Paint and Plastic Soldiers


Secret Weapon: Painting for Tournaments With an Airbrush

So my current project is to paint a 1500 point Tau force by a tournament on October 24. Many of my repeat visitors might remember my unsuccessful "Live to Win" campaign that I had put on in the past, and how I never quite got it all done.

Well, I've started to use an airbrush (finally) to get my base colour onto my Tau, and it's striking how something that used to take me several hours with a brush now takes maybe about thirty to sixty minutes.

I've been using the Citadel Spray Gun to get an even coat of Catachan Green onto my four Devilfish, one Hammerhead and twenty-four Fire Warriors. A few details, a healthy dose of Thraka Green Citadel Wash and then some touch-up with my main colour and I'll be just about table-ready.

No pictures yet, but here are a few things I've learned:

1. When your can of propellant gets cold, it's game-over. Either make sure you've got a whole day worth of sunny, warm weather so you can wait for your can to heat back up, or keep a couple of cans around so you can spray with a warm can while you give your most-recently-used can a chance to catch its breath. I've found out also that you're not going to lose all of your "air" if you remove the pressure regulator (the part of the airbrush hose that screws onto the can of propellant) - this is a lot safer than it seems. Apparently the screw part on your pressure regulator pushes down on a plate in the can itself that lets the air out when you turn the screw clockwise, and keeps it in when you turn the screw counterclockwise.

2. You'll run out of paint very quickly. If you want to spray a basecoat on your whole army in one sitting, make sure you've got three or four pots of the paint you need.

3. Be patient. At first, it may look like you're only getting a few drops onto your models, but keep passing over the areas you want covered, and things will solidify soon enough.

4. Pay attention to the needle where the paint comes out. Make sure that you keep that opening as clear as possible at all times. If you have to, clean the paint out regularly. With the Citadel Spray Gun, there's this screw-threaded piece that you can turn clockwise to close that hole, and counter-clockwise to open it further. My habit is to close it so that the needle pokes through the opening and also through the dried paint, and then open it again. I'd also spray some water and/or Simple Green through the airbrush after I'm done painting (if I have any propellant left) just to avoid/clear out any dry paint built up during my painting session.

More hints to come as I learn more about this newfangled tool.

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