Starting Airbrushing: Thinners and Cleaners

In this blog post I’m going to look at ways to thin paints for airbrushing and also the cleaning solutions I’ve been using to clean my airbrush.


I recommend for airbrushing to always thin your paints unless you’re using paints specifically designed for air brush use (which I will look at in a future post). There are several ways to thin your paints, the most obvious way being with water, however with water I find the pigment in the paint seems to separate on occasions so I prefer to use a thinning solution. Acrylic mediams such as Citadels Lahmian Medium or Vallejo Model Air Thinner are very good. I’ve also tried using Isopropyl Alcohol to thin paints and this works very well too and it’s good for cleaning.

I’ve been doing a lot of research into airbrushing online and I came across a video by Les from Awesome Paint Job who posted this video about making his own thinner from Liquitex Matte Medium, Liquitex Flow Aid and Water. I decided to try this mix for myself and it works really well and I think in the long run will work out cheaper than buying bottles of Citadel or Vallejo mediums.


When it comes to cleaning your airbrush you obviously need to clean it out between using different colours and when you’ve finished using it. You also should take it apart and clean all the parts every now and then. When it comes to this part I’ve decided to use an Ultrasonic Cleaner. When using the Ultrasonic cleaner I takeairbrush apart and put the parts in the Ultrasonic cleaner for about 5-10 minutes with warm water and a cap full of Cleaning Solution. After this I rinse the parts off with water and give them a quick wipe down with kitchen towel and cotton buds.

When it comes to cleaning in between paints I have firstly been wiping the cup out with a kitchen towel, then running a 50/50 mix of water and Vallejo Airbrush Cleaner through the air brush and into an Airbrush Cleaning Pot. I usually do this two or three times until the paint is completely out of the chamber and then wipe off paint using airbrush cleaner and kitchen towel on any parts that require. This is usually around the nozzle area and the bottom of the cup. I also do something which is called ‘back flushing’ where I hold my finger over the end of the nozzle as I spray cleaner through and this forces some of the paint stuck in the bottom of the cup back up into it which makes it easier to then remove.

I hope this article proves useful to some people. As you can see there are lots of different products mentioned here that I’ve tried. There are many others out there I’m sure but these are the ones I’ve been using and they have all done their job well.

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