Airbrushing and Acrylics

NW Modeling List nw-modeling-list at
Wed Feb 2 09:19:16 EST 2011


What make and model airbrush do you use ?

Paul Mandelkern
Winter Park, FL


From: nw-modeling-list-bounces at
[mailto:nw-modeling-list-bounces at] On Behalf Of NW Modeling List
Sent: Wednesday, February 02, 2011 7:57 AM
To: NW Modeling List
Subject: Re: Airbrushing and Acrylics


I totally disagree with Mr. Mason. I have been airbrushing acrylics for
several years and have been satisfied with the results. For those who
have painted extensively with solvent based paints, using acrylics is an
entirely different ballgame. I still use solvent based paints for
certain applications, but where possible, use acrylics for everything

Here are some things that come to mind on how I use acrylics:

1. I do not use water to thin the paint; I use 70% isopropyl alcohol
(you can use the 90% as well). The reason I do this is the alcohol will
evaporate and dissipate quickly, allowing good coverage of the paint;
water simply will not act the same way and this can cause runs, drips
and other problems.

2. I thin most colors about 15%; colors such as yellow, orange and
silver I willl thin 10% or less.

3. I have found it is critical to "measure" your paint; unlike solvent
paint where you can "eyeball" the mix, I have adopted a system that
allows me to control the mix of paint to alcohol; first, as with any
paint, I make certain it is thoroughly mixed in the bottle; I use a
battery powered paint stirrer that I purchased from MicroMark; I then
measure the paint using eyedroppers; this is not as tediuos as it
sounds; I quickly learned that the eyedropper size I use holds "about 40
drops" of paint; I simply count the number of eyedroppers of paint to
determine the amount of alcohol to add. I then use the paint stirrer to
thoroughly mix the paint before spraying.

4. I spray at about 15-20 psi; this is all that is necessary.

5. Prior to my painting session, I fill a small tub container with
water that has a few drops of dishwashing detergent added; after
spraying a color, I will submerge the airbrush in the tub and spray
water through it; I'll remove the color cup and repeat the process with
the brush only; I also keep a small airbrush paint bottle of windshiled
washer fluid (the blue kind) at my spray booth; I then spray the
windshield washer fluid through the color cup and the brush; at the end
of a paint session, I will leave some of the washer fluid in the brush
(that is, I don't spray until nothing more comes out).

6. If I am using the airbrush for weathering, I will reverse the
proportions of alcohol to paint;

7. I use Floquil's Polly Scale acrylic paint almost exclusively.
Testor's makes this paint and I have used some of their acrylic Model
Master colors as well. I prefer these over Modelflex because they can
be brush painted better.

IMHO, the argument over solvent vs. acrylic is much like the old high
school "Chevy vs. Ford," debate; or perhaps for today, Mac vs. PC; it
all comes down to what works for you, and what you feel comfortable

Jim Brewer

Glenwood MD

----- Original Message -----
From: "NW Modeling List" <nw-modeling-list at>
To: nw-modeling-list at
Sent: Tuesday, February 1, 2011 8:27:16 PM
Subject: Airbrushing and Acrylics

The most recent Scotty Mason show had a section on airbrushing with
acrylics in which the basic message was "don't do it".

Thoughts on this rather black and white assessment?

Matt Goodman

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