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Paint measuring/mixing for airbrushing


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Hi all,

 

I've been wondering what techniques people use to get paint and thinners into their airbrushes whilst trying to keep pretty close to a % mix, especially when only needing a very small amount of paint.

 

I found the other day that I wasted quite a bit of paint as I just couldn't get a 50/50 mix of paint in the tiny quantity needed to paint the coating along the front edges of the wing. I prefer to mix paint before putting it in the brush (again, in a tiny amount it strikes me as impossible to mix that in the cup). But trying to get three or four drops of black and the same of thinner and then mix it well and then transferred to the airbrush seems tricky to me. I quite like pipettes, but they're quite big and the wastage of pipettes seems unethical as once coated with acrylic paint it's next stop in the trash. I've tried pouring into drop into a mixing cup but I can't control the measures that way (plus I tend to end up with more paint dribbling down the side of the jar than I use on the model.

 

I also tried those little measuring spoons you get for cooking. The problem with them is that even the smallest doesn't fit in the paint jar (so I need to pour it) and half the paint adheres to the metal measure and thus complicates getting an even mix.

 

Should also mention that I'm not at all keen on premixing - ie. adding thinners to the paint jar and I'm loathe to pour unused mixed paint back into the jar.

 

First world problem I know, but does anyone have any good techniques I could use?

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Disposable syringes or pipettes.

I typically use 1, 3 or 5ml disposable syringes - drawing the paint out of it's container & dropping it into the likes of an old Tamiya paint jar, then doing the same with the thinner. A few pumps on the syringe plunger takes care of mixing & then it's just poured into the airbrush paint cup. Measuring with the 1ml syringe is easiest - X syringes full of paint & Y of thinners. 

 

Syringes don't work so well with hot paint though as the plunger seals swell & the plunger binds in the barrel.....

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17 minutes ago, Filler said:

I'm loathe to pour unused mixed paint back into the jar.

I've been pouring back in for years and never had a problem - much less wasteful.

 

For measuring out a tiny, tiny amount of paint, I use the spoon end of a Tamiya paint stirrer.

 

paint-stirrer-tamiya-w1200-h1200-18f1c7c

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Thanks gents. I've actually got a pair of those Tamiya stirrers. I've tried them and they're the best I've managed. The problem was just that with the paint 'sticking' to the stirrer and the clarity of the thinners, I wasn't sure what ratio I was ending up with. I'll keep trying. I've also just looked on ebay for very small pipettes and syringes. They do look worth a go. The small pipettes and very small and inexpensive and I wouldn't feel so bad disposing of them. Perhaps the syringes are more precise though.

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If you do go for syringes, the BD / Plastipak ones with the purple plunger are not so clever & seem to start binding at the 1st sniff of even acrylic thinners. if you can find them the Baxa Exata-Med oral syringes are far superior - look for a white plunger & blue graduation markings.

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Lash it in until it's about the consistency of semi-skimmed milk.  back-flush the brush to mix the paint, and then test it somewhere.  If it's too weak it'll spider, so put more paint in, if it's too thick it'll spatter, so put more thinners in and remix.  Life's too short to be counting drops ;)

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When our kids were little, you could buy the syringes on the right, to give them oral medication. I have about a dozen of them. A few years ago, when our little dog was ill, the vet gave me 4 of the smaller syringes on the left, that were pre-filled with some medicine. All the syringes have been fully washed twice to make sure they are clean. I have only tired these a couple times when mixing Tamiya paint but they seem to work okay and are easy to clean. I'm quite sure that you can buy similar items at most pharmacies/drugstores.

 

45469452762_df88898425_b.jpg

 

 

 

Chris

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Whenever I have to mix only a small quantity of paint, I still do this in a mixing cup, thin to the required ratio and only then pour in the cup of my airbrush.

As a mixing cup I use some old containers for contact lenses, they are great for this.

To pour the paint in the mixing cup from the jar I use a very simple tool: wooden or bamboo skewers ! With these I can pick the paint from the jar and let the drops fall in the cup. This method allows me to control the quantity of paint in the cup quite accurately, When done, I simply wipe the paint off the skewer and it's ready to be used again and again.

For the thinner I generally use a syringe made for gluing optical fibres into their connectors, these have a needle that is larger than the ones used for injections. I usually follow the X drops of paint (from the skewer tip) and Y drops of thinner (from the syringe). I should add that using syringes for acrylic thinners is fine but using them for enamel thinners is not the best ideas as these thinners tend to damage the rubber in the syringes.

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Again, thanks for all the advice and suggestions. @Mike I certainly can't disagree with your sentiment. It kind of funny as well that we've probably all got hundreds of pounds of model kits in our attics and wherever gathering dust and yet I'm here trying to find a way of not wasting about 5 pence of paint.

 

I think I'll try a mini syringe/pipette and also try and see if practice gets me the feel of what's right using the stirrer/stick dropping method.

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For the 'tiny' amounts you speak of, I regularly use the blunt end of one of those plastic Testors paint brushes to 'dip and drop'---one quick dip and I can drop one or two consistent drops, then wipe on an old t-shirt and on to the next. (Once wiped, it doubles as a very effective stirrer.)

I do this all the time for working out mixing formulas (since I mostly mix my own colors), and it's precise enough that it 'scales up' to larger paint volumes with great accuracy.

Not high-tech, but it works a treat.

 

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I use a spatula to measure out paint, wipe it with a brush into an artist’s china pallet.  Then dribble in what looks about right for thinners.  I mix and transfer to the airbrush cup using the same brush.  Works for me, I can’t be doing with %age mixes as every make and even colours in the same make seem to need different thinning!  I tried the mixing in the airbrush cup but ended up with bubbles of paint going everywhere!

On a more positive note I used Vallejo Metal Color last night.  The first airbrush ready paint I’ve used that actually worked straight from the bottle. Mind you the teeny metallic particulates need a real thorough clean afterwards!

Cheers

Will

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I bought a bunch of glass pipettes from the pharmacy, as long as you're careful not to break them you can reuse them for ages. There's larger/smaller diameter and the tip of the pipette is smaller/larger too. I just squirt a few drops of thinner in the airbrush cup, grab a few drops of paint with the pipette, put them in the cup and then using the pipette I make the mix. I use to back flush to make it, but it's hard on the H&S because of the crown needle cap so now I just use the pipette. If there's anything left I'll put it back in the paint jar, never had any issues.

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I also have some glass droppers/pipettes that I bought cheap at a dollar store. I also have this glass syringe that I don't remember how I acquired.

 

44800869514_7c020b8231_b.jpg

 

 

 

Chris

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Those glass pipettes look great. With the removeable rubber thingy it looks a doddle to clean the glass part. As cheap as the plastic ones are, it all adds up.

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Just now, Filler said:

Those glass pipettes look great. With the removeable rubber thingy it looks a doddle to clean the glass part. As cheap as the plastic ones are, it all adds up.

Yes, real easy to clean. The ones I have are at least 15 years old.

 

 

Chris

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I use these if I feel like being accurate:

 

https://www.ebay.com/itm/5-Pcs-Rubber-Head-Glass-Dropper-Pipettes-1mL-Scale-Line-Graduated-Pipet-for-Lab/152690932235?epid=2223792251&hash=item238d16ba0b:g:EDgAAOSwKFBZrRBx:rk:4:pf:0

 

Or for the "dip and drop" method mentioned by @thorfinn, I got some of something like these:

 

https://www.ebay.com/itm/2Pcs-Glass-Stirring-Stick-Rod-Mixing-Lab-Bar-Stir-9-8inch-Borosilicate-Glassware/292728427104?epid=7023819567&hash=item4427f95260:g:umoAAOSw76dbnLzn:rk:3:pf:0

 

Shorter ones, though. Anybody who took chemistry at school will be familiar with them, and like the glass pipettes, are very easy to clean.

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FREE plastic straws from MacDonalds?  Basically pipettes !!!!  Cut the straw in 3 equalish lengths for economy...…….open tin or jar of paint, dip straw into paint, place finger over opposite end to create vacuum, then move the paint to required recepitical(hopefully alongside tin of paint, thus reducing spillage should any fall out), take finger away from end of straw - paint drops into recepitical, add thinners etc, etc(with second piece of straw) and stir the mix with the straw, retain straw in case you need to mix more, when finished, dispose/throw away straw

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Wooden coffee/tea stirrers from McDonald's for the paint. Just stir the paint with it and then use the wooden stick to place drops of paint into a Gunze Mr Color paint mixing tray, use a pipette for the thinners, then mix in the tray and tip into the airbrush...

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