Airbrush Mediums

As airbrushing has lots of applications, you can find a variety of airbrush mediums. Of course, there are ready-to-use airbrush paints which are very practical and simple to use. But here we will explore how to customize paints, enhance your airbrush projects, and create unique and different effects with airbrush mediums.

Our guide on airbrush mediums will be especially useful for newbies who want to try their hands at preparing and mixing paints for airbrushes on their own. But at that point, many questions appear, from what you can spray with an airbrush to the ratios, order, and rules of mixing airbrush paints with different solutions and thinners.

How to use airbrush mediums

In fact, you can use any fluid with your airbrush with the caveat that it is of a milky consistency, but it's all very subjective. However, don't hurry to fall into despair because you have to buy only special airbrush paints. Here we will help you to find the necessary airbrush mediums. Moreover, using them you can thin paint for spraying as you prefer or in order to adapt it to the nozzle size of your airbrush. The finer your airbrush nozzle is, the thinner airbrush paints should be. For that reason, sometimes the paint manufacturers specify a recommended nozzle size, so don't neglect reading paint manuals.

There is no precise ratio for mixing airbrush paint with additives and mediums that will work for you for sure, it all depends on

  • the paint type you use

  • its viscosity

  • paint pigments, or rather their sizing and density

  • your working environment

  • and what results you want to get, whether it should be a dense or transparent coating and what level of details you need.

Airbrush paint mixing ratios

The best thing to find the right airbrush medium recipe is to try some things out for yourself. As you practice, you will be able to spot it. You'll know it by smooth spraying, strong flow and quite a fast drying time. The amount of airbrush thinner affects the pressure when spraying, color, and the paint thickness. Over thinned paint looks watery and translucent and it takes a while to dry it out. Too thick paint will come out with spits and spatters and can even clog your airbrush because of the too coarse paint pigment. Some artists suggest that practicing with watercolors that come in tubes will be very demonstrative for beginners.

Besides that, it's important to choose a medium that fits your paint as you can run into an issue using the wrong one that can destroy the paint coating integrity. We recommend that you use special binders in order not to make a mess of the paint you are going to apply to a surface and to achieve a low viscosity.

Airbrush medium effects

There are different kinds of airbrush mediums for various effects. Among them, you can find

  • mediums to extend paint and give it more transparency

  • mediums to thin paint and improve its flow property

  • mediums to control sheen

  • mediums used as a primer

  • mediums used as a binder for dry pigments and paint creation.

Let's look at each airbrush medium type and its properties in more detail.

Types of airbrush mediums

  • Gels and fluids come in handy if you want to give a gloss, semi-gloss, or matte effect to your paint. There exists a number of them, so we'll briefly explain what you can do with them.

To get bumpy rough textures, use pumice gels.

For creating glazes self-leveling clear gels will do.

To create detailed lines use clear tar gels.

Glass bead gels will help you impart a coarse bead-like texture to the surface and shape great peaks.

Clear granular gels will also add an interesting texture to your work while drying to a hard film. For creating a silk-screen ink, add silk-screen fabric gels to acrylic paints.

There are also gel mediums with ultraviolet light filters and stabilizers that won't let paint fade or deteriorate.

  • If you are into decorative painting you will probably like fluid mediums as they extend the drying time. Beyond that, these mediums can help to prevent your airbrush from clogging. Polymer mediums will extend paint and add gloss to the finish. Matte mediums, on the contrary, will decrease gloss. With transparent extenders, you'll get a harder and more transparent finish.

  • Adhesive mediums are useful with porous materials, while other materials like glass, plastic, metal are to be avoided

  • Pastes. These airbrush mediums are also used to build textures and add some effects but, unlike airbrush gels, these are opaque. You can find light, hard, molding, and extra heavy pastes.

Golden Artist Color airbrush mediums

Of particular note are Golden Artist Color polymers as they are thinner than other airbrush mediums and hence they are good at reducing acrylic paint thickness.

  • GAC 100 is used to dilute and extend colors that's why artists often create their own pains with it.

  • GAC 200 improve film hardness and adhesion to the surface.

  • GAC 400 is perfect for shaping fabric into some form.

  • GAC 500 is notable for its unique hardness and flexibility.

  • GAC 700 provides high clarity and gloss.

  • GAC 800 differs by its property of drying without shrinkage or crevices.

  • GAC 900 allows painting on clothing as it softens by heating.


So, good luck and enjoy working with your airbrush!

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