Here is how an airbrush company explains it.
How To Choose The Right Airbrush
Not all airbrushes are the same. Some are intended for certain applications, while others are designed for specific paints. Choosing which airbrush best suits your needs is essential. There are two important questions to ask yourself when choosing an airbrush:
What will I be airbrushing? (T-shirts, autos, fine art, photos, etc.)
Which medium will I be working with? (acrylic, gouache, watercolor, oils, etc.)
Airbrushes are also designed differently. There are single action airbrushes and double action airbrushes. There are gravity feed, side feed, and bottom feed models. Each design has its own unique advantage, and serves its own specific function.
Single Action vs. Double Action
When you depress the trigger of a single action airbrush, both air and paint are delivered simultaneously. The amount of paint can be varied by adjusting the needle/nozzle assembly, but this means you must first stop spraying.
With double action airbrushes, you have greater control over both the air flow and paint supply. Press the trigger down for air, and pull the lever back for paint. This allows you to control air and paint flow independently, thus enhancing the effect without having to pause.
Most experts agree that you're better off starting with a double action airbrush, rather than a single action.
Gravity Feed, Side Feed & Bottom Feed
In gravity feed models, the paint feeds into the airbrush from a reservoir or cup mounted above the airbrush. This enables the artist to spray extremely fine lines at a low air pressure, thus allowing for more control. The airbrush is easily cleaned for quick color changes.
Bottom feed models use a siphon-feed system to draw the paint up from a jar or color cup mounted below the airbrush. The jars allow for larger volumes of paint to be sprayed for an extended period of time.
Side-feed models use the same technology as bottom-feed models. However, the paint jar or color cup is mounted on the side of the airbrush. This allows for slower spraying and better vision of the work surface.
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...it came right out of the package of a double action airbrush! The link below seems to be a bit more un-biased comparison of the two. And, there is other interesting info as well...
And I'm not used to agreeing with you so often. LOL That statement about how "most experts agree" never asked me. Further, I totally disagree with the garbage about having to stop spraying to adjust the spray pattern on a single action brush. I've done it for years. What they DON'T tell you is that those tiny pin spots on bass and trout cannot be done easily with a double action brush without years of experience. With a single action, you can set a size spot and do the entire fish taking comfort in the fact that each spot will always be the same size. Did you also notice that they mentioned gouache (which is basically a water color anyway, though it's mixed with gum) yet failed to address either lacquer or inks?
MY advice to beginners is to begin with the simplest brush you can find. Testor makes a really REALLY CHEAP model that will get you started in the techniques if you cannot spring for the $30 single action Paasche. I've worn more single action Paache's out than I care to count and they doe EVERYTHING I need in an airbrush. IF they are not equal to your talents, you can easily sell them and go for the gusto in the professional double action models later down the road.
Well you know, when Venus and Mars and all the stars come together we will AGREE with each other approximately every 387 years, 6 months and three days, or so. It just so happens that because it's an election year AND I've switched to some quality HANES underwear, that this has happened more recently lately - LOL!
I SWORE I wasn't going to comment on air brush questions ANYMORE. But, I've been doing my taxes the last three days and even the "air brush" questions are a nice break. Next, you'll see me answering "paint schedule" questions too!
As far as Double Actions vs. Singles go, I couldn't get the hang of a Double. And, I see a lot of beginner's getting FRUSTRATED and GIVING UP with a double. But, I also see that it could be difficult to make the transition IF one wants to make the change from a Single to a Double. I still say (& I think the above link stresses this point) that PRACTICE is the key. Practice with the brush, with the (thinning and retarders) paint, and practice adjusting the PSI. All that takes time. So whichever airbrush one chooses, be prepared to get intimate with it...
If you guys noticed I said newbies. I posted it as an informational tool. We do not really care if you like the single action prehistoric airbrush or not. I am just passing on information trying to help some of the newer people who have asked about airbrushes.
And by your latest follow-up post, you confirm that it indeed was biased.
Anytime errant info is given out (or in this case biased and weak info in general), expect a regular to come on regardless of the category and offer their opinion. You actually forced me to find some better info. And the link I provided contains some of the better, unbiased info on airbrushes that I could find...
Didn't mean to piss on your lollipop, but since it WAS for beginners, I felt they should see something from a contrasting viewpoint. It wasn't intended as personal, especially since you didn't write it. I was just pointing out that even it's mediums were not directed specifically toward taxidermist who CERTAINLY AREN'T rocket scientists. LOL
I did not mean to be an ass. It was just said to be the choice of the majority of professional airbrush artists. They did not mention taxidermists. Anyhow I just copied and pasted the info from an airbrush companies webpage. I prefer the double action because that is what I learned with. You guys probably learned with a single. As long as the end results are the same it does not matter what you use. I apologize if I seemed defensive. I was just giving the newbies some info I found.
Reading what you guys have to say is great free advice.After reading all the info on here I decided when I get to the point of buying Im buying one simple air brush and one dual action Iwata.I have painted alot of cars and always had two or three guns.I can relate that to the airbrush debate also.Binks and sharpe were top choices but you can rebuild the binks with a kit from the jap knock off.Thanks for posting your thoughts and Im sure anyone who is thinking about getting one gains alot from your insight.
That's funny George - never heard that one before.
No worries Todd, we all have opinions that sometimes bring forth heated "debates". Been there, done that (and will probably "be there" again and again!)
To further elaborate on what George touched upon. As commercial taxidermists, we simply don't have the time to put in the level of detail that (eg:) an illustrator or graphic's artist does at his/her job. Where a high end air-brush may be necessary (but I suspect that there are a few single action illustrators out there that often have this debate on their "graphicsartists.net website too - lol).
I think for what we do, EITHER type of airbrush is perfectly capable of performing WITH PRACTICE. Practice is the key newbies...
Hi guys, I'm a newbie-as green as they get and I'm looking to get into airbrush. By trade I do graphic design/illustration but I want to move into custom automotive paint someday. For now though I just want a brush that will allow me to do a wide varitey of applications-i'll probably be working with acrylics. What brush can you recomend to start off with?