Are you searching for the best miniature paints for airbrushing? Did you know you can use regular model acrylic paint in an airbrush?
All you need to do is thin your normal miniature paints for it to flow properly through an airbrush.
However, if you’re looking for premixed model paint formulated for use in your favorite airbrush, then you’re in luck!
A number of companies make great airbrush-ready paints for miniature and model painting.
These paints have generally have great coverage, color variety, and easy-of-use.
Best of all, you don’t have to DIY your miniature paint mixes to get them to work with your airbrush.
Here are the best 8 airbrush paints for miniatures and models:
- Golden High Flow Acrylic
- Wicked Colors Airbrush Set
- Vallejo Airbrush Model Air (16 color set)
- Vallejo Model Air Paint Case Set
- Vallejo Game Air Paint Case Set
- Badger Ghost Tint Transparent Paint Set
- Badger Minitaire Color Paint Set
- Citadel Air Paint
Top 8 Best Airbrush Paints for Miniatures and Models
Here are my 8 recommended best airbrush paints for painting miniatures and models:
1. Golden High Flow Acrylic
Golden Transparent Highflow Acrylics are one of the most versatile airbrushable paints available.
They are not branded as hobby paints or anything, but I have discovered that they flexible in terms of what you can use them for.
You can apply them with your airbrush or a regular brush. They come in fairly large volumes (~28ml or 1 ounce) with a twist cap dropper style bottle.
Some of the colors are transparent, which is great for glazing. This is particularly useful for airbrushing color over a zenithal highlighted model.
The opaque colors work great for basing terrain pieces or large vehicles.
In general the colors in Golden High Flow paints are intense that have great flow characteristics for airbrushing.
If there is a warning with these paints is that they tend to dry very fast. You can avoid clogging by adding a little airbrush thinner or acrylic drying retarder.
Only use a small amount of these additives. A little goes a long way!
These Golden Highflow paints do create a glossy finish. You’ll want to varnish with a matte sealant when you’re done to keep unwanted reflections off your models.
Overall, these are a great set of airbrush-able paints that I found have a lot of utility in painting miniatures and models.
2. Wicked Colors Airbrush Set
Wicked Colors Airbrush Set are great for airbrushing different surface types.
This includes plastic, resin, or metal miniatures and models. In my experience, this or Badger Minitaire are probably the best airbrush paint for 3D prints.
Though, you will still want to start with a good primer. I’ve used wicked colors to airbrush wood, cardboard wargaming terrain.
And other odd materials you may use scratch building scale models.
You can buy Wicked colors in most art stores in single paint colors or in sets.
The colors are generally transparent, which I like using over a black and white undercoat.
Out of the bottle, Wicked colors are airbrush ready and provide excellent coverage.
The paint is also easy to thin and resilient to “over-reducing” effects that may disrupt the integrity of other acrylic polymer paints.
The color is thin enough to airbrush well at low air pressure without losing control (e.g., atomization is excellent).
The pigment is light-fast (it won’t fade in harsh UV light) and will dry glossy.
As with any of my models, I prefer a matte finish and will seal my completed projects with a matte varnish like Testors Dullcote.
3. Vallejo Airbrush Model Air (16 color set)
Vallejo Model Air paints are amazing for painting miniatures. They are highly regarded by many miniature artists.
Not only do they work great with an airbrush, you can use these paints with a regular brush without thinning.
Vallejo Model Air paints have a similar color palette to the Vallejo Model Color line of paints, which are designed for scale modelers.
This means that most of the color in the model air paint line are more realistic, less cartoony than gaming model paints.
I personally prefer painting my models with a more realistic flair, and therefore love using these Model Air paints whenever I can.
The paints flow nicely through an airbrush without much work. You may want to thin them a little to spray at lower air pressure for finer detail work.
But, in general, with a 0.3mm nozzle and at 20 PSI or so, you’ll achieve fantastic atomization with these paints. They don’t dry too quickly and have a semi-matte finish.
If you’re unsure of what paints to get for airbrushing, you can’t go wrong with Vallejo Model Air color paints.
This particular set is a great starter, which provides with the basic 16 core colors you’ll want for general miniature painting.
4. Vallejo Model Air Paint Case Set
The Vallejo Model Air Paint Case Set is one of the most self-controversial purchases I’ve made.
As much as I love the Vallejo Model Air paint line for airbrushing models, when I purchased this HUGE set I realized later that I didn’t need all the colors.
I could have saved some money by only buying the colors I needed or wanted.
(Okay, I also realized that this recommendation is redundant with the previous. But, I wanted to list it because it’s a great value if you want to own the entire Vallejo Model Air paint line. Note that if you already have Vallejo Model Air colors, this case will have duplicates of what you already own).
As mentioned above, Vallejo Model Air colors are one of, if not the best airbrush-ready paints you can buy for painting miniatures.
There are 142 colors in the paint set and each one is unique (so no overlap).
I will say that if you’re still in the early stages of buying paint and simply not sure what you’ll want later down the line.
This set does save you some money as compared with buying each color separately. The case is pretty useful, too, if you tend to store your hobby things away or want some portability.
5. Vallejo Game Air Paint Case Set
Vallejo Game Air Paints Case Set are the “airbrush-ready” equivalent of the Vallejo Game Color line of model paints. Vallejo Game Color paints are a close match to Citadel paint colors.
This airbrush paint kit will give you the colors for some of the most popular studio paint schemes.
In my experience with other Vallejo products, including Game Air.
You’ll find these paints to have great coverage, predictable and consistent application with your airbrush, and excellent durability.
The dropper bottles are convenient (and the same as the Model Air paints), which help you dispense the right amount of paint directly into your airbrush paint cup.
No thinning necessary.
I do find these paints to have a more glossy finish than the Model Air line. But, you can always tone down the reflections with a matte varnish or sealant.
I’ve also found that the pigments in Vallejo Game Color and Game Air paints tend to separate fairly quickly and badly if they sit around for a while.
For best results, make sure you mix/shake your paint bottles well before use.
I recommend using a small motorized paint shaker or mixer if you have a lot of paints or want to save time.
6. Badger Ghost Tint Transparent Paint Set
Badger Ghost Tints should be your first (or close second) airbrush paint set buy!
Ghost Tints are super thin, highly transparent inks that work almost like a color intense dye for your miniatures.
They are designed for airbrush use and require no thinning. Though you can apply them with a regular brush, they work best with an airbrush in my experience.
They colors are very strong, so if you prefer, you can thin them easily with water for a more subtle color coat.
The transparency of all the colors makes adding a bit of color pop or flair, or accent so easy with an airbrush.
Using low air pressure, you can add subtle color to skin tones, weathering effects on vehicles, burnt carbon on weapon barrels, or quickly create object source lighting (OSL) effects on models.
My favorite colors in the Ghost Tint set is Plasma Fluid, Fresh Blood, and Oil Discharge.
These colors easily create amazing glowing effects, bloody organic spills, and a mechanical wear n’ tear look that is hard to replicate with other art mediums.
I highly-recommend you try out Badger Ghost Tints with your airbrush!
7. Badger Minitaire Color Paint Set
Badger Minitaire Colors are a line of airbrush-ready paints that come in a large variety of colors.
This minitaire paint set comes with 80 colors, which comes out to just over $2 per bottle.
The colors are fairly unique as compared with other major hobby brand paints.
I bought this entire set a few years ago and have only recently emptied a bottle or two.
You likely won’t need all the colors in the paint set, but it is nice to have options!
The paint have good coverage, but are a little harder to work with than Vallejo’s brand of airbrush ready paints (e.g., Model Air or Game Air).
Depending on the color, minitaire paints may be too thick to use directly from the bottle.
You will have to play around with thinning them to get the paints to work well with your airbrush (which kind of defeats the purpose of an “airbrush ready” paint).
But for the price, I still think it’s one of the best value airbrush paints you can buy for painting miniatures.
The paints are very durable on gaming miniatures, and work great as airbrush paint for model cars, e.g., RC shells.
Whereas other airbrushed model paints may peel or scratch off if not properly varnished.
I found Badger minitaire paints hold up well even on my most handled painted board game miniatures. e.g., Zombicide, Mansions of Madness.
The pigments in these paints also tend to separate pretty fast and significantly. You will have to shake the bottle each time to get the best results from using the paint.
8. Citadel Air Paint
Games Workshop Citadel Air Paints are an enigma.
The set comes with 78 paints (though you can buy each color, separately), which matches many of the normal Citadel Colour range.
The Citadel Air paints, of course, are thinned with a formulation that make them ready for your airbrush.
Each Citadel Air pot holds 24 ml of paint, which is twice more than the regular sized pots at 12ml.
I’ve only tried a few colors, including the yellows, which are notoriously hard to get good coverage with using normal model paints.
They work well and do the job. Except, I find the design choice of using the flip cap pots for these airbrush paints odd given the difficulty of transferring the paint to your airbrush.
You waste a bit of paint getting the color into your airbrush paint cup.
It doesn’t matter whether you using a brush, pipette, or pouring it from the pot to your airbrush paint cup, some will be lost.
The cost of Citadel Air paints on par with most of the regular Citadel layer and base paint line.
But realize that you’ll likely use up the Citadel Air paint much quicker because it is thinner and you’ll be losing some in the transfer process to your airbrush.
Remember, you could always use your regular acrylic Citadel layer/base paints with your airbrush by thinning them properly.
On a different note, the advantage of these paints is that they merge and match up well with the other Citadel paints you may already be using.
And, this advantage should be underscored as it is a HUGE benefit.
If you’ve already painted a portion of your model collection in a particular color want simply want to start using your airbrush to speed things along.
Finally, Citadel Air paints hold up well like normal gaming model paints.
The paint layers are durable (though you’ll still want to varnish your completed painted miniatures).
The paint also has great coverage, color intensity (matching regular Citadel paints), and work really well in an airbrush, e.g., you don’t need to thin them at all.
In fact, it is no surprise that they work as well in an airbrush like Citadel Contrast colors, which have a nice unique transparency to them, too, when airbrushed on a miniature.
If you’re looking for a faster, simpler way to airbrush Citadel colors on your models, then Citadel Air paints may be the right choice for your project.
I enjoy airbrushing miniatures for the unique look and effect that you can do.
When you get really good with using an airbrush, you’ll find that you can perform a lot of different color blending and smoothing techniques that may be hard to do with a regular brush.
Although you can mix and thin regular acrylic paints for airbrushing, it can take a bit of work and experimentation.
If your mixture ratio is too thin or thick, you risk splattering paint on your model or clogging your airbrush. Both are annoying time sucks in a hobby that already has enough challenges.
If you’re looking for a simple and quick way to get going with your airbrush, then airbrush-ready paints may be your ticket.
I’m certain I missed a few favorite brands and formulations, but I’m certainly open to trying out new paints when I can get a hold of them.
I hope you enjoyed this article and found it useful. If you have any comments or feedback for this article, I’d love to hear from you! Comment below 😃
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