Compressed Air – Quick Tip Tuesday

I’m sure in the future that I’ll be talking a lot more about brushes, and paints, and all the usual suspects of paint desk supplies, but today I thought it might be fun to talk about the unusual suspects. What are some tools and materials you use that you suspect not many other miniature painters use?

One that comes to mind for me is compressed air. Oh, I’m pretty sure that lots of painters use it to dust off figures in their display cases. And certainly I use it for that, too. Or if I’ve let a partially painted miniature languish on my work-in-progress shelf for a while, I definitely like to give it a thorough spritzing before I start painting it again. It’s also helpful for dusting figures off when taking photographs, since putting a miniature in my light cube attracts dust to it like moth to a flame. I find the compressed air isn’t even enough in that situation, I usually need to have a paint brush with somewhat stiff bristles available to dust off the really clingy lint and fibers that don’t show up until I check the photo preview.

Cans of compressed airI do use these for the obvious uses. But also for another purpose…

The other way I use compressed air is for a purpose I haven’t heard other painters mention, and I figured it was high time I share this useful tip! Do you ever get bubbles in paint that you are applying to a miniature? I find this is particularly likely to happen on areas that are highly textured with a lot of nooks and crannies, like groundwork for bases. It also happens to me when I’m trying to quickly brush prime or paint basecoats on large areas using a large brush. If you get bubbles like this and don’t pop them, they will dry into little ridged circles like the suckers on an octopus tentacle. 

Popping the bubbles by blowing on them or tapping them with the tip of your brush works, but can be tedious and inefficient. If you hit wet paint with a jet of compressed air in the regular fashion, it will absolutely blow paint all over the place! But if you depress the trigger on a can of compressed air gently and only part way, you’ll get a soft puff of air that is perfect for popping all those little bubbles. You do need to do this while the paint is still as fresh and wet as possible, and I recommend practicing a few times on a figure that is less important to you.

Have you got any helpful hints or weird tools that you use to help you paint? Let’s talk about them in the comments!