Saturday, October 25, 2008

Airbrushing Part 5, FAQ

Here is a list of Frequently Asked Airbrush questions. I'll talk more about spraying patterns later. Thank you to those of you who asked me additional questions and I hope I answered them completely. Most of these are straight from the Copic FAQ page (though I did add a bit after reading some of the answers- I typed up the FAQ in the first place but I wanted to elaborate). I know it's hard to print our FAQ list so I'm including the Airbrusing segment here. Please download the other airbrush info from the Copic Library. I want to thank you for bearing with me, since I probably have a couple more days of airbrushing before I'll feel that I got it all out of my system and I can move on to something else.

Airbrushing FAQ
Q. Can I use any other brand of aircan?
A. No. Copic aircans have a special extended stem that only fits in the Copic system.

Q. What do you mean about how long do Aircans last?
A. Aircan D60 lasts 7-8 minutes, Aircan 80 lasts 20 minutes, Aircan 180 lasts 45 minutes. This is of Continuous use. However, you can't get continuous use out of the ABS aircans since the markers work best if you airbrush in short bursts and the aircans get cold which prevents them from working as effectively (see troubleshooting below). However, I can usually get about 2 days of demos out of one Aircan 180. I've never timed it to see if it's a full 45 continuous minutes, but I'm going to trust Japan on this one. Needless t0 say, the large aircan lasts a long time.

Q. Will the ABS dry out my marker faster?
A. No. The Copic ABS system blows air across the tip of the marker, spraying the dye suspended in alcohol onto your surface. This dye is dry instantly because the alcohol has evaporated in that time. The dye particles are very small and they sit on the surface of whatever you are spraying. When you touch a marker to paper, the paper sucks up more dye than it needs, so you end up using less ink for covering a larger area (this does depend on how densely you spray as well). As you are airbrushing, sometimes the tip of the marker will seem dry, especially on used markers. This is OK. Just wait a moment and the marker will go juicy again.

Q. I have an ABS-1. When I disconnect my airhose I hear air escape. Is this OK?
A. Yes. If you’re following the directions from the package, and you hear air escape it’s normal. This is just the extra air from the hose escaping- it is NOT air leaking from your can. If you want to use even that small amount of leftover air, partially unscrew the bolt on top of the can- this disengages the aircan. Then, spray your last couple bursts until the hose and adaptor have used up all their air. This way you won’t waste any air.

Q. Can I leave my ABS-1 or ABS-2 hooked up for a long time? When should I take it apart?
A. It’s OK to leave them set-up if they won’t be possibly knocked over or accidentally turned on. Make sure all the fittings are snugly screwed before leaving it for any length of time. If you will be traveling with your ABS-1, then disconnect it and replace the protective cap on the aircan. You can leave the air grip and air adaptor hooked up at all times. If you have an ABS-2, then don’t worry about disconnecting it, unless you think the button on the air grip would get pushed.

Q. Can I fly with my Airbrush system?
A. Yes. Put it in your checked baggage, not your carry-on. I fly with these all the time. They are classified as a non-flammable liquid, but I know security would go bonkers if you carried it into the cabin, especially since all the markings on the aircans are in a foreign language.

Q. Will my Copic ABS work with other markers?
A. Not really. They don’t fit correctly in the air grip (more on this later, but if you are willing to manually hold another brand of marker in front of the spray path then you can get something sprayed, it is tricky though. hint: spica look cool sprayed).

Q. Can I airbrush on fabrics?
A. We don’t suggest airbrushing wearable fabrics, since the dye particles sit on top of the fabric fibers and washes out easily. If you want to draw on a t-shirt then just use the marker directly (put something under it so it won't bleed). The airbrush system is very popular however, for airbrushing teddy-bears and wigs (hairspray the wig before coloring it, since the alcohol in hairspray will interact with the dye).

Q. Is this safe to use on people?
A. Although the markers are non-toxic, we do not recommend it for obvious reasons
(don't try to airbrush on your evening makeup with your favorite Copic colors). Also avoid spraying on animals.

Q. Can I airbrush on black surfaces?
A. They will not show up if you use them on a black surface.
The Copic airbrush system is not like a traditional airbrush, since Copic markers are transparent and traditional systems are opaque.

Q. Is this a double action airbrush system?
A. No. You adjust the spray pattern by pushing harder or lighter on the trigger.
You adjust the spray area by holding the air grip farther from the surface. It's not a traditional airbrush, it's a marker sprayed with a neat system. The results are cool but it's hard to compare it to traditional airbrushing.

Q. When you say "Aim down and spray," what do you mean? I can't seem to see where my spray is.
A. If you point straight down your air will be spraying slightly in front of your aim, so be careful. If you still can't see any color, or if the color seems too weak go through the troubleshooting below (particularly if some colors work better than others and you know it shouldn't be that way).

Troubleshooting the ABS System
When you are airbrushing there are two things that could cause you problems- either the ABS or the marker itself. If your ABS is set up properly and the can is not cold, then chances are the problem is your marker. Don't feel like it's your fault that the system won't work. Most of the time it is a minor, correctable problem that will help you get your ssytem to work properly. Carefully read through these troubleshooting tips and 95% of the time it should solve your problems.

Inconsistent spray or Splattering
Uneven spray could be caused by a few things: First, check that all your fittings are nice and tight and that your Air Adaptor isn’t punctured. If you are using aircans, check that the can hasn’t tipped over, is empty, or that it isn’t too cold. If you are using a compressor, make sure there is no moisture trapped in the line and that you are working with an air pressure between 40-60 psi.

Next, make sure that your marker is inserted correctly (if the broad nib is in upside down then your spray could look odd. If the marker is old, it may need refilling before you can airbrush evenly. Sketch markers will give a splattery look sometimes if you use the brush end as well.
Aircan gets cold
This is normal. If you are using the can for a long time and the spray gets inconsistent but it feels like there’s still plenty of air in the can, then let your can warm up a bit before continuing. This is usually only a problem on the Aircan 80’s.

No ink, but air is working
If the air is flowing correctly from the nozzle of the air grip then check these things:
• Make sure the marker is inserted correctly, with the chisel point up in the grip.
• If you are using Sketch markers check that the marker tip is straight up and down. Sometimes the med. Broad nib is not inserted all the way. Gently push on the marker tip to make sure the base of the tip is flush with the plastic edge of the marker body.
• If your marker is old or has been used a lot, it might need more ink. Also, the tip might be worn or frayed. You should replace the tip to get the best spray.
• The fine point on a Copic Marker will not work, but either end works on a Sketch.
• If you are using a compressor, make sure the pressure is correct. Too little will not spray and too much will blow out the system.

Leaking air
Tighten all fixtures. Replace any worn hoses or fittings. If you are using your own compressor, make sure the fitting is the correct size.

Tempermental Sketch Nibs
I have found that when you purchase a brand-new Sketch marker sometimes the machine that assembles them doesn't shove the chisel nib in all the way, or it could be pushed just a hair too far. If your spray pattern is weak or is an odd shape, or isn't spraying at all then the problem could be your chisel nib. With tweezers gently pull the nib out a hair more if you see little or no spray. If you are getting an odd shaped spray then just push the chisel in a bit until it is correct.

Note: Keep the airbrush system away from open flame.


Sandy Knecht said...

Great information. Thank you

Keri Lee Sereika said...

thanks for all the fabulous info Marianne!

Emily said...

Great blog :) I do however have one question to ask.
I've had my Spearmax compressor and copic ABS3 since Christmas, and everything had been working fine. About a week ago though, air began to shoot out of my airgrip without me pushing the trigger. I've made sure that everything is secure, and that the air pressure was at about 40.

Do you think you have an answer to my problem? Thank you.

marianne walker said...

Is your trigger sticking down? Sometimes if the trigger is dropped or ink gets down into the mechanism then it will start spraying. There's a seal deep inside the trigger and that could have been messed up as well. It sounds like you need a new air grip.