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Thinning Reaper Master Series for low-pressure airbrushing


althafain
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I've been having terrible results with my Master Series paints when I try to thin them for my airbrush. I am doing detail work, 8 P.S.I. through a 0.21mm nozzle. I've tried various combinations of distilled water, Vallejo airbrush thinner, and Reaper Flow Improver. The viscosity I need appears to be somewhere around 1:3-5 paint to medium, but most mixes clog almost instantly in my brush. In fact, many of them clot up noticeably in my mixing cups.

 

I've seen several recommendations on this forum for thinners to use with RMS paints, such as Golden or Liquitex Airbrush Medium. What thinners or mediums does Reaper recommend for this application?

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Reaper hasn't ever recommended an airbrush thinner. I personally use distilled water starting at 1:1 different colors need different ratios. 8 PSI is awfully low, is there a reason you are using such a low pressure. I wouldn't run less than about 12 PSI and I'm usually closer to 18 PSI. The lower the pressure the more you have to thin it so if you are going to work 8 PSI you need it to be thinner.

 

I'm not sure why its clogging right in the mixing cup though. What brand of airbrush are you using? I have used the Liquitex Airbrush medium but not the Golden. Liquitex works just fine with Reaper paint. When you say detail work, what do you really mean, really thin lines or something more than that?

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I use part distilled water, part Golden airbrush medium. I find I get fewer clogs with the medium than without. The medium probably also slows down paint drying on the tip, since it definitely has a retarding action on paint drying. (That medium also adds a bit of sheen when used in quantity.)

 

I think I have a .3mm nozzle, but I'm not 100% sure. (My model comes with one of three nozzles, and I cannot figure out how to confirm which I bought!) Like Heisler, though, I usually spray around 12-20 PSI. I should probably note that I'm no expert on airbrushing, though.

 

Maybe it's possible that the Vallejo airbrush thinner and the Reaper paints and/or flow improver aren't reacting well with one another? While most acrylic paints work together well enough, it's possible that you're seeing different behaviour because of the amount of Vallejo product you're adding? Seems like something might be going on if you're seeing clumps in the mixing cup. I've mixed a drop of Reaper paint (many different colours) to more than 5 drops of water to mix glazes for brush painting as well as thinning for airbrushing and have never noticed any clumping or clotting.

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If I remember correctly from last Reapercon's How to Paint Your Dragon (with an Airbrush) Class, the instructor recommended using 50% 80%water, 50% 20% isopropyl alcohol as his go to mix.  Depending on humidity, he would increase the water content up to 75%. I will need to dig out my notes on the subject, but I haven't had any issued with Reaper MSP paints and my airbrush.

 

Also, I usually spray in the 15 to 20 psig range and use the dual action air brush to reduce air flow (pressure) at the brush for really fine details.  If  you have a single action air brush, I can see why you are running low at 8 psig.

 

edited to correct the ratios...

Edited by Bonwirn
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You have to be careful with isopropyl alcohol. If that was Aaron Lovejoy's class the mix was propably not anything close to 50%, maybe 15% alcohol. Atomized alcohol is very bad for you when atomized so be sure to wear a mask if you use it. It also promotes fast drying which can cause paint to dry on the needle while spraying, hence why I doubt the 50% ratio.

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You have to be careful with isopropyl alcohol. If that was Aaron Lovejoy's class the mix was propably not anything close to 50%, maybe 15% alcohol. Atomized alcohol is very bad for you when atomized so be sure to wear a mask if you use it. It also promotes fast drying which can cause paint to dry on the needle while spraying, hence why I doubt the 50% ratio.

Also worth asking what concentration isopropyl alcohol?

 

It can go from 70% rubbing alcohol to 99% concentration.

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I usually go 10 PSI at the compressor exit, so it is lower at the airbrush tip, without issues, with all my paints. Dry tip, yeah, some, but not clogging in the cup. TBH, that sounds like...

 

Maybe it's possible that the Vallejo airbrush thinner and the Reaper paints and/or flow improver aren't reacting well with one another? While most acrylic paints work together well enough, it's possible that you're seeing different behaviour because of the amount of Vallejo product you're adding? Seems like something might be going on if you're seeing clumps in the mixing cup. I've mixed a drop of Reaper paint (many different colours) to more than 5 drops of water to mix glazes for brush painting as well as thinning for airbrushing and have never noticed any clumping or clotting.

 

... exactly this. Not all acrylic mediums (in the paints) are the same and they react differently to solutions. For example, Vallejo Model Air clumps on contact with isopropyl alcohol (thus having a reputation of "you can't airbrush that paint!" with a lot of people that use alcohol without thought). 

 

I've been using Les' airbrushing medium recipe for all my paints and is working as a charm. It is matte medium, water and a tad of flow improver (in my case, Golden brand medium and flow imp). Reaper paints are very thin already so I don't dillute as much as other paints, I do like 1:2 for Reaper and have no problem at 10PSI with a .35 noozle. 

 

So I guess, my suggestion is use just water and start from there. Minimum possible denominator, garanteed not to clog on the cup, so you know that if it clogs it is because of fast drying. Add a tiny bit of flow improver to your thinning water to help with that... I don't know if you tried all of these already.

 

BTW, to prevent dry tip something that I got recommended, and it seems to work (at least, it clogs less with I do this before my sessions) is to dip the needle in vaseline, then wipe it clean (only a thin coat will remain). It lubricates the needle and less paint seems to stick to the tip.

 

You have to be careful with isopropyl alcohol. If that was Aaron Lovejoy's class the mix was propably not anything close to 50%, maybe 15% alcohol. Atomized alcohol is very bad for you when atomized so be sure to wear a mask if you use it. It also promotes fast drying which can cause paint to dry on the needle while spraying, hence why I doubt the 50% ratio.

 

Alcohol in lungs = bad. So is Acetone. Acrylic polymers and dust, also bad. Please wear your mask.

 

Friendly reminder. 3M dust masks ARE NOT ENOUGH. Wear a half face respirator with organic vapors' filters, especially if you are pushing alcohol, ethers or additives through the airbrush. Take care of yourself.   :blush:

 

And again, remember our paints are NOT alcohol based... alcohol can help evaporate the paint quicker and thus prevent pooling on the piece... something you can also prevent simply by airbrushing a little further away.

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I went back to my notes on Aaron's class that he did here in Colorado. The mix was 10% Isopropyl alcohol to 90% distilled water (we have hard water here, so using distilled water helps avoid paint contamination and mineral buildups). We were using the 99% Isopropyl (which I rarely anymore). I pretty much just use distilled water.

 

I would follow Willen's steps, the fact that its clogging in the cup really sounds like some kind of chemical reaction to me. Another reason why I just use distilled water.

Edited by Heisler
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I was lucky enough to hit Dallas on a business trip last week, so I stopepd by Reaper HQ and took the tour again. Chatting with Anne in the paint room, she told me that most of the airbrush painters she works with use 90% water and 10% alcohol. It may not be an "Official Reaper Recommendation", but I'll absolutely listen to face-to-face information from the creator of the paint line.

 

I'd already been using that mix for my Shadows of Brimstione minis, and it's working great with both Reaper MSPs and the SoB branded Army Painter paints.

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I was lucky enough to hit Dallas on a business trip last week, so I stopepd by Reaper HQ and took the tour again. Chatting with Anne in the paint room, she told me that most of the airbrush painters she works with use 90% water and 10% alcohol. It may not be an "Official Reaper Recommendation", but I'll absolutely listen to face-to-face information from the creator of the paint line.

 

I'd already been using that mix for my Shadows of Brimstione minis, and it's working great with both Reaper MSPs and the SoB branded Army Painter paints.

 

That's because that's the mix that Aaron teaches everyone with. And yes it works fine with Reaper paints it just has some drawbacks that you need to be aware of when you use it.

Edited by Heisler
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Liquitex AB Medium is just pure painting gold. I thin paint with it 25:1 through 50:1 thinner to paint.No break down or clogging whatsoever. I thin metallic paints with it and use it for washes. Alcohol is nasty business when atomized and can cause paint to separate into its constituent parts. (Not to Mention it's stupidly combustible.)

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Liquitex AB Medium is just pure painting gold. I thin paint with it 25:1 through 50:1 thinner to paint.No break down or clogging whatsoever. I thin metallic paints with it and use it for washes. Alcohol is nasty business when atomized and can cause paint to separate into its constituent parts. (Not to Mention it's stupidly combustible.)

 

Just want to verify that you said 25-50 parts of thinner to 1 part of paint?  That seems like a VERY thinned out paint.  Much more than I have ever seen others recommend.

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