Turning out custom painted lures is very satisfying – although it can also be incredibly frustrating. But every so often you come across something really cheap and simple that makes airbrushing lures just that little bit easier.
So in this article we’ll take a look at 3 such gadgets and “must have” accessories for the custom lure painter.
But before we dive…… Airbrushing lures is a little bit of an accessory sport. And I don’t mind spending a buck or two on equipment if I reckon it will help me. In fact, I considered writing a list of the top 10 airbrushing accessories for painting lures. But I thought I’d distill this down into the three I reckon I wouldn’t want to be without.
And the items I’ll be talking about could be surprising to you. They’re not what most people think of when the conversation turns to airbrushing lures.
Airbrushing Lures Is Easier When You Can See What You’re Doing
Painting in daylight is best, of course. But sometimes when the skies are overcast or you’re squirting paint after dark you need a bit more illumination. For many years I used halogen or tungsten lighting in my workshop. And it did the job fine. I know that a lot of guys use fluorescent lighting, and that’s ok too.
Once I started teaching folks about airbrushing lures I quickly found that an upgrade was necessary. I was shooting lots of video at the time, so the halogens had to be arranged close to the work. The heat they produced made things pretty uncomfortable.
Plus, halogen lighting has a particular color temperature. It was easy enough to correct in the video by using a custom white balance. But it’s difficult to see exactly how the finished lure will look under unnatural lighting. So I bit the bullet and bought some LED studio lights.
What a difference! For just over $100 I was able to illuminate my work area with LED light panels from 3 different directions. Not only does the light match the temp of natural daylight, the LED’s run much cooler. I now use these studio panels for just about all of my painting and lure making, even when I’m not videoing.
Make Switching Airbrushes A Snap
I like to switch airbrushes a lot. I use larger nozzle siphon and side feed airbrushes for priming and laying down base color. Then I have a range of finer detail, gravity feed airbrushes for the finesse work. Often when I’m airbrushing lures I’ll have two or three airbrushes loaded up with paint and connected to the compressor. And I’ll switch between them as I need to.
But recently I’ve been travelling a lot. And I knew if I didn’t figure out way to reduce the size of my painting kit I’d have to leave it behind. Since my beloved Iwata Power Jet Lite was too bulky to travel with us, I downgraded to a nifty little Ninja Jet. It’s been great, actually. The perfect option for a little painting on the fly, but only capable of running one airbrush at a time.
I never realized how much easier life would be if I could disconnect my airbrush in an instant….
So I also invested in an Iwata quick disconnect set, which makes switching brushes very quick. Now, quick connects are hardly a revolutionary new accessories, but I’d never bought one because I didn’t see the need.
Anyway, I ordered enough male fittings for each of my airbrushes and one female fitting for the hose. The idea is pretty simple. It’s just a miniature version of the quick connect fittings on most air tools and spray equipment. Your airbrush can be disconnected from the hose in 2 seconds and a new one connected just as fast.
It wasn’t until I started using this fitting that I realized what a difference it could make. For starters, there was one less hose to manage. It may not sound like much, but normally when I’m airbrushing lures I have 2 hoses, plus the power cords for the compressor, spray booth and hair dryer to manage. And since I’m often videoing my work, I also have cords from 3 studio lights and a video camera to content with.
Anything I can do to take a hose or cord out of the equation reduces time wasted managing tangles. Plus, it’s quicker and easier to stow the airbrush out of the way when there’s no hose attached.
But there’s another reason I love the disconnect set….. It acts as a swivel at the end of the hose. Which means the hose no longer gets twisted while I’m working. This is such an advantage that I’ve completely stopped using two separate hoses and use the quick connect exclusively.
Liberate The Lungs
If you’re one of my regular readers then you’ll know that the paints I use for airbrushing lures are non toxic, water based acrylics. That’s fine, except that the finely ground pigments create dust. So even though there might not be dangerous solvents involved, you still need to protect the lungs.
A paper mask is protection enough when you’re using airbrush acrylics, and a cardboard box is fine to contain the overspray. But I personally prefer to use a hobbyist spray booth.
You’ll find these all over the web, as well as through specialist airbrush suppliers and they’re perfect for airbrushing lures. A couple of tips for use:
- placing some ordinary facial tissue over the fiber filters can extend filter life and
- Placing some butchers paper on the floor of the spray booth catches paint and spills. It also helps reflect light, making it easier to see how your work is going. And at the end of a days work you can replace it with a nice new white sheet, ready for tomorrow.
Other Accessories For Airbrushing Lures
Of course, the list of products that can be useful is enormous. From stencil and mask materials to cleaning equipment, squirt bottles, braided hoses and so on.
You might well find yourself buying some of these as you get deeper into the craft of airbrushing lures. Or add them to your birthday list! But the 3 items listed above: LED studio lights, quick coupling connectors and spray booths should right at the top of the list, in my opinion!