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I just acquired an airbrush, and I am hoping to use it to basecoat entire units at a time. For those who currently use an airbrush what proportion of paint and water do you use? I would rather waste as little of the citadel paint as I can, but still want a decent coat on the models.
You've just discovered the one question to which there is not and will never be a definitive answer, Poypoy. Everybody does it a bit differently, and it'll vary from paint to paint as well. You're basically aiming to get a thin, watery consistency without it getting so watery that it turns from thin paint to coloured water. The GW spraygun calls for what looks like a 60/40 paint to water ratio, so I'd start there. If your airbrush has a really fine tip, more thinning will probably be necessary, and if you're using regular Citadel paints, you may want to thin less (IIRC, the spraygun was intended for the heavier Foundation paints).
So start at 60/40 or 50/50, do a small test mix and try it out on a blank sheet of paper. Once it covers well without running or clumping, you're on the right track.
What air brush are you using? The Citadel spray gun has markers on the pot that say where the fill the paint up to and then where you top it up with water, I've found that it's pretty accurate.
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I am the Hammer...
A bit of unconventional advice from a LONG time airbrush user...take it or leave it and some will not agree, but with over 30 years of experience (almost 15 as a professional illustrator)...
NEVER use water based acrylic paints in your fine airbrush If you have a large, full coverage type, then maybe you could. The issue is water based paints have to be thinned beyond the capacity of the pigment, so the carrier, i.e. water, makes the pigment unstable. It will take too many coats and really be useless. It is OK for a wash and is great for that purpose, but the brush on washes are far better, control and placement wise. Also, water does not dissipate/atomize as well as other carriers.
OK, you say, well I just use less water and I get good coverage - well, you are slowly destroying your airbrush. Too much water-based pigment will build up in the brush and no amount of water and cleaning will get it out, which means a complete disassembly and there will still be parts you cannot get to and the rock-hard, dried acrylic will not do your nice brush any good.
The solution - always use thinner-based paints, or water-based inks. For a quick base coat/primer, just use the good old fashioned flat enamels you used to paint your model cars with. You can thin it up with thinner to run through your brush perfectly and still get great, one coat coverage. When you need to clean, run thinner through with your normal disassemble cleaning. Even semi-dried enamel will clean when spraying out thinner through your brush, but not so with water-based acrylics. Also, the thinner-based paints will dry quicker and the evaporation during spraying helps get a thinner coverage with the pigment where you want it to go and keep the details looking better.
OK - my rant is over! Some will not agree, but I guarantee you will get better coverage and longer use from your brush.
I agree totally with MDSW.
However, I do use acrylics for my main painting. It isn't as good at covering as enamels but it's a choice one makes for various reasons. As has been said different paints need thinning different amounts. A good thing to do to learn about the paints and what happens as you thin them is too get some black and white card and test out different colours thinned different ammounts on it. You'll learn lots by doing rather than reading.
Hope that helps
Yes - I really like to brush paint with the acrylics and washes and do all my figs that way. The clean up is so nice and easy and the carrier/pigment/vehicle ratio really makes these great at coverage, etc. - I just would not shoot them through my airbrush.
Thanks for this I was planning to airbrush the majority of my blood angels and you've probably just stopped me from ruining my airbrush.
Is there any particular brand of paint you'd recommend for airbrushing minis?
..........got a masters degree in kicking ass and taking names
Thanks everyone for the replies, it should help quite a bit.
@V3xx - I was given the Testors Aztek Deluxe Resin airbrush set.
All the paints I have currently are of the games-workshop variety.
I have HEARD (no personal experience here), that you CAN use acrylic paints in an airbrush--the key is not to use water to thin them. I've seen people do it using Windex (it's that blue spray-on window cleaner stuff here in the U.S. People overseas may know it by a different name). Would that thin the paints without breaking them down?
The real problem is once acrylic dries in your nozzle, interior chambers, etc. it is going to stay there until you chip or scratch it out. Petroleum based paints will clean very well, even when somewhat dried, when you blast paint thinner through it.
My current favorite mix is about 15% thinner added to any flat enamel. This will go through the airbrush great and clean up with the basic blow and go method (full open and hold a towel in front off/on to blow back the thinner and then up again) and then a quick pull of the pin and paint channel for final cleaning and you are good for storage. With acrylic I always had to completely disassemble the entire nozzle and every aspect of the brush every time I used it - Not impossible, but a real pain and you only need to get a little lazy once and your brush will never be the same...