DIY Airbrush Paint

Mitya Ka

Needle-chuck Ninja
Since the time when I completely switched from oil painting to acrylic painting, I had the task of smooth color transition, gradient of tone and with these were problems🤷‍♂️ until I had an airbrush in my hands. Acrylic paint which at that moment I used had to be adapted for spraying. At first I tried to dilute it with water and even alcohol in different proportions, it was atomized, but I was not happy with the result. By the method of trial and error, communication with artists and chemists, searching for information on YouTube and forums came to the following recipe for airbrush paint, which I now use.

For my acrylic painting I use acrylic Amsterdam Acrylic Standard and Expert series, from Royal Talens.

The first thing we will need to do is paint thinner, its composition is simple.

For one liter of thinner🧴:

Distilled water - 900ml

Propylene glycol - 50ml

Glycerin - 20ml

Liquitex flow aid - 30ml

This is the base with which we are going to work.

The second thing we will need is paint bottles. I find 1oz bottles work best for me. Into it we pour 1/2oz thinner and 1/2oz acrylic paint, mix well. It is better to add a little less paint or thinner so that the bottle has room for mixing.

Before applying the paint we add our ready paint from the bottle to the airbrush and about the same amount of Golden High Flow Medium, depending on the task, and mix the paint in the airbrush. If the tip of the needle will be very dry you can add Createx Airbrush Retarder or other retarder.

Golden High Flow Medium is a great product that improves the flow of the paint by reducing surface tension and also improves adhesion.

There are so many different airbrush paints on the market right now, but I find this recipe very convenient for several reasons. I often apply the first layers of paint on the canvas with a brush or in some places painting knife and then that I get into the color, tone, I already have a ready paint with this color, tone 🎨

This paint atomizes well with the right dilution and pressure, even with a 0.18mm nozzle through an Iwata micron or PS-771.

Also, this recipe can help you save 5-10 times on buying acrylic airbrush paint!;)
 

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Thank you! Very interesting post.
I don't know if it works in acrylics, but for solvent paints I drop a steel BB into the bottle. That helps mixing when shaking the bottle.

Thanks,
Ismael
 
Thank you! Very interesting post.
I don't know if it works in acrylics, but for solvent paints I drop a steel BB into the bottle. That helps mixing when shaking the bottle.

Thanks,
Ismael
Thanks Ismael!
Yes, this trick works well with acrylic too, but I hardly ever use it, but I'm going to go buy a hundred balls anyway :)
 
Great write up Mitya :)

Whats the difference between using this mixture rather than using just distilled water? also, does the paint have a good shelf life when mixed with Your recipe?
 
cool. I am not real sure there is anything different in the Flow aid than what you are already adding. The propylene glycol is a wetting agent (helps retain water) in acrylic paint, the glycerin a surface tension reducer. Curious, have you tried less glycerin? Usually a little goes a very long way. At any rate, I see it works very well for you in your fantastic work(s). Thanks for sharing!
 
Great write up Mitya :)

Whats the difference between using this mixture rather than using just distilled water? also, does the paint have a good shelf life when mixed with Your recipe?
Thanks :)
This mixture helps the paint pass more easily through the airbrush, because of its composition propylene glycol is this surfactant it changes the surface tension coefficient of water (paint). Glycerin is a аgent that holds the water and prevents it from evaporating quickly. Flow aid is also a surfactant.
Just water will not give you the same possibility to atomize thicker paint and adhesion to the surface will suffer, as the paint will have to be diluted quite a bit.
I have some colors that I rarely use stored for more than 3 years. If for some reason it thickens, you can always add a little of this thinner ;)
 
cool. I am not real sure there is anything different in the Flow aid than what you are already adding. The propylene glycol is a wetting agent (helps retain water) in acrylic paint, the glycerin a surface tension reducer. Curious, have you tried less glycerin? Usually a little goes a very long way. At any rate, I see it works very well for you in your fantastic work(s). Thanks for sharing!

Thank you Dave :)
Yes, glycerin which is a surfactant and propylene glycol also which is essentially a retarder, but I think there is some other surfactant in there as well, there are a large number of them I have no way to measure what is in there, I think the recipe is a secret🤷‍♂️
I've tried different ratios and so far I've settled on this one, it works and that's enough for me. With less glycerin it seems to me atomized a little worse, but this is very subjective, also without Flow Aid atomization seems worse. With this mixture I was able to atomize quite thick paint through medium and small nozzles. Golden High Flow also contains surfactants and retarders in addition to pure acrylic dispersion, but I think in other proportions. Please share your recipe or suggestion on how to improve this mixture. What other surfactants for acrylic paint do you know ?
 
If it is working for you, I don't think I would change a thing. They use both ingredients in the paint anyway... When I reduce heavy body acrylics for spraying, I generally like to use an airbrush medium in addition to thinning. The medium is basically acrylic base without pigment. It won't get me all the way to spraying, but about half way there - then thin with essentially the same sort of solution you are using. Golden High Flow Medium is the one I use the most (with Golden retarder added).
 
If it is working for you, I don't think I would change a thing. They use both ingredients in the paint anyway... When I reduce heavy body acrylics for spraying, I generally like to use an airbrush medium in addition to thinning. The medium is basically acrylic base without pigment. It won't get me all the way to spraying, but about half way there - then thin with essentially the same sort of solution you are using. Golden High Flow Medium is the one I use the most (with Golden retarder added).
Yes, I totally agree that you shouldn't change anything if it works well. But sometimes human nature sometimes pushes us to experiment and improve what we have, sometimes it leads to evolution ;) . Thanks for sharing your experience!
 
That's a great info, thank you @Mitya Ka, I tried it and this is my experience: first of all I prepared the thinner base dilution and then 6 aliquots (primary colors) of 8 ml each. To do it I took a 10 ml siringe and mixed the thinner with the Amsterdam paint in 1:1 proportion.
I tried black and the first impression was the paint is a little thick and then mixed it following your instructions with the medium. I haven't got Golden Medium and I had to change it by Vallejo Clear base ( I think it has the same roll than the Golden medium). And it works perfectly well, so that's fantastic. . This mix changed my thoughts about "more diluted = better flow" because this is more thicker than the dilutions I normaly use and the flow is awesome. I've attached some files and a sample of ramdom figures. :) Thank you again Mitya¡
 

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That's a great info, thank you @Mitya Ka, I tried it and this is my experience: first of all I prepared the thinner base dilution and then 6 aliquots (primary colors) of 8 ml each. To do it I took a 10 ml siringe and mixed the thinner with the Amsterdam paint in 1:1 proportion.
I tried black and the first impression was the paint is a little thick and then mixed it following your instructions with the medium. I haven't got Golden Medium and I had to change it by Vallejo Clear base ( I think it has the same roll than the Golden medium). And it works perfectly well, so that's fantastic. . This mix changed my thoughts about "more diluted = better flow" because this is more thicker than the dilutions I normaly use and the flow is awesome. I've attached some files and a sample of ramdom figures. :) Thank you again Mitya¡
Great, very glad this compound is working for you too. I've never tried Vallejo Clear base (if it has an acrylic component, usually milky in color, it might work). but I know it works with Liquitex airbrush medium. I use Liquitex airbrush medium and Golden High Flow for good adhesion on canvases with large dilutions of paint and changes in saturation. Thank you for your feedback. I wish you successful creative experiments ;)
 
I'm going to give away my age on this. Back in the day It was Badger's Air Opaque, I cant remember if there was much else.
I could go thru a lot of those bottles on a 72"x 72" canvass. So I just started making my own from Liquitex acrylic tube artists paint thinning is with gloss medium, water, ammonia, and a drop of liquid dish soap. I never really had a hard and fast formula. There were adjustments depending on whether the colorant was a pigment ( solid particles } or a more or less transparent chemical ( dyes }.

I"m hopelessly old school, I really believe you can make your own paints. you just have to experiment. You can save a bit of money too.

P.S. the ammonia and dish soap helped with flow, retarding and cleaning.
 
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