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Which Airbrush System is Right for Your Needs? Part Two |

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Which Airbrush System is Right for Your Needs? Part Two

I am overdue with the second part of this blog on airbrush systems, which I originally wrote back in 2010.  My apologies for not picking up on this sooner, and you may want to go back and review Part One before reading on to Part Two:    In Part One we identified some key points that play a part in choosing the right airbrush system for your needs.   Nearly 99% of makeup artists purchase an airbrush system mainly for “above the neck” applications, so it must give you the ability to deliver a range of softer finishes, from transparent to translucent results.  For HD, this translates to a complexion with a fresh, inborn look, and without obvious color or texture that reads in the camera or to the real time eye.

So let’s cut to the chase here, and give you the specs you need to achieve those professional results we just discussed.  In short order, the airbrush system should deliver a working pressure (spraying) low enough, about 2 – 4 psi, so that you can easily work with the natural color and shape of the face with sheer results.  Think of it as live image retouching without heavy or detectable coverage, like “particle dusting” on skin that allows you to balance skin color and features with airbrush applied color.  Low pressure spraying permits an ultra soft “stippling” technique that result in a clean and more flawless looking complexion, and the ability to retain more of skin’s organic texture in the finish.  So, the most important thing to focus on in choosing a system is that it’s not about how much air pressure “power” you think you need, but how much control you actually have over your air pressure delivery in the application process.  This is very important as low working pressure also greatly reduces or eliminates the risk of errant overspray in your work, and allows you to truly customize the coverage as you need it.

Keep in mind that the majority of makeup airbrush systems that have been on the market for makeup artists have heavier, 5 – 8 lb compressors with gauges that must be dialed down to a decent working pressure range, usually around 12 – 15 psi (pounds per square inch).  Air pressure also drop slightly as it moves along in the air hose, and according to the length of the hose, but these factors won’t bring you even close to total transparency control for face work.  You end up having to balancing a greater distance from the face in triggering, and which creates undesirable overspray that cannot be completely controlled.  However, a few airbrush makeup manufacturers recognized the need in developing low pressure systems that specifically target soft stippling and translucency, and with tighter trigger control.   This resulted in “turnkey” airbrush systems that don’t need pressure gauges because they are pre-configured at the ideal range of low psi.  The compressors are also super lightweight (weighing about 1 lb), very portable, and small enough to fit in the palm of your hand!

Not only can you have the ability to trigger your spray application at 2 – 4 psi but one company, Graftobian, has gone a step further in featuring an air pressure bleeder valve control at the hose connection.  Their Walk-Around™ System allows you to quickly adjust the pressure up or down in small amounts, at the touch of a finger, to truly customize your transparency to opacity application needs.  This feature also allows you to raise the pressure at an even higher working range of 8 – 12 psi if you need to do any larger coverage body work: such as spraying foundation on the neck, arms and chest.  Best of all, the compressor can also be used as a free standing battery operated unit or plugged in on AC current.  This makes for a truly versatile airbrush unit you can use in the makeup room or out on location, and with a kit friendly size and weight (less than 2 lbs with airbrush and hose attached) that makes it very portable. 

I find that the variable low pressure feature of this particular system makes it even more adaptable to using water-based or alcohol-based airbrush makeup.  As a professional artist who has been airbrushing for decades with all kinds of systems, I can tell you that it all comes down to finding a lower pressure variable unit that will shoot different makeup fluids in transparency, and that allows you to build the coverage you need through soft stippling spray.  It easy to oversaturate an application when you don’t have the right contol at the trigger with the proper air pressure, so be sure that whatever you choose gives you a minimum of 2-4 psi working pressure.  Airbrush system size, weight, and portability should also be a consideration, as whatever you invest in should be easy to transport to and from your job site.

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