes out there, but you certainly get high-quality innovation for the extra dollar. The best aspect here has to be the consistency of spray the device produces, no matter what liquid you use. This is thanks to the high-paint flow system, which easily handles heavier liquids.
The needle is constructed from the toughest spring-steel to avoid damage, and the airbrush nozzle is 0.35mm, making it capable of painting the most intricate of designs. The generous ⅓ oz cup is funnel-shaped, which is easy to clean and provides a steady flow of paint into the airbrush nozzle. The kit also includes quality opaque, acrylic paint, specially formulated cleaning fluid, to prevent any liquid build-up and a ten-foot air hose, which allows you to work well away from your compressor.
The airbrush’s body is constructed from shiny chrome that feels well-balanced and controlled while you hold and use it. The only downside we should mention is that the chrome does tend to fade slightly with time and use.
In summary, we’d recommend the Eclipse Hp-Cs kit to serious artists that want professional quality and consistent spraying capability from their airbrush. Just remember to save up a little extra cash for it first!
- Consistent, full spray pattern no matter what paint you choose.
- Precise – The nozzle and rapid airflow design mean you can spray very intricate sections without getting any build-up.
- Excellent handling – The weight of the airbrush and trigger are comfortable and easy to control.
- Pricey – All this quality comes at an extra cost.
- Only includes one paint tub – so you’ll have to buy more, which adds cost.
- It doesn’t include an air compressor.
Paasche Airbrush Talon Double Action Gravity Feed Airbrush
The Talon’s best aspect has to be its versatility. Paasche have ensured their product can spray patterns that range between hairline precision to 1.25 inches in width, to meet most artist’s needs. That said, if you purchase their fan head attachment, you’ll also be able to spray patterns up to 3 inches wide.
Another benefit here is that the paint consistency comes out very well mixed with water or solvent-based paints. This is mostly thanks to the needle stop mechanism on the handle, which provides extra control. When it comes to cleaning, Paasche has made the process less of a chore. You simply run your cleaning fluid through the airbrush and wipe the needle to clear away any build-up.
The body itself looks rather snazzy, featuring a tough chrome-plated body and an aluminum grip. Not only does the use of quality metal make the Talon durable, but it also feels very balanced and stable in your hands. The only downside we could note was that some of the welding around the cup is a little flimsy and looks as though it might break if it gets knocked.
Overall, we’d recommend the Talon to artists that need an affordable, versatile airbrush that sprays both detailed and very wide patterns. Just remember, it only caters for water or solvent-based paints and will likely clog up with other materials.
- Nice aesthetic – The chrome plating and aluminum give this airbrush a unique vibe.
- Versatile – Capable of spraying delicate and three-inch patterns.
- Good mix – Produces very consistent patterns with water-based and solvent-based materials.
- The material builds up if you use anything other than water or solvent-based paints.
- Cup welding seems a bit flimsy and looks breakable.
Gocheer Mini Airbrush Kit
The Mini Airbrush Kit by Gocheer is an affordable option that comes with plenty of handy equipment considering the low cost. The best feature is the airbrush itself, which can be tailored to your needs through the use of different accessories. Because of its double-action design, you can easily control the air and liquid being released simultaneously. This helps the artist change the thickness and opacity of the spray effect without having to swap nozzles.
Gocheer have also included a selection of cleaning brushes to prevent the equipment from being blocked up with paint. The manufacturers state that their airbrush will cope with most spray liquids, but like many of the more affordable models, we found it works best with thinned liquids.
The compressor is ok considering the low cost of the kit and can kick out a maximum of 25psi of air pressure. It’s also quite small and compact, so you’ll have no problem moving it from place to place. The downside was that the compressor seems to lose power occasionally when you spray with high pressure for long periods of time. This can affect the spray pattern, so it’s best to give the compressor a break at least every 30 minutes to let it cool down.
Overall, we’d recommend this kit to beginners that are shopping on a budget. It’s not so great for pros that paint for hours at a time. But that said, the airbrush is reasonably good quality and will last a while as long as you clean it well after every use.
- Affordable – Gocheer’s kit gives you the equipment you need without breaking the bank.
- Airbrush – This is double action, so you get more control of the spray pattern.
- It comes with cleaning equipment so you can look after your airbrush.
- Compressor loses power – It’s best only to use it for 30 minutes at a time.
- Needs paint to be thinned – If you use thick liquids, they’ll clog up the airbrush quickly.
- No paint included – You’ll need to purchase your own, which can bump up the cost.
So, Which Should I Buy?
When it comes to choosing the best airbrush kit, there’s no absolute right or wrong choice. It depends solely on your needs and artistic experience.
If, for example, you’re a complete beginner and want to try out every option before getting a professional airbrush, try out the Master Airbursh’s CoolRunner II kit. This comes with a set of different airbrushes, so you can discover what you prefer to use.
Maybe you’re a novice that needs a kit you can carry around more easily? If so, Gocheer’s Mini Kit and the Master Airbrush Portable Kit both include small compressors and a single airbrush for a low cost.
Perhaps you’ve already got some experience with airbrushes and need a quality design to meet your artistic needs? If so, the Talon, Sotar 2020, or the Eclipse Hp-Cs will not let you down. All three are capable of providing a consistent spray pattern, for fine detail and wider areas.