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View Full Version : Airbrush: Siphon-fed or Gravity-fed?



Jennifer Kem
11-18-2012, 11:27 AM
I've been looking into buying an airbrush to start practicing with, and was wondering which type would be preferable to purchase, or if there's much of a difference.

So there's the gravity-fed type with the cup on top (or on the side or bottom), and the siphon-fed which has the bottles.. Are there specific uses for each type, and pros and cons to each? I would assume the bottles would allow you to hold more liquid...


Also, when it comes to paint (I've been searching the threads to see what veryone recommends for brands), do you have to dilute paints down, or use them as-is? I'm talking about for paints, such as the Endura line? Just curious... I plan on just playing around with cheap watered down acrylic paints to get the hang of it for now.

Thanks!
Jen

Greg Chrise
11-18-2012, 01:42 PM
I would definitely go with gravity feed. What looks like a little cup is actually 5 to 10 minutes of paint and that is a long time if you are really focusing on doing something detailed. Gravity feed will work at 12 to 15 psi and syphon feed needs 35 to 45 psi just to such paint out of a cup or bottle. So gravity requires much less of an air compressor or really saves on how much it operates, hence the electric bill and how much big air compressors cost.

Just watering down acrylic paints can become a problem, some of them mix with water and some of them just become a goo. I use createx air brush paint right out of the bottle. For just becoming familiar with what it does, or how fine you can get, you can use india ink. Usually air brush paint you just use out of the bottle and it is a bit more as the pigment is ground much finer than cheap acrylic paint. Sure, enough thinning (some require a touch of isopropal alcohol) and enough pressure and you can shoot anything. This isn't control.

With higher pressures you get spatters on your work when getting really close and fine. If you intend on doing fine work, the 15 psi range is better than blowing something with 45 psi or like Tshirts are done at 60 psi to intentionally blow through the fabric. Fine automotive work require 12 to 15 psi and the best quality paint.

Just starting out gravity feed will save hundreds of dollars in experimenting with what they can do and what you can make money with only to find out you needed a gravity feed anyhow.

I stopped buying things once I got Iwata air brushes. Either an Eclipse or HP-C model are great. It used to be they weren't even available in stores or at trade shows. And they used to be super expensive.

I see so many people buy all sorts of gear like multiple air brushes, little manifolds to have 8 hooked up at one time, a bunch of bottles and 6 ar brushes, that special compressor that isn't so special after all and get $1200 into things. You just need one good air brush and a good regulator on an air compressor that is a real air compressor. I have a regulator and a bunch of valves that are actually air tool throttles at the end of the air hose and a regulator there, then the air hose to the air compressor is a reservoir of 100 psi regulated down to 15 psi to 20 psi. I have portable compressors but only use them for cleaning air brushes at the sink in a different part of the building. It is worthless for quality work.

Pretty much every shop I work at has an air compressor so I just hook up with my own hoses and regulators and not trust theirs to be accurate or working at all. The compressors all have water traps and using your own hose means no air tool oil screwing up your paint.

I set up to do motorcycle paint jobs that can be very fine detailed pictures represented in small spaces or large flowing patterns and I find the gravity feed does it all. If you watch someone do it, they go over the same area many times until the color is deep enough or the lines are subtle enough. Blasting something with mass quantities of air and paint don't get it unless you are doing stencils and fabrics, going for something bold and quick.

Then any airbrush still has some limitations for detail. Sometimes I cheat and do the painting in fine artist brushes then give it an over spray or shadow with the air brush so it looks air brushed. Then it is a mystery of how did that guy get that from an air brush. You have to be smarter than the bowl of paint.

Just starting out with the paint you are going to be using is also best. Going cheap will lie to you on how difficult air brushing really is and how many clogs you have to clean out of the gun or off your paint job. Every material comes out different, uses different air pressures and result in different levels of detail.

Jennifer Kem
11-18-2012, 04:38 PM
Thank you! That was very helpful!

The main reason I am wanting an airbrush is for makeup, first off. Most likely I will want to use it in the future for detailing props or something as we learn how to do it. Having the ability to do very fine work will be wonderful, and being able to control it, even better.

Jen

terrormasue
11-18-2012, 05:10 PM
Hi there, we go with siphon. We can change colors fast without dumping out and wasting the make-up. During the season we haver 4 going at all times, I know that does not sound like a lot but thats all we have so far. We plan on going to 5 make-up stations next year. I like siphon because you can tilt the brush without the worry of spilling. We move fast, we go through 80 people in less than 2 hours. Hope this helps.

Sue

Allen H
11-18-2012, 06:04 PM
Are there specific uses for each type, and pros and cons to each?
***Yes there are specific uses for each type and rule breakers for each. I use the siphon with the bottles on the bottom- I do haunt airbrush make up. It is the best for me, If I were doing motorcycles and auto then no doubt I would want something different.

I would assume the bottles would allow you to hold more liquid...
*** Yes they do, they also allow you to switch colors a bit faster which helps keep you from extra planning by only using the color you have in already.

Also, when it comes to paint (I've been searching the threads to see what very one recommends for brands), do you have to dilute paints down, or use them as-is? I'm talking about for paints, such as the Endura line? Just curious... I plan on just playing around with cheap watered down acrylic paints to get the hang of it for now.
***I'm using Endura from European body art now and you use it straight out of the bottle.
Greg and I disagree on this one, but it is a matter of personal taste and effectiveness. do what works for you- but you cant learn much about it until you have an airbrush in your hand and are spraying paint. Buy one and get going.

Greg Chrise
11-18-2012, 06:33 PM
Gravity feed air brushes have a cap or lid on the reservoir so it becomes an anti gravity feed. Changing colors in a gravity feed is as simple as removing the lid and turning what hasn't been used out, it is more of a wrist action, fill the reservoir and shoot into a bucket until the new color comes out clean.

You are handling only part of an ounce of paint instead of moving your hands around with the weight of a bottle. It is only a few ounces but adds to the fatigue of going for an hour or so. If you are doing something for 6 hours, it is an unbareable inconvienience.

I see the points of the syphon feeds, it is a preference. There is also a different in cost of the air brush and what is common to be able to replace it. I like Allen's go to Harbor Freight if it is the situation where many people are handling them and if they are damaged you just throw it out or rob all the parts off of it. If it is me, I want to be able to do detail. It's just how I roll.

Greg Chrise
11-18-2012, 07:51 PM
I might also not be considering the speed needed in the make up room, higher pressure, less detail, Maybe some stencils. Still a major bummer with adding bottles rather than just little metal cups or using a gravity feed is having the bottles fall out of their little fitting in the air brush body and hit the floor when you are supposed to be doing things.

Jennifer Kem
11-18-2012, 08:25 PM
I do see that there are kinds that have both which are interchangeable, so I may try one of those, if I can find one I like... Then I can try both, and see what I like... :p

Greg Chrise
11-18-2012, 10:21 PM
http://www.airbrushguru.com/airbrush-dictionary-gravity-feed-airbrush.html

http://www.airbrushguru.com/airbrush-dictionary-siphon-feed-airbrush.html

There are lots of brands I'm not hip to but you may be looking at a siphon feed style that has metal cups or the bottle option. Most siphon feeds come with both accessories and different sized tips.

http://www.google.com/imgres?q=paasche+vl&num=10&hl=en&tbo=d&biw=1280&bih=709&tbm=isch&tbnid=kHN7g5X-DIRziM:&imgrefurl=http://www.starvinartist.com/p-86-paasche-vl-set.aspx&docid=HutWooxWgN1FwM&imgurl=http://www.starvinartist.com/images/product/medium/86.jpg&w=300&h=253&ei=2cKpUIGdJ8G6qQGupoD4Cg&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=181&vpy=143&dur=1566&hovh=202&hovw=240&tx=138&ty=102&sig=103200933284050460241&page=1&tbnh=130&tbnw=153&start=0&ndsp=26&ved=1t:429,r:1,s:0,i:76

Gravity feeds are a seperate animal and nothing changes out.

http://www.google.com/imgres?q=gravity+feed+airbrush&start=93&num=10&hl=en&tbo=d&biw=1280&bih=709&tbm=isch&tbnid=UjyiaEEV3MpsiM:&imgrefurl=http://www.monstermarketplace.com/auto-body-supplies/iwata-hp-ch-hi-line-dual-action-gravity-feed-airbrush-with-hose&docid=plJJcEsY4TVEDM&imgurl=http://images.monstermarketplace.com/auto-body-supplies/iwata-hp-ch-hi-line-dual-action-gravity-feed-airbrush-with-hose-437x264.jpg&w=437&h=264&ei=gsSpUKiAOsHcqQGZgYHIDw&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=4&vpy=404&dur=10779&hovh=174&hovw=289&tx=99&ty=83&sig=103200933284050460241&page=4&tbnh=120&tbnw=209&ndsp=34&ved=1t:429,r:7,s:100,i:25

Ghetto airbrush, $9 single action just push the button and change the nozzle for a size of spray.

http://www.harborfreight.com/airbrush-kit-47791.html

In reality even a single action trigger I have seen people get some amazing effects that you wouldn't know was from a cheap air brush that had half an inch of paint on the outside of it. For some reason just pushing a button is no fun. double action, you push down the trigger and pull back and it regulates the paint pattern relative to how you move back. Lift the trigger and off. With a double action in one swipe with lots of practice you can start small, go big and taper down again in one stroke. A single action you keep stopping and adjusting the pattern until you like the size of the line. Screw with air pressure and thinning paint to get some effect.

I was just trying to narrow your search so you don't have to buy all of these like I did to figure out what worked for different things. Of course I did a lot of paying work but still I have about $600 worth of air brushes I never even touch. It is like an airbrush museum in my boxes.

Or you could do like Allen says and just buy one and start squirting paint and not worry about any of this. Damn him and being able to write one sentence and he's right.

Capt.Chaos
11-19-2012, 12:50 PM
Airbrush was one of our biggest issues this year. I bought the harbor freight set that Allen talked about in his video. We fought that thing hard.We cleaned the hell out of it and it did not work. We tried shooting both acrylic and airbrush makeup. I am going to look at a system that does not mix the paint and air in the brush. My makeup manager did a awesome job trying to get these things to work including intense cleanlng but she was in tears about every night over tjose. Just my experience but im going a different direction with our airbrush.

Buck

piercemanor
11-19-2012, 01:28 PM
We used the Paache Talon Gravity feed this year and loved it! We were able to change colors faster and used a LOT less paint than we have before. Plus, bottles tend to be expensive and will defect often. As for our makeup, we use Liquid Mehron makeup with Mehron Mixing Solution. Comes out extremely smooth, hardly ever clogs, and comes off easy. :)

Greg Chrise
11-19-2012, 05:26 PM
We used the Paache Talon Gravity feed this year and loved it! We were able to change colors faster and used a LOT less paint than we have before. Plus, bottles tend to be expensive and will defect often. As for our makeup, we use Liquid Mehron makeup with Mehron Mixing Solution. Comes out extremely smooth, hardly ever clogs, and comes off easy. :)

That looks pretty sweet. Thin body and has the cut outs on the handle and at the tip for only $80?

Jennifer Kem
11-19-2012, 05:54 PM
http://www.airbrushguru.com/airbrush-dictionary-gravity-feed-airbrush.html

http://www.airbrushguru.com/airbrush-dictionary-siphon-feed-airbrush.html

There are lots of brands I'm not hip to but you may be looking at a siphon feed style that has metal cups or the bottle option. Most siphon feeds come with both accessories and different sized tips.

http://www.google.com/imgres?q=paasche+vl&num=10&hl=en&tbo=d&biw=1280&bih=709&tbm=isch&tbnid=kHN7g5X-DIRziM:&imgrefurl=http://www.starvinartist.com/p-86-paasche-vl-set.aspx&docid=HutWooxWgN1FwM&imgurl=http://www.starvinartist.com/images/product/medium/86.jpg&w=300&h=253&ei=2cKpUIGdJ8G6qQGupoD4Cg&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=181&vpy=143&dur=1566&hovh=202&hovw=240&tx=138&ty=102&sig=103200933284050460241&page=1&tbnh=130&tbnw=153&start=0&ndsp=26&ved=1t:429,r:1,s:0,i:76

Gravity feeds are a seperate animal and nothing changes out.

http://www.google.com/imgres?q=gravity+feed+airbrush&start=93&num=10&hl=en&tbo=d&biw=1280&bih=709&tbm=isch&tbnid=UjyiaEEV3MpsiM:&imgrefurl=http://www.monstermarketplace.com/auto-body-supplies/iwata-hp-ch-hi-line-dual-action-gravity-feed-airbrush-with-hose&docid=plJJcEsY4TVEDM&imgurl=http://images.monstermarketplace.com/auto-body-supplies/iwata-hp-ch-hi-line-dual-action-gravity-feed-airbrush-with-hose-437x264.jpg&w=437&h=264&ei=gsSpUKiAOsHcqQGZgYHIDw&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=4&vpy=404&dur=10779&hovh=174&hovw=289&tx=99&ty=83&sig=103200933284050460241&page=4&tbnh=120&tbnw=209&ndsp=34&ved=1t:429,r:7,s:100,i:25

Ghetto airbrush, $9 single action just push the button and change the nozzle for a size of spray.

http://www.harborfreight.com/airbrush-kit-47791.html

In reality even a single action trigger I have seen people get some amazing effects that you wouldn't know was from a cheap air brush that had half an inch of paint on the outside of it. For some reason just pushing a button is no fun. double action, you push down the trigger and pull back and it regulates the paint pattern relative to how you move back. Lift the trigger and off. With a double action in one swipe with lots of practice you can start small, go big and taper down again in one stroke. A single action you keep stopping and adjusting the pattern until you like the size of the line. Screw with air pressure and thinning paint to get some effect.

I was just trying to narrow your search so you don't have to buy all of these like I did to figure out what worked for different things. Of course I did a lot of paying work but still I have about $600 worth of air brushes I never even touch. It is like an airbrush museum in my boxes.

Or you could do like Allen says and just buy one and start squirting paint and not worry about any of this. Damn him and being able to write one sentence and he's right.

Well, I ordered two... One of each kind... Not super expensive ones of course... My plan is to play with both, see which one works for me, and give the other to my little sister as a Christmas present. Lol! (She's been wanting one and I've talked to her about it. Even used, she's thrilled.)

I can read until my eyeballs fall out, but Allen's right. I won't know what I like until I get to play with it.

Greg Chrise
11-19-2012, 07:34 PM
If your eyes fall out from reading too much, the eyeballs fit perfectly on the top of a gravity feed color cup so you can just rock on.

Jennifer Kem
11-19-2012, 08:06 PM
If your eyes fall out from reading too much, the eyeballs fit perfectly on the top of a gravity feed color cup so you can just rock on.

:D

I'm not saying I don't read. I do alot, actually. Even bookmarked the guru site you linked me earlier to check out.

And somehow, your eyeball comment reminded me of Beatlejuice...

Allen H
11-19-2012, 10:59 PM
Hey Buck,
Sorry the Airbrushes didnt work for you. I have paint issues when they got to cold and you are in SD, were they or your paint cold? I just want to troubleshoot so I dont steer anyone else wrong.
On a side note I also have a zero G airbrush from European body art and I love it. it is externalmix and I have used mine for six months and never cleaned it.
Allen H

Capt.Chaos
11-20-2012, 07:53 AM
Shoot Allen,

That's no big deal. I tried those for 2 years and unfortunately we struggled the whole time. And we cleaned them thoroughly every night. I would not say that it was really cold. I'm not sure what the issue was. My makeup manager really tried hard but won't use them again. We are going to go with some type of system that the paint does not mix with the air in the gun. She is coming to Transworld and airbrush is on the top of her list.

Thanks for the heads up on the other gun from European. That looks sweet. I might order that one today.

Buck

Gore Galore
11-20-2012, 08:56 AM
We use Dixie art supply for ALL our air brush supplies.
On this page is a 6 airbrush set.
Great supplier.
They have everything. their site can become a little confusing because they have SO much.

http://www.dixieart.com/Paasche_VL_VLSTPRO_Airbrush.html