Airbrushing and Acrylics

NW Modeling List nw-modeling-list at
Wed Feb 2 12:20:00 EST 2011


Good question; I use the Badger 175 Crescendo; this airbrush was designed for use in spray acrylic paints; of course, you can spray solvent based paints as well.  It is a double action airbrush.  Your airbrush must be capable of handling acrylic paint; I have an older Badger 200 single action, and a Badger 150 double action; I don't use these with acrylics.

Jim Brewer

Glenwood MD

----- Original Message -----
From: "NW Modeling List" <nw-modeling-list at>
To: "NW Modeling List" <nw-modeling-list at>
Sent: Wednesday, February 2, 2011 9:19:16 AM
Subject: RE: Airbrushing and Acrylics


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 else.

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 using.

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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