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ColorArtz Airbrush Starter Kit from Testors

By Addie Kidd
Published: June 14, 2010
Testors ColorArtz Airbrush Starter Kit
Product: The ColorArtz Airbrush Starter Kit contains a pen-like “airbrush” with a plastic handle connected to a length of flexible tubing and a plastic screw-on attachment on the end; a metal propellant can; three paint packets in Mango Tango (bright orange), Gremlin (light green) and Purple People Eater (dark purple); and an instruction pamphlet.

I also had a set of 12 additional colors from the nearly 30 colors available in the complete line of ColorArtz paint pouches, along with several reusable stencil packets and a spare propellant can.

Performance: The setup is fairly self-explanatory. Each paint pouch has a nozzle that snaps into grooves on the airbrush. This nozzle twists to adjust the flow of paint and can be closed with a cap for storage. Avoid leaving open paint pouches in a horizontal position, as they can leak; apply gentle pressure when squeezing the pouches so that paint doesn’t spurt out.

The extra nozzle attachment at the end of the airbrush’s tubing is useful if you’re using an air compressor, but you must remove it in order to attach it to the included propellant can.

The painting process was much less messy than I’d anticipated. Before starting, I spread out my posterboard-and-garbage-bag drop cloth, but found I didn’t need nearly that much protection. The clever system allows you to change paint colors quickly. I never got a bit of cross-contamination, even when switching from a darker to a lighter color.

The paints are opaque, making it easy to paint on dark surfaces and quick to blend colors. Some paint colors seemed more prone to splattering than others; darker colors were particularly noticeable. The colors Penny Lane, Oscar, and Platinum Ring are truly metallic, with tiny flecks of sparkle. I did have the most trouble painting with the metallic colors and encountered a few slight hiccups in the paint flow. They’re also less opaque than the flat colors, which makes them an ideal topcoat for blending.

A propellant can lasts for about an hour of actual spraying, which amounts to about five or six projects, depending on size. But after continuous lengthy use, the propellant becomes too cold to function well.

Based on tips in the instructions, I placed my can upright in a bowl of room temperature water to keep it from cooling too quickly and used a second can as a backup.

Marketing: Based on the packaging, instructions and online social media presence (see ColorArtz’s Facebook fan page), the target audience for the ColorArtz system is primarily female crafters, hobbyists and teens.

This simple system isn’t for a committed artist to use in lieu of a true airbrush. But it will create satisfying results when decorating fabric items (no heat setting required), wood or plastic crafts, simple art projects and household objects.

It’s an entirely intuitive system ideal for beginners. Though it’s marketed for children 14 years old and up, with proper supervision I could see children as young as 8 using it successfully.

The most obvious add-on sales are the unique paint pouches. The band of color on each packet is a pretty close representation of what the color will look like if it were painted on white. Since the starter kit comes with just three colors that aren’t ideal for blending, I’d recommend that first-timers buy at least three to four additional colors to get started.

An extra propellant (No. 9215CF, $8.99) can is an essential purchase. For serious users, the ColorArtz air compressor (No. 9169CF, $56.99) would be a wise purchase.

Testors offers a wide variety of stencils, and these are probably the next most useful accessory. The stencil come four to a pack, each bundled with a different theme: sweets, retro, decorative and punk being just a few. The stencils are backed with reusable adhesive, which is good for multiple painting applications. To save a used stencil, just press the adheive side to some wax paper.

When customers are looking at stencils, find out what the project is that they have in mind. If your customer wants to use a particular stencil or design multiple times on a single project, suggest that they purchase a few stencil packs. If they apply all of the stencils at once, they can avoid a lot of masking and repetitive work by painting the project with a single pass of the airbrush. Since the paint application is tough to duplicate, this would also achieve a more uniform appearance to their colors and design.

Project suggestions and samples will be the key to selling this product. Increase interest by displaying painted clothing or accessory items nearby; include instructions and color combinations. To optimize sales, balance a mix of masculine and feminine designs in your samples, like a cupcake-stenciled hat next to a barbed-wire faux tattoo-stenciled shoe.

Appeal to thrifty and DIY customers by showing them they can upcycle existing items they already own, or customize and personalize inexpensive products to elevate them.

Product: ColorArtz Airbrush Starter Kit
Maker: Testor Corp.
Stock No.: 1081
MSRP: $29.99

Quickly accessible for beginners
Products instant results
Versatile and portable
Step 1: Addie creates a tie-dyed effect by twisting the shirt and painting the raised folds with copper and silver.
Step 2: Addie applies thin layers of light and dark green to get the desired effect for the skull.
Step 3: Using yellow and red, Addie added the flames beneath the skull.
Step 4: To complete the look, Addie blended the red and yellow together with an overspray of copper.
How to replicate Addie's project

Addie spread her shirt flat on a drop cloth. She then held the center of the shirt, lifted and turned until it was evenly wound but still flat. 

She lightly sprayed stripes of copper paint (with the nozzle fully open) from the center to the edge of the spiral, and filled between the copper stripes with stripes of silver paint.

After letting the paint dry, she untwisted the shirt and applied her skull stencil to the fabric. She masked off the flame portion of the stencil and the the rest of the shirt using freezer paper and tape.

Using several light layers of light green and dark green, Addied colored the skull. Once that was completely dry, she masked the painted skull and removed the masking from the stencil's flame portion. She painted a light coat of yellow over the entire flame. Then, with the nozzle set to a narrow stream, she painted the bottom 2/3 of the flame; following up by coloring the bottom 1/3 of the flame with red. She blended the 3 colors together with another light coat of metallic copper, and allowed the paint to dry before removing the stencil.

Since the paints require no heat-setting for fabric, once all the paint was dry, the shirt was ready-to-wear.
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