Here is a brief run down on the different
types of paints most commonly used in an airbrush. Most of the following can be
purchased in most art stores, craft shops. A few of the paints listed must be
purchase at specialty shops like automotive paint suppliers.
source of information about these products and what other airbrush artists have
to say about their use is my
Consumer Airbrush Product Review check it out for
further detailed info.
As you begin to learn "How To" airbrush its best
to use a paint made specifically for airbrushing. A few good ones are DR PH
Martins, Golden Airbrush Colors. The pigments in these colors are ground finer
than those in craft paints allowing for easy use in an airbrush. Craft, textile
paints are fine to use after you learn the basics but when first learning to
airbrush using an airbrush ready paint will make the learning process much more
enjoyable believe me.
Most of these paints fall into two categories
either Transparent or Opaque. For learning purposes it really does not matter
which you use, although because transparent colors are generally thinner than
opaque colors you might find them easier to use.
Opaque - is
defined as "not transmitting light" or "impenetrable to sight ". In simple
terms spraying an opaque color other another color the second color applied
will cover the first color, not blend well. Opaque colors generally have more
pigments in them than transparent colors making them more likely to clog up
your airbrush and dry on the tip of the needle.
Transparent - is
defined as "allowing light to pass through so that bodies can be distinctly
seen" or "easily seen through" Transparent colors blend much easier to produce
a new color. Yellow over red should give you an orange color for
WATER COLORS - 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 best reduced in most cases with
distilled water and are very transparent type paint.
All so sells under the name Tempera is also 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 if the paint manufacture makes one. Long lasting on just about
any surface, be sure to read the manufactures tech sheet on surface prep, best
uses before you use them. As with the above Gouache 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.
PAINTS - 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
SIGN PAINTS - One Shot is one such product. 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
For infomation on Automotive lacquers, enamels, and urethanes
please check out my "How To Custom Paint" web site which deals with
using these products.