How To Thin Acrylic Paint For Airbrush [+ DIY Airbrush Thinner Recipe]

Last Updated on April 11, 2024 by Masha Eretnova

Thinning acrylic paint for airbrushing is necessary to create a nice, smooth, and thin paint application.

The two easy ways to prepare acrylic paint for airbrushing are to either add a professional airbrushing medium OR to use regular isopropyl alcohol.

To thin acrylic paint for airbrushing you need to know:

  • the brand and the type of your airbrush,
  • the sizes of the needle and liquid nozzle,
  • what air pressure use your type of airbrush, and
  • be very specific about your plans for painting.

Thinning products for airbrushing come in different colors from transparent to opaque. It is a piece of important information because colored products can affect viscosity.

You have to control the ratio for thinning:

  • The opaque colors will be thicker and they need more reducer while thinning
  • The transparent colors are thinner and need less reducer or even need no thining sometimes

Please, make a note that thick, not thinned, or not properly thinned acrylic paint can damage and slow the airbrush, and alter the spray pattern.

Learn more about opacity here: 7 Ways How to Make Acrylics More Opaque & Full Opaque Colors List

What can I use to thin acrylic paint for airbrushing?

how to thin acrylic paint for airbrush

With airbrushing you can simply use special airbrushing paints that already contain a thinner.

Otherwise, there are 3 best options for thinning acrylic paint for airbrushing: distilled water, rubbing alcohol and special airbrush thinner.

  1. adding distilled water
  2. using rubbing alcohol
  3. using airbrush thinners
thin acrylic paint for airbrushing

How to thin acrylic paint for airbrush with water

  1. Mix a 1:1 ratio of water and acrylic paint in a container.
  2. Shake vigorously for a minute or two or use a whisk.
Clean the nozzle every time before painting to avoid flakes

How to thin acrylic paint for airbrush with alcohol

How to thin acrylic paint for airbrush with alcohol
Photo by Matias Luge on Unsplash

Thinning acrylic craft paint for airbrushing with rubbing alcohol is an affordable way for everyone.

  1. Mix a 1:1 ratio of rubbing alcohol and paint.
  2. Shake vigorously for a minute or two or use a whisk.

Using alcohol as a thinner has a side effect – an odor. Considering that, thin your paint in a well-aired room with gloves.

Clean the nozzle every time before painting to avoid flakes and clogging.

While alcohol is great as an airbrush thinner, it is not the best option for thinning acrylic paint for canvas and won’t work at all for pouring.

How to thin acrylic paint for airbrush with paint thinners

The best and most effective way to thin acrylic paint for airbrushes is to use paint thinners or reducers. Usually, manufacturers create the whole product line, including paints and paint thinners.

The easiest way for you is just to find the paint thinner produced by the brand of the paint you use. Plus, the manufacturer will usually have full instructions.

The cheapest way to thin acrylic paint for airbrushes is to make your own, homemade paint thinner.

Acrylic paint thinner for airbrush:

You can buy professional acrylic paint thinner for airbrush on Amazon and special art supplies online stores like Blick Art

Vallejo Airbrush Thinner 200ml Paint, 6.76 Fl Oz (Pack of 1)
  • Ideal For Model Air And Liquid Acrylic Paints
  • Dilutes Without Loss Of Color Adhesion, Durability Or Consistency
  • 200Ml Plastic Bottle
  • Product Type:Toys And Games

Here are 3 best airbrush thinners with prices and useful notes:

Brand nameNotePrice
Createx Colors 4012 High-Performance ReducerWater-based premium reducer for thinning.
You can mix it with paint in any ratio depending on your needs.
$13.79 for 8 oz
Vallejo Airbrush Thinner [BEST]Dilutes without loss of color adhesion, durability, or consistency$13.25 for 200 ml
US Art Supply Airbrush Thinner Water-based acrylic paint thinning reducer and extender base.
Contains acrylic-based binders.
$15.96 for 16 oz

Homemade acrylic airbrush thinner

To mix homemade acrylic airbrush thinner for water-based paint, you can use distilled water, Fantastik all-purpose cleaner, glycerine, and isopropyl alcohol.

If you decide to make a DIY airbrush thinner, be aware of what each component does:

  • A cleaner will dilute the paint. Be careful because using cleaners as thinner was not supposed by the manufacturer and usually they do not recommend mixing paint with the cleaner to preserve both paint and airbrush.
  • Glycerine acts as a lubricant and slows down the drying process.
  • Isopropyl alcohol allows the paint to flow freely, but also can break the paint and affect

2 DIY acrylic paint thinner recipes:

Recipe #1: The easiest recipe is just to mix 3/4 of distilled water with 1/4 of Fantastik’s all-purpose cleaner.

Recipe #2:

  • mix 2/3 of distilled water with 1/3 of isopropyl alcohol and
  • add 1 drop of glycerine per every 50 ml of the thinning mixture, e.i. if you have 50 ml of isopropyl alcohol and 100 ml of water, your mixture is 150 ml and you add 3 drops of glycerine.

Thinning acrylic for airbrushing will take some practice so I recommend you make notes of what thinner worked best and in what ratio.

Last update on 2024-05-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API