Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the questions that we are asked the most…
Q: What’s the best airbrush for beginners?
A: Most makers and creators begin their airbrushing journey with a gravity feed dual action airbrush. These are models are simple to use, easy to clean and are well suited to a wide variety of applications. The two models listed below are two of our most popular choices.
- NEO for Iwata CN – designed to deliver soft, effortless coverage at low air pressures, the Neo CN is an easy choice for straight forward spraying.
- Iwata Eclipse HP-CS – Many Iwata fans will tell you that this is their favorite airbrush and the one they use everyday. The Eclipse’s high flow design allows it to atomize a wider variety of liquids with less need for reducing or thinning.
For a longer list of recommendations, take our Airbrush Selector Quiz. In just five questions, we'll narrow down the Iwata line to just a few choices that will suite your application and preferences.
Q: Is airbrushing safe?
A: Airbrushing is generally safe but depending on the type and volume of paint being sprayed, users should take appropriate precautions. For small projects using water-based paint, a well-ventilated area and a dust mask should suffice.
For more intense spray sessions or when using solvent based paints, it is a good idea to wear additional protection such as a respirator and gloves. If unsure, check with the manufacturer of your paint or spray medium and follow their safety recommendations.
We suggest every airbrush user pick up an Iwata Universal Spray Out Pot. One of our most popular accessories, the Spray Out Pot eliminates overspray in the air produced when cleaning your airbrush. It also doubles as an airbrush holder.
Q: What makes Iwata airbrushes different?
A: Iwata brand airbrushes are made in Japan to exacting standards from the finest raw components. Our company, Anest Iwata-Medea Inc., is the world-wide distributor of Iwata brand airbrushes, compressors and accessories.
Every Iwata airbrush is packaged and shipped from our office in Portland, OR to our worldwide network of retailers and distributors. Our mission since 1982 has been to create a great experience for the makers and creators of the world by bringing them the very best creative tools. You can learn more about our values and mission on our about page.
Q: What are the components of the head system?
A: The head system of most models is comprised of the following components: Needle. Nozzle, Nozzle Cap, Head Cap (Eclipse) and Needle Cap. These are the parts at the front of the airbrush that produce atomization.
Q: Why are there different size head systems (tips) on airbrushes?
A: Airbrushes come with different size head systems ranging from super fine to large. This is to enable different volumes of spray and varying viscosity (thick or thin) of spray material. While head system dimensions impact the scale of the spray, slight or minute differences are unlikely to create perceptible scale differences. Refer to the Parts Finder for part names and numbers by model number.
Q: Needles, Nozzles and Caps look alike. Are these parts interchangeable?
A: Though there are a few exceptions to this rule, head system parts such as needles, nozzles, and caps are model-specific and not interchangeable in most cases. To ensure proper performance, use replacement parts that are specified for the model of airbrush that you have. Iwata airbrushes are engraved with the model number on the side of the airbrush. Example: HP-CH or HP-CS. Refer to the Iwata Parts Guide or our Parts Finder to ensure that you are using the correct replacement components.
Q: What parts can I expect to replace?
A: Nozzles and Needles require periodic replacement. These are also the most commonly replaced parts due to accidental mishandling or loss. For these reasons, it is practical to have a spare needle and nozzle on-hand. To prolong the life of these parts never remove the nozzle unless it is damaged or clogged. Do not leave paint or any other material in your airbrush as dried paint can clog the nozzle. Although engineered from durable, high quality materials, the nozzle is small and delicate. Accidental damage caused by cross threading, over-tightening, dropping the airbrush, forcing a needle or tools into the nozzle, and normal wear are not covered under warranty. Replacement parts and service are available through your local affiliate.
Q: What parts do I need to convert the head system of my airbrush?
A: Because Iwata makes airbrush models with a variety of head systems, conversion is not necessary. For those who choose to convert an airbrush's head system, it can only be done within the respective series and it is necessary to convert all relevant head system parts. This includes the Needle, Nozzle, and Nozzle cap on most models.
Q: What is the optimal working pressure (PSI) for my airbrush?
A: We have tested our airbrushes to provide guidelines for each model's optimal working pressure. Thicker spray materials typically require more working pressure to atomize.
Q: Do I need a special compressor for airbrush?
A: Virtually any air compressor can be used if it provides enough air to power your airbrush model and allows you to regulate the air pressure. Air compressors available in hardware stores, commonly called “shop compressors”, are typically very loud and are not well suited for the work of many makers and creators. We design Iwata Studio Series compressors to be quiet, so they are perfect for use in small spaces.
Check out Airbrush Compressor article to learn more about choosing an air source.
Q: What types of material can be sprayed through an airbrush?
A: Any type of liquid can be sprayed through an airbrush as long as it has been thinned to a flowable consistency (such as that of milk or ink) with the appropriate thinner. Spray material must be free of chunks and heavy particulates that will obstruct the nozzle of the airbrush and cause clogging. For this reason, consider using high quality, airbrush-ready paints and always have an ample supply of the appropriate airbrush cleaning agent on-hand. White pigment and metallic formulas are the most difficult to spray and to clean out of airbrushes.
Q: How can I achieve a thinner line?
A: The spray is determined by how much paint is sprayed in conjunction with how close the airbrush is held to the work surface. For a thinner line, you must be very close to the work surface and allow very little liquid to flow out of the airbrush. You must also be using thinned, sprayable liquid. Practice this until you get the feel of it.
Q: What is meant by dual action and single action?
A: Single action airbrushes are activated by simply depressing the main lever. To change the amount of spray you must stop airbrushing and reset the needle adjustment screw. With more sophisticated dual-action airbrushes, when the user depresses the main lever, only air is released; the second action of drawing back on the main lever releases the paint. This dual-action - down then back - enables the user to adjust the volume of spray simply by manipulating the main lever and without stopping.
Q: Is an airbrush hard to keep clean?
A: With good habits, airbrushes are not difficult to keep clean. To maintain the airbrush, flush it with the appropriate cleaning agent immediately following use. Medea Airbrush Cleaner for water based paints and paint thinner for oil based paints. Never immerse or soak an entire airbrush, as over-time this damages the internal O-rings. Follow up with Iwata Lube to regularly lube the main lever mechanism and needle. This will keep your airbrush running smoothly. Check out our QuickTech Experience video playlist on our YouTube channel to see how to clean an airbrush step by step.
Q: Does Iwata offer airbrush kits?
A: Iwata offers a number of airbrush kits for those who want the ease a one-box option. Our NEO for Iwata Gravity Feed Airbrusing Kit is one of our most popular choices for those getting started with airbrushing. Explore our full selection of Iwata airbrush kits here.
Q: What is the best airbrush for airbrush makeup?
A: In choosing the best airbrush for any use, whether airbrush makeup, watercolor painting or custom automotive, the most helpful approach is to think in terms of spray characteristic rather than specific applications. We offer 5 categories of airbrush excellence and those looking to apply makeup will find a great choice in nearly every category depending on the spray characteristics desired and the material being sprayed. For those looking for the best airbrush, we have created our one of a kind airbrush selector which will provide a personalized recommendation in just five questions.
Q: How can I learn to airbrush?
A: There are more resources online than ever before for learning anything- including airbrush! But it can be hard to know where to start. No matter what kind of airbrushing you want to do, it is best to begin with simple exercises that help you learn to control the airbrush. The exercises included with our NEO for Iwata Gravity Feed Airbrushing Kit with NEO CN are a great place to start.
Q: Is it hard to learn to airbrush?
A: As with any creative endeavor, time and dedication is required to achieve mastery but beginners are often surprised how quickly they can achieve professional results with the right tools. With the material covered on this website, you will have the resources to begin your airbrush journey on a solid foundation. Visit our Getting Started Section which covers our Spray Categories, basic airbrush terminology, equipment setup and much more.
Q: The inside of my fluid cup looks a little discolored. Is this normal?
A: Don’t worry! Its normal for there to be a little fading, tarnishing, or discoloring over time. Depending on the kind of materials you spray and how often, this patina-like effect could show up right away, in a few years or never at all. Either way, what’s important to know is that these changes have no impact on the performance of your airbrush.