How to Buy an Airbrush on eBay

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How to Buy an Airbrush on eBay

An airbrush can be an extremely versatile tool, especially for artists with a bit of experience. Beginners, however, may find airbrush operation a bit challenging the first time around. In order to obtain the desired results, artists must be aware of factors like pressure, paint thickness, and spraying mechanisms.

The only way to become good at airbrushing is to find the right kind of tool and practice often. Taking a course or reading a lot of manuals and books can also help speed up the process, but, quite frankly, nothing can substitute practice.

A fabulous alternative to brushes and spray cans, airbrushes come in many different models and use a variety of mechanisms. Some airbrushes are better for beginners, while others are best left to experts. When looking to select an airbrush, it is important to know about all the different types available on the market, to understand needles and nozzles, and to learn a bit about the types of paint that work well with a certain airbrush design. Buying an airbrush on eBay is quite a simple process so long as consumers have knowhow about what they wish to purchase.

Tips for Airbrush Selection

First of all, one must decide what the uses of the airbrush are going to be. The variety of airbrushes on the market is remarkable, and not all of them are good for the same purposes. It is always a good idea to consult a professional artist with an experience of many years of airbrushing. Expert airbrushers can offer some advice regarding the type of devices that might suit a beginner´s needs.

Different Types of Airbrushes

Among the wide variety of airbrushes one can find today, there are two main classifications that can make all the difference; single vs. double action and siphon vs. gravity feed.

Single Action

This categorization refers to the way the mechanism present inside the airbrush controls the flow of air and paint. Single action basically means that the airbrush sprays in the same way as an aerosol can, where the spraying is activated by pushing down the trigger. In order to control the flow of paint, one can simply twist a knob before activating the airbrush. Also known as "external mix", this mechanism mixes air and paint right in front of the needle. While it does not offer extremely precise control, it has the advantage of requiring little maintenance. Suitable to create smooth gradations very easily, it is an ideal tool for beginners.

Double Action Airbrushes

The main advantage of double action airbrushes is that they offer much more control, for example, when trying to create very fine lines. An "internal mix" airbrush type, its air and paint mix together inside the nozzle. Double action means that there are two different controls; pushing down the trigger controls airflow, while pulling the trigger backwards controls paint flow. In terms of purpose and possibilities, this type of airbrush can be used to create detailed, realistic artwork.

Siphon Feed

Relating to how the paint is supplied to an airbrush, this feature distinction has nothing to do with airbrush performance. In siphon feed airbrushes, the paint container is attached beneath the airbrush. The paint is pulled towards the nozzle using air suction. The main advantage of the siphon feed method is that the paint cup can be replaced by a larger capacity bottle, allowing the artist to spray for extended periods of time, without the paint running out as fast.

Gravity Feed Airbrushes

In gravity feed airbrushes, the colour container is at the top. Used to work on details that require small amounts of paint, they feature fixed containers, as opposed to siphon feed models. As the containers are open, certain models offer a cap to cover the paint, in order to prevent drying out. The cap needs to have a little hole to ensure proper airflow.

Airbrush Needles and Nozzles

The mechanism of an airbrush involves air and paint that meet at a fixed spot in space. A needle present in that spot combines them and projects them. Prehistoric artists used a similar method, blowing paint with air from their lungs, but the modern airbrush only came about in the eve of the 20th century.

In order to create fine lines, some airbrushes have a .18 mm nozzle. On the other hand, some spray guns used in the auto industry feature blunt needles that fit into large nozzles that can deliver huge amounts of paint.

Airbrush Types and Uses

Airbrush types vary in functionality; some perform well in certain uses and less well in others. Additionally, the paints and liquids that work best depends on the airbrush type.

Airbrush Type

Details and Uses

Liquids Sprayed

Single Action, External Mix, Siphon Feed

Tough, easy to use, low maintenance

Ideal for beginners

Large area spraying, ceramic glazing

Thick liquids: textile paint, ceramic glaze

Double Action, Internal Mix,

Siphon Feed

Easy to change spray patterns during operation

Great for details and all kinds of artwork, including

T-shirt painting and motorcycle customisation

Liquids that are initially thin: dyes, inks, watercolors, acrylics

Also good for auto lacquers and enamels

Double Action, Internal Mix, Gravity Feed

Easy to change spray patterns during operation

Rapid response when switching colours, good for both right and left handed artists

Liquids that are initially thin: dyes, inks, watercolors, acrylics

Also good for auto lacquers and enamels

Double Action

External Mix, Oscillating Needle

Difficult operation


Used for very precise details

Ideal for art and photo retouching

Dye, ink, and watercolor

Also good with acrylics, thinned gouache, and oils

It is important to pay attention to these details, as the more complex airbrush mechanism can take some time to master. Therefore, it is best for beginners to start out with simple projects, which require airbrush types that are easy to use.

Working with Air Sources

It can be a tough choice to invest a lot of money on an airbrush, especially when one is uncertain whether it is going to become a continued practice. However, cheaper equipment may discourage aspiring artists, in that it might be responsible for producing very poor results or being very hard to manipulate.

However, an affordable airbrush does not necessarily need to be of poor quality. For example, air sources, which are required for operating an airbrush, can be expensive, but it is possible to borrow them or even rent them from a local welder or anyone that may use CO2 tanks or air compressors in his or her trade. Steady air pressure is one of the keys of successful airbrushing, therefore, some sort of air tank must always be involved.

Buying an Airbrush on eBay

You can find hundreds of airbrushes and other airbrushing supplies on eBay simply by typing a few keywords, such as "airbrushes", into the search bar on the main page. They are usually listed with full specifications, which can allow you to decide whether they can fit your level of expertise. If you are interested in buying a "single action airbrush", you can narrow down your search by inputting some extra keywords on the search bar. 

If you are buying a new airbrush from a manufacturer you are familiar with, you can count on being certain about what you are going to get in the mail after purchase. However, when buying an airbrush type or model you have not had a chance to test before, it is very important to ask the seller some questions, in order to establish whether the item's performance has a chance to suit your needs.

Also, one can never be too careful when buying used airbrushes. Although used items may be in perfect condition, they can also be damaged in subtle ways, and it is always best to try to establish a trust relationship with the seller before purchasing this type of items.

Some sellers may offer a deal on airbrush plus air source, and these options are always worth looking at if you do not own an air compressor or something similar. Finally, it is always important to check shipping costs and delivery times before going through with any kind of purchase on eBay.


Although airbrushing may take many years to master, one does not need to spend a fortune or study for a long time before getting started. It is important to choose the right airbrush type, in order to avoid being stuck with a tool that seems impossible to manipulate without some training or experience. Airbrush choices must also be dictated by the kind of project one is planning to work on.

Not all airbrushes are good to use with any kind of liquid colour, and one must always establish whether there is a good match between the chosen paint and airbrush type, before spending money on ill-matched supplies.

In order to avoid frustration, beginning airbrushers should stick to single action models, while trying to complete projects that do not require fine lines or very small details. On the other hand, expert airbrushers can obtain excellent results from complex tools, such as an oscillating needle airbrush. It only takes a bit of information to select the right airbrush for each artist, and eBay is a rich source for all kinds of airbrushes in a variety of price ranges.

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