Forgotten Dolls

an encyclopedia of dolls and doll collecting

Airbrush your BJD


Airbrush your bjd

I am often asked what I am using for the full-body custom paint on my bjds. This is entirely done with an airbrush rather than pastels or normal paint. I find that pastels leave a grainy texture to the body colouring, and simply painting the colours on with a brush will of course leave streaks and visible brush strokes.

However, these common problems can be avoiding through the use of an airbrush when painting your bjd. A steady hand while airbrushing ensures a clean smooth paint job on your doll -- brush stroke free!

Basic airbrush supplies

What do you need to begin airbrushing? An airbrush, hose, compressor (to supply air), and good quality paint appropriate to the type of figures that you are painting. For a bjd, an acrylic paint is needed; do not use enamel paint on your doll!

Choose your airbrush

I recommend buying the best airbrush you can afford. If you buy the cheap one, it will break easily, and you won’t get much painting done if it always sent away for repairs. Just to be aware: Iwata has standard-size parts that are easily to replace. Badger, Paasche, and Testor’s do not; should something break, it may prove difficult to replace with the standard parts used by another company. Accordingly, I highly recommend an Iwata. I have a dual-action with a gravity-feed cup, and find this preferable to both a single-action airbrush and the siphon-feed variety as it gives me greater control while painting.  

Why I don’t recommend an Aztek airbrush

I don’t recommend buying the Testor’s Aztek airbrush. Some hobbyists may recommend it; I don’t. It’s made of plastic, so while it may be imperious to most solvents, it also breaks easily. One of the seals broke on mine within the first hour of use. The common joke you may see is to buy two because one will always be in for repairs. This is quite the truism, and Testor’s does offer a three year warranty so long as you haven’t opened the body of the airbrush. However, I have little patience with tools that keep breaking. As a younger hobbyist I swore by Testor’s products, but their quality has greatly gone downhill since that time. Save yourself some aggravation by not buying this airbrush.

Go cheap on your airbrush compressor

Any shop-grade compressor will work so long as the hose can be coupled to it. If you are short on shop space or get headaches easily from noise, I suggest a small tankless quiet compressor. It won’t take up much room and will head off the headaches.

I have an Iwata Ninja, which is small and extremely quiet if noise levels are a concern.

Buy good quality airbrush paint


Do not go cheap on the paint you are using. I cannot stress this enough. It is painful to see the paint peel from a figure you have spent hours painting because you bought the cheap paint instead of the good one.

You get what you pay for when it comes to paint. The more expensive, the better quality it is. Buy the best you can find. High quality paint will last a long time when stored correctly.

Tip: I recommend Golden brand airbrush paint, if you can find it. Blick's usually has it in stock. It works very well on prepped resin. Start off with a basic set of colours and add new colours as needed.

Safety first while painting!

Protect your eyes and lungs while airbrushing. It should go without saying that an OSHA-approved respirator is necessary for airbrush work. You do not want paint to get into your lungs.

Warning: Do not bother with the coffee-filter mask; it won’t work for such a fine paint spray. Likewise, safety goggles to protect your eyes are also necessary. You don’t want fine paint spray in your eyes.

Reduce painting stress with these airbrush supplies

While not strictly necessary, it is also helpful to have an airbrush stand, cups and stirrer to mix your paint, and a brush cleaning device with cleaning solution.

Warning: The cleaning station is especially important as many hobbyists try the milk-jug cleaning station, but it’s not a good idea to let the paint fumes build up in a small plastic container. The fumes are highly flammable, and may spontaneously combust under the right circumstances. Get the right tool for the job instead of trying to make-do.

Once you have your supplies, it is simply a matter of practice, practice, practice in using your new airbrush.


Happy painting!

Tealmermaid's Treasure Grotto