Common Airbrush Problems

So, your airbrush is not spraying. What now? Here are some of the most common airbrush problems, and how to fix them.

Airbrushing can be a delicate art form, and encountering problems is not uncommon.  Knowing “what’s the problem this time” is a big part of the learning experience.

Common Airbrush Problems and How to Fix Them

I’m going to let you in early of this big, yet frustrating, secret of common airbrush problems:  90% of the time, cleaning it is the solution.   It’s very similar to the computer’s “have you tried turning it off and on again?”

Here are five of the most common airbrush problems and some suggestions on how to fix them:

1- Clogging

Clogging occurs when paint or debris blocks the airbrush nozzle, resulting in inconsistent or no paint flow. To fix this, you can try the following steps:

  • Disassemble the airbrush and clean the nozzle and needle using an appropriate cleaning solution or solvent.
  • Thoroughly remove any clogs or buildup from the nozzle.
  • Ensure that you are using the correct paint consistency and that it is adequately thinned for airbrushing.
  • Avoid over-tightening the nozzle, as this can cause clogs.

2- Splattering or spitting

Splattering refers to the airbrush producing uneven or erratic paint patterns, often accompanied by spitting or sputtering. To resolve this issue, you can consider the following solutions:

  • Check the airbrush’s air pressure. Adjust it to a lower or more suitable level for the type of work you are doing.
  • Examine the needle for any damage or bent tips. If necessary, replace or reposition the needle.
  • Ensure that the paint consistency is appropriate. If the paint is too thick, it can lead to splattering. Thinning the paint may help.

3- Speckling

When the airbrush is spraying paint in small dots. There are two variations of this result.  Try these troubleshooting steps:

  • There is paint on the needle outside of the airbrush, when you let air out, this paint is sprayed on the miniature.
  • That is usually because paint is too thick and is clogging the nozzle.
  • The paint is applied in dots on the miniature, almost like dust would.  This is because your paint dries before reaching the miniature.
  • Either use flow improver or retarder, or lower the compressor’s pressure and spray from closer.

4- Odd Shaped Spray

Your spray should be straightforward and in a circle. Anything else is a problem, usually one of two things:

  • There a small clog in your nozzle blocking or diverting the spray.
  • If the spray is not a circle, it usually means the nozzle is pierced or bent.  It can also be a bent needle.
  • To confirm the latter, you need to look at it closely and see if the needle fits perfectly in the nozzle

5- Water Sprays

If your airbrush randomly sprays of water while you are spraying, this is usually a compressor problem.  It is also a more common problem in high humidity or when the AC is blowing in your room:

  • Ensure that your moisture trap is not full and properly connected.
  • Check the compressor to make sur it is not overheating.
  • If it’s either of these, you need to stop and either fix the moisture trap or let the compressor cool.
  • Make sure your paint is properly thinned in the cup.  Sometimes this is only because the thinner splits from the paint.

Bonus Airbrush Problem:  Code 18″

One of the most common airbrush problem is a user one.

No airbrush problem will ever simply go away if you keep spraying.

Powering through it, or thinking that a clog will eventually pass is all too common.  And also very wrong.  This only leads to your issue being way worse and much more frustrating to fix when your airbrush invevitably stops working altogether.

Remember that troubleshooting airbrush problems may require a combination of these techniques, and it’s essential, even if it is frustrating, to practice and experiment to find the best solutions for your specific situation.

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