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Thursday, 13 May 2021
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How To Articles
Cleaning the Airbrush

Replace the color bottle with a bottle containing cleaning solution and spray until the solution is clear and clean. Use the cutaway handle during this process (refer to cutaway handle section). Replace the color bottle and spray the next color; when finished, repeat the cleaning procedure.

Before ending an airbrush session or any time the airbrush becomes clogged, increase the air pressure and spray cleaning solution through the airbrush for a short period of time. Store the airbrush in a dustless area or continue using after decreasing the air pressure to the desired working pressure. Pressure cleaning by this method will thoroughly clean the paint passage, nozzle, and needle.

To Clean the Needle

Loosen the needle chucking nut and slowly pull the needle straight out. Wipe the residue off the needle by gently rotating it in a soft cloth folded over the needle. Carefully re-insert the needle into the airbrush near the back and push gently until it seats against the nozzle. Caution: The most probable time to damage the needle is when the needle passes through the trigger mechanism and needle packaging screw.

If the needle stops abruptly, retract and examine the trigger mechanism for proper assembly and re-insert the needle again. Tighten the needle-chucking nut.

To insure smooth trigger action, lubricate the needle and trigger mechanism regularly. Remove the needle and coat it with a high-quality grease (like Medea Super Lube); then wipe the needle with a soft, clean cloth, leaving on a light coat of grease. Re-insert the needle into the airbrush and re-tighten the needle-chucking nut.

Note: DO NOT over-grease the needle packing, since it is possible to transfer the excess grease into the nozzle, causing severe paint flow problems. DO NOT use light machine oil for lubrication. This will cause the needle to stick slightly as it moves though the needle packing.

If it becomes absolutely necessary to dismantle the airbrush, please note the following: DO NOT use pliers to assemble or disassemble the airbrush. The parts are to be hand tightened only.

Always remove the needle before replacing the nozzle. Once the nozzle is in place and secure, then replace the needle. This will prevent the nozzle from splitting when tightening the nozzle head cap.

Not Clean…Not Paint (by Michael Cacy)
While this installment of Cacy’s Corner may not seem as “flashy” as a few of my previous installments, the premise of this specific column is a fact of life for airbrush artists.

Cleaning your airbrush during the painting process and at the conclusion of any painting session is a must. Anyone with airbrush experience knows that a dirty or clogged airbrush just won’t perform the way that it should. The information I offer here comes from years of keeping my airbrushes operational without going “bonkers.”

Nobody ever said that airbrushes aren’t sometimes cantankerous. The head design of most airbrushes is somewhat delicate, so even the tiniest particle of pigment or dust may cause you problems. Keeping your airbrush clean has always been a priority, but modern airbrushes offer some advantages over those I started with in the sixties.

I have used most available brands and types of airbrushes over the years. Not being the tidiest artist on the planet, for me, the advent of gravity feed airbrushes allowed for more time spent painting and less time spent cussing and fooling around with the airbrush. The airbrush I use most is a simple Iwata HP-C, a gravity feed airbrush with a relatively large cup (large enough to get a finger into). I like the speed and ease of clearing the airbrush as I paint and the simplicity of cleanup once I finish a project.

Siphon feed airbrushes (those where a paint cup or bottle attach at the side or bottom of the airbrush) may be your cup of tea, but they also present more areas to be cleaned. For the type of work I am most often engaged in, the gravity feed types work more painlessly for me, but whether you use a gravity feed or siphon feed airbrush, the principles are the same.

Do not get into the habit of wiping down any part of your airbrush (except the exterior of the body) with a tissue or paper towel. Reason: If you wipe the inside of the paint cup with a paper towel, paper filaments or fibers may get inside and clog the nozzle. This can cause you undue aggravation. You are better off using a lint-free cloth rag.

I prefer to clean the paint cup using a fairly stiff #4 synthetic bristle brush and/or a cotton swab. I work mainly with water-base media, and the easiest way to clear wet paint is to flush clean water through the airbrush. But, when paint remains, I flush a little airbrush cleaner through my airbrush. If you use volatile media, the principle is the same, but you would use a solvent instead of water and cleaner.

Never allow paint of any kind to dry in your airbrush! Clean up your airbrush while the paint is still in liquid form. This is especially true if you paint with traditional artist’s acrylics like Liquitex.

Occasionally remove the needle from your airbrush and draw the business end through a rag moistened with cleaner or thinner.

If parts need to be soaked in cleaner, leave them soaking for only an hour. Rinse when done. So, clean and agreeable, your airbrush remains your best friend and ready to paint another day.

Michael Cacy

Reprinted with permission of www.arttalk.com
Stencil Hygiene

So you went out and bought yourself a beautiful set of stencils from Artool, or maybe you took it upon yourself and burned some creative stencils for that project. You’ve used them and now its time to clean them up. I have to admit I’ve seen plenty of airbrush artists out there who don’t do this often enough. The productivity and life of your stencils can be vastly improved with regular cleaning.

Just as you should always leave your airbrush clean, so should you with the rest of your equipment. This is particularly paramount when working as a makeup artist who’s using an airbrush on his talent. After all, you wouldn’t use a dirty sponge or brush on Tom Cruise’s face, would you? A stencil also comes in contact with an actor’s skin and should be cleaned frequently so as to keep your professional image intact.

Now before you start with “I haven’t got the time,” let me take you through the simple steps of Stencil Hygiene 101 so you can see how simple it truly can be.

First, I will list the basic equipment you’ll need to have on hand before starting:


• 1. A solvent-proof tray (such as an enamel butcher’s tray found in most art stores)
• 2. Paper toweling
• 3. Powder puffs
• 4. Isopropyl alcohol 99%
• 5. Spray bottle
• 6. A synthetic brush (with soft bristles)

To begin the whole cleaning process, first detach two sheets of paper toweling from the roll and fold so that it will fit inside the butcher’s tray.
Carefully, pour the isopropyl alcohol on top of the paper toweling so that it is entirely saturated with the solvent. If you are unsure that the solvent will affect the material that your stencil is made of, check a small section before immersing it.

Lay the stencil (dirty side) face down onto the toweling. Let it sit there for several minutes so that the solvent can loosen all product on its surface. Of course if both sides of your stencil have dried product on it, then you’ll need to flip it over to soak.

Now flip over the stencil onto the paper toweling. Saturate a powder puff with solvent and lightly pat it to remove product.

If you have some stubborn spots, use the spray bottle containing isopropyl alcohol. Mist those areas. Then take a soft synthetic brush and use a patting motion to loosen dry material.

Once you’re satisfied with the cleaning, rinse the stencil off with tap water in the sink. Lay the stencil down onto some clean paper toweling and pat dry.

Store the now clean stencil away for the next time you’ll need it. I like to store my stencils in an Itoya portfolio (available in art and office supply stores). This keeps my stencils flat and allows me to keep them organized for easy use when I’m working.

Bradley M. Look

Reprinted with permission of www.arttalk.com
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