How To Mix Acrylic Paint For Airbrush? Thinning In Right Consistency 

Right consistency and correct mixing ratio are what you need to achieve flawless results with airbrushing. If you’ve scrolled down Google and youtube but didn’t find a solution or proper guidance, I’m here with you to ease your search. 

Airbrushing has been my favorite part of the painting to create different effects with that fine mist coming out of the nozzle. 

Through this blog, I hope to share my knowledge and expertise with you on how to mix acrylic paint for airbrushes. 

Mixing acrylic paint for airbrushing may seem like a difficult task, but with the right tools and techniques, it can be a breeze. 

The first step is to select the correct paint-to-thinner ratio. This can differ depending on the brand of paint you are using, but as a general rule, a 2:1 ratio of paint to thinner is a good starting point. 

Blend paint and thinner thoroughly to assure a smooth consistency, free of any lumps or clumps. 

Additionally, you must use the correct type of thinner for your paint, as using the wrong one can result in poor adhesion and cracking.

Read the post for a detailed explanation of the points above. 

Can Acrylic Paint Be Used In Airbrush?

Yes, acrylic paint can be used in an airbrush, but it is generally thicker than the paint typically used for airbrushing. So you will need to mix it with appropriate thinning agents in a suitable ratio to thin it down. 

Materials Needed For Mixing Acrylic Paint For Airbrushing

Think of mixing acrylic paint for airbrushing like baking a cake. Just as you need different ingredients to bake a cake, you need specific materials and tools to mix acrylic paint for airbrushing.

Here’s a quick list of what you’ll need:

  • Acrylic Paint

This is the main element, and you’ll need to prefer the right type of acrylic paint for airbrushing. Make sure the paint is water soluble and suitable for airbrushing.

  • Thinning Medium

Acrylic paint can be thick, so you’ll need to thin it down with a suitable medium. You can use water or a commercial acrylic paint thinner to get the required consistency.

  • Mixing Cups

You’ll need to mix the paint and medium in the correct ratio, and mixing cups come in handy for this task. These cups have measurements on the side, so you can mix the paint and medium in the right proportion.

  • Stirring Sticks

Once you’ve poured the paint and medium into the mixing cup, you’ll need to stir them together until they’re well combined. Stirring sticks are perfect for this job, and you can use them to mix the paint and medium thoroughly.

  • Airbrush

This is the tool you’ll use to apply the mixed paint to your surface. Airbrushes come in various types and sizes, so make sure you pick the right one for your project.

Preparing Acrylic Paint For Airbrushing 

Getting the acrylic paint ready for airbrushing is a crucial step that can make or break your artwork and the most important thing that should be taken into account is the ratio or consistency while thinning the paint. 

Step 1: Thinning Acrylic Paint For Airbrushing

When it comes to airbrushing, acrylic paint needs to be thinned down to attain the perfect consistency. 

Think of it like adding a touch of water to a fine whiskey – it just makes it smoother and easier to work with. 

But you don’t want to overdo it, or you’ll lose the unique qualities that make acrylic paint so special.

So, how to thin acrylic paint for airbrushing without ruining it? It’s all about finding the right balance. You need to thin it enough to flow through the airbrush smoothly, but not so much that it becomes too watery and loses its intensity. 

  • First, start with a quality acrylic paint that’s specifically created for airbrushing. You can read it on the label while buying or find it online easily. 
  • Then, take a mixing cup and pour a small amount of water or a specialized thinning medium into the paint in the right ratio (discussed below).
  • Stir the solution very well to integrate the compounds into each other thoroughly.  
I’ve discussed various ways to thin down acrylic paint for airbrush in the post below.

Step 2: Deciding On The Right Airbrush Paint Mixing Ratios

The mixing ratio of airbrush paint refers to the amount of paint and thinner you need to combine to get the right viscosity for airbrushing. 

It’s like creating a secret sauce for your artwork, where the ingredients need to be in perfect harmony for the end result to be a masterwork. 

Too much paint and your airbrush will clog, too much thinner, and your paint will be too thin and runny. So What is the best ratio for airbrush?

The best ratio of water to paint= 1:1

The best ratio for airbrush medium to paint= 1:4 

The best ratio for paint thinner to paint= 1:2

Note: The above mentioned ratios are just suggestions based on multiple experiments. You may try different ratios until you get the consistency of your choice. 

Step 3: Testing The Consistency On Rough Surface

It is always a good practice to test the mixed paint on a scrap piece of paper instead of directly applying it over your painting surface. 

If you find that the consistency is not okay, you’ll need to try a different mixture. Always mix small amounts at the start and once you approve a specific viscosity ratio, go for it in larger quantities. 

How Thin Acrylic Paint For Airbrush? 4 Different Methods

Thinning acrylic paint for airbrushing is essential to ensure that it flows properly through the nozzle of the airbrush and produces an even, consistent spray pattern. 

There are several methods for thinning acrylic paint for airbrushing, and the right method to use will depend on the specific type of acrylic paint you are working with and the level of thinning you want. Here is how to make airbrush paint thin. 

  1. Using Water: 

Thinning acrylic paint for airbrush with water is the most common and simple way. It should be added in small quantities first. Then gradually increase the quality until you reach a suitable level of viscosity. However, understanding the water solubility of acrylic paint will help you more in this regard.

  1. Airbrush Medium: 

Airbrush medium is a specially formulated liquid that is used to thin acrylic paint for airbrushing. It can also improve the flow and drying time of the paint and can help to reduce clogging in the airbrush.

  1. Paint Thinner: 

Acrylic paint thinner is a powerful solvent that can be used to thin acrylic paint for airbrushing. This method is best for thick, heavy-body acrylic paints. 

  1. Isopropyl alcohol: 

Thinning acrylic paint for airbrush with alcohol is best suited for experienced airbrush users who are comfortable experimenting with different thinning methods. It is considered a homemade acrylic paint thinner. 

How To Mix Water Based Acrylic Paint For Airbrushing?

In order to prepare water-based acrylic paint for airbrushing, it is necessary to adjust its consistency by diluting it with water or a suitable thinner. 

The ideal ratio of paint to water or thinner is always different because it depends on the particular type of paint, the desired thickness of the mixture, and the specifications of the airbrush equipment.

How To Mix Tamiya Acrylic Paint For Airbrushing?

For Tamiya acrylic paint, you can mix it with Tamiya thinner or other compatible thinners such as isopropyl alcohol or water, depending on the specific paint line and the type of finish you’re looking for. 

The ratio of paint to thinner can alter, relying on factors such as airbrush type, desired coverage, and humidity, so it’s best to follow the manufacturer’s instructions or experiment with small test mixes until you find the right balance according to your needs.

Tips And Techniques For Successful Airbrushing With Acrylic Paint

  • Cleaning the airbrush before and after use:

Disassemble the airbrush and clean each part separately using an appropriate cleaning solution.

Use a small brush to remove any leftover paint or debris.

Soak the parts in the cleaning solution for a few minutes to ensure all paint is removed. Wash out the parts with water and dry them thoroughly before reassembling them.

  • Adjusting the airbrush settings for different effects:

Adjust the air pressure to control the amount of paint released. Adjust the needle depth to control the paint flow and width of the spray. This enables you to paint surfaces more easily, especially when painting engraved acrylics.

Use different nozzle sizes for different effects, such as fine lines or broad coverage. Practice with different techniques, such as stippling or fading, to create unique effects.

  • Applying multiple layers of paint for a smooth finish:

Apply thin, even layers of paint, letting each layer dry well before applying the next. Use a consistent distance and speed when airbrushing to ensure even coverage.

Adjust the air pressure and needle depth as needed to achieve the desired effect. Sand your acrylic paint between layers with fine-grit sandpaper to remove any imperfections and create a smooth surface for the next layer.


How do you dilute acrylic paint for airbrush?

To dilute acrylic paint for airbrush, you can simply use clean, distilled water. Add about one part water in one part paint for better consistency. 

How much thinner do you mix with acrylic paint?

If you’re preparing acrylic paint for airbrush, you’ll ideally need to mix about ½ part of the paint thinner to the paint. You may increase or reduce the quantity of thinner according to your requirements. 

Can you use regular acrylic paint in an airbrush?

Yes, regular acrylic paint can be for airbrush but the main thing to address is thinning the paint. It will help you get slim paint that can easily pass through the nozzle and provide you with suitable effects.

Can any acrylic paint be used in an airbrush?

Not all acrylic paints are suitable for airbrushing. Regular acrylic paints can be too thick, causing the airbrush to clog and affect the finish. Therefore, it is recommended to use airbrush acrylic paints for airbrushing.

How to mix acrylic paint for spray gun?

Mixing acrylic paint for a spray gun is quite easy. You just have to treat your paint with a thinning medium like water, flow improver, paint thinner, etc. But the right ratio of these chemicals is crucial. 

Conclusion On How To Mix Acrylic Paint For Airbrush 

So here ends our discussion and I hope the information shared helps you with getting a perfect mix for your airbrush painting project. 

You may find various tutorials and guiding posts on the topic but as long as I’ve observed, the ultimate thing is your own experience with acrylic paint and exploring new mixing ratios.

Thank You For Reading!

Jose Scott

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