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!
Watch this from a few years ago and then read on for lots more updated, written info below.
Is the Copic airbrush system still available?
At the time of this writing, yes, but I’ve heard rumors through 2020 that it could be discontinued.
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.
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- Copic Airbrush ABS3:
- Air Compressor – (only need compressor and cord)
- Cord, if it doesn’t come with the compressor
- Where I buy Copic Markers:
- Copic Tweezers
- Copic Nibs
- Favorite stamping ink for Copic Markers:
- Favorite Papers for Copic Markers:
Hi Sandy Does airbrushing use much ink??
Thanks for infomation, was helpful to me. Keep it up!
Thanks so much for the explanation, Sandy! I’m just starting to play with the thought of airbrushing (of course after having seen you do it), so my buying decision is still some time away, but at least I now understand what I’m even looking for 🙂 Thank you for the clear instructions and explanations, it makes a TON of a difference 🙂
Thanks to your youtube tutorial and your friendly and clear explanation I decided to buy a aircompressor, which I received yesterday. I am now waiting for my Copic airbrush … it takes soooo long … lol. And then I have to learn how to use it all. Your explanation is very clear. Thank you:-)
You’re so welcome, Lucine! Remember it’ll take a bit of practice, but it’s LOTS of fun!
Thanks for the information in the video. I am not sure I will ever get into airbrushing, as I can barely do a decent job blending the colors using the markers. Your work is beautiful!
Great, informative video and post! Thank you!
I took your airbrush class and fell in love with Copic airbrushing. My Copics are getting a workout and I am very pleased with the results. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and expertise.
I know you have copics but… do you (or any others watching) know if Spectrum Noir’s can be used with this? Also do you go through a lot of the ink with the air brushing? I’m wondering if I need to be sure to have refills on hand of the colors I use. As always my admiration of your work and all you do.
Thanks Sandy for holding my hand through this. I have the system but have been so intimidated. Reading the instructions is just not the same as watching you put it all together. I’m ready to give it a whirl.
I love the effect of airbrushing and the campfire card came out great. 🙂
I got my Airbrush system a couple of months ago, but have hardly had any time to play w/ it and could probably answer my own questions if I just took time to do that, but thank goodness for you & your expertise. One thing I have noticed is that the area I airbrush is sticky for a while after it is done and that the “pigment” (?) seems to just sit on top of the paper rather than really absorbing in so it reacts differently to the colorless blender, or other markers for that matter, when coloring over it. Is this normal or could the high humidity of where I live be causing some of this? Do I need to just let the airbrushed area sit for a while before I do any other coloring? I use the same paper I do for coloring and have no problem with that.
I have been so mesmerized by the backgrounds you’ve done on several of your cards I have actually printed them out & have them posted above my desk just so I can study & enjoy them. The green swirly one above is one of my favorites and I want so much to be able to replicate that effect. Any tips? -Sorry for the lengthy comment.
Great information. Been thinking about trying airbrushing and you have answered alot of questions I had. Thanks for sharing.