Airbrushing Wargame Terrain: Dispelling the Myths

As stated in my previous post I used an airbrush to help with the look of my Outbreak City roads. The roads were the second attempt at using an airbrush. Here is my first.
Generic 28mm Ruins - Made for 40K, LOTR & Zombies
Every Day is a School Day
When I joined the blogosphere at the beginning of this year it was clear how much incredible talent there was around and how much we can learn from all the gamers, painters, modellers, customizers and bloggers in the community.
A big part of starting this blog was to develop new skills under the watchful eyes of a discerning audience. We all like to look at the shiny things we see in magazines and on commercial websites, but what does it really take to achieve the look and feel of those pieces for ourselves?
A school friend of mine, Jude, recently became interested in the hobby again after an absence of around 20 years. His ability to pick up his hobby tools and leap into the fray again at such a high standard is, quite frankly, astounding. Here’s an example of some of his recent work. Once again, consider the 20 year absence from the hobby. Jealous, me? Well, just a little.
Jude's ForgeWorld Demon Prince - Superb.
Why an Airbrush?
During a recent get-together we talked about making custom terrain to pro-modelling standards. He immediately asked “Do you have an airbrush?” My answer was no. After all, it’s one of those expensive gadgets that only people with subscriptions to military modelling know how to use, they take ages to set up and clean, mixing paint is a nightmare and you need a huge compressor which is really noisy, certainly no use when the kids have gone to bed. All myths! Whilst that might have been true 10-15 years ago. Today it is a very different story.
Five minutes later he’d set his one up, given a quick demo and I was having a go. What can I say? I was hooked from my first ‘pfffshhhht’. “Where can I get one?” I asked.
2 days later my first airbrush arrived. I picked up the cheapest bundle I could find which included 2 airbrushes and a compressor. The verdict?
The cheapest Airbrush I could get on e(vil)Bay. £80 all in.

The Verdict
For anyone who makes war games terrain (quite a few of us), buildings or vehicles it is a highly recommended investment. The airbrush is simple to use, easy to clean, quick to set up or dismantle and the compressor is actually quite quiet and only runs when it needs to, stop spraying for a few seconds and it stops running.  I’ve purchased a little acrylic mixing medium and some ionised water for cleaning (you shouldn't use tap water) and that’s that.

The Result
Here’s the rest of those generic 28mm ruins that I recently gave the airbrush treatment to. It was my first attempt at using the airbrush and after initially spending so much time on these (they were dry-brushed copiously to before I started) I was pretty nervous. I’m pleased with how they turned out and can’t wait to use the airbrush on future projects.
Put acrylic mixing medium in the cup.

Add umber acrylic paint.
Mix in some black. Spray slowly and evenly.

Increase the paint slowly by pulling the lever back.
More Airbrushing Tips
Matt from Too Much Unpainted Lead discovered this little gem from RubbishInRubbishOut in which Viv shows us, with the right medium, you can even put house-paint through your airbrush. It is an awesome channel from one of the Battle Bunker TV guys and well worth checking out, if you've not already done so, and you make, or want to, make your own terrain.


  1. Adam, you are really on a roll, mate. Your last post showed your incredible road section and now you thrill us with this! I've never owned an airbrush but being such an artistic type it is something I have often thought about. Your inspiring post makes me think I should bite the bullet and give it a try.
    The scenery piece you showed looks very professional. Many congratulations and thanks for sharing.

  2. I bought my airbrush around a year ago and haven't looked back. I started out using it to prime models, but a bit of blu-tack, or masking tape and you can paint anything with it.

    Have you tried Vallejo air colour paints? They're squeeze bottles, so you don't need to syringe colours from a pot. Also, I picked up a collapsible extraction booth on ebay that folds down to a suitcase size. It was around £60 and a great investment.

  3. Coolio. Might have to pick one up for myself, and you can give me some tutoring.

    We'll deffo need them for the planned 40K city extravaganza!

  4. Vampifan - Cheers. It is seeing all the talent that everyone has that has picking up new techniques on an almost daily basis that is doing it. Go for it Bryan. I'm pretty sure you'll get on just fine.

    ODGWRTE - Good to know and thanks for the tips. They'll come in very helpful. Hadn't thought of the blue-tack method, sounds perfect. I haven't tried Valejo air colour yet, but I thin I just might. The collapsable booth sounds great. Thank you for the steer.

  5. Matt - No problem buddy. Just bring some stuff over next time we get together for a game and you can have a go.

  6. Really very nice! Fine example of what air-brushes can do. I need to get one myself one of these days.


  7. That is bloody amazing work, dammit I need to do this for my 20mm ruins, that is a bloody brilliant painting effect.

  8. Nice work there.

    I agree the best investment I ever made was an airbrush.

  9. Looking pretty good! A mate of mine in our game club used the airbrush to create wear and tear on our NERF guns. Good results as well.

  10. Christopher - Many thanks. Well worth looking into.

    Fran - Cheers - do it! :)

    Bob Chicka - Nice to hear some more people have had similar experiences.

    Lord Siwoc - Thanks. It hadn't occurred to me to use it on a NERF gun too. Great idea!

  11. Thats a pretty cool air brush kit.

  12. Zombie - The kit was cheap but does the trick and it let me discover if an airbrush was for me. The answer - yup indeedy.

  13. I'd used an old Testors airbrush powered by canned air for basecoating vehicles, but I suspect that one that was just a little bit nicer would have been easier to handle.

  14. Congrats on picking up 50 followers already, I'm sure that due to the great content that this will continue to rise as quickly.