Airbrushing Testors Paint: Complete Step-By-Step Guide

An airbrush lying on art paper that already has some brown and tan paint marks on it.

Testors is a brand known for their high-quality, simple-to-use products, including both enamel and acrylic paints, as well as their external mix airbrushes.

If you have been looking for a brand that offers everything you need to get started successfully airbrushing, then look no further than Testors!

In this article you will learn the step-by-step process that you can follow in order to create your own airbrush masterpiece using Testors products.

Supply List

Have you ever heard the phrase “Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance”?

Remembering the 5 P’s is the key to success in many an endeavor but in particular when it comes to airbrushing.

Making sure that you have the right tools for the job is crucial to creating an attractive finished product.

In order to successfully airbrush using Testors paints, you will need to make sure that you have: 

  • An airbrush
  • An air source
  • Paints (mediums)
  • Thinners
  • Appropriate materials to airbrush on
  • Protective gear
  • A safe work area
  • Cleaning supplies. 


There are many different kinds of airbrushes that you can use, and the type of airbrush you choose will depend on the finished product you have in mind. 

Feed Type

Different airbrushes can be determined by their feed type, which refers to the area where the color is added to the airbrush.

In a siphon-feed airbrush, the paint cup is located below the airbrush, while the paint cup on side-feed and gravity-feed airbrushes is located on the top of the airbrush.

Siphon-feed airbrushes are designed for higher pressure air flow, making them a great choice for beginners. 

Gravity-feed airbrushes use gravity to move the color from the cup into the body of the airbrush.

Gravity-feed airbrushes are often used by professionals because of their low pressure, which makes it easier to create more detailed work.

Side-feed airbrushes have their cup located across the body of the airbrush.

If the paint cup is located above the nozzle of the airbrush, then it will rely on the gravity feed process to get the medium through the airbrush.

If the cup is located below the nozzle, then it will use the siphoning process.

Mix Types 

Airbrushes can also have either external- or internal-mix types.

When discussing airbrushing, mixing refers to the combination of colored media with high-pressure air that creates the fine mist that airbrushes are known for.

In an internal-mix airbrush, the air and color are mixed within the tip of the airbrush before being sprayed. Gravity- and side-feed airbrushes are internal-mix airbrushes. 

In an external-mix airbrush, the air and color mix after being sprayed.

External mix airbrushes tend to have a rougher spray pattern in comparison to internal mix airbrushes. Siphon-feed airbrushes are external-mix airbrushes. 

Trigger Types

Airbrushes can also come with single- or double-action triggers.

An airbrush with a single-action trigger requires you to adjust the needle placement in order to create the desired color flow and spray pattern. 

Airbrushes with a double-action trigger tend to be used more often, as they include color flow and air pressure controls.

These controls mean that you can continuously airbrush without the need to stop and adjust the needle when you want to change your spray patterns. 

When choosing an airbrush, it’s important to consider your skill level as well as what kind of project you intend to use it for.

Airbrushes can be used for a wide variety of projects, including fine art, auto detailing, temporary tattoos, cake decorating, and makeup application, among others.

Certain airbrushes will be designed for use with specific products, so do your research before purchasing an airbrush.

Personally, I use and recommend the Badger 105 Patriot, but if you’d like to explore more options, you’ll find a bunch of full reviews for a variety of airbrushes in my airbrushing section.

Badger Air-Brush Co. Model 105 Patriot Fine...
  • The new Model 105-1 "Patriot" is a dual action gravity feed airbrush; comes with instruction manual
  • The Patriot's innovative and efficient precision design is enjoyed by crafters, artists, and...

Testors does offer an external mix airbrush that can be purchased along with an airbrush kit.

You can choose a kit with either acrylic or enamel paints, and it comes equipped with an airbrush, five clip caps, a stencil, a propellant can, and five different colors of paints. 

Air Source

The air source is what gives the airbrush the power to spray.

The kind of air source you use will depend on the type of airbrush you are using and what kind of project you are working on.


You’ve probably heard of an air compressor before, as they are commonly used to power various construction equipment, including jackhammers, nail guns, and compactors.

They can be quite noisy, so that is definitely a factor to consider when choosing your air source, although there are quiet air compressors designed specifically for use with airbrushes. 

Compressors can provide a wide range of air pressure, from low to medium to high.

Some air higher pressure compressors come with a tank, which is a great choice if you are planning on airbrushing a larger area or for a longer duration of time.

Using a lower-pressure, quiet air compressor is a better choice for airbrushing details or painting for a shorter amount of time. 

Check with my article here for a more detailed explanation and my top three recommendations.

Airbrush Propellant

An airbrush propellant is essentially a can of pressurized air that is very similar to spray paint.

Individually they don’t cost a lot, but if you are looking to airbrush a larger area, using a compressor or a CO2 tank is definitely a better bet, as the amount of airbrush propellants it will take to finish a bigger project will definitely add up. 

Use airbrush propellants for smaller projects that take less than 15 minutes to airbrush. 

CO2 Tanks

CO2 tanks provide pressurized air in the form of compressed carbon dioxide.

Many CO2 tanks will have an air pressure regulator, which can be very helpful in adjusting the amount of pressure that is delivered to your airbrush. 

CO2 tanks are refillable and come in a variety of sizes. Larger sizes are better for larger or longer duration projects. 


A wide variety of mediums can be used with airbrushes, from paints, inks, and dyes, to makeup and food coloring.

Testors offers both acrylic and enamel paints that can be used with an airbrush. You’ll find a wide variety of colors here.


Unless paints are specifically designed and labeled for use with an airbrush, they are often too thick and unsuitable for the job right out of the bottle.

Fortunately, it is a fairly simple process to thin the paint to the appropriate consistency.

The best way to thin a paint is to buy a thinner made by the same manufacturer as the paint, as that ensures that the combination of chemicals will have the desired effect. 

This article explains thinners and other mediums used with acrylics. If you’re using enamels, be sure to use an enamel thinner or buy a set that comes with one, like this Testors enamel set.

Testors 9146XT Promotional Enamel Paint Set(...
  • Ideal for use on wood, plastic and paper
  • Enamel-based paints add vibrant color that is durable and long lasting


Of course, you need materials to airbrush on! Airbrushes can be used to apply paint to wood, canvas, paper, cloth, metal, stone, plastics, and many other materials.

For best results, it’s important to use the proper mediums with their intended materials. 

Protective Gear

Not only can airbrushing get messy, but it can also contain toxic chemicals.

Make sure that you wear a respirator, like this 3M half-face respirator, or a heavy-duty mask when airbrushing.

Gloves are also a good choice to keep paint off of your hands, as well as old paint clothes or a protective apron. 

3M Rugged Comfort Quick Latch Half Facepiece...
  • NIOSH-APPROVED: NIOSH, a USA federal government regulatory agency, has tested and approved the 3M...
  • EASY ON AND OFF: Quick latch design offers an easy, one hand touch drop down mechanism for putting...
BASE CAMP M Plus Dust Face Mask with Extra 6...
  • 99.4% FILTRATION: Adopted EAPI filter technology and Advanced Nanotechnology, BASE CAMP respirator...
  • BREATHE SMOOTHLY: This air filter mask with valve utilizes high-quality mesh materials that is 11.3%...
Wostar Nitrile Disposable Exam Gloves Medium...
  • Disposable nitrile gloves Durable, comfortable-sturdy, high-quality nitrile material can provide...
  • Take care of your hands-Nitrile gloves keep your hands away from liquids, oils, synovial fluid, gas...

Appropriate Workspace

It is the nature of an airbrush to create a fine aerial mist, which means that it is essential to work in a well-ventilated area.

Airbrushing outside is ideal, but if you are airbrushing indoors make sure to open as many windows and doors as possible and to use strategically placed fans to keep your workspace aired out. 

Spray booths are also an option, depending on the size of your project. In my article here, you can check out some of my favorites as well as learn how to make your own.

Cleaning Supplies

The type of cleaning supplies you need will depends on the type of paints you are airbrushing with.

Water-based paints can often be cleaned up with a little soap and water, especially if the paint is still wet when you clean.

Rubbing alcohol can be used to clean up more stubborn stains.

If you are using a solvent-based paint, you may need to use tougher cleaning supplies.

Using a cleaner specifically made for your airbrush (Iwata-Media makes a great one) is the best way to keep your airbrush in tip-top shape. 

You can purchase an airbrush cleaning kit (Master Airbrush makes the best) that will come complete with brushes and a cleaning jar, or you can also make your own DIY cleaner and use pipe cleaners and cotton swabs to clean your airbrush. 

Whatever you choose to do, the most important thing is to make sure that you keep your airbrush clean, both while using it as well as giving it a deep clean after use. 

Iwata-Medea Airbrush Cleaner 32 oz
  • A high-strength, general-purpose cleaner, great for cleaning any airbrush or any artist tools where...
  • Works well on all models of airbrushes, synthetic and natural-haired paint brushes, and is excellent...
Master Airbrush 13 Piece Airbrush Cleaning Kit -...
  • TCP Global Brand 11 Piece Cleaning Kit with a 5 Piece Mini Cleaning Brush Set, 5 Piece Mini Cleaning...
  • Easily clean paint off all the hard to reach areas in an airbrush, spray gun or any other item with...

Enamel or Acrylic? How to Select Paint

Testors acrylic paints are water-based, nontoxic paints that dry quickly and are easy to clean up. They are low odor, making them a good choice when airbrushing indoors. 

Testors acrylic paints come in many different paint sets designed for specific uses, including a spraying acrylics set, a bright colors set, a camouflage colors set, a primary colors set, an auto paint set, and a wooden derby cars paint set. 

(See them here on Amazon.)

Acrylic paints are a great choice for projects that will be used primarily indoors and that won’t see a lot of wear and tear. 

Testors enamel paints are a solvent-based paint that tends to dry to a hard, glossy shell, and are a great choice for projects that will be exposed to the elements or will see heavy use. 

Testors enamel paints also come in a variety of sets, including an aircraft detail finishing set, an ultra-bright fluorescent set, an auto detailing set, and a military enamel finishing set.

(See them here on Amazon.)

Still not sure which one to use? Visit my complete guide to the differences between acrylics and enamels to see which is right for your project. 

How to Thin Paint 

When you are using paint for airbrushing, you want it to be a milk-like consistency.

You can purchase paints that are made specifically for airbrushing, but you may need to thin Testors paints prior to use. 

You can use water to thin acrylic paint, just go slow as you mix until you get a milky consistency.

When thinning enamel paints, you will want to use a solvent-based thinner, such as Testors Universal Enamel Thinner

Distance to Spray From

A general rule of thumb is to spray from about 6-8 inches away from the object you are airbrushing.

If you are doing detail work, you will want to move much closer, as in a few centimeters away from the material you are airbrushing.

If you are spraying a larger surface, you can spray from farther back.

Cleaning Up

In order to keep your airbrush properly functioning, it’s important to keep it clean.

Make sure you clean your airbrush periodically throughout your painting session by flushing it out with airbrush cleaner or water between color changes. 

After you finish your airbrush session, you will want to do a deep clean. A deep airbrush clean consists of taking apart your airbrush and cleaning each of the individual parts.

Remove the needle, nozzle, nozzle cap, needle cap, and nozzle head cap.

Wipe down the needle with airbrush cleaner, and soak the rest of the parts in airbrush cleaner for at least 10 minutes.

After the soak, use a brush or pipe cleaner to remove any excess paints from the parts. 

Considerations When Airbrushing Testors Paint 

When it comes to airbrushing, Testors paints are a cost-efficient option that offer a wide array of color choices.

Testors paints can come in either acrylic or enamel varieties, making them an excellent choice for both indoor and outdoor projects. 

Both the acrylic and enamel paints may need to be thinned before use with an airbrush. You can purchase any of Testors’ 3 different airbrush kits, which will contain everything you need to get started airbrushing. 


Dripping Paint

If your paint is dripping or running down the material you are spraying on, then you’ve probably got a distance problem.


Try standing farther away from the object you are spraying. If that doesn’t work, you may need to adjust the consistency of your paint and make it a little thicker. 

Paint Splattering

If your paint is splattering, there could be a number of culprits at play.


Make sure that the paint isn’t too thick!

You may need to remove the paint from the paint cup and flush the airbrush with water or airbrush cleaner, depending on the type of paint you are using. 

If the paint consistency looks good, check to make sure that the needle isn’t damaged. Low air pressure can cause paint splattering, so increase air pressure and see if that helps.

If the paint is still splattering, you can try cleaning or replacing the airbrush tip and nozzle. 

Wrapping It Up

Testors paints are versatile and user friendly and are a great medium for beginners to use when learning to master the art of airbrushing.

The finished result should look clean and smooth, with a subtle transition between colors.

Depending on the object you are painting and the type of airbrush and air source you are using, the entire airbrushing process from mixing the paint to thoroughly cleaning the airbrush can take as little as half an hour to several hours or more.


Last update on 2024-05-28 at 04:28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Share on facebook
Share on pinterest
Share on email
Share on print


I am a writer and an artist taking opportunities every day to transform my dreams into reality. I love learning new things and am always creating and innovating. I worked as an Art Instructor, teaching painting and art techniques to artists of all levels and ages. I have hosted countless paint parties and taught children’s art classes both in my home as well as an art teacher at a Montessori school.