Airbrush help needed

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by guppyman, Jan 4, 2004.

  1. guppyman

    guppyman Member


    I've had an airbrush since last July, but haven't had the compressor to use it. For Christmas, I finally got a compressor....

    Now- I just need to figure out what I am doing. I sat down today with it for awhile and figured out I am pretty clueless...

    Here's what I have and what I need to know....

    Paasche VL (double action, internal mix)
    Husky air compressor

    Createx Opaque colors- red, yellow & blue
    Black indian ink

    I also have assorted cheap acrylic paints in the closet somewhere if I can figure out how to use em....

    Here's my problem- What kind of mixture do I want? How much paint/water should I be using.... Or ink/water?

    What kind of paint should I look for when getting more?

    How much practice does it take to get the hang of this thing?

    I just feel clueless right now.... I did paint some pretty cool dragonflies today on watercolor paper... BUT I think my mixture was very watery....

    Check them out:
  2. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    Hi Guppy, I'll try to answer your questions...I have a VL model myself.

    1. If your compressor does not have a built in regulator you need to get one so you can adjust your air pressure. The good ones also have a built in moisture trap which is essential to good air brushing.

    2. Depending on the medium the VL works well at pressures of around 22-25 psi. for model railroad work.

    3. Your VL should have come with three needles and tips. You want to use the medium one to start. So go ahead and install that one as per the instuructions. Later on you may want to switch to the fine needle/tip for more control. If you are comfortable with what you already have in it since you have already tried it out just leave it be.

    4. I think Cretex paints are fabric good for model work.
    I like Polly Scale Model Railroad Paint. If you prefer a solvent based paint Floquil is good but be sure to use their Dio Sol thinner.

    5. Since you already did the butterflys you are becoming familar with how to control the brush so I won't go into that. Just remember that pressing down on the button controls the air flow and pulling back on it controls the paint flow. It does take a bit of practice with a double action just keep at it.

    6. The ratio of paint to thinner is a matter of what works best with your particular brush. I use a 50-50 ratio. That's fairly thin but in painting models you want to "bring up" your color with many thin coats rather than just one or two heavy coats.

    7. India ink does not take well to airbrushing on non-porous surfaces such as plastic rolling stock. It just "balls up" Its ok on porus surfaces. India ink may be used " straight" or diluted to suit you particular situation.

    8. I've seen some things painted with the "cheap" acrylic crafts paints. The look quite nice. I would try thinning them with alcohol to 50%. You may have to use your medium or coarse needle and tip as their pigments are quite "heavy". Additionally you will have to seal the paint once its dry as these paints have very little "tooth" to hold to non porus surfaces.

    9. I cannot stress enough that the secrete to good airbrush painting of models is ....KEEP YOUR AIRBRUSH CLEAN. This means disassembling it and cleaning it after every use. I've found that Klean Strip lacqure thinner from the hardware store works great for easy cleaning regardless of what kind of paint you have used. An airbrush such as the VL will last a lifetime you keep it clean.

    Please feel free to e-mail me here at The-Gauge if you have any questions ....Hope this helped....Vic
  3. guppyman

    guppyman Member


    I have to say that was one of the most detailed responses I have ever gotten to a question... Thanks. Very informative.
  4. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I'll just add one small detail to Vic's instruction. If you are using the inexpensive water based acrylic craft paint, get denatured alcohol to thin it with, not isopropel also known as rubbing alcohol. You can find denatured in gallon cans in the paint dept. of any of the big home improvement stores. If you use rubbing alcohol, it will "curdle" the paint.
  5. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    What a great and timely topic!! I to am learning to use a air brush after all the years I been in the hobby and had questions about a air compressor.Kudos to Vic for his very insightful information!:D And a BIG thanks goes out to Russ for his information on what type of alcohol to use.:thumb: :D
    I would have never thought of using denatured alcohol to thin acrylic paint with.:thumb: :D
  6. Jim T

    Jim T Member

    I think I've seen reference to using blue window washer fluid to thin acrylic craft paint. Anyone know anything about this?

  7. belg

    belg Member

    Jim the blue cleaner is basicly alcohol so the 50/50 dilution should be about the same.
  8. zeeglen

    zeeglen Member


    Thanks for the tips. Airbrushing is a skill that has to be practiced, and expert advice like this really helps to steepen the learning curve.
  9. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Regardless of the type of alcohol you use, it is a good idea to test first with a little paint and a little alcohol to make sure of compatibility.

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