Not all paints are suitable for airbrush application. Knowing what paints
your airbrush can handle will extend the useful life of the equipment.
to the manufacturers instructions for the type of pigments your airbrush is
designed to use.
Pigments for the airbrush are liquids such as watercolors, retouch greys,
inks, dyes, and oil colors. Pigments must be finely ground, thoroughly
mixed, and free of lumps or impurities. Make it a practice to routinely strain
pigments through a nylon stocking or fine mesh screen before using.
Normally, standard airbrushes cannot handle lacquers or enamels. There are
special airbrushes for lacquers or enamels that can withstand the deleterious
effects of caustic solvents.
Pigment viscosity refers to how thick or thin the mixture of pigment and
solvent or vehicle in the color cup is mixed. If paint is too thick, it will not
atomize and spray from the nozzle; therefore, add thinners to the paint. If
paint is too thin, it will not cover properly and will run very quickly.
thinned paint may also dry too rapidly. Judging paint correctly requires
practice and patience.
Solvents thin or dilute the consistency of pigment. Water-based paints, inks,
dyes, and retouch greys require water for thinning or clean-up. Oil-based
pigments require solvents for dilution or clean-up. Make sure you match the
pigment to the solvent or the pigment will curdle and may permanently ruin
When preparing pigments for airbrushing, mix enough pigment to cover an
entire area. If the paint is a custom-mixed color, the likelihood of preparing
a second-batch, exact match is slim. Also, stopping in the middle of an air
painting session is an inconvenient time to stop to remix color.
Colors with chemically composed pigmentation have strong residual colors
that may stain other colors. Pigment dried or encrusted in the color cup or
bottle may redissolve when saturated with another color of the same solvent
base and bleed into the other color.