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About airbrushes and painting

Date Posted:1 January 2024 


About airbrushes and painting

For many hobbyists painting their first RC car body comes in question when they buy the first unassembled kit or it is time to renew the body of a faithful basher. Many hobbyists start painting with spray paints (Tamiya PS) which is the fastest and easiest way to start. Using spray paints do not need any special equipment or accessories. Painting with spray paints is a good option when you paint one or two bodies in a year and body schemes are simple and have a couple different colors. Spray bottles have a quite wide painting line which rules out several different painting effects.

If you paint several bodies in a year and or you want to launch more complicated schemes or use more finer effects in them, then an airbrush is the way to go. There are spray guns for larger painting areas and then there are airbrushes for more fine detail painting. One often overlooked asset when painting with airbrushes is that they do not draw as much paint as spray cans. This means that you can paint more bodies with same amount of paint and there is not as big risk of paints drying up in cans (spray can's nozzles tend to dry up and get glogged).

Choosing the first airbrush

When choosing the first paint gun for RC bodies an airbrush is the one to go for. Also you will have possibility to get spares (o-ring, needles and nozzles) for it later on (friendly advice from a fellow painter). Airbrushes on the market has price range ($40 to $100) are already good quality and thanks to the spares the lifespan of the airbrush is long and there is no need to to upgrade your airbrush very soon.

There are many uses for airbrushes and that is why there are various different options to choose from. Variants have different size needles and nozzles 0.2, 0.3, 0.4 etc. Smaller the nozzle thinner and finer is the line you can paint. When painting bodies the medium sizes 0.5 and 0.8 are the ones to start from. 0.5 is enough fine to make most effects used in bodies and the mist is fine, so all the fades look nice. Finer 0.2 0.3 nozzles are mainly used by artists or the lure makers who need the finest lines possible and not forgetting the model makers. It is important note that when using finer nozzles the thinner must the paint be for the paint to flow smoothly through the nozzle. When using larger nozzle you can use thicker paint which covers way better and covers wider areas easier and faster.

When choosing an airbrush for painting RC car bodies it is good to notice that finest precision airbrushes have very small (2-5cc) paint cups and when painting bigger surfaces you would have to fill it up all the time. For body painting airbrushes with a bit larger volume paint cups like 5 to 15cc is a good option to go for.. There are also the airbrushes with bottom feed which allows you to use even higher capacity bottles but for beginners the top feed option is easier to learn.


Airbrush (and paint guns) need compressed air to work. Air compressor uses a piston to compress the air, so the air pressure rises and enables needed air flow for the airbrush to work. Airbrushes need from 1 bar to 3 bar of pressure to work, so basically the pressure is not high. Steady air flow and clean air (no water or oil drops) are the most important things. Most compressors for airbrush painting are using oil free foil type pistons which are quiet and have enough capacity needed for painting. These compressors come with an air tank (Vision or Hseng) and without a tank (Tamiya or Hseng). Both versions get the job done but there is difference on how steady the air flow is. Compressors with the tank have steady air flow from the moment you push the trigger, when the compressors without the tank have tendency to give higher burst of air when you push the trigger. The burst of air is something you must live with but it is easily manageable. Cheapest silent compressors for airbrushes start from about $60 in hardware stores and compressors with airtank like Hseng start from about $170.

Connecting and using

Compressor is connected to the wall socket and the airbrush is connected to the compressor with a hose. You can mix different brand compressors and airbrushes without a problem. When you choose the hose just make sure the fittings are correct to fit between your airbrush and compressor. If you are having trouble to find a hose with just right fittings, no need to worry you can always use adapters to make them fit. Important thing when choosing a hose is that it is nimble and does not cause tension to your wrist when you paint like cheap spiral hoses do. You can check the fittings from the specs of the products and if you are not sure, you can always ask from the customer service for an advice.


Basically all you need for accessories is a some kind of stand or holder for the airbrush and some cleaning station or cleaning jar. Holder is essential because you must be able to put the airbrush aside from time to time and it must be held upright when there is paint in it. All sort of holders can be made fit as long as it is something you can mount on your painting area. For cleaning you will need a station or some sort of jar which has a hole for the airbrush nozzle to fit into and hole with a filter for the air to get out. Airbrush is cleaned between each color change and of course after the painting is finished before storing it.

The paints

There are specific paints for the rc car bodies which are compatible with lexan bodies. Paint manufacturers have their own product lines for airbrushes that can be thinned to the right viscosity or painted straight from the bottle. These paints are a bit flexy and they have good adhesion to the smooth lexan surface. Nowadays these are non-toxic water-based paints and good thing is that you can use paints from different manufacturers in the same body. It is very rare that dried up paint would react with another one when painted on. Unlike spray paints, where the risk is always there. With spray paints it is always wise to stick to one brand paints. There are numerous airbrush paint manufacturers. All manufacturers have their own color chart. You can of course mix your paints yourself but when starting to paint it is wise to stick to premixed paints. Rule of a thumb is that always use the thinner and the paint from the same manufacturer. This ensures the best result.

Painting area

When painting with anything which involves compressed air there will be paint mist floating around the painting area, so the good ventilated space is essential. We also recommend using a painting mask to protect your lungs and set of vinyl gloves to keep the paint away from your skin. There are some reasonable sized paint booths available on the market like HSENG HS-E420DCLK which is large enough for painting RC bodies. Paints are quite odorless and non-toxic, so the catching of the paint particles is the main purpose for the spray booth or ventilation system to reduce the mess around the area. If you have a possibility to paint outside, where you are protected from harsh wind that is a good option always as long as weather is above 15 degrees celcius.

What we here at RCH recommend

Most hot selling compressor with air tank VISION NHDU-136

Most hot selling airbrush kit which includes the connection hose VISION NHDU-30K, NHDU-32K, NHDU-80K, NHDU-68BK

Most hot selling airbrush cleaning station VALLEJO AV26005, VISION NHDU-B18

Portable spray booth kit HSENG HS-E420DCLK 

Air brush holder VISION NHDU-303

Hot selling Airbrush cleaning brush VISION NHDU-603BRUSH

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