What’s a Good Airbrush?

I often see people looking for a good airbrush. It’s a solid question, which raises another one: what exactly makes an airbrush good?

Despite the fact that the definition of what’s a good airbrush changes slightly from painter to painter, there are a few non negotiable aspects to look for that go beyond just personal preference.

Let’s focus on three key aspects: price, uses, and skill level, when considering a good airbrush:


If you’re on a budget, getting the best bang for your buck is a very important factor.  I know it my case when I got into airbrushing.  And if money ain’t no thang, it’s also worth considering what spending more changes.

Entry-level airbrushes

These airbrushes are generally more affordable and suitable for beginners or those on a tight budget. They offer basic functionality and may have limitations in terms of trigger control and durability.

Mid-range airbrushes

Falling in the mid-price range, these airbrushes offer a good balance between affordability and performance. They often provide better build quality, more features, and improved spray control compared to entry-level models.

High-end airbrushes

These airbrushes are at the higher end of the price spectrum and are designed with either durability or specific technique in mind. They offer exceptional build quality, precision, and a wide range of features for advanced techniques.


This is perhaps the most important yet overlook criteria of a good airbrush:  what use are you looking for out of it?  The Sotar 2020 is an airbrush for fine work and precise highlights.  But if you are painting terrain, it’s downright terrible compared to the modest Badger Spray Gun.

Base Coats & Primer

Primer and base coats are the most basic uses out of an airbrush.  Having a large nozzle is the key here, and because those techniques can be quite rough on your airbrush, primer specially, easy to clean should factor in your decision.

Quantity of Miniatures

Are you painting single miniatures and busts, or are you painting whole units and armies at a time?  The latter matters in terms of durability, for the strain you put on your airbrush with long sessions and because you will want a large enough cup size to hold enough paint.

Precision & Detail

If base coats are too rudimentary, look at how much precision you need from your airbrush.  Maybe you are mainly painting tanks and finer details are, well, not that fine.  If you are looking to spray flames on the shoulder plates of your marines, you will need a much more precise tool.


Terrain is another beast altogether, because you need a high volume of paint, and have large surfaces to cover, even when it comes to highlights.  Another factor to consider is an easy to clean option that ill allow you to use cheaper paint.

Skill Level

The last factor to consider is your skill level.  As tempting as it is when you are a beginner to think: “I’ll buy an advanced tool, so I’ll get better faster”  it’s not how it works.  I’ve seen so many novice painters wreck their fancy airbrush within a month because of the mandatory trial and error of learning.

Beginner-friendly airbrushes

These airbrushes are designed with features that make them easier to use for beginners. They often have simpler controls, lower air pressure requirements, and forgiving spray patterns to accommodate the learning curve.

Intermediate airbrush

These airbrushes are suitable for users who have gained some experience and want to further refine their skills. They offer more precise control, better atomization, and additional features for advanced techniques.

Professional-grade airbrush

These airbrushes are typically preferred by experienced artists and professionals who require maximum control, exceptional performance, and a wide range of customization options. They may have finer adjustments, interchangeable parts, and specialized nozzle options.

It’s important to consider your specific needs, budget, and skill level when selecting an airbrush.

Beginners may start with an entry-level airbrush and upgrade as they gain experience, while professionals may opt for higher-end models to meet their advanced requirements. Mid-range airbrushes often offer a good balance of price, performance, and features for intermediate users.

Ultimately, choosing the right airbrush involves finding the right combination of price, uses, and skill level that aligns with your specific needs and goals.

Tech & Spec of a Good Airbrush

This is all philosophical and very user oriented answer to the question.  In the broader sense of the term, here’s what makes a good airbrush:

  1. Build Quality:

    • Sturdy construction: A good airbrush is built with durable materials, ensuring longevity and withstanding regular use.
    • Precision machining: The internal components should be well-machined to ensure smooth and consistent airflow and paint flow.
    • Ergonomic design: The airbrush should be comfortable to hold and operate for extended periods, reducing fatigue during use.
  2. Spray Performance:

    • Consistent atomization: A good airbrush produces a fine and consistent spray pattern, allowing for precise control over the paint application.
    • Adjustable controls: It should have easily accessible controls for adjusting air pressure and paint flow, enabling the user to achieve different effects and techniques.
    • Versatile nozzle options: The airbrush should offer interchangeable nozzles and needle sizes to accommodate various paint viscosities and project requirements.
  3. Ease of Use:

    • Easy maintenance: A good airbrush should be designed for easy disassembly and cleaning, ensuring efficient removal of paint residue and clogs.
    • Convenient color changes: Quick and simple color changes are facilitated through easily removable and cleanable paint cups or reservoirs.
    • User-friendly trigger mechanism: The trigger should be smooth, responsive, and offer good control over paint flow for accurate detailing and shading.
  4. Compatibility:

    • Suitable for various applications: A good airbrush is versatile and can be used for a range of applications, techniques, and pressure.
    • Wide paint compatibility: It should be compatible with different types of paints, including most ranges of acrylics, including metallics and glaze paints.
    • Adjustable spray pattern: The airbrush should allow for adjustments in the spray pattern, from fine lines to broader coverage, enabling the user to achieve different effects.
  5. Accessories and Support:

    • Spare parts availability: The airbrush should have readily available spare parts, such as nozzles, needles, and seals, allowing for easy maintenance and repair.
    • Compatibility with accessories: A good airbrush should be compatible with a range of accessories, such as compressors, cleaning kits, and paint mixers.
    • Manufacturer support: The manufacturer should provide reliable customer support, offering assistance with troubleshooting, repairs, and guidance on airbrush techniques.
  6. Price and Value:

    • Balance between cost and performance.  While a higher price tag doesn’t always guarantee a better airbrush, investing in a mid-range to high-quality airbrush often pays off in terms of performance, durability, and ease of use.
    • Long-term value. Consider the long-term value of the airbrush, including its durability, versatility, and compatibility with future needs and projects.

By considering these factors, you can make an informed decision and choose an airbrush that meets your specific requirements and delivers reliable performance, helping you achieve your desired results in your airbrushing projects.

Still too abstract?  Check out our picks for a good airbrush.

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