What Kind of Compressor Do I Need For Airbrushing:Factors to consider?

Airbrush kit

Airbrush kit

Airbrushing requires one to have an airbrush makeup compressor, a reliable air source for the compressors, and an applicable airbrush paint. However, finding the right airbrush compressor might be a nerve-wracking task for people who do not understand terms such as single action or how the tool operates.What kind of compressor do I need for airbrushing?

There is a wide array of choices with varying features and functionality. It does not matter if you are a beginner or a pro; there is a wide range of airbrush compressors that will suit different demands and budget needs. Read on!

What Kind of Compressor Do I Need For Airbrushing?

How Do Airbrush Compressors Work?

For starters, before making a purchase, it is important to understand how the airbrush- compressor operates. The airbrush connects through a hose to an air compressor. The air compressor will control the air pressure that passes through the airbrush. There is an airbrush tip that holds the nozzle which directs the paint and airflow via a needle. The needles and nozzles come in different sizes depending on the application. An artist who uses spray murals will need larger nozzles since it releases large amounts of paints.

Choosing the Perfect Airbrush

What should you consider while choosing the perfect airbrush compressor for your project?

The CFM and PSI

 CFM or cubic per minute is important as it determines the power of the compressor. If you are using an HVLP gun, you will need a low PSI pressure. If you are operating a compressor that requires a lot of power to run, you will need one with a higher CFM and PSI for improved efficiency.

The different types of airbrush types

The most common airbrush types include the single and dual action air/fluid control mechanisms. The right type of airbrush depends on individual needs and personal taste. Artists looking for a wide coverage will need the single action brush. If you want the finer details and controlled work, the double action airbrush will work perfectly fine.

Single action brushes are perfect for beginners since they are easy to maintain and control. However, they are not as precise as the dual action compressors.

The dual action compressors are complex and require some skill level but they have great control. They sharpen and craft straight lines giving the much-desired precision control. The downside is that they are expensive.

The Airbrush Feed

The airbrush feed mechanism determines how the paint mixes with air. The most common mechanisms include:

Gravity feed

It uses the principle of gravity to supply the airbrush with paint. You cannot remove the cup but some models have interchangeable cups which are easy to unscrew and fit again. They are a suitable option for nozzle sizes of 0.15mm -0.4mm for medium and fine details work.


It utilizes a technique that has a bottle attached below the airbrush. The pressure from the compressor forces out the paint from the bottle and mixes it with the air flow. It is the perfect mechanism for artists who wish to change and chop between different colors with ease. It uses nozzles sizes ranging from 0.35 mm to 0.6 mm.

Brand vs. being on a budget

Should you go for a particular brand of an airbrush compressor? What if you are on a budget? You should buy an airbrush compressor that fits your budget and your needs. Sometimes, the difference between branded and budget compressors is negligible. Also, there are different compressors for people with different financial capabilities and they all work fine.

Airbrush Air Compressors Common Malfunctioning and Troubleshooting Tips

With the question “what kind of compressor do I need for airbrushing?” answered; we can focus on some of the common malfunctions and their remedies. Compressors have moving parts and stress points. They also have compressor motors and electrical that draws a lot of amps and could overheat.

Here are some of the common malfunctions:

Air leaks occur when the compressor traps moisture and locks it in. Always ensure all air connections are tight and pay special attention to the intake filter. Replace any faulty valve and ensure there is a steady suction to ensure no moisture is trapped.

Dirt, oil and other substances affect how the compressor operates. The compressor tends to retain the heat instead of transferring it. Ensure the inside and outside of the compressor are clean on a regular basis.

Change your oil professionally and regularly: For the heavy users, change the oil every three to six months. For average home and studio use, change the oil at least once a year. The smell of burnt oil or oil discoloration should be a warning sign. Always use the recommended oil by the manufacturer.

If you experience any advanced malfunctions, seek the opinion of a professional or contact a warranty repair facility.


Buying an best airbrush makeup air compressor should not be a nerve-wracking affair. For starters, you should determine how they will use the compressor. Other factors to consider include the CFM and PSI, the operating mechanism (single or dual action), and the airbrush types among others. You do not have to worry about missing out on efficient air compressor because you cannot afford the leading market brands. There are different compressors in different sizes available for the beginners and pros with different budgets.Read more...

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Mary T. White

Hi everyone, I'm a trained AC service technician who uses several tools in my profession. I created this interactive platform to share experiences and vital information. Feel free to share your views and ask any question.

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