Paint is paint is paint right? Wrong!
Paint is formulated for specific purposes. For instance painting the side of your house, or painting metal, or paper. The glue needs to stick to the substrate (the surface to be painted).
Use a paint that meets your specific purpose if at all possible. Otherwise, you get to do like my instructor taught me. Buy a small bottle and test it out on a piece that doesn’t matter, or in a place no one will see. Then see what happens!
There are three reasons for this.
Airbrushing is hard enough even with airbrush ready paint to make you want to pull your hair out a crush innocent, cute-eyed puppies beneath your boot clad foot in a fit of rage. Why add the extra paint hassles when you don’t have to? For experienced people who have mastered the airbrush, you can play with creating your own paint. You’ve put in the time, you have a good idea of the kind of pigments to use and the kind of runniness and stickiness you need out of your paint for it to spray well. Beginners should take heed of my warning. It really is for your own good.
This means the binder, the glue portion of the paint, has to be reduced enough to flow and spray easily without being over reduced so much that it doesn’t stick.
The pigments need to be very, very finely ground up. Pigment is simply dirt of the same color. The dirt likes to form clods in your paint. The finer the grind the less likely the globs will stick together. And also the more likely the pigment globs will break up while being sprayed.
Once you’ve mastered the airbrush, if you still feel like mixing your own paint, by all means, knock yourself out. Until you HAVE mastered it, stick with the more expensive, airbrush ready paint.
Here are top 10 airbrush paints from well known manufaturers
As the name states these are water based colors well suited for use in an airbrush. Available in pre reduced form, airbrush ready or in tubes. Water colors can be reduced in most cases with distilled water and are very transparent type paint.
Also sells under the name Tempera is water based but with a white pigment added to make it more opaque. Because of the white pigment added, you might find it a little harder to use in an airbrush than water colors. Gouache, like water colors, can be reduced with distilled water.
These come in both opaque and transparent colors. There are many manufactures but you will find it much easier to use these if you stick with a brand made for use in an airbrush.
Usually can be thinned with water or if the manufacture makes a reducer that should be used. Acrylics can be cleaned up with water or a cleaning agent. Long lasting on just about any surface, be sure to read the manufactures tech sheet on surface prep, best uses before you use them. Do not allow these to dry in your airbrush, clean right after use.
One category of Acrylic paints is textile paints made for use of course on textile products like T Shirts, jackets, sweat shirts. Most require heat setting to be permanent again please read the manufactures tech sheet as to use for best results.
A solvent based paint can be thinned with turpentine, minerals spirits and cleaned up with same products. Oils can be either opaque or transparent depending on how much you thin them. Oil paints have a very slow drying time.
Be very careful using these products, use in a well ventilated area, wear a mask. Again a solvent based product. There are other manufactures of these products. Care should be taken with these products to follow the manufactures tech sheets.
The paint should be tailored to your purpose, or at the very least very close to your intended purpose.
Use Airbrush Paint
You’ll still have to play with it. Just because it says airbrush ready doesn’t mean you can use it out of the bottle. Your darker colors like violet and blue can probably be used out of the bottle, while lighter colors like yellow and white will probably need to be thinned down.
Hobbyists can generally ignore this section, however, professionals MUST consider the legal ramifications of the coatings they spray. The problem is that I can only give you directions to think about since every state, county, and city has different issues.
Opaque is impervious to the passage of light. To enhance airbrush colors use white first as its very opaque , like when airbrushing on any dark surface, black t-shirt. for example
Transparent will transmit light so that the colors beneath can be seen. Combined with opaques will create beautiful pastels.
Fluorescent colors will fully cover any white or light colored surface. Gives you that neon look or hot look.
Pearlescent covers both dark and light colored surfaces , creates satin-like sheen and shimmer.
Metallic covers both light and dark colored surfaces,creates metallic like sheen, reflective properties.
Iridescent is permanent, light fast capable of producing an array of rainbow colors, covers dark surfaces without base coating white first.
Chameleon magically changes color with reflected light for maximum effects use it on dark surfaces.
Including 100% cotton, 50/50 blends, denim, sweatshirts, and most natural fibers.
Paper and Canvas
Ceramics and Clay
Next step is to choosing the right airbrush