What Is Airbrush Paint Reducer?

You will commonly hear the term paint thinner, or paint reducer in the airbrush industry.

As the name entails,

Airbrush paint reducer is a water like liquid designed specifically to reduce the viscosity of airbrush paint, for better flow through the airbrush and increased atomization. Airbrush paint reducer is also commonly referred to as airbrush paint thinner.

Airbrush reducer can be both, water-based or solvent-based. The reducer you use will depend on the base product of the paint you intend on using.

For instance, most airbrush ready paints on the market today are water-based. This means, in theory, you could use any water-based reducer with the paint. Even water alone can work as a reducer to a degree.

Similar story for solvent-based paint products.

However, mixing one base product with another can prove to be dysfunctional at best, and catastrophic at worst. For instance, never mix solvent-based paint with water-based reducer, or vice versa.

What Does Airbrush Paint Reducer Do?

Airbrush paint reducer, when mixed with paint at a specified ratio, reduces the paint viscosity allowing the paint to flow better through the airbrush. In turn, preventing the airbrush from spitting, sputtering or clogging during use. All symptoms of the paint viscosity being too thick.

Put simply, airbrush paint reducer allows the paint to be thinned out to a usable consistency. Generally speaking, even airbrush ready paints are very difficult to spray through an airbrush straight from the bottle due to the thicker viscosity.

Commonly, even paints that are labeled as “airbrush ready” need to be thinned down before use, for best overall application and finish. Though the reduction ratios will vary from one paint maker, or paint line to the next due to viscosity differences between one another.

I know,

you’d think that paint labeled as airbrush ready would be ready for airbrush use. But I find this commonly, to not be the case.

Is Reducer The Same As Thinner?

Generally speaking,

Paint reducer is the exact same product as paint thinner, simply a different term used to refer to the same product. Some call it paint reducer, while others call it paint thinner.

The product and intent is the same,

Reduce / Thin the paint viscosity down so it will flow better through the airbrush.

Do I Need To Use Airbrush Paint Thinner?

Though this question relies heavily on the viscosity of the airbrush paint in question.

Commonly, you do need to use airbrush paint thinner, even with airbrush ready paints. Far too often, airbrush ready paints straight from the bottle are too thick of viscosity to be sprayed through an airbrush.

Throughout my time spent using an airbrush, I have only come across one airbrush paint line that is usable straight from the bottle. That is com-art colors, developed by Iwata. All the rest I’ve come in contact with are too thick to be used without reducer.

Though I recommend using the paint maker’s specified reducer. I personally have used distilled water as a thinner (For water-based paints), I’ve even mixed up some home brewed water-based paint thinners. They all worked fine.

That being said, when I’m doing a valuable project, I use the paint line specified reducer (The stuff developed by the manufacturer for the paint). This way I know I’m going to get good adhesion, and lasting results.

For the most part, paint reducer is a vital product to have on hand when airbrushing. As I have yet to meet an airbrush artist that does not use reducer.



Airbrush paint reducer is a water like liquid intended to reduce the viscosity of airbrush paint, so the paint can flow better through the airbrush, and the airbrush can better atomize the paint.

Especially at lower air pressure when painting fine lines and detail.

Under most circumstances, paint thinner, or reducer, whatever you refer to it as… Is a vital product to have on hand. Even if your using airbrush ready paints. You’ll find with time; that paint viscosity needs to be manipulated thinner every now and then.

A common misconception many have regarding the differences between airbrush paint thinner, and airbrush paint reducer. Is that there is a difference…

Truth be told, there is no difference… Both airbrush paint reducer and airbrush paint thinner are the exact same product. Some simply refer to it as reducer, others thinner. But the idea is the same.

I hope you were able to find some value here! If you have any further questions regarding the airbrush do be sure to take a look around the website. Airbrush Insider is dedicated to helping all in the airbrush community!

This is Colt signing off!

Check Out Some Of My Favorite Airbrush Equipment:


Hello, My Name Is Colt. I have always had an interest in the artistic, and creative side of things. But personally, I enjoy the process of shading and using gradients in order to achieve a photo realistic, 3D image of my choosing! That is the why I employ the airbrush every time I work! I have found the process of Airbrushing to be very therapeutic, and allows me to utilize the creative side of my brain to a greater extent! If you'd like to learn more about me, be sure to check me out over on my About Page

Recent Posts