Complete beginner - Whites and Paper combinations


Gravity Guru
Hello all,

I am completely new to airbrushing art, and so that may be reflected in my question.
(I got a decent airbrush to base coat models, with the intention to move more into art, which I am currently trying.)

So I've gone through tens of hours of youtube videos and tutorials etc, and have ventured into the more artistic painting with my airbrush. (For reference I am using an Iwata HPC+, with a decent, but noisy, garage-type compressor with 6L tank.)

I've done many dot, line, dagger stroke, blended dot and blended line tutorials, and painted a few different eyes and the like too, but all have been single colour paintings, into a cheapy artists sketchbook. It's like a thick, rough-ish card.

So, after that introduction, my actual question is below:

Why can't I get white's to spray and be visible? For better textures, definition, etc, as per all the tutorials.

I'm assuming it's something to do with the paint / reducing / air pressure / paper combo.
Basically, I tried on some really crappy, cheap, black paper, and it took like 100 coats to get anything visible. Ended up going to a red and just piling it onto the page.

Then I tried the clouds tutorial on the AirbrushTutor youtube.
For this I used the following:
- My artists sketchbook.
- Golden Fluid Acrylics (Colbalt blue, and Titanium white, Carbon black)
- Multiple air pressures, and many different layers of paint.

I am just not getting any white to take to the page. Even over the blue, and grays I've put down. It is spraying out, (I tested on my hand, and various other surfaces, and it's definitely spraying the paint, and quite a lot if I want it to!)

Do I need to base-coat the paper, maybe put down a clear lacquer, use different paper, or have I missed something more basic?

Thanks in advance.

Hey Delalio. First things first, Golden Fluid Acrylics are not airbrush paints, they are artists acrylics. To get them to work through the airbrush you need to use the Golden Airbrush Medium. Second point, it is common to use the white of the paper instead of painting white over anything. Some papers will be better than others. Post up a couple of photo's, that might help more.

Also can I get you to pop along to the intro page and say Hi. Where you live in the world, what lead you to the airbrush, gear you have, that sort of thing.

Cheers Mark
Hi Mark,

Thanks for the quick reply.

Yeah, so the materials available in Ireland seem to be a lot more limited than what I see on all the youtube channels / video. (Createx, Wickid, etc)
I basically ended up going into like 5 different art shops, and none were able to offer any advice at all.
I probably spent a few hours in the main art shop in Dublin just reading the labels on bottles and tubes etc, to try and figure out this whole thing.

The Golden materials I've been using (more primary / stronger colours) have been giving (what i think) are pretty good results.

So far I have:
Golden High Flow Acrylics - Spray really well out the bottle, with no thinning, although I get TipDry VERY quickly. (At least, thats my understanding, compared to other people via YouTube etc.) Every 1-2 mins. Also, if I add reducer to these, it doesnt seem to have much effect. Golden do also sell a Retarder for reducing the drying time, and also a pigment binder, and various other things, although I've not tested them yet. (They're like €25/200ml, so I could easily go through a few hundred quid just getting all the different bottles.)
Golden Fluid Acrylics - Now these are very thick paints. Kinda like a melted chocolate consistency. I havent even tried spraying these 'neat' as they are so thick. I reduce these down with the Golden Airbrush Medium. However, this is a white opaque liquid, so very hard to gauge thinning white, so I have to go by volume primarily.
A couple of other Model Acrylics. E.g. Tamiya, Humbrol, etc, although I've had worse results with these, and have been reducing them with both their own branded reducer, and also the Golden Airbrush Medium.

I'll post up some photos of what I have been painting, and another few pics of my setup/gear. Prepare to be disappointed. haha.

As for using the white of the paper for highlights, yep I completely agree. The pictures I will post in a sec were all done that way.
However, when doing multiple colour pictures, all the tutorials seem to start with the darker colours, then do a layer of lighter for textures, then back to dark with textures, then light, etc etc. (E.g. AirbrushTutor's the Leopard video, or the clouds tutorial!)

I'll try get some photos taken now and upload them. Don't expect too much mind! ;)


Cool. I use Golden high flow for most of my work. Love it. Like you we have limited easy to obtain options in NZ. :)
Finally managed to upload some photos...


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@Dalboy Thanks for the pointer to SM. I had looked at them to do a course, but at €400+ I figured it may be better for me to get a bit more practice so i can get more from it. Not sure if that is a great idea, but shedding that much cash on something I'm really new to seems excessive.
I will give their paints a go though.

@markjthomson Do you put in any additives like retarder in with the highflow Golden paints? Do you get tip dry every few mins too, on the end of the needle? It keeps giving me a very erratic paint spray when it builds up.
Have you ever used the fluid acrylic and airbrush medium? how was the white?

Also, what paper are you guys using? Do cheap papers make the inks take differently?
I was going to suggest Simon Murray too. He carries all the createx range, and is a good egg. If you want to try it, avoid the original Createx as its mainly for fabrics.

White is generally tricky. Many colours require a slightly different teduction/air ratio. Those with more pigment such as white, need either more reduction which increases transparency, or higher pressure. On videos the artist may be using a larger nozzle for bright white coverage too.

The paper/surface will have an effect. If you are over reducing white to get it to flow it is likely to sink in.

Tip dry is the nature of the beast, but experience and nailing your ratios will help minimise this. I have never used Golden paints however, so don't know if they are more prone to it or not.
try not to compare your 'issue' / 'technique' with what you see on you tube. they may be using different paint (uro's instead of waterbased, or a different brand to what you are using) you don't know what pressure they are working at.
Lower pressure is worse for tip dry, water based paints suffer tip dry more than uro's.
@markjthomson Do you put in any additives like retarder in with the highflow Golden paints? Do you get tip dry every few mins too, on the end of the needle? It keeps giving me a very erratic paint spray when it builds up.
Have you ever used the fluid acrylic and airbrush medium? how was the white?

White is the worst Golden HF for tip dry. Tip dry is very normal and will be different for so many different reasons on any given day. I spray with the needle exposed and clean it frequently.

I've not seen any retarder, that sort of product usually slows drying and that isn't a problem here in NZ. I use the trans base frequently. I used the acrylic medium before but on the understanding I was using a reducer (possibly what you are referring to as retarding...?) while it is intended for a different purpose.
Thanks for all your help again people.
So my understanding of the GOLDEN paint products, (from what the bottles said, as the staff in the shop were useless for anything to do with airbrushing) is that:
- "Retarder" slows the drying time down (so my logic was that this could reduce tip dry?)
- "Airbrush Medium" is basically a thinner / reducer allowing to spray the thicker, non-high-flow paints

They also stock a whole bunch of glosses, glazing liquids, varnishes, etc. so I am going to paint some new stuff and see how that comes out. May post the pics here if people are interested??

Hello I use goldens too, I've never used the reducer just the airbrush medium, you shouldn't need the reducer unless your living in hot temperature. Those golden fluid acrylics I usually start with a 50/50 - paint/medium mix and go from there, also know those metallics are a chore getting out of a .5 nozzle thinned down, and you have to really keep it mixed up in the cup as it will settle quick.
White is a pain, you'll get tip dry the quickest with it, the medium helps(I 2nd taking the cap off). White pigment is heavy and will settle quickly, with golden I always strain my white as it can get chunky in the bottle and clod up your nozzle.
I use golden(both high flow and standard) and yes the retarder helps with tip dry but you will still get it to some for the Medium I don't use it with my standard colors but I do use it (60/40 with a few drops of retarder) with both black and white as it helps those two colors flow a lot better I just started using the airbrush extender and like how it make's the paint flow but it takes a few more layer's of paint imo. Hope this helps you out along with what the others have said too.