Airbrushing 101

31 Jul 2019


Airbrushing is definitely the fastest way to paint and decorate your cakes, but it can take some practice to get the technique right and at first it can seem intimidating. It doesn't need to though! With a little practice and the tips and tricks below you'll be airbrushing like a pro in no time!


General tips:

  • Prepare your space. Overspray will get everywhere (and you will sneeze the airbrushed colour for days!).
  • Keep your airbrush gun clean! 99% of airbrush issues are caused by not cleaning after use.
  • Keep some paper towel on hand to test your spray and colour before you spray your cake.
  • The closer the pen, the more direct (and finer) the spray, perfect for fine details.
  • The further away, the wider the spray, perfect for full colour or ombre effects.
  • For airbrushing large areas, work in small circular sections.
  • For airbrushing stencils, work perpendicular to the stencil to avoid under spray.
  • Never flush rose spirit or alcohol through the gun after using metallic colours. This will cause the metallic particles to seize in the gun and block it. Instead, run water through the airbrush until fully clean and then finish off with rose spirit, if desired.
  • If you want something to have a satin shine (like a purse cake), spray a light coating of Shell & Shiny Spray!


The ink isn’t coming out or it’s coming out when it shouldn’t! HELP!

This is generally caused by either the needle not being inserted correctly or the chuck nut not being done up tight enough. To fix these issues: 
  • Unscrew the end of the gun
  • Unscrew the chuck nut and see if the needle is pushed the full way down
  • Retighten the chuck nut
  • The airbrush gun should now be working correctly


To remove and clean the needle:

To give your airbrush a thorough clean, you can remove the needle by following these steps: 

  • Unscrew the end of the gun
  • Unscrew the chuck nut
  • Gently pull the needle out
  • Wipe down the needle with rose spirit and paper towel

Watch this video from LOYAL to see how to clean an airbrush properly.


The difference in needle sizing:

The nozzle, also known as the tip, and the needle size of the airbrush will determine the amount of paint that can be sprayed through it. 

It is a general rule of thumb that finer detail work requires a smaller nozzle. The various sizes include:

  • Fine – 0.2mm
  • Medium – 0.35mm
  • Heavy – 0.5mm

As a guide, a medium size nozzle will be able to achieve a fine line of around 0.3mm at its finest, and up to 50mm at its widest.


How to airbrush onto chocolate:

  • Use the Magic Colours brand.
  • Spray a light coat. Allow to dry
  • Spray another light coat and let dry
  • Repeat until desired colour intensity reached.


The difference between Amerimist and Magic Colours:

  • Magic Colours are alcohol based.
  • Amerimist is water based.
  • You can airbrush Magic Colours onto chocolate & ganache without beading. You can’t do this with Amerimist.
  • You can paint with both brands.
  • You can use the Magic Colours to create faux gold and silver leaf.
  • Amerimist has a wider range of pre-made colours. But both brands can mix colours together to get different shades.


The difference between our compressors:


  • LOYAL Airbrush
    • Three speed; single action
    • 0.4mm needle
    • 20 to 30psi
    • 7cc tank on gun
    • 10L per minute maximum air flow


  • SparMax Cassie Brown Professional
    • Dual action or single action (simply change the valve)
    • Up to 50psi, meaning it’s easier for paint to flow through
    • Comes with a 0.5mm needle
    • 7cc tank on gun
    • Has a braided hose, rather than plastic


Single Action vs Dual Action:


Refers to the method action required to control spray pattern. Pressing down on the button activates the amount of air flow and pulling back determines the amount of fluid released. This allows the user to change the width of line, colour, and the opaqueness of colour with one hand. Double Action models take more practice to use but are better for free hand detail work. Dual action airbrushes can take a while to get used to because they do two things at once.

Unlike the double action where air and fluid controls are separately controlled, the user only has to control the paint flow with the single action airbrush. Air will automatically flow once the compressor is turned on. Paint will flow through the needle, as soon as the trigger is pulled back. Single action models are quick to learn and easy to use.