the freelance life : airbrush 101

October 2, 2013By stephanie

Airbrush is a very popular request amongst BP clientele and without a doubt owning an airbrush system is a useful addition to a makeup artist’s services and extension of their craft.

Wielding an airbrush gun takes practice but can easily be mastered over time. I think the hardest part of airbrushing comes after you have used the gun and completed makeup for your client: the clean-up.

Like anything, it is so much easier to take something apart than it is to put it back together. Hence, some artists clean around the gun and spray through cleaner but rarely take it apart. I find its best to take apart your gun after every use and give it a thorough cleaning. Less build-up leads to less on-the-job clogging.

Here’s the secret to a really clean gun: the pipe cleaner … or as they call them at the dollar store chenille sticks. Yes – the key to getting a clean and working gun will cost you $1.

There are three ways that I like to use the pipe cleaner to get the gunk out:

1. straight across the head of the gun to the back just like how the needle travels through the gun;

2. through the head of the gun again, but angled up through the bowl – a lot of buildup happens between the bowl to the head; and

3. through the spray tip of the gun, you may think you have gotten everything out during a spray but thread a pipe cleaner through and see how much more comes out!

I always use white pipe cleaners so that I can keep threading and scrubbing until no more foundation can be seen on a fresh white pipe cleaner. I also find that the pipe cleaners are flexible so you can bend and twist them to get into the nooks and crannies of your gun. The “chenille” part of them act as good scrubbers too.

Alright – so you’ve given your gun a thorough cleaning. What now – how do you put it back together? Well, there is a system but every gun is different. I’m not the best at doing videos, but here is a picture step by step guide for you to follow! Beware, it is picture heavy. And also, I don’t know the technical names for any of the parts, so please excuse my “nicknames” for the pieces. Lastly, I’m totally TOTALLY aware that you can see me in my blue shirt in the reflection of the airbrush gun.

Start with your top hat piece (what you press down on to move the needle). Note the divoted edge – this should always face towards the back of your gun.

Insert like so.

Screw on the tip. (Sounds dirty, but if you’re doing this, it means your gun is clean!)

Locate this doo-dad. I call it the wiggly nail piece … but you should never use it as a nail. Ever.

You are going to insert the doo-dad into the back of the gun, and slip the tongue of the wiggly part up behind your tophat piece.

Like so.

Insert your needle, through the centre of the doo-dad, through the bowl of your gun, and right through to the tip. You should see your needle come through the tip.

I know what that piece on the end is … it’s a spring! Probably the only term I know. This piece is important to your gun – never ever lose this piece. Place in on the end and push it into the gun.

I call this piece the locking bolt thing. It’s neither, but it does lock everything into place once screwed in. Find it, and place it over everything and screw it in tight, but not toooo tight.

Like so! Once you have this on, you should have tension and when you press down on your top-hat, you should be able to see your needle move back and forth through the tip and bowl.

This is my smaller bolt thingy. This will double lock everything into place.  This goes on the very end and screws on.

It’s just he finishing touches now: screw on the back piece of your gun, and the two itty bitty spray pieces to the tip.

And there you go: you have officially cleaned and put back together your shooting air makeup gun thingy!