Airbrushes, Hobby and Model Paint, Model Supplies

How To Thin Acrylic Paint For Airbrush

How To Thin Acrylic Paint For Airbrush

“How To Thin Acrylic Paint For Airbrush” is the question that all modelers are curious about. Reducing or thinning airbrush colors in many cases requires some experimentation to find out at what consistency the paint is best atomized in the airbrush you are using.

Thinning Acrylic Paint

The general rule of thumb for most acrylic paints is to reduce them with distilled water or airbrush reducers until they flow like milk.

Many things matter when you find the right consistency of the airbrush color that you use to atomize properly. The type of airbrush used, the size of the needle and liquid nozzle, and the air pressure you use play a role.

The extent of the reduction also depends on the size of the nozzle in your airbrush. A 0.5mm nozzle will spray much thicker paint than a 0.2 if the correct air pressure is used.

Excessive reduction of some colors can be detrimental and the colors may not adhere well. Always check the product’s technical datasheets, if available. The key is experimenting to find out which reduction is best for you and your situation.

Extender Vs Thinner – color extenders, which are manufactured by the paint manufacturers, usually do not make the paint thinner, but more transparent.

Below is some information that I have put together for various products. I hope you find it helpful.

How to reduce Auto-Air Colors

0.3 mm needle, nozzle size – transparent colors, diluted with Auto Air Reducer approx. 300% or more (3 reducers: 1 color)

0.2 mm needle, nozzle size – transparent colors with Auto Air Reducer approx. 500% or more (5 reducers: 1 color)

*** To improve atomization when using an airbrush, Auto-Air Reducer can be used to dilute paints. When using an airbrush, the colors are often reduced by up to 400% (Auto Air Reducer 4: 1 Auto Air Color). The mixing ratios can vary depending on the color and color series. Exact relationships are not required.

Thin Createx airbrush paint

All Createx illustration colors, automatic air colors, and bad colors can be reduced with the high-performance reducer 4012. Your performance can be further improved by using 4030 Balancing Clear. This is a clear base medium that can increase durability and spray performance and acts as an adhesion promoter.

This beautiful video explains how you can reduce Createx’s airbrush color. [Diagram with reduction matrix]

How To Thin Acrylic Paint For Airbrush

GOLDEN airbrush colors

GOLDEN High Flow paints are formulated from a safe and archived 100% water-based acrylic emulsion that contains only the fastest pigments available. They are ready to use, no dilution is necessary because they are finely ground. They spray easily through the smallest openings available for airbrush brushes.

GOLDEN Airbrush Medium (formerly Airbrush Transparent Extender) can be added to airbrush colors to achieve more transparent colors without compromising film integrity and durability. By reducing the pigment load by adding the extender, the durability and frisket performance of the film is increased.

Here is a table of the color mixing ratio that I found in various forums, which shows what ratio should be used to dilute different color brands.

Paint ThinnerRatioPressureClean-Up
Polly ScaleDistilled Water3:1 or 4:115-25H2O/Washer Fluid
FloquilSolvent/Thinner2:1 or 3:112-20Lacquer Thinner
Badger ModelflexWater Very little, if any 25-30H2O/Washer Fluid
TamiyaAlcohol2:115-20H2O/Washer Fluid
Vallejo Model ColorVallejo Thinner3:120-25Lacquer Thinner
Vallejo Model AirVallejo Thinner Very little, if any 20-25Lacquer Thinner
MicroLuxVallejo Thinner Very little, if any 20-25Lacquer Thinner
HumbrolWater1:1 or 2:115-20Water
GunzeSangyoAlcohol or
Distilled Water
1:1 or 2:120Water/Alcohol
Scalecoat IISolvent/Thinner1:115-20Lacquer Thinner
ModelMaster(Testors)Universal Thinner Very little, if any 18-20H2O/Washer Fluid
Alclad IILacquer Thinner    Very little, if any 12-15Lacquer Thinner
PactraLacquer Thinner1:120-25Lacquer Thinner
Pactra AcrylicNone 25-30H2O/Washer Fluid
Lifecolor AcrylicDistilled Water, Washer Fluid1:112-15H2O/Washer Fluid
Craft Store Acrylics25% Liquitex Slow-Dri, 25% Flow Improver, 50% water1:220-30 

Thinning solvent-based paint

Solvent-based paints are difficult to discuss because there are so many different systems on the market.

With solvent-based, I refer to the car paints that we use to airbrush murals, flames, graphics on bicycles, cars, trucks, etc. With these, it is best to get to know your local painter REAL well.

Most, if not all, of the technical datasheets attached to these products relate to painting cars and not applying these products with an airbrush. Please note this when checking the technical datasheets.

Most of the time, when used in an airbrush, you need to reduce the products beyond what is stated in the technical data sheets so that they flow correctly through an airbrush.

Thinning solvent-based paints is a very personal decision as to how much you dilute or reduce. I’m afraid this will require some experimentation on your part.

For House of Kolor colors, I generally reduce them to about 50% color, 50% reducer with a slow reducer, maybe a little more reducer depending on the color. The technical data sheet states that two parts paint a partial reducing agent for spray gun applications in most House of Kolor products. So you see, I reduce it according to the information on the technical datasheet. Again, a good place to start might be to let it flow like milk.

Make sure that you do not use a solvent-based product in your airbrush that requires the addition of a catalyst. I will add more to this page if time permits. Please bookmark this page and come back often.

I hope you found this helpful to find out how best the airbrush paint you use flows.

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