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Nowadays the airbrush technique is used in many different areas of private or professional creative work. Depending on the surface and application area, completely different airbrush paints can be used. Furthermore, the respective preparation and composition of the paints also affects the spraying behaviour of the airbrush paints. You can mix certain airbrush paints for particularly unusual color transitions.
Table of Contents
- 1 Choose the best Airbrush Paint
- 2 Information on Nozzle size for Airbrushing
- 3 Buy Airbrush paints: Sets in Comparison
- 4 Dilute paints, mix and clean the Airbrush Gun: Step by Step
- 5 Tips for Working with an Airbrush Gun
- 6 Established Brand Manufacturers of Airbrush Paint
Choose the best Airbrush Paint
- First of all it should be ensured that no paints with a corrosive effect are used. Not only could this type of paint pose a health hazard, it could also damage the seals of your airbrush gun.
- In principle, however, apart from the above restriction, very many paints are suitable for use as airbrush paints.
- Examples of suitable transparent paints are color types such as waterpaints, color inks, special airbrush paints and so-called fine spray paints.
- Oil paints, acrylic-based paints and gouache can be used as opaque paints when airbrushing.
- Very important for airbrushing is the adhesion of the paint to the surface of a work piece with regard to the usability of certain paints. If the adhesion is not given, only an unsatisfactory result can be achieved with some paints. In order to avoid annoying surprises, you should test the adhesion of the paints you use in a short airbrush paint test on the selected surface before you work on larger surfaces.
- But it is just as important to select the airbrush paints exactly according to the requirements of a project. It goes without saying that the creative decoration of a cake with an airbrush requires the use of non-toxic food paints, whereas for body painting works of art with airbrush technique, skin-friendly or even dermatologically tested paints should be used.
Universal Acrylic paints for Airbrush Art
The paints most frequently used for airbrushing purposes are universal acrylic-based paints. In the assortment of the most important paint manufacturers in this segment you will find paints that are specially designed for use on certain surfaces. In any case, high-quality acrylic-based airbrush paints offer you the following advantages for professional artistic results:
- As these inks have a high pigment concentration, they are perfectly suited for a well covering treatment of larger areas with relatively small amounts of paint.
- Usually these inks are also water-soluble, therefore no special solvents have to be purchased.
- If the paints are thinned according to the manufacturer’s instructions when mixed, there should be no problems with the technical equipment when used as airbrush paint.
- As soon as the airbrush paints have dried sufficiently long after application, they should always be waterproof.
- Due to the fine diameter of the pigments contained in the paint, they can also be sprayed with very fine airbrush nozzles without any problems.
- If the airbrush acrylic paints you use contain solvents, we recommend that you wear a mouthguard when working with them and that you use a workplace that is preferably outdoors for ventilation purposes.
- For acrylic-based airbrush paints, the basic rule is that their paint layer is unfortunately not scratch-resistant even after drying. The remedy for this problem, however, can be to apply a protective coating of paint.
The basic rule is: Particularly finely pigmented airbrush paints usually have a relatively high price, but they can also be processed with a correspondingly fine nozzle and used for detailed design ideas.
Airbrushing with suitable Lacquers
- Coatings generally dry out more quickly than other types of inks. This can sometimes cause problems when airbrushing, as the use of paints in airbrush guns can easily lead to blockages of fine nozzles. However, you can prevent this problem to some extent by thinning paints a little more.
- The advantage of paints as airbrush paints: You can use them to create very hard-wearing surfaces that are also relatively water-repellent and scratch-resistant.
Special Airbrush paints for special purposes
Almost all types of surfaces and substrates can be creatively enhanced using the airbrush technique. In recent years, the manufacturers of the necessary technology and airbrush paints have naturally reacted to this and created a wide range of special paints that can be used for very special purposes:
- Airbrush paints for the design of textiles and leather are washable
- special glass and porcelain paints often withstand even dishwasher cleaning
- Plastic airbrush paints offer particularly good adhesion on smooth plastic surfaces
- for edible works of art like cakes with airbrush decoration there are correspondingly harmless, tested food paints
- for airbrush paint officially recommended and approved for body painting, there is usually qualified evidence of dermatological safety and skin compatibility (without risk of allergies)
Information on Nozzle size for Airbrushing
- The required nozzle size usually depends on the area to be worked on: While you can work out very fine details with the fine nozzles with diameters between 0.1 and 0.3 mm, we recommend using nozzles with a diameter between 0.5 and 1.0 mm for a rather flat color design.
- However, in addition to the nozzle size, other factors such as the paint viscosity and the working pressure used from the compressor determine how fine or coarse the airbrush gun can be used.
- Please note that you should also use a slightly larger nozzle for more viscous paint so that it does not clog up immediately.
- Conclusion: For a really perfect result and relaxed working without annoying interruptions, air pressure, nozzle diameter and the viscosity of the ink used must always be matched as perfectly as possible.
Buy Airbrush paints: Sets in Comparison
If you search for suitable airbrush acrylic paints or other airbrush paints on the Internet, you will find a rather confusing range of offers from numerous manufacturers and product variants. With our airbrush color test and the resulting recommendations we want to offer you a help in this respect. So you will find the best possible airbrush paints for your projects in a relatively short time.
Recommendation: Createx airbrush paint kit
- Createx Transparent Airbrush Colors are vibrant graphic colors which may be thinned for increased transparency.
- Suitable for a wide range of surfaces: textile, glass, canvass, leather, plastic, Wood and more.
- Colors are ready to spray direct from the bottle
- Water-based. Non-toxic. Made with pride in the U.S.A.
- The airbrush paints sold by Createx are extremely high quality products. Therefore, these paints are used at many universities and in artists’ studios. But since they are also very easy to use, they can be a good choice for beginners in this field.
- In the assortment of the brand manufacturer Createx you will find a universal range of different materials from primers to products for the perfect finish. The quality offered by Createx is also reflected in the relatively high price. In return, you will receive paints that not only allow you to work in a relaxed manner without material-related difficulties, but also to achieve really great results.
- The Createx offer also includes a practical airbrush color set, which consists of 9 different paints of Createx. Of course the important basic tones yellow, magenta, cyan and brown should not be missing in this set, because you can mix practically all desired airbrush paints from these. But you can also mix the basic paints with certain airbrush paints in order to be able to adjust a certain color tone according to your own wishes. The set also includes highly opaque Supra White, which you can use as a primer or for brightly shining color accents. The color palette in the Createx color set is rounded off by the shades black, ultramarine, carmine and phthal green.
- The total of 9 airbrush acrylic paints of the set are each in a glass container with 28 ml filling volume and an integrated pipette. In addition, a 125 ml container with the practical cleaning agent Clean Rapid is included for the perfect initial equipment.
Our conclusion: All in all, the airbrush paint set by Createx is a very high-quality and practical color combination, which can provide very good work results for beginners and professionals alike. If there should be any problems with these airbrush acrylic paints, the laboratory team is always happy to provide helpful information.
Price performance winner: U.S. Art Supply 24 Color Acrylic Airbrush
- The manufacturer U.S. Art Supply mainly produces special paints for airbrush design in the model building sector. The adhesion of these products to metal or plastic surfaces is correspondingly good.
- The basic sets of airbrush paints from U.S. Art Supply are comparatively inexpensive combinations. In U.S. Art Supply’s assortment you will find a whole range of different basic sets with different color assortments for airbrushing. For example, U.S. Art Supply offers a set of 8 water-based metallic paints for only 20 Euro. These are offered for sale in plastic bottles of 17 ml each with integrated pipette.
- In addition to the practical starter and complete sets, you will also find useful primers, special textures, paint products for a perfect finish and special agents for optical aging effects from the manufacturer U.S. Art Supply.
Some paints (such as earth tones) of U.S. Art Supply contract unpleasantly strongly after being applied to the treated surface. To prevent this, you can first clean the surfaces to be treated very thoroughly.
Our conclusion: The assortment of the manufacturer U.S. Art Supply offers altogether a very good selection of different complete sets in the range of airbrush paints. Especially for the model building sector a lot of important paints and color effects for special purposes are covered. With the U.S. Art Supply color sets for model making you get products for a comparatively low price, which can be used without problems and with good results, except for a few weak points.
Dilute paints, mix and clean the Airbrush Gun: Step by Step
The proper Thinning of Airbrush Paint
For artistic design with the commonly used airbrush acrylic paints, the paints must first be thinned before use. However, there are also ready-to-use products on the market that do not need to be diluted due to their professional formulation. In certain cases, however, it can also be a good idea to dilute these airbrush paints again to achieve a spray result that is even closer to your own ideas.
Unfortunately there is no general rule of thumb for calculating the perfect degree of dilution for all airbrush paints. After all, it depends on the respective color and also on the type of liquid used as thinner.
However, we would still like to give you a little tip about the consistency of the paints that is roughly correct for airbrushing: When mixing, add as much thinner or distilled water to your paints as possible so that their consistency roughly corresponds to that of milk. When this consistency is reached, you can fill the paint into your airbrush gun.
A thinner Color Consistency offers you these Advantages:
Side effects of Ink Dilution:
- Since the pigment density in the paint is reduced by diluting it, you also reduce the luminosity of the paint a little when you dilute it. You should take this into account when choosing the color, so that you are not surprised by the result in the end.
- Due to the lower viscosity, the flowability of the diluted inks is increased in the corresponding ratio.
Step by Step for optimal Thinning of your Airbrush paints
- First of all, take a lockable paint container to hand and drip some paint into it.
- Then add the dilution medium of your choice until the desired degree of dilution is reached. Again, only add one drop at a time to the container to avoid accidentally adding too much diluent.
- In between you can check the consistency of the mixture by pouring a small amount of paint into a transparent paint container. With your finger or a brush you can then pull the paint up the wall of the container. You have reached the perfect degree of dilution for airbrushing when the following parameters apply to the mixture:
- The paint flows down the wall without droplets.
- The color leaves a more or less transparent veil of color, similar to that of milk on a transparent glass.
Which Dilution media can be used for Airbrush Paint mixing?
Professional Flow Medium:
These are binders with a very low viscosity consistency which, even in relatively small doses, lead to a significant reduction in the pigment density of the overall mixture. Flowing media are very popular because their use usually has little effect on the drying time of the airbrush paints used. However, you should be careful not to use thinner with alcohol content. Such a thinner could shorten the drying time considerably. In addition, the nozzles of airbrush guns clog more often when using thinners containing alcohol because of the accelerated drying time of the paint.
Commercial distilled Water as Dilution Medium:
Instead of a thinner with binder, distilled water can also be used as a dilution medium for airbrush acrylic paints. However, this acts purely as a solvent and can negatively affect the pigment layer of paints if used in excessive quantities.
Therefore, in our opinion, you should only use water as an additional dilution medium next to another diluent. In any case, you should make sure that you never use tap water, but only distilled water. Ordinary tap water can contain bacteria, which greatly reduces the durability of airbrush paint.
This is how it works: Successful Airbrush Color mixing
You can mix your own color shades from the basic color shades or mix very special color shades yourself.
It is even possible to mix the desired color tones directly in the paint container of your airbrush gun. To do this, simply pour the required paints drop by drop into the clean container and stir them thoroughly with a brush.
Valuable Tips on mixing colors
- In order to achieve the exact color shades you want, you should always dilute and mix in as small steps as possible. For example, a dosage of 1 to 4 of white can often cause striking differences in the brightness of the mixed color.
- In order to be able to airbrush continuously and trouble-free, you should mix the airbrush acrylic paints required for a project beforehand. You can also make them in slightly larger quantities and store them in lockable paint containers. In this way, the paints mixed in stock cannot dry out until they are finally used.
- If you spray different paints one after the other with the same airbrush gun, undesirable color mixing can occur due to paint residue in the gun. Therefore, it is important that at least when changing between different paint families, the nozzle is always thoroughly cleaned.
Step-by-Step Instructions: Clean the Airbrush properly
The only way to avoid undesirable paint contamination and mixing is to subject your airbrush gun to regular thorough cleaning measures. With this you can also maintain the nozzles of the airbrush gun at the same time.
- First the remaining paint should be removed from the paint container.
- Instead of the paint, first fill a small amount of special cleaner for airbrush guns into the container.
- If there are still isolated residues of paint adhering to the inner walls, these can usually be easily wiped off with a standard cotton swab.
- Then the paint container is completely filled with airbrush cleaner.
- Then spray the cleaner through the nozzle of your airbrush gun. Proceed in exactly the same way as when spraying paint, up to the point where there is obviously no paint residue left in the container. To avoid accidentally inhaling the airbrush cleaner, you can spray it into a cloth or piece of kitchen paper. This way you can also see how the cleaning process is progressing and when no more paint is coming out of the nozzle.
- When no more paint comes out of the airbrush gun, you can remove the remaining cleaner from the paint container.
- Then the nozzle is sprayed “dry” with compressed air until no more airbrush cleaner comes out of the nozzle.
- Now the cleaning process is finished and you can store the airbrush gun until its next use or fill it with the next planned paint.
Attention: Thorough cleaning should not only be done between different paints, but also always when finishing the airbrush work for a day. Only in this way can you use the technique you use in the long term without loss of quality.
Tips for Working with an Airbrush Gun
- From a health point of view, it is not entirely harmless to work regularly with an airbrush gun. Especially in very extensive projects and in poorly ventilated rooms, you will have to wear a suitable breathing mask if you do not want to damage your health. If you do not pay attention to this, residues of the airbrush paints (similar to the tar contained in cigarettes) can settle in your lungs, which can have unpleasant consequences in the long run.
- The masks suitable as breathing protection for airbrushing can be found not only on the Internet, but also in specialist shops for artists’ supplies and in DIY stores.
- You should use a high-quality breathing mask or a so-called particle filter, especially if you use paints as airbrush paints.
- If a continuous ventilation of your workplace is not possible, you should at least thoroughly ventilate the respective room after work and during longer work periods also in between.
- With ordinary disposable gloves you can prevent skin irritations and allergies due to the airbrush paints used.
Established Brand Manufacturers of Airbrush Paint
Vallejo: This manufacturer of airbrush paints offers products that are particularly suitable for model making purposes. You can buy the practical Vallejo paint sets for prices under 40 €. You can choose from very different sets with different paints and effect materials.
Schmincke: This brand manufacturer based in Germany has many high quality paints for airbrush artists in its range.
Revell: Similar to Vallejo, Revell also offers many airbrush paints especially suitable for model making.
Createx: This manufacturer sells high quality airbrush paints suitable for professional purposes, which are positioned in the middle segment of the price scale. Createx paints are particularly recommended for airbrushing on materials such as metal, ceramics, leather and textile products.
Liquitex: With this manufacturer you get paints which are characterised by a particularly extraordinary color brilliance and a high pigment concentration. However, for this you have to dig a little deeper into your pockets than with other manufacturers.
Illu-Color: The airbrush paints offered by this manufacturer are often used by illustrators and can immediately be filled into the airbrush gun undiluted.
Other important Manufacturers – without full range of Airbrush Products
- Mipa: 2K clear lacquers as finish for airbrush artwork
- Auto Air paints: With these airbrush paints you can add more layers of color on previously painted surfaces.
- AutoBorne Sealer: With this manufacturer you can find suitable primers for airbrushing.
Airbrush paints for detailed design with small nozzle diameter
- JVR paints
- Hansa pro-color
You can find particularly lightfast Airbrush paints with these Manufacturers:
- Paasche Paint
- Medea Iwata
Larissa Meyer is a 32-year-old mother from Michigan and creative spirit since childhood. Her passion for painting and drawing has led her to an education as an illustrator and a career as a freelance graphic designer. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration and a degree in Graphic Design. Larissa is a talented artist who is able to master a wide range of styles and techniques to bring her artistic vision to life. Her greatest passion is currently fluid painting and epoxy resin art. Larissa’s love for art and her knowledge and experience in illustration make her the perfect Creative Director for our fluid-painting.com team. She is the creative head of our team and shares her passion and knowledge with our community through articles and tutorials.
As a mother of a 2-year-old daughter, Larissa also understands the importance of fostering creativity in early childhood. She uses her experience and knowledge to help other parents inspire their children and develop their artistic skills as well.