We are excited to be launching #askFLAX. Every Wednesday we will answer your questions both here on our blog and on our social media pages. Send your questions in to firstname.lastname@example.org with Ask FLAX in the subject line or follow us on insta @flaxart and DM your questions. Let’s talk art supplies! This week’s question is: What paint can I use in an airbrush?
We get this question all the time. The answer in a nutshell is… any paint that has a skim milk consistency or thinner. One big condition we need to add to that is that you must clean out your airbrush immediately after every use and DO NOT let the paint dry in any of the parts. If you follow these two rules you can use any of the following paints in your airbrush.
Airbrush Paint - Paints labeled as Airbrush Paint are typically a fluid acrylic specially designed for use in an airbrush and are the best choice for beginners.
Acrylic Paint - High Flow Acrylics will work well in your airbrush. Golden makes a wonderful Airbrush Medium that works as a thinner for acrylic paints. Remember, consistency is key. You’re looking for a skim milk consistency or thinner. Acrylic inks like the FW Artists Inks and Liquitex Professional Inks can be used. (Beware of metallics, they often have large particles that will not work well in an airbrush.)
Watercolors can be thinned with distilled water. The result will be a very transparent paint that will can create some really interesting effects especially when using with frisket, masking fluid, or stencils. Any paint that contains large particles (sometimes found in natural pigments) could potentially clog your airbrush so always check the consistency when diluting paint.
Inks - Almost any ink will work including alcohol and water based inks but watch out for metallics. Metallic inks often have flakes of metal that will clog your air brush. We don’t recommend them!
Oil Paint - Solvent based paints can be thinned with mineral spirits. It may take a little extra work to clean out your airbrush when using oils. When working with solvents it is important to work in a well ventilated area and to wear a protective mask.
Enamel Paint - Yes, you can use enamel paint in your airbrush so long as you are vigilant about cleaning it properly immediately after you use it. Testors Enamel Paints can be thinned with Enamel Paint Thinner. Be sure to work in a well ventilated area and wear a mask.
Angelus Paint (leather paint) - You can get some amazing effects on leather shoes, sneakers, bags and even furniture using an airbrush and Angelus paint. Be sure to clean your air brush afterwards.
Food Coloring - no kidding! We get artisan bakers in from time to time looking for air brushes to create masterpiece cakes and confections. It goes without saying, if your airbrush has ever been used for anything other than food grade dyes, do not use it for anything edible. If you are using your airbrush for cake decorating, it can only be used for that purpose.
To summarize, you can use almost any paint in your airbrush so long as the consistency is that of skim milk or thinner, and there aren’t large particles in the paint that could clog the airbrush. (Beware of metallics). It is vital to clean out your airbrush immediately after use, and never allow paint to dry. Only use food colors in an airbrush that has never been used with any non food grade paint and only use it for this purpose.
Keep your questions coming and stay tuned for next week’s #askFLAX