Painting Archives

April 30, 2006

Iwata HP-BCS Airbrush Review


Choosing an airbrush is difficult as each different airbrush involves a compromise of one sort or another. For example, go with a very precise high end airbrush like one of Iwata's "Custom Micron" series and get both precise lines as well as big prices for replacement parts. In the end it all comes down to how speciallzed your work is.

My uses for an airbrush are not specialized at all. I want it to do just about everything from painting small objects to stencils to artwork. For that reason I ended up with an Iwata HP-BCS. It has a large 0.5mm needle so I can spray pretty thick paints, but still has delicate enough control that I can produce fine lines. I thought originally that I'd want a cup style airbrush so I could more easily mix color, but then decided that the bottom-feed bottles let me mix up a large and consistant quantity at once instead of having to try and match what I had done before in a small cup.

The action on this brush is smooth and positive. Even a six year old can produce decent results with it once you set the air pressure correctly. Cleaning is fairly simple too, but letting it sit or running through incompatible paints can sometimes require disassembly to make sure it is completely clean. This is not a big problem though and some tuning of the workflow is probably all I need here.

On top of this, the price is right. You can probably find one for somewhat less than $100. I was considering the more expensive HP-CH, but it is about twice the price. It certainly offers the ability to paint finer details, but for now I'm quite satisfied with the HP-BCS.

July 20, 2006

How to Paint a Room


Painting a room is one thing which professionals definitely do differently than home-owners. One of the simplest improvements to your painting you can make is also one of the best. Just throw out that paint pan you have. You know, the rectangular one with a slope to the bottom.

Once you do that get a 5 gallon plastic bucket - any old one will do. A top which fits it is a bonus. Then get a metal roller screen like the one shown in the picture. They cost a couple of dollars at most paint stores. Mine is probably 15 years old and is covered with multiple layers of different colored paints. Along with this get an extension pole. For most residential interiors a 4 foot pole is most convenient. They make some short ones, but they are designed more for working in confined spaces like bathrooms and don't give you the length you want to paint a ceiling or a big wall. In tight spaces you can usually do without a pole so just forget about the ultra-short ones. Get a longer one if you are going to work outside or have really high ceilings. Long poles start to get awkward inside if you don't have high ceilings. Most of these poles are extendable so a 4 foot pole usually extends to something like 7 feet.

Once you have these then screw your roller frame on the end of the pole, pour a gallon of paint in the bucket and get to work. There are numerous advantages to this method over the flat paint pan.:

  • It holds more paint. No stopping to refill.
  • It is twice as fast to load the roller with paint.
  • It is easier on your wrist and arms - you use two arms to hold the pole.
  • The bucket is not as messy.
  • You can dump the screen and the roller into the bucket and close the top if you want to stop for lunch or until the next day.
  • You can mix multiple cans of paint (called "boxing") in the big bucket.
  • The screen just needs a quick wipe when you are done and is easier to clean than a pan.
  • More stable/Less likely to tip over.
  • Pole allows you to cover larger areas more quickly.
  • No stooping required.
  • With a long brush to cut in with you can almost completely avoid using a ladder.
  • I could go on, but you are probably tired by now....

There really is no good reason to use the old "traditional" flat paint pan unless you are using it for sponging or other decorative techniques and need a flat "palate" to work with. While you are at it pick up the best roller frame you can. One which flexes or has the socket break on you is not going to save you anything in the long run.

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