First time EVER with an airbrush please help


New Member
Aug 7, 2012
Hi Guys,

So I will tell you the story start to finish and perhaps you can tell me the abundance of newbie mistakes I have made that may help.

I set up my airbrush, I am still waiting for the inline air guage I will attach so the pressure sat at around 20 psi and wouldn't go up much farther until I stopped for a while then it climbed to 40psi then back to 20psi as I painted. I didn't want my first go to be a waste of more expensive paint so I used cheap acrylic and windex and thinned it to milk. I mixed in cup with windex first. I mixed a couple of colours together a white and yellow to get a lighter yellow. When I first started it was all windex coming out then occasional colour, the colour was either yellow or white but not a mix. I couldnt tell if anything was coming out at first as I was spraying onto an already painted surface, I flipped the board and saw the paint comes out in very fine quantities (is this normal) so it took a half dozen passes to get a solid colour.

So please let me know all the problems I caused for myself and perhaps some fixes
Hey J,

Sounds like a number of things are hapening, not knowing what brand the airbrush is, if you compressor is adjustable down (before the new in-line reg. shows up), what kind of paint, and how much are you mixing in respects to the Windex?

Pheeeeew!! ::)

The make of the airbrush is the least important I think right now. I it does matter somewhat, but, it is just a vessel to get the paint on to what you are working on. With that said, does you compressor turn down?? 20psi is a max. pretty much. Between 15 ans 20 is ideal. This is dependent on the paint mixture, humidity,paint type AB being used..... Best thing to do is turn down the compressor or wait for your regulator to come in. Higher end AB's can handle a high pressure but it is not recommended as far as I know.

On to the paint.....what are you using? There are a million (well not a million that is just silly) paints out there. Standards...Tamiya, Vallejo, Lifecolor, Badger Air........then there are the craft store acrylics not to mention the old standard of Model Master and such, which are not acrylic. I ask what brand because this depends on how and what you thin them with. Tamiya can be thinned with water, water and alcohol, just alcohol, lacquer thinner, their own thinner and so on. Others like Vallejo mix with their own brand lacquer thinner but mostly water too.

You mention using "Windex" This can be done, however, this is used to reduce surface tension on the paint not a full mix...or at least from what I have seen. Mix you paint first and a drop or two can be added of the Windex an this will break the surface tension of the paint and you will get a nice smooth coat.

So I would say this, not knowing all the variables here....Pressure needs to be down to max 20 psi and mix your paint with a thinner that works for the paint you are using and use a drop or two of Windex to help after. Then give it another try.

Practice the key as is asking the questions. Keep practicing and keep asking..the only way to get it! When mixed right, most paint will last a long long time. Unless you painting giant sized 1/16 tanks and such. Everyone is a bit different on their approach to paint and application adn what they use. You will find something you are comfortable with and go from there!

Good luck!!
TRM said:
what brand the airbrush is

Its a cheap ebay one, as it is my first go I didn't want to spend heaps. If all goes well I plan to buy a brand name. Its duel action with three size needles so it has everything I need to try out on.

TRM said:
does you compressor turn down??

It seems to measure the psi off the tank and not off the psi entering/leaving the airbrush. I guess I have to wait for the gauge I ordered, I expect a couple of weeks minimum wait as its coming from hong kong.

TRM said:
On to the paint.....what are you using?

Practice the key as is asking the questions.

I used cheap art acrylic and thinned it with the windex, I will try thinning outside of the cup with water and see how this goes. As you said, practice and questions. I will keep trying it. I used this paint as I didn't want to practice with expensive paint. I have some lessons from online that are basically practicing techniques on one of those massive cheap art books. I plan on practicing with this. By the way, I looked at the card I practiced on and the blank side which had no paint on it prior to the test looks quite good. It just took a long time to get enough layers down make it dark.
Like you said, start off where you are comfortable. As for the AB, when I mentioned it did not matter, I stick with this a little. Duel action is key and even needle sizes. The only time I change my needle to the biggest one is when painting really large jobs. Other than that it is the small one all the way. I know a couple guys that can paint circles around most and the will use an old cheap a$$ AB they got a hundred years ago...because it works great and that is what they are comfortable with. When you ready there are an number of ways to go on AB's but you may just like the one you have!!

The paint would looks really nice, after a number of passes with really thinned paint. Sometime it is actually a nice way of laying down a dust or mist coat, is to over thin the paint and make several light passes. Same for using specialty paints light Alclad, after a base is on you would turn your comp. down to around 12 psi and make a couple light dusting to get the effect.

There is nothing wrong with the craft acrylic as long as the are designed for this process and they are thinned correctly. Like you said try mixing with water and have a go. You can do this in the cup on the AB if you like. 50/50, water to paint to start the add windex if you like or 50/25/25 Paint, water, alcohol. And read!! the more you read others techniques helps you get comfortable and develop your own "thing".

When you comfortable enough to try it out on a kit, I would suggest Tamiya paints to start. These have a great mix and color range already but if you use their thinner of even lacquer thinner, the larger jars will last a while and you will see the difference. You only need a few drops to a few drops to paint a good size area on most small models.
Juststu82 said:
I used cheap art acrylic and thinned it with the windex (...) I used this paint as I didn't want to practice with expensive paint. I have some lessons from online that are basically practicing techniques (...)

Although I appreciate the sentiment of practicing with cheap stuff, getting paint mixed and thinned correctly is probably the hardest, or at least the most finicky, thing to learn and it is never an exact science. That is why I recommend beginners start with an airbrush ready paint like Vallejo ModelAir (Golden or Badger "art" airbrush paints are also a good choice for learning but I don't know the price point off hand). Knowing for sure that the paint is "correct" you can concentrate on learning the basics of spraying.
Brian is completely right in that a decent paint will help. A lot of craft stores now, like Micheal's and/or AC Moore carry a line of Badger Airbrush paints. Badger paints are great. I have a couple of the weathering type sets and they give a nice coverage. The cost is low too. Probably, you could pick up a small set for under $20USD and online they are about that too. Then build up your stash as you go. ;D

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