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Airbrushing how much paint to use?
Auckland, New Zealand
Joined: October 25, 2005
KitMaker: 933 posts
AeroScale: 480 posts
Posted: Tuesday, June 30, 2015 - 05:31 AM UTC
Hi Guys,
Is there an approx guide as to how much paint to use to cover a particular area.

IE: to do the camouflage on a 1/48 scale spitfire requires. X mls green,Y mls brown Z mls blue.

I realise that every modeler is different but as a rough guide so I'm not using to little or wasting to much paint.

Cheers guys

Staff MemberAssociate Editor
New York, United States
Joined: December 04, 2010
KitMaker: 9,670 posts
AeroScale: 7,313 posts
Posted: Tuesday, June 30, 2015 - 07:11 PM UTC
No one really likes to throw out extra thinned out paint, but it's just part of how we air brush models. I use to mix up and thin out way too much paint. I always started with a 3/4 full cup for my old Paasche H, and always had plenty of left over paint. Then I switched techniques, which really has worked even better with my Iwata M-1 with a small top bowl. Max paint I will mix and thin for a full top or bottom is:

24 drops of paint
22 drops of the appropriate thinning medium
2 drops of Windsor & Newton Flow Enhancer

For a camo paint scheme I go with 12-18 drops of paint. I always have excess left, but not a lot.

Clear coats are another issue. I still need to use a 3/4 bowl for my H, and sometimes a 2nd bowl to do the job.


European Union
Joined: September 28, 2004
KitMaker: 2,149 posts
AeroScale: 1,581 posts
Posted: Wednesday, July 01, 2015 - 07:54 PM UTC
I have glued the picture of a ruler to my airbrush can and covered it with transparent tape.

This gives me a very good assessment of the amount of thinned paint I start with, and how much is left afterwards. Altough I have no clue how many milliliters I use per square centimeter of surface, I have gotten this way a very good feeling of the amount of paint to mix.

Further, I never throw away thinned paint. For common colors I usually have a few parts of other planes ready that are (partly) painted with the leftover paint of the prime paint job.

Otherwise, I have never had any problem putting thinned paint (humbrol with humbrol thinner or acryl thinned with water) back in the original paint jar.
United States
Joined: January 05, 2012
KitMaker: 153 posts
AeroScale: 149 posts
Posted: Wednesday, July 01, 2015 - 08:27 PM UTC
Not knowing how much to use is why I like to use paint that is already pre-thinned for airbrush use such as Vallejo Model Air. That way when I beginning to run out of paint, I simply ad a little more to get the job done.
Auckland, New Zealand
Joined: October 25, 2005
KitMaker: 933 posts
AeroScale: 480 posts
Posted: Friday, July 03, 2015 - 11:00 AM UTC
Joel,Chris,Drab slab.

Thanks guys for the replies.


Ontario, Canada
Joined: July 22, 2012
KitMaker: 771 posts
AeroScale: 763 posts
Posted: Monday, August 10, 2015 - 05:05 AM UTC
I use an old teaspoon for my mixing vessel. (the spoon kind, not the measuring kind) and I usually fill it half way. I pour right out of the bottle and I only use one tiny pour.

I have an old glass jar that my leftover paint goes into when I'm done airbrushing the colour. In 15 years or so, I've only filled it about 1/3 of the way. (It's slightly larger than a popcan).

You're more likely to throw out paint left in their jars than anything. You'll lose far more paint that way - so you might as well have tried to put it through the airbrush.