Jump to content

How to properly airbrush acrylic paints (vallejo, AK, Ammo, Army Painters, etc)

Recommended Posts

First thing, this formula works on all all pure acrylic paints (Vallejo, Ammo, AK first gen, Army Painters, etc) and acrylic primers like Badger or Vallejo. But for primers thin 70/30 primer to thinner formula.
I created this article many moons ago and a YouTube video (see link). I am hoping this article can help other fellow modelers learn how to airbrush Vallejo Model Air paints.
Quick background on me. I started airbrushing at around age 9 and fell in love with it. I am an airbrushing nut (currently have close to 50 airbrushes) and worked as a professional airbrush artist for printing company for many years. I then took my experience airbrushing in the private sector to airbrushing scale models. After working with enamel and lacquers for many years, I have lost my sense of sense. Decided I can't keep going like this and switched to acrylics. Started with Vallejo and hated them at first. No matter what I did, I could not get them to work right. Main problem was tip drying and that can ruin model. I tried several recommendations from fellow modelers, from Vallejo, etc. Nothing worked at all! After about 15 seconds I would get tip dry. It was just so frustrating. I got rid of them immediately the first time. Due to health concerns, living with pets, and roommates, I decided to give them another try and find a solution.
Vallejo has some good things going for it: very little to no smell, easily available, comes in sets you don't have to buy individual bottles ( i think they were the first major company to do this), and a fantastic range of colors. So I started to do some tests and found a mixture for airbrushing Vallejo paint and is going to give you great results!
What you need:
-Vallejo thinner
-Vallejo flow improver
-Vallejo retarder
The formula is 90% liquid (Vallejo thinner + Vallejo Flow Improver) and 10% retarder (vallejo retarder)=100% formula
I use an empty Vallejo 17 ml bottle for this purpose. The liquid portion needs to be: 70% flow improver, 30% thinner. Then add in 10% retarder. Then shake the hell out of the bottle.
For airbrushing, I use either a 50/50 (paint to thinner) or 60/40 (paint to thinner) start with 20 PSI. I prefer to use smaller needle/nozzle setup, .2mm or .3mm. I use the backflushing technique to mix the paint within the cup. Btw, this is a starting point and you adjust as needed for your needs….for example: more thinner and lower air pressure for mottling purposes.
I recommend adding the thinner mixture into your airbrush first! It helps lube the airbrush needle. Also, a little goes a long way. For this example, I added in 5 drops thinner to 6 drops paint. I had so much paint leftover even after the sheet and the test piece.
As you can see from the pictures, I can get fine lines with no tip drying issues. I sprayed on that white sheet for about 5 mins no issues at all. Coverage is great...but YOU MUST USE A PRIMER. Acrylics need primers or they will easily come off. Hopefully the pictures show the wonderful results you can get from Vallejo.
Hope this helps! If you have any questions, let me know.
PS: All models shown are airbrushed with Vallejo Acrylics
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks, nice models, and love the cat, although in my case it's the wife and kids, the reason I nearly always use acrylics too. I have some of the Vallejo products, I'll get the missing one (retarder) and give it a try. :)



Link to comment
Share on other sites

So I got the retarder last thursday and this afternoon had some spare time to test the mixture.

Despite the total thinner mixture to paint ratio still needing some fiddling (I don't use Vallejo paints, but Revell Aqua paint which is almost paste from the container so the 50-50 or 60-40 ratios need some further tweaking for my purpose) I was able to spray consistent pencil thin lines though the 0,2mm needle/nozzle combination and free-hand camouflage on a test 1/72 model with really nice demarcations.

with zero tip dry or splattering!!


So if you are an acrylics user I really recommend to try this mixture. :)


Thanks for sharing the recipe!



Edited by jeroen_R90S
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...