Reducing Airbrush Paint

Reducing airbrush paint in many case’s takes a bit of experimenting to find exactly at what consistency the paint atomized best in the airbrush you are using.

Reducing or thinning paint for use in your airbrush

The general rule of thumb with most Acrylic Colors is reducing it with distilled water until it flows like milk. Please understand here that it depends on how much air pressure you are running and the type of airbrush you are using. A lot of things come into play when finding just the right consistency  of the airbrush paint you are using to atomize correctly. The type of airbrush you are using, needle and fluid nozzle size and the air pressure you are using all come into play.

Over reducing some paints might have an adverse effect and the paints might not adhere as well. Always check the product tech sheets if available. Key to this is experimenting to find what reduction works best for you and you situation.

Beware that  there is a difference with paints made to use in an airbrush and craft type paints, the pigments are ground finer in paint made to use in an airbrush they generally will flow much better being less hassle to spray thru your airbrush. The amount or reduction also depends on the size of the nozzle in your airbrush a 0.5 mm nozzle will spray much thicker paint than a 0.2 given the correct air pressure is being used. Extenders that the paint companies make more often than not do not make the color thinner but do make it more transparent.

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


Auto Air: Reducing or thinning.

Auto Air: 0.3mm needle, nozzle size: Transparent Colors thinned with Auto Air Reducer approx 300% or more (3 Reducer : 1 color)

0.2mm needle, nozzle size:Transparent Colors thinned with Auto Air Reducer approx. 500% or more (5 Reducer : 1 color)

***To improving atomization when using an airbrush, Auto Air Reducer may be used to thin paints. Often, colors are reduced up to 400% (Auto Air Reducer 4:1 Auto Air Color) when using an airbrush. Mix ratios may vary per color and Color Series. Exact ratios are not required.

Createx Colors thinning or reducing: Airbrush Extender a transparent medium which will dilute the color to a lighter value. Will increase transparency in opaque and pearlized airbrush colors. Add until desired transparency or color shade is achieved.You can us distilled water to further reduce as needed.

Createx Acrylic Colors: Multi Surface Acrylics may be thinned with water or extended with Createx Mediums

GOLDEN Airbrush Colors are formulated from a safe and archival1 100% water-based acrylic emulsion, incorporating only the most light fast pigments available.Viscosity ready to use, no dilution required as they are finely ground, they easily spray through the smallest orifices available for airbrushes.

GOLDEN Airbrush Transparent Extender can be added to the Airbrush colors to yield more transparent colors without jeopardizing the film integrity and permanency. In fact, lowering the pigment load by adding the Extender will actually increase the film’s durability and frisket performance.

Doc PH Martins– Ready-Tex Ultra Ready to use Fabric Paint no dilution or filtering necessary.


Solvent Based Paint

Solvent based paints are a hard one to discuss as there are so many different systems out there on the market.

By solvent based I’m referring to the automotive paints we use for airbrushing murals, flames, graphics on bikes, cars, trucks, etc. With these the best thing to do is to get to know your local paint jobber REAL well.

Most if not all the tech sheets put on these products relate to painting cars and not to applying these products thru an airbrush, please keep that in mind when reviewing tech sheets.

Most often when used in an airbrush you must over reduce the products beyond what the tech sheets say to get them to flow correctly thru an airbrush. Some products like Dupont Chroma Base use what’s called a Base Maker instead of a Reducer like House of Kolor. Base makers will in most cases not make the color thinner allowing it to easily flow thru your airbrush in fact some make the paint thicker. With products that do use a reducer thinning or reducing the paint for use in an airbrush is best accomplished with medium or slow temp reducers.

Thinning solvent based paints is a very personal choice as to how much you thin or reduce it, this will take some experimenting on your part I’m afraid.

With the House of Kolor paints I use I generally reduce it with slow reducer at about 50% paint 50% reducer depending on the color maybe a bit more reducer. The tech sheet calls for two parts paint one part reducer for spray gun applications on most House of Kolor products so you can see I do over reduce it according to what the tech sheet says. Again a good starting point might be to get it to flow like milk.

Beware of using a solvent based product in your airbrush that requires adding a catalyst. I will add more to this page as time allows please book mark this page and come back often.

I hope you found this helpful in sorting out how to find just the right consistency the airbrush paint you are using flows best. I will keep adding to it as often as I can.Written by Don Johnson with help from Doug Probst.

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