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Overview

The Copic Airbrush System (ABS) is compatible with the Classic and Sketch marker styles. The ABS allows you to color on a wide variety of surfaces and textures without damaging your nibs. Unlike a typical airbrush system, changing colors is easy. Simply snap a different marker into the system and you are ready to go.

 

Features

  • Lightweight
  • Portable
  • No mess
  • Easy color switching
  • Colors a variety of surfaces and textures
  • Works with air cans & air compressor

ABS Brochure

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Using ABS Guide

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Choosing the Correct Kit

Copic makes three different Airbrushing Systems (ABS). The type of project you intended to use your ABS for will determine which kit is the best fit. All airbrushing parts are modular, so whichever kit you select can easily be upgraded to a different unit.


ABS-1N

This is the recommended kit for beginners. The ABS-1N is a complete, cost-effective system without the use of a compressor. This allows for the use of the larger, more efficient air can 180.

Pros: Most expensive unit without a compressor. Larger air cans last longer. Parts will adapt for compressor compatibility.

Cons: An air can must still be thrown away. After going through a few of the large aircans, customers may begin thinking about investing in a compressor.

Includes: Air Grip, Air Adaptor, Air Hose 1/4" to 1/8", Air Can 180 and Air Can Holder.


Note: The Air Can 180 is not directly compatible with the Air Grip. You must use the Air Adaptor.

 

ABS-2

This style is perfect for those who are on-the-go. Its small size makes it easy to transport. 

Pro: Smallest, most basic ABS system.

Con: The Air Can D60 does not hold much air so this can be an expensive way to airbrush.

Includes: Air Grip, Air Can D60


ABS-3

If you already own a compressor, then you will only need the ABS 3 system. You may still need to get an adaptor to match the air compressor to the Copic 1/8 inch threaded hose fitting. This set-up will work with almost any compressor that can be regulated to run at about 40 psi. 

 

Look at this list to identify the proper air hose you will need for your ABS configuration:

AH4-8 Air Hose 1/4” - 1/8” For use with the Air can 180 only

AHC4-8 Air Hose 1/4” - 1/8” For use with air compressors running a 1/4” output

AHC8-8 Air Hose 1/8" - 1/8” For use with air compressors running a 1/8” output (Standard Sparmax or Iwata fitting)

 

Pro: You will never need to buy another can of air.

Con: Compressors come in all sizes, costs, features and levels of noisiness. Choose a compressor carefully since it is a long-term investment.

Includes: Air Grip & Air Adaptor


Airbrush Techniques

Once the airbrush system is working properly, you can refine your techniques. Always work over scratch paper to protect the surface from overspray. It's very easy to accidentally spray your table, surface, or other objects nearby. Be sure to aim straight down with the air grip, as the metal nozzle tends to place air in front of where it seems like it would go.

The first technique to master is a smooth, even background, made by using the chisel nib on either a Sketch or Classic marker. For a nice even spray, try the following: 

  • Use slow sweeping hand motions when spraying side-to-side. Avoid going back and forth partway across the area or moving your hands in circles, this will make the surface blotchy. Spraying top to bottom doesn't feel as natural for some people, so it can be harder to be consistent. Work slowly from a middle distance away from the surface. It is easier to see where the spray is going, and working slowly and steadily is easier on the marker. The trigger also does not have to be pushed down all the way to get a nice, smooth spray.
  • Start light then add more layers to darken. It is always possible to make a color darker, but not as easy to make it lighter.
  • When stopping your spray flow, spray past the area you are trying to color so that it doesn't pool on your piece. 
  • Make a test spray of each color before trying to create a smooth background. This helps to figure out if the color is spraying consistently or if it is too low on ink to. Remember that most colors will look different when airbrushed than they do colored directly on paper and light colors may not show up very well at all.

Far away distance, less pressure

Medium distance, medium pressure

Close up distance, more pressure


ABS Troubleshooting

When you are airbrushing there are two things that could cause you problems -- either the ABS or the marker itself. If your ABS is set up properly and the can is not cold, then chances are the problem is your marker. Most of the time this is a minor, correctable problem. Carefully read through these troubleshooting tips and 95% of the time they should solve your problems.

Inconsistent Spray or Splattering

Uneven spray could be caused by a few things: First, check that all your fittings are nice and tight and that your Air Adaptor isn’t punctured. If you are using Air Cans, check that the can hasn’t tipped over, run empty, or gotten too cold. If you are using a compressor, make sure there is no moisture trapped in the line and that you are working with an air pressure between 40-60 psi.

Next, make sure that your marker is inserted correctly (if the broad nib is inserted upside down then your spray could look odd). Sketch markers will give a splattered look occasionally if you use the brush end. Also, if the marker is old, it may need refilling before you can airbrush evenly.

Air Can Gets Cold

This is normal. If you are using the can for a long time and the spray is inconsistent but it feels like there’s still plenty of air in the can, then let your can warm up a bit before continuing. This is usually only a problem on the Air Can 80’s.

No Ink, but Air is Working

If the air is flowing correctly from the nozzle of the air grip but not spraying ink then check these details:

  • Make sure the marker is inserted correctly, with the chisel point up in the grip.
  • If you are using Sketch markers check that the marker tip is straight up and down. Sometimes the medium broad nib is not inserted all the way. Gently push on the marker tip to make sure the base of the tip is flush with the plastic edge of the marker body.
  • If your marker is old or has been used a lot, it might need more ink. Also, the tip might be worn or frayed. You should replace the tip regularly to get the best spray.
  • The fine point on a Classic marker will not work, but either end on a Sketch will.
  • If you are using a compressor, make sure the pressure is correct; too little will not spray and too much will blow out the system.

Leaking Air

Tighten all fixtures. Replace any worn hoses or fittings. If you are using your own compressor, make sure the fitting is the correct size.

Temperamental Sketch Nibs

I have found that when you purchase a brand-new Sketch marker sometimes the machine that assembles them doesn't shove the chisel nib in all the way, or it could be pushed just a hair too far. If your spray pattern is weak, an odd shape, or isn't spraying at all then the problem could be your chisel nib. Use tweezers to gently pull the nib out a hair more if you see little or no spray. If you are getting an odd shaped spray then just push the chisel in a bit until it is correct.

Note: Keep the airbrush system away from open flame.