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Solid paint coat using Acrylics

Q: I haven’t been able to get a solid looking coat of white using Tamiya acrylic sprays, especially around the edges or rounded corners of any hood or bumper. I use either their gray or white primer, but even after tons of coats of white, it still looks like it could use another 10. Do I really need to apply that many coats of acrylic white just to get barely mediocre results?

-Tom Borowski
via email

Ken: Acrylics are tricky, but you should be able to get a better paint job with fewer coats.

The thin areas at the corners and crevices could be caused by either too much air pressure (you’re literally blowing the paint away from those areas) or paint that’s a little too thin (same result as too much air pressure).

The tricky key is to thin the paint to a “just right” consistency. Try using Tamiya’s X-20A thinner, made exclusively for use with their acrylics. The best formula seems to be two parts paint to one part thinner, but that may vary depending on your air pressure.

Tamiya acrylics can be thinned in other ways. Avoid plain water if possible. Isopropyl alcohol works, as well as windshield washer fluid or even Windex in a pinch. But, be careful with Windex which has ammonia that over time could cause corrosion of your airbrush’s innards.

It’s a good idea to shoot distilled water through the airbrush at the end of any acrylic paint session.

Getting good coverage is a delicate balance between paint consistency and air pressure. You’ll need to experiment to find the right combination. If you’re still not getting acceptable results with Tamiya paint, try another brand like Vallejo, Mig Ammo, or Citadel.


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