Wargaming Tradecraft: Airbrush Paint - Why and Why Not


Airbrush Paint - Why and Why Not

Createx is just the brand I happened to try, probably others.
I've discussed Airbrushes at length in the past, but up until recently I've always thinned and mixed airbrush paints myself.

Recently I finally tried out actual airbrush paints and it was absolutely worth it. For my wife's Crystalline Affliction army, heavy on the beasts, I wanted consistency in how the colours looked rather than mixing every time.

Not having to thin paints for my airbrush was AWESOME. I've added a small selection of paints to my list of Wargaming Approved Supplies.

The primary reason to buy Airbrush paints is that they're pre-thinned for use in an airbrush. This has a bunch of uses:
First time I've used airbrush paints
was for Thagrosh so all my
beasts will have the same base.
  • Consistency
    • Mixing and thinning paints adds an element of inconsistency that you'd rather avoid.
    • When you're working on a large project, you want all your miniatures to look roughly the same. Buy a couple airbrush paints if you plan on painting the first couple layers on your Space Marines, the skin on all your large beasts or all your vehicles, dreadnoughts and warjacks with an airbrush.
  • You don't have to thin paints
    • This can be a huge hassle to get right and you need to buy paint thinner to add to your paints.
  • Easier to use than normal paints
    • You literally just pour it in your airbrush. No thinning or mixing.
    • Some won't dry out as fast or clog your airbrush as much as thinned acrylics. It's also great not having to battle with your thinners and mixing.
  • Save Paint
    • Mixing paints usually leads to waste because you mix extra to make sure there's enough.
  • Save Time
    • Not having to deal with all this other stuff means you'll save a lot of time and hassle.
  • Not all paints thin well
    • I like to use alcohol in my airbrush thinner to keep the pigmentation strong and I've found alcohol breaks down some of the P3 paints.
  • Some new types to choose from.
    • Translucent paints are somewhat see through, there are (expensive) colour shifting paints that have a different colour depending on the angle you look at it and you'll find more metallic colours usually.

From a cost perspective, you can't beat buying paint this way. No matter how you cut it, you're getting a TON more paint buying the airbrush stuff. For about the same price, you're getting 5x as much paint. For a little more, you get 10x as much.

  • Airbrush Paint
    • 60ml (20z) - $4.29
    • 120ml (40z) - $6.59
    • You'll pay a little more for metallics and other speciality paints.
    • Some of the colour-shifting awesome looking paints can cost a lot.
  • P3
    • 15ml - $3.50
  • Citadel
    • 12ml - $5
  • + paint thinner

Layers of airbrushing specific colours used
on Mulg the Ancient.
(Just going by website pricing)

Why not?
There aren't many, but there are a few. Overall, airbrush paints make everything a lot easier. Consider these things:

  • Less colours to choose from.
    • The P3 and Citadel paint ranges have an excellent selection of colours. If you're looking for something specific and don't want to mix the colour yourself, you'll probably have to thin one of their paints for airbrush use.
  • Don't replace normal hobby paints.
    • You can't paint with a brush very well with these, so you'll still need your traditional paints.
  • Expensive to maintain 2 collections of paint.
    • Airbrush paints go a long way and depending on what you're painting, are probably only using your airbrush from time to time for specific projects.
    • It's cheaper to thin normal paints for small jobs rather than buying a second paint.

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