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The Best Airbrush Paint

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Buyer's Guide

Beginner's Guide On Choosing The Best Airbrush Paint

bottles of airbrush paints

Airbrushing is a process of spraying paint on a surface where the paint is thinned with air so that it becomes airborne. It's used for cosmetic purposes, automotive finishes, and art. Achieving an even coating is easy with the right tools.

An airbrush is an amazing tool that can help you create beautiful designs with ease. You might be wondering what type of paint to use with your airbrush. There are many different types of paints on the market, and it can be hard to know which ones are best for your project.

Airbrushing is a skill that’s come up in recent years. There are many who enjoy this creative and artistic form of painting, but don’t know how to get started. If you’re interested in learning the basics of airbrushing, or if you want to take your skills to the next level, this guide is here for you! We’ll walk you through all the options when it comes to choosing paint for your airbrush so you can find the perfect choice for your next project.

What is an Airbrush Paint?

An airbrush paint is used to create a lovely paint application on a surface. To create the thin, slippery surface desired in airbrushing, a thin, durable liquid paint is mixed with air.

There are so many airbrush paints on the market these days that picking a good brand is critical to your success. It does not have to be difficult to select the best paint. You don't have to worry about being perplexed about which type of paint to buy because it can be easily narrowed down to two options: the kind of paint you intend to use, and the type of airbrush you wish to employ.

There are many styles of airbrushing available from industry giants, but there are also plenty of good options from smaller brands.

Why are Airbrush Paints so popular?

using airbrush paint

To create a lovely paint application on a surface, an airbrush paint is used. A thin, durable liquid paint is mixed with air to create the thin, slippery surface desired in airbrushing.

With so many airbrush paints on the market these days, choosing a good brand is critical to your success. Choosing the best paint does not have to be difficult. There are numerous styles of airbrushing available from industry titans, but there are also numerous good options from smaller brands.

Different Types of Paint

Before you can decide on the right type of paint for your airbrush, you need to know what type of paint is actually appropriate for airbrush applications. When you choose a paint, there are many different types available to you, and each one has its pros and cons.


As the name implies, these are water-based colors that are ideal for use with an airbrush. Available in pre-reduced, airbrush-ready, or tube form. Watercolors, which are very transparent, can usually be reduced with distilled water.


Also available under the brand name Tempera is a water-based paint that has been tinted with white pigment to make it more opaque. Because of the white pigment added, it may be a little more difficult to use in an airbrush than watercolors. Like watercolors, gouache can be reduced with distilled water.


These are available in both opaque and transparent colors. There are numerous manufacturers, but sticking with a brand designed for use in an airbrush will make it much easier to use.

Usually, water can be used to thin it, or if the manufacturer makes a reducer, that should be used. Acrylics can be washed with either water or a cleaning solution. Long-lasting on almost any surface, be sure to read the manufacturer's tech sheet on surface prep and best uses before using them. Do not let these dry in your airbrush; instead, clean them immediately after use.

Textile paints are a type of acrylic paint that is intended for use on textile products such as T-shirts, jackets, and sweatshirts. Most require a permanent heat setting, so please read the manufacturer's tech sheet as to how to use it for the best results.


A solvent-based paint can be thinned with paint thinner and cleaned with the same products. Depending on how much you thin an oil, it can be opaque or transparent. Oil paints take a long time to dry.

Sign Paints

Use these products with extreme caution, in a well-ventilated area, and while wearing a mask. Once again, this is a solvent-based product. There are other companies that make these products. It is important to follow the manufacturer's tech sheets when using these products.

What To Consider When Choosing Airbrush Paints for Your Project


First and foremost, you should ensure that no corrosive paints are used. This type of paint may not only be hazardous to your health, but it may also damage the seals on your airbrush gun. Apart from the aforementioned restriction, however, many paints are best suited for use as airbrush paints in principle.


Colors such as water paints, color inks, special airbrush paints, and so-called fine spray paints are examples of suitable transparent paints.


When airbrushing, oil paints, acrylic-based paints, and gouache can also be used as opaque paints. The binding of the acrylic to the surface of a canvas is very important for airbrushing in terms of the usability of such paints. Some paints can only deliver an unsatisfactory result if adhesion is not provided. To avoid unpleasant surprises, test the bonding strength of the paints you use for a short airbrush paint trial on the chosen surface before working on larger surfaces.

Project Needs

It's just as essential to compare the airbrush paints to the project's specifications. It comes as no surprise that the artistic decoration of a cake with an airbrush necessitates the use of non-toxic food paints, whereas skin-friendly or even hypoallergenic assessed paints should be used for body painting works of art with airbrush technique.

refilling airbrush paint

What To Look For In An Airbrush Paint

First, you must decide whether you want to buy your paint in aerosol or powder form. There are several reasons why you should buy the spray system:

The spray system allows you to have greater control over how your paint dries. The spray system allows you to control how quickly and thoroughly your paint dries. When you put the brush down, the spray system prevents air bubbles from becoming trapped in the paint. The spray system also protects your paint by preventing certain chemicals from coming into contact with it.

You'll have the advantage of being able to adjust the speed of your airbrush with the push of a button with the spray system.

Final Thoughts

airbrush tools

There are numerous paints that can be used for airbrushing. Using the right paint can help you achieve a smooth, consistent finish while also maintaining a beautiful, professional appearance.

One of the most important factors to consider is where you intend to use your paint. If you intend to buy your paint from a shop or a hardware store, you should probably stick to standard-grade paints. These are typically water-based, easy to clean, and do not require any post-processing, as traditional watercolors do. If you intend to paint at home or at work, thicker paint is usually a better option. Airbrushing isn't the simplest or cheapest medium to learn.



What is special about airbrush paint?

Airbrush painting is incredibly adaptable, allowing you to apply paint to a wide range of materials including paper, canvas, wood, cloth, leather, porcelain, metal, and plastic. These professional-grade paints may even be blended and diluted to achieve the desired tint and consistency. Look for particular directions for your intended usage; some surfaces will require coating before or after painting.

How thin should paint be for airbrush?

There is no standard method for thinning base paints. Thicknesses will vary across businesses and even between hues.

As a general rule, start with a thinner-to-paint ratio of 1:1 and modify from there if necessary. Because you cannot adjust if it is too thick, it is advisable to lean on the thin side & apply many layers.

Glazes and colors (also known as washes) do not need to be thinned. If you need to thin them for an airbrush, always use mediums designed exclusively for that paint.

What kind of paint do you use in an airbrush?

Acrylic - Paints designated as Airbrush Paint are a fluid acrylic specifically designed to be used in an airbrush. They are the best option for beginners. Acrylic Paint – High Flow Acrylics are great for your airbrush. Golden is a great Airbrush Medium. It can be used as a thinner to acrylic paints. Avoid metallic paints as they can contain large particles that won't work well in an airbrush.

Watercolors – Distilled water can thin watercolors. This paint will be highly translucent and can create some interesting effects when combined with frisket, masking fluid, or stencils. Paints with large particles, such as those found in natural colors, can block your airbrush. Therefore, ensure that the paint is diluted to the right consistency.

Inks – Nearly all inks will work, even alcohol- and water-based ones. However, metallics should not be used. Metal inks can clog your airbrush because they often contain metal particles. These inks are not recommended for use in an aerobrush.

Oil Paint - Mineral spirits are able to thin solvent-based paintings. Cleaning your airbrush with oils may require more effort. You should use solvents in an area that is well ventilated and wear a mask.

Enamel paint - You can use enamel paint in an airbrush, provided you clean it well after each use. You can thin enamel paint with certain enamel thinners. Use protective clothing and work in an area that is well ventilated.

Angelus Paint (leather painting) - You can make amazing effects on leather shoes and purses using an airbrush and Angelus Paint. Make sure you clean your airbrush after you are done.

How do you thin water-based paint for an airbrush?

Simply mix equal parts water and acrylic paint. Combine well by pouring the mixture in a mason jar and vigorously shaking for a few seconds. Alternatively, combine the ingredients in a measuring cup and stir with a tiny whisk.

Is airbrush paint thinner the same as reducer?

Thinners and reducers are both chemicals used to thin paint in automotive paints. These additives improve paint flow, resulting in even, professional coats. While the two serve the same objective, thinners & reducers are employed on quite different paints. If you use the wrong one, your paint will be ruined.

The primary distinction in thinners and reducers is the type of paint used. Lacquer-based paints require thinners. For urethane-based paints, reducers are utilized. The two solvents cannot be used interchangeably. For instance, if the paint is enamel-based, use a reducer rather than a thinner.

Each type of automotive paint will provide recommendations on which solvents to use and how to combine the paint and solvent. To achieve the finest results, it is critical that you strictly adhere to the manufacturer's instructions. The paint will specify if a thinner or a reducer must be used to thin it.

Poor sheen and adhesion, flatness, chalking, bumps or cracks, bubbles, sanding swell, leak of color are all signs that the solvent applied was not properly suited to the paint. Color bleed is caused by solvents interacting with the undercoats, allowing the color of the undercoat to show through the top finish. The solutions for each symptom take time and necessitate the application of extra paint to finish the project appropriately.

Do I have to use airbrush thinner?

You may, of course, use water. The problem is that the paint will dry and crust more rapidly on your needle tip, which happens naturally even with thinner, but it is inconvenient if it happens frequently - as it will if there is insufficient thinner.

If you don't thin the paint, you'll wind up spending more time sitting than painting, trying to figure out why it's not working properly. Thinning paint before spraying it with an airbrush might help you achieve a finer and more consistent spray pattern. Most airbrush paints may be a touch thick when used directly from the bottle.

The amount of thinner must be tweaked to produce the desired level of opacity. Opaque paints are thick, because they often contain more color pigment. As a result, they require a large degree of thinning in order to operate in an airbrush. Transparent colours seem to be the most likely to require no thinning when selecting a color finish.

What kind of mask do you need for airbrush painting?

You most certainly should. Ventilation is vital, but protective masks should also be used. A basic disposable particle (dust) mask can do, however a mask certified for particulate matter like a spray mask with activated carbon would be preferable.

The type of mask to use and why is a little more involved than a simple response. If you have taken up airbrushing to create a higher quality finish in your artwork, especially after utilizing brushes to paint with, you may not consider painting to be "hazardous" if you have adequate ventilation.

However, because an airbrush atomizes the paint into small particles before applying it, it creates a hazard. While most airbrush paints are non-toxic, that is not the issue here. It is the pulmonary function of your lungs.

Particulates cannot be handled by lungs, which can only process gases and not solids. When a chemical becomes atomized, such as when spraying paint with an airbrush, you run the danger of inhaling microscopic amounts of it floating around in the air.

Inhaling the paint may cause dizziness, headaches, and other moderate adverse effects in the short term. However, due to the absorption of atomized paint particles, you may suffer additional long-term health problems over time.

To protect yourself from hazardous vapors, wear a high-quality protective spray - painting mask. Choose one that is comfortable for you, and make sure that replacement filters are easily accessible.

Can any paint be used in an airbrush?

You may use nearly any paint in your airbrush as long as it has the viscosity of skim milk or thinner and doesn't include big particles that could jam the airbrush. (Be cautious of metallics.) It is critical to clean your airbrush right after usage and to never let paint dry. Use only food colors in an airbrush that was used with non-food grade paint before, and exclusively for this reason.

How do you keep airbrush paint on a shirt?

Heat setting. If an airbrushed cloth is not heat set, a procedure that permanently bonds the pigment to the fabric, it will break and discolor. Professional shirt painters use massive heat presses that allow for continuous pressing of the entire garment. These presses, however, cost thousands of dollars and are beyond the reach of the vast majority of enthusiasts. You can make this at home with a few common household items.

How do you store airbrush paint?

Keep your airbrush paints indoors, in a dry, cool place. Store them in something more secure if you aren't intending to use them for a time. Otherwise, while not in use, seal the neck and bleed holes. It's the same as keeping it in any other jar.

Keep your paints in an easily accessible location so that you can agitate them occasionally. Also, make certain that the paints would not simply slip down from where you plan on storing them, paints falling will cause a huge mess.

Does airbrush paint spoil?

Airbrush paint can deteriorate, but with proper storage circumstances, it can have a storage life of 3 to 15 years, based on how well it is stored and the type of paint. Some airbrush paints can last considerably longer if stored correctly.

How long does airbrush paint take to dry?

Depending on the weather and humidity, this time might last as short as 2-3 hours or as long as 24-36 hours. Use clear coatings as soon as the job is completed and cured to ensure that the paint stays intact and lasts for a longer amount of time.

How do you thin oil based paint for an airbrush?

First, filter the paint into a small container using a strainer. Second, for every three parts paint, add one component of mineral spirits or turpentine. Next, stir the paint with a clean mixing stick until the thinner and paint are completely combined. Then, via a funnel, pour the diluted paint. You're fine to go if the paint runs easily. If not, add one additional thinner portion until the paint flows freely through the funnel.

Can you use mineral spirits to thin paint for airbrush?

Mineral spirits is actually the optimum choice for most artists when it comes to diluting Enamel paints for airbrushing. Mineral Spirits or White Spirits (based on where you reside) are perhaps the finest ways to thin Enamel Paints. Mineral-based paint thinners are commonly used in industrial airbrush paint thinners.

How much does air brush paint cost?

Some brands may be more expensive than others, but airbrush paint sets can be purchased for as little as $15 to $25. However, extremely cheap paints may not provide the best finish, and extremely expensive paints do not guarantee a perfect result. You must carefully consider your options and how much money you are willing to invest in your airbrush paint. You can level your expectations by reading other people's reviews before making an online purchase.

How much airbrush paint do I need?

Fill the airbrush cup with 4-6 paint droplets. Because airbrushes don't need a lot of paint to work, only use a few droplets at a time. If you tilt the pen over after you've loaded the paint, it will spill. You can use either an upper or bottom-loading pen.

How do you clean acrylic paint from an airbrush?

Acrylic is a chemical-based paint that is much easier to clean; simply spray a cup or two of alcohol, followed by a cup of water, and the airbrush is as good as new. There is no need for disassembly.

Can you use spray paint as an airbrush paint?

Yes, it truly is as simple as using a specially cut tip to pass the paint from the spray can into the mixing cup — it's inexpensive, throwaway, and very easy to perform.

Can you airbrush with water based paint?

Airbrushing with traditional water based paints is a simple process that can be executed without much difficulty. Classic artists such as Alberto Vargas, the pinup maestro, have employed this approach in their work. Pre-mixed, ready-to-spray watercolors are now available, which is a practical choice for beginners.

Water Based paints are translucent in nature, and they may be airbrushed utilizing layering techniques to provide a more refined look. They are also easy to re-wet, which means that even if they have been administered, you still have the chance to reactivate them by adding water to the solution.

However, water based paints are far less durable than acrylics and have concerns with lightfastness. Which is why they are typically utilized in illustration and fine art.

What kind of airbrush paint do you use on a bike?

Diluted paint. It is possible to maintain the layer as thin as possible when using this sort of paint. Better paint consistency will not be achieved with the use of paint thinner. Furthermore, you will be able to apply the paint more accurately.

Airbrush paint may be used to coat and color any type of bicycle, no matter what material it is constructed of. Compared to spray paint, using an airbrush when painting results in a more equal and thin application of paint than spray paint. When sprayed to the surface, it generates a thin mist that may be built up in numerous layers without seeming too thick.


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