miniature spray guns
Miniature Spray Guns

Consider that the surface finish of a scale model should be consistent with the scale of the model; so for our small scale models, this ultimately means that the finish needs to be absolutely as smooth and tight as possible while preserving the maximum amount of sharp detail.  A grainy rough texture looks out of scale and softens or obliterates detail.  Layering on floor polish to fill in the grain only fills in and softens details further, leading many modelers to paint on washes to artificially bring back some semblance of definition.

I’ve created several Youtube videos detailing how to achieve the smoothest possible finish on a scale model.  The key component is a proper sized air painting tool.  A typical small airbrush simply isn’t designed for producing a sufficiently large enough spray pattern to successfully apply a smooth, consistent overall finish to a model of any significant size.  This principle isn’t much different than if you’re using a paint brush.  You wouldn’t even think of painting an entire model airplane with a tiny brush that was designed for painting small details, and by the same token you shouldn’t spray the same model with an airbrush that was designed for fine graphics work spraying transparent colors.  Likewise, why would you want to base your entire finish on the uncontrolled results of a spray can?  Which is what many modelers do because their small airbrush is unsuitable for applying an even base coat of material.

The spray painting tools that are best suited to this task have been around for quite awhile.  Unfortunately, due to the necessary skills and additional air supply, these tools are more commonly used by professionals.  From a majority of what I read on the forum boards, high quality miniature spray guns and large pattern airbrushes are extremely misunderstood.  The confusion is rampant and usually led by individuals that have little to no experience with these tools yet they freely offer their opinions.  The problem for the modeler seeking a knowledgeable answer is that they have no way to distinguish just how misguided the majority of the comments are.

With over half a century of experience with air-painting, much of it with miniature guns, I wanted to present as much material as possible to modelers who are interested in expanding their capabilities without having to sort through the smokescreen of misinformation.  I’ve created these three pages to bring together every video that I’ve done on the subject of miniature spray guns, in a specific order, that best describes why they are the best solution to the smoothest surface finish possible.  The first two pages bring together this collection of videos.

In addition, on page three, I have created a listing of all the Iwata miniature spray guns that I feel are the best choice for model making .. along with a short video about each gun.  I hope this will fill in the blanks and allow anyone wanting to purchase a quality miniature spray gun enough information to make a better decision on which gun will best meet their modeling needs.

Optimal Application of Surface Primer

A smooth primer and base color coat are essential for preserving detail as well as yielding a smooth final finish.  Because most modelers rely solely on small airbrushes, they resort to spray cans for their primer coats.  That means, that for these modelers, the finish of their model will now be no better than what can come out of a spray can.  This video is an explanation and demonstration of how to achieve the smoothest possible primer and base color coat, using the proper tools and technique, when painting a scale model.

Fog, Overspray, and Bounceback

Using a typical small airbrush for primer, or overall base color, typically results in a grainy rough surface texture that can soften or obliterate fine detail.  This video explains the rationale for selecting an air-painting tool that will deliver a well atomized wide pattern.  It gives a detailed explanation of the three culprits that contribute to a rough grainy paint surface and how to eliminate their occurrence.

Miniature Spray Guns and Large Pattern Airbrushes

This video is an overview of options for airbrushes or miniature spray guns that will extend your capability to produce an ultra smooth finish over a larger area such as 1/48 scale jets, bombers, model cars, or 1/350 and larger ships.  A good quality miniature spray gun can deliver extremely well atomized material to the surface with a minimum of overspray so that the resulting finish will exceed anything that can be achieved with a small airbrush.

Facts About Fan Pattern Airbrushes and Miniature Spray Guns

This video is an explanation of the various elements that are necessary to make up a useful fan pattern spray gun or airbrush.  In order to create a fan pattern, additional air is incorporated into the mix.  This will complicate the equation as you balance the viscosity of the material with the actual air pressure at the cap.  This makes it necessary to be able to fine tune the air through the fan cap.  While there are a number of fan cap conversions that promise a fan pattern spray, their ability to yield a truly smooth finish is extremely limited because they lack the adjustment for airflow to the fan pattern.  This video will show you the basics of fan patterns and explain when they are most useful.