Updated summer 2019
First, a disclaimer: I don’t know *everything* there is to know about Copic Airbrush – but I’m sharing what I have learned thus far. Which is better than nothing – I’ve found little on the web with enough detail to help me make my own decisions about what to buy. So at least this is a start!
Note: Supplies are linked in the supply list at the end of this post. Compensated affiliate links may be used – that means if you make a purchase using my links, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support of my work on this blog! Read more.
Watch my original video from a few years ago and then read on for lots more written info.
Does Copic airbrush use more ink than just coloring?
No. It actually uses less! You get control (after lots of practice) to create light or heavily-saturated backgrounds, but the ink all sits on TOP of the paper, not sinking in as it normally will with marker strokes. So more area can be covered with less ink. That said, once you START airbrushing, you’ll be airbrushing everything, so there’s that.
Does the designation of ABS1, ABS2, and ABS3 for the airbrush kits indicate the order of expensiveness/extensiveness of the kits?
Not so. The ABS3 is my strongest recommendation, but which you choose depends on what you’ll be doing. I personally chose to go the compressor route right away. I knew I liked the look of airbrush enough that I didn’t want to feel like I had to “save” the air in a can – I wanted to be able to play freely. Also – those cans are disposable, which just clutters the landfills. With the cost of a compressor, it makes little sense to buy cans except for specific uses.
Light-use airbrushers can do fine with the ABS2 that just uses an air can, while more invested folks will want to consider a compressor – by the time you purchase a few cans of air, you could already own a compressor (between $60-$75US).
- ABS2 – The least intricate kit. It comes with the Air Grip (the thing you put the marker in) and the can of D60 air. That air lasts 4-5 minutes- some places it says 7-8 minutes, but I mentioned 4-5 to be on the really conservative side. In either case, it’s not a lot of airtime. I’d recommend this for folks who just want to do a little spritz here and there. Replacement costs for the cans are $12-15 depending on where you get them.
- ABS1N –The middle of the road kit. It comes with the Air Grip, can of air called the 180 that contains 30-45 minutes of air, plus an air adaptor, hose, and foam piece to hold the air can. More airtime here, and the replacement cans run around $20.
- ABS3 – This kit goes with the compressor. That’s what I have. It’s got the Air Grip and air adaptor, and if you get the Copic compressor it comes with the one hose you need. Best thing – once you have a compressor, your air is now free!
Is it easy/logical to step up from one kit to another?
To step up from one kit to the next, you should know a few things.
- If you start with the ABS2, the only part you have in your possession that you’d need for the others is the Air Grip. If you want to move to the ABS1N, you need a bunch of new stuff: air adaptor, hose, air can 180, foam holder. If you want to go to the compressor system, get the air adaptor and compressor with the hose and you’re done.
- If you start with the ABS1N, stepping up to the compressor is easy. Just get the compressor with the hose! You have everything else in the ABS1N kit.
- The hose that goes with the compressor runs around $30ish – and you need that specific hose. The Copic compressor DOES include the hose, so know that if you get their official one, you get the hose with it.
How hard is it to set up?
Pretty easy! The ABS2 just needs the Air Can 180 to attach to the grip. ABS1N with the separate air can, just pop the grip onto the adaptor, then the hose to the can. ABS3 – same hookup, just goes to the compressor instead.
Can I share a compressor?
If you have two people who want to airbrush at the same time, you can get a splitter – that doesn’t diminish the air enough to be a problem. But usually taking turns with one air grip is easier, unless you’re doing this for classes, when you’ll want multiple folks airbrushing at once.
My airbrush videos
I’ve created fairly simple airbrushed backgrounds in videos; at this point *summer2019* I haven’t gotten into fancy masking and illustration with airbrush. But who knows, that may change! But even these thumnails show you the variety of looks you can get from using a Copic airbrush.