Airbrush Dictionary

Every industry has it’s own slang or jargon, and the Airbrush industry is no exception. Knowing the jargon allows you to talk to other people in the industry or at least talk to persons with similar interests using a common lexicon.

This list is by no means complete, it will grow over time, and suggestions for new entries are always welcome.


:: A ::


A small pen-like device used for atomizing various kinds of liquids into a directed, usually conical aerosol spray. Airbrushes are primarily used to spray some kind of coating, like paint, onto something else.

Airbrushes have many uses from cosmetics to movie special effects to hobbies and various art forms, which may be clothing or even solid objects.

Airbrush Body

The airbrush body is the main part (the chassis or tube) where every other part is attached to this piece.

:: B ::

:: C ::


CFM stands for Cubic Feet per Minute or ft3/min which is the measurement of the air flow rate. The international measurement is m3/min.

CFM is important when choosing air sources for your spray equipment as compressors with a higher CFM rating will support the use of more airbrushes simultaneously. The typical hobby compressor only provides enough CFM for a single airbrush to be used at a time.


Compressors have a maximum flow rate typically expressed as CFM.  This flow rate should meet or exceed the CFM requirement of your equipment.  Otherwise the airbrush won’t function properly.

:: D ::

Double Action Airbrush

Double action refers to how the paint flow and air flow are controlled by the airbrush artist/operator. It combines these two separate functions into a single control, the trigger.

Dual Action Airbrush, see Double Action Airbrush

Dual action, another word for double action, refers to how paint flow and air flow are controlled by the airbrush artist/operator. It combines both of these functions into a single control, the trigger and is only available on internal mix airbrushes.

:: E ::

External Mix

Refers to the way paint is introduced into the air stream to be atomized by the airbrush. In an external mix airbrush the paint enters at one side of the air stream.

:: F ::

:: G ::

:: H ::

:: I ::

Internal Mix

Refers to the way paint is introduced into the air stream to be atomized by the airbrush. An internal mix airbrush introduces the paint into the middle of the air stream.

:: J ::

:: K ::

:: L ::

:: M ::

:: N ::


The needle serves two functions on an airbrush; to limit the flow of paint and to direct the airflow.

The needle always acts as a liquid flow limiter at the end of the airbrush or paint system. Think of it as the dimmer switch on a light fixture. It’s there to allow only a certain volume of liquid through the airbrush.

It’s second function on an airbrush is to direct the aerosol spray down it’s long taper. Your ability to produce fine detail comes from the pointy part of the needle.

:: O ::

:: P ::

:: Q ::

:: R ::


A mask covering the nose and mouth that filters the air you breathe so that chemicals and paint do not enter your respiratory system. You should use a respirator regardless of the type of paint you are using, but most especially when you are spraying in a confined space.


:: S ::

Side Feed Airbrush

Paint is fed through the side of the airbrush’s body – but how the airbrush atomizes the paint is based on the paint level in relation to the nozzle tip.

Single Action Airbrush

Single action refers to how the paint flow or air flow are controlled by the airbrush artist/operator. Each control operates a single spray variable.

Siphon Feed Airbrush

A siphon feed airbrush sucks paint up through a tube, then atomizes the paint typically using an internal mix design. This type of feed system generally allows for more paint to be delivered over a larger area without stopping to refill the paint cup.

:: T ::

:: U ::

:: V ::

:: W ::

:: X ::

:: Y ::

:: Z ::