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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Airbrush versus Spray Cans

airbrush versus spraycans Photo

What is better to use on painting Gunpla or other model kits?

This is the biggest question when you are starting scale modeling may it be Gunpla, military or whatever kind of model kit.

I do not claim expertise on both mediums or tools. But with my average skills on both and a pretty decent experience on using both tools as well, I think I could give a clear advise on what are the pros and cons of using these tools. So what do I personally use for painting my kits?

Let me bore you with my short modeling history first...

My first ever Gunpla model kit was painted with all sorts and brands of spray cans. I stripped the kit and repainted it twice before actually moving on to my next kit. I painted and repainted my first Gunpla for 2 months. Then I eventually painted around 10 Gunpla kits in my first year and experimented a lot by using different types and brands of spray cans. I surprisingly won 2 big competitions using spray cans in a span of 1 year.

I then realized that I love this hobby and should invest on an airbrush and a compressor. I have been using my lone Tamiya airbrush for almost 3 years now. So does that mean I prefer airbrush over spraycans? Not really... I still occasionally paint with spray cans for quick relax projects. And I actually only won just 1 major competition in almost 3 years of using my airbrush.

As I've said, I won 2 contests in one year using spray cans and only won 1 contest in almost 3 years using an airbrush. So is spray cans a more contest friendly tool? lol, of course not... It just means that it really does not matter how and what tool you use when building model kits. It is all about having fun and using the tools you are most comfortable with.

So has someone told you that you should invest on an airbrush and compressor to produce better kits?

If someone did, he is actually right. The airbrush is a very powerful and versatile tool in which you could produce subtle color gradations, wide coverage and spray fine lines. Anyways lets do this in bullet form to make it easier to compare...


  • A bit complicated for beginners as there is a sort of learning curve in using airbrushes. There are two types of airbrushes, single action and dual action, two types of paint feeds, siphon and gravity feed and lots of kinds of compressors.
  • Initial cost can be a bit expensive but is a really good investment if you plan to stay in the hobby for a long time.
  • Very versatile tool as it allows you to spray fine lines and patterns and allows you to control air flow and paint flow through different controls.
  • You could use almost any kind of mediums / types of paint as long as you thin it properly for airbrush use.
  • You should clean it after every painting session and disassemble and clean it thoroughly every week or 2 weeks.

spray cans

  • Very very very easy to use.
  • cheaper cost but can be more expensive if you paint a lot of model kits. If you paint one to two kits a month like I did on my first year, it could get expensive fast.
  • Obviously you are dependent on the kinds of colors available in spray cans.
  • You cannot do gradations and fine lines and patterns with spray cans ( albeit not as smooth and fine as with an airbrush ).

So what is the better tool to use for your model kits? Well the airbrush is obviously the superior tool, is more powerful and is a lot of fun to use once you get the hang of using it.

How do you know you should get an airbrush? 

Simple, I think if you are certain that you are enjoying the hobby so much and will stay in the hobby for years to come... I highly suggest you invest on an airbrush and compressor after your first year of spray can painting.

Both are just tools, both of them can help you produce beautiful model kits... practice and get comfortable in using any of these tools and it won't really matter what you prefer to use...

It all depends on your budget and level of interest.


If you are new to the hobby and will paint your first ever model kit, you should use a spray can first and see if you kinda like this customizing and painting thing. It is easier to dispose a few spray cans than sell an expensive airbrush and a chunky air compressor.

Although if you plan to really go deep into the hobby, you should get an airbrush now. But if you only plan or have time to occasionally paint a few kits in a year... spray cans should be enough to satisfy your painting and customizing needs.

Hope you liked this post! Til' next post guys! :)

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