Plastic models — often referred to as miniatures — have been a staple of hobbyists for many years. Many people just love the creativity involved in building, designing, and creating these plastic models. For true hobbyists, not just any materials will suffice for their precious miniatures. This fact is especially true when it comes to the paints used for their plastic models.
What Type of Paint For an Airbrush
An essential tool in many hobby plastic model builders is the airbrush. It is perfect for beginners and advanced artists alike. It is the tool of choice for model builders due to its versatility and ease of use. Airbrushes allow the user to place many different kinds of media inside of them. The important thing to note is that not all paints are suitable for the airbrush, and even less suitable for your plastic models. The best airbrush paints often use an acrylic base, paints that are thick yet fluid and flow very well from the airbrush. If you’re not very knowledgeable about paints, don’t worry as this article will provide you with options for the best airbrush paint for plastic models. Don’t settle for anything less than optimal for your creations!
Best Airbrush Paints
As previously mentioned, the best paints for an airbrush use an acrylic base. It can be contributed to how airbrushes work and how hobbyists use them for their plastic models. First of all, not every type of paint can stick to plastic, much less be durable for however long your plastic model lives. Acrylic is perfect in this sense as it has no problem applying itself to plastic models.
The best airbrush paints need to be delicate and flow well enough to apply evenly across surfaces. Many plastic models will feature intricate designs and colors, which means that bad paint could mean hours of ruined work!
Without further ado, take a look at the best airbrush paints available online.
TIMBERTECH Professional Airbrush Paint
– Best Overall
TIMBERTECH’s line of airbrush paints is virtually the best available airbrush paint on the online market right now. On Amazon, not only does it sport the highest rating, but also the highest amount of raters.
These professional airbrush paints are considered the best airbrush paint for plastic models by users because of their qualities. Not only are these paints versatile — in both color and useability — but they are also perfect for beginners. In fact, these paints are safe for children and the recommended option for them.
TIMBERTECH’s airbrush paints are acrylic-based with a semi-gloss finish. While they are recommended to be used on fabrics and canvas, these paints will have no trouble being used on your plastic models. These paints are thick, quick to dry, easy to blend, and very durable. It would take years before these paints begin to crack on the surface. It provides a permanent finish that leaves even professionals satisfied.
The TIMBERTECH paints come in many forms and colors for whatever model you may be working on. There have paints and colors that are opaque, shiny, fluorescent, etc. Made from high-quality water-based acrylic, it’s hard to go wrong with this many options!
The paints come out at just $1.50 per fluid ounce which makes them one of the most affordable airbrush paints on the market! If you had to choose an acrylic airbrush paint to start out with, this is subjectively the best recommendation you could get.
- Professional grade
- Made from high-quality materials
- Easy application and blending
- Permanent finish and resistance to cracking
- Safe — gluten-free and water-based
- Water-based acrylic — expect it to be more watery than other acrylics, as per user reviews
S. Art Supply Acrylic Airbrush Paint
– Alternative Option
If you want something different than what TIMBERTECH offers but similar quality, then U.S. Art Supply’s line of acrylic airbrush paints is probably the right option for you. These two acrylic airbrush paints are comparable among users as the best airbrush paint for plastic models. However, as any proper artists know, no two paints are truly the same.
For instance, both airbrush paints use high-quality, water-based acrylic resin for their paints. However, U.S. Art Supply does not state that theirs is gluten-free. Aside from this, U.S. Art Supply acrylic airbrush paints utilize light-fast pigments for their colors which are also non-toxic.
These paints offer a permanent finish that is perfect for blending. U.S. Art Supply’s airbrush paints work on most, if not all, surfaces and mediums.
These paints are more expensive than TIMBERTECH’s paints coming out at around $2-3 per fluid ounce. The price you pay for these airbrush paints results in a thicker and more firm paint if that is what you’re looking for.
The company says that you do not need to thin your airbrush paints despite the thick viscosity of it. However, many users suggest that you should still thin the paints because they are just that thick.
- Professional Grade
- Made from great materials and pigments
- Permanent Finish
- Very thick
- It may be too thick for your project
- Clumps up in your airbrush if you do not thin it first
Vallejo Acrylic Airbrush Paint (Model Air)
– High-Quality Option
Vallejo’s Model Air is a collection of airbrush paints specifically created for airbrushing plastic models and miniatures. As you may suspect, because it was designed for this specific task, these paints are a strong contender for the best airbrush paint for plastic models. These airbrush paints by Vallejo are the best in quality among those available in the market.
The idea behind Vallejo’s Model Air collection is to cater directly to the niche of model and miniature builders, as opposed to other airbrush paints which are made with artists in mind. As a result, Model Air provides things for model builders and hobbyists that no other brand has.
For example, much research went into the color design of the paints. Vallejo studied existing and previous military vehicles and colors to provide the most historically accurate pigments and hues. If your models are focused on historical things, then this option is best for you.
The paints themselves use water-based acrylic and have a glossy finish. The consistency is thick enough for the brand to recommend the use of a thinner and airbrush flow improver. Vallejo’s Model Air paints dry very quickly so some skill is definitely required when using them. You can expect top-of-the-line durability and resistance for these high-quality paints.
All this quality does not come without a downside, however, and they are the most expensive airbrush paints on this list. A fluid ounce of Vallejo’s Model Air sells for about $5+ on online markets. It also requires much more maintenance and care than other paints.
- Professional grade
- Unique colors — historically accurate, no mixing needed, and perfect for military models
- Perfect for niche model builders
- Specifically designed for plastic models and miniatures
- Requires a lot of maintenance and preparation (thinning, priming, air pressure, etc.)
Wicked Colors Airbrush Paint
– Color Option
As the name suggests, Wicked Color’s airbrush paints offer customers the best choices in terms of colors and pigments. Much like Vallejo’s Model Air, they have paints that were specifically designed for models and miniatures. Unlike other brands, however, Wicked Colors airbrush paints practically have a color for every need you may have.
Another water-based acrylic that has virtually every color available. They have primary colors, warm colors, flesh tones, detailing paints, and much more. Whatever model you are painting, you are almost certain to find a proper color amongst their hefty catalog. They also offer a matte finish which is different than the other brands on this list.
Most of their products are made with high-quality lightfast pigments and exterior grade resin, this means that they are vibrant and durable — able to stand the test of time. However, their products that are not made with light-fast pigments tend to fade relatively quickly.
Prices for the Wicked Colors airbrush paints vary depending on the colors you get. They go for around $2-5 and are not a bad deal at all. If you place a lot of value in color design, quality, and accuracy, then these paints may be the right one for you. The colors alone make it viable as the best airbrush paint for plastic models.
- Tons of great and unique colors to choose from
- Designed for artists and model builders
- Matte finish
- Perfect for specific tasks (detailing, thin lines, etc.)
- Clumps up in the airbrush even when thinned
- Some paints are not lightfast — fades quickly
Tips and Tricks to Make the Most Out of Your Paints
No matter how hardy or high-quality your paints may be, it does not hurt to take care of your airbrush paints. Even the best airbrush paint for plastic models needs some preparation to get the best results.
In order to get the absolute best results from your paints, you’re going to need some other products. Applying a nice primer and having a good base is almost essential for making your paints great. Not every paint requires thinner, but it does not hurt to apply it and try it out, or else you might ruin your model or even your airbrush.
Storing your airbrush paints properly is crucial to making them last longer. After all, you want to make the most out of your money. Keep your paints away from extreme temperatures (whether hot or cold) and make sure to place them in a spot away from direct sunlight. You also want to keep it from getting any air or moisture, as this will lead to moldy, clumpy paints. It doesn’t hurt to wrap your paints in some plastic wrap when you aren’t using them and this creates a nice little seal!
Another great option for a satisfying hobby activity is painting by numbers. I personally enjoy this one quite a lot.
Hobby model building is tons of fun and it lets your creativity and artistic side roam free. Your paints should be a reflection of this so don’t settle for just any paint. Enjoy model building more by using only the best airbrush paints on the market!