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Talon65

Airbrush and paint question?

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I friend gave a me a couple of airbrushes I want to use for some figures and I haven't used one since art school some 20 years ago. Even then I only used it for ink.

 

When it comes to diluting paint for the airbrush, the websites and youtube videos I can find all just say "it depends..." but I'd like an idea where to start.

 

So, any ideas on how much I should dilute Vallejo and Reaper acrylic paints?

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It depends :)

 

The less water you use the thicker your paint will be. Either it will clog your airbrush, or give a thicker coat.

The more dilluted the "watery" the paint and the more likely it will be to bead up or have very sheer covering.

 

I just play with water in mine until I get the consistancy I want. I spray it onto paper towels till it looks right.

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It depends. I start at 1:1 paint to distilled water. Either its good at that point or its going to need more thinning. The reason you get the "it depends" answers is because some paints are thicker than others, Vallejo Model Color for example is fairly thick out of the bottle and might require more thinning than other brands. Some colors, will be thicker than others blues and greens for example while reds and yellows tend to be thinner.

 

The "it should look like skim milk" is not a bad description and go out and buy some skim milk so you know what it looks like! I, personally, recommend that you only thin with water. I use distilled water simply because we have hard water in Colorado so its easier on the airbrush. Anything labeled airbrush thinner is also okay, since its designed specifically for paint (make sure its for acrylic paint). Other thinners that I have seen recommended and used are isopropyl alcohol and windex. Windex can dissolve rubber components in your airbrush overtime so I don't recommend that at all. Isopropyl alcohol should be at least 90% pure to avoid contaminants and mixed about 1:9 alcohol to water. You should (read must) wear a mask if you use alcohol in your mix as atomized alcohol is really, really bad for you. You should be wearing a full filter mask anyway if you are painting inside or in a contained area. I wear a mask regardless of where I'm using my airbrush, even outdoors (big terrain project).

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Heisler right on the money for what I've been doing and I've had the airbrush for a month or so.

 

I also have some matte medium and acrylic thinner (flow improver) as some paints, usually whites and yellows, clog the tip rather quickly so I'm hoping these things will fix that problem (haven't tried them yet--just got them).

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Thanks Heisler, that's what I was looking for. I realize why they do it and that I would have to adjust for different paints, I just wanted a starting point so I wasn't repeatedly clogging up the airbrush and getting frustrated while just trying to get close. I have some patience, just not a lot. :)

 

I already planned on using distilled water. Partially for the reasons you mention, the danger of using alcohol & the issues with Windex and i also have hard water but also because paint thinned with alcohol dries faster then paint thinned with water which doesn't matter to me and it's just an addition expense as I already use distilled water for other stuff. And yes, i already have a mask as well.

 

Thanks for the tip Monkey, I wasn't planning on using any whites or yellows as I'm doing camo for WWII vehicles but I already have medium and flow improver so I'll keep that in mind if it does come up.

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Adjust your compressor to about 1.5 Kilos or 18-20 psi. Then mix your paint 1:1 with your thinner of choice. Adjust your thinning ratio until it sprays well for you. You have to make your own ratio because your paint is unique and special and its in an environment that is unique and special. 

 

If I only use distilled water  it doesn't adhere very well to the surface I spray on and I get runs and spider webs.

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If I only use distilled water  it doesn't adhere very well to the surface I spray on and I get runs and spider webs.

 

In my newbie year-or-so with the airbrush, runs and spider webs are usually fault of overdillution*, overpressure, spraying too close, and usually a combination of the above.

 

If you want to spray very close for small details you need to lower your pressure (some airbrushes can handle this, some not); I usually go as low as a hair below 10psi in my regulator, but for such a low pressure you need an ink-like consistency or the air won't be able to suck on the paint. Hence, more dillution. If the above setup is cranked up to 20psi, you would get huge runs.

 

Just test it with water and you will see. I actually prefer to airbrush with about 10 psi for details, and 15 psi for basecoats, adjusting the distance of spray until it reaches the surface wet but not pooling or running.

 

* overdillution with water. Dilluting with medium is not as harsh as water because the medium is viscous.

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I typically paint at about 12psi. I hate messing with it so that's a compromise setting for me. Oh and remember that pressure decreases as soon as you start spraying so check your psi level with air flowing through the airbrush.

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Sounds like I need to get a pressure regulator then.

 

Another question if you don't mind. The compressor I was given is a Paasch. With the airbrush hooked up, it seems to be really slow to get going when you first plug it in/turn it on. It slowly (and I do mean slowly) chugs until it builds up to speed like I expect a regular compressor to do. It takes about 5 minutes to build up to speed before you can start painting.

 

If you start it with out the airbrush hooked up it starts right up but as soon as you hook the airbrush it slows back down again until it builds up speed.

 

I know airbrush compressors can be different than a norman high PSI compressor but is this normal? I know it's been in storage for awhile and they're supposed to be "lube-less" but it doesn't seem normal to me. Will it loosen up over time or is there something I can or should do? 

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Sounds like I need to get a pressure regulator then.

 

Another question if you don't mind. The compressor I was given is a Paasch. With the airbrush hooked up, it seems to be really slow to get going when you first plug it in/turn it on. It slowly (and I do mean slowly) chugs until it builds up to speed like I expect a regular compressor to do. It takes about 5 minutes to build up to speed before you can start painting.

 

If you start it with out the airbrush hooked up it starts right up but as soon as you hook the airbrush it slows back down again until it builds up speed.

 

I know airbrush compressors can be different than a norman high PSI compressor but is this normal? I know it's been in storage for awhile and they're supposed to be "lube-less" but it doesn't seem normal to me. Will it loosen up over time or is there something I can or should do? 

 

I'm afraid that doesn't sound right at all. My Iwata compressor just starts up and goes and the TCP compressor (which I hated by the way) I had did the same. Turn them on and they are basically operating at full capacity  immediately. I'm not all the conversant with the interior workings of a compressor but it sounds like one or more of the interior seals has probably failed. I think you may need to replace that one.

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Ya. Mine takes a less then a minute to build up pressure and it's got a tank.

 

You'll want a regulator, it's really nice when you're working with different needle sizes and paint thicknesses. I'm finding that I use about 18psi for basing and standard effects and 15psi for more watery paints (like washes) to get better blending and so on. If I have it up at 18 for the more watery paints it's really messy. I'm also, like Heisler, up in the mountains so elevation is probably causing some numbers to be different from what others may need.

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Yep, pressure needs to be checked with air valve open on the airbrush (trigger down, to be clear).

 

I think a regulator is a must, airbrushing means controlling all three variables (paint consistency, pressure, distance). Then comes trigger control and practice. Not being able to control one is... suboptimal.

 

I am also in the camp of "fiddle with the psi as little as possible" but then, my mixtures are optimized for that pressure. Sometimes I overthin and get spider webs on the test cardboard, playing with psi and distance allows me to work anyway.

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One quick note: if you're going to be painting bones, you'll want to thin the paint with something other than water. Bonesium is very hydrophobic.

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One quick note: if you're going to be painting bones, you'll want to thin the paint with something other than water. Bonesium is very hydrophobic.

 

IME, a thinning medium of 25% water, 75% matte medium and a spoonful of flow aid worked great!

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I'll just throw this out there. I tried out Badger's Stynylrez primer last weekend. Works like a champ on bones. It seems to adhere better to the bones than blue liner did. Also, wiggling and moving the morningstar and axe on the gnolls in bones 2 has not revealed any sort of cracking. Sure, it's an extra step, but I prefer painting over the consistent primer grey, than over the bones white. It's way easier to see the details, and my eyes need all the help they can get for the details side of things.

 

I'm also looking forward to dropping a little green into a bit of the white primer for a good zombie base colored primer as well. Um, for the zombies and ghasts, not the gnolls. Though undead gnolls would definitely not be expected...

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