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airbrush question

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Neil Powell 107/02/2020 23:10:22
38 forum posts
3 photos

does anyone use an airbrush to paint thier rc boats?

Dave Milbourn07/02/2020 23:13:20
4011 forum posts
282 photos

Yes. Lots of people do.

Dave M

Neil Powell 108/02/2020 08:39:14
38 forum posts
3 photos

I'm seriously considering getting a kit for both an RC boat I am working on and also RC planes but have concerns over the cost effectiveness of the paint. I know it's not an easy question to answer but generally speaking how much coverage does a £6 60ml bottle of Vallejo paint give. A boat I am working on is an 80cm x 40cm x 20 cm catamaran hull. I'm being told that I would only need about 3 bottles, doesn't seem quite right to me.

ashley needham08/02/2020 09:19:22
6666 forum posts
160 photos

Hi Neil.

Although a lot of modellers do use spray equipment, it is a messy business and time consuming. For larger projects (not your cat) it is the way to go, however good old fashioned spray cans will deliver good results and have most of the advantages and much less mess.

Spraying with cans on a warm dry day is quick and easy. The paint dries fast and can be rubbed down..runs and so on are quickly corrected.

If you were doing a lot of modelling, and wished to use Matt camo colours or air-force specific hues then being able to spray model paint is great, but bear in mind that there are hundreds of different colours in Halfords!

Just a thought. Ashley

Dave Cooper 608/02/2020 10:34:02
171 forum posts
16 photos

I find Halfords Grey and 'Red Oxide' aerosol primers give a good base. They will also show up any areas that need further work.

On scale boats, the oxide colour often looks right below the waterline, although, I'm sure other 'reds' will also suffice.

I would echo what Ashley says about spraying conditions (ie warm and dry /dust free), I've also toyed with buying spray equipment, but I think there can be a lot of wastage. If you're planning to do a lot of spraying - boats, aircraft, trains, cars etc it could be worth the investment.


Neil Powell 108/02/2020 12:33:24
38 forum posts
3 photos

Thanks everyone appreciate all the feedback. Does anyone have any idea what sort of coverage some of these airbrush paints give. They all seem to be 17ml or 60 ml

Ray Wood 208/02/2020 12:49:22
2047 forum posts
720 photos

Hi Neil,

If you use oil based enamel you will need to thin the paint 30% to get it to spray, you may spend a lot of time cleaning the airbrush with white spirt, I only use water based acrylics for plastic models with the airbrush.

I did airbrush a 80" span Hurricane with about 8 of the small Humbrol tins thinned, a little goes a long way.

And with boats weight of the finish is not critical.

But I'm with the others spray cans are easier 😀

Regards Ray

Edited By Ray Wood 2 on 08/02/2020 12:50:06

Paul Freshney08/02/2020 20:15:55
295 forum posts
15 photos

There was some useful guidance here



Richard Simpson08/02/2020 20:16:13
105 forum posts
74 photos

I'm afraid you are probably not going to get an answer to the total coverage as I suspect it is very rare for anyone to use an entire bottle of acrylic paint through an airbrush. The trouble is that, while a wide brush might give a good coverage they are really best for fine detailed weathering and small area coverage.

As has been said a Halfords primer is perfect for the larger areas of a significant sized RC model boat. I would not use an airbrush for a large area as the chance of an uneven finish is too high. I have done a Dean's Marine Cossack with grey primer, red oxide primer and matt black for the boot topping. I have also done a Krick Anna hull with a gloss green car body paint and got a very pleasing result.

Think of it this way, if you were to brush paint a small pot of paint what coverage would you expect to get from it? Maybe half a square metre? Thinned down for the airbrush isn't going to make a huge difference as you will have to give it sufficient coats to get the coverage you want so you should end up with approximately a similar thickness of paint to get a similar opacity and therefore a similar coverage.  The only thing that matters is the pigment so, no matter how much you thin it, at the end of the day you need the same amount of pigment over the same area. 

Rattle cans are perfect for large areas and don't forget that some vendors such as Tamiya do a range of their own acrylic paint colours in a rattle can.

Edited By Richard Simpson on 08/02/2020 20:18:31

Edited By Richard Simpson on 08/02/2020 20:18:46

Banjoman09/02/2020 20:36:10
1142 forum posts
2414 photos

Hello Neil,

I paint my r/c boat hulls pretty much exclusively with an airbrush and the Vallejo RC Premium Airbrush (**LINK**) range of acrylic paints, which come in 60 ml bottles. To give you some ideas of coverage, you could have a look at the painting section of my old Eilean Mór thread ( – see about halfway down the page).

For the exterior of that hull (which is approximately 33" long with a 9.5" beam), I used about 120 ml (i.e. two bottles) of white primer, and (if my memory serves me) something like 40 ml of red paint and perhaps 20 ml or so of black.

In other words, these paints cover really well!

The method is without doubt considerably slower than rattle cans, as one has to build up the paint in several thin layers, but I've not found it to be a problem.

For these large areas, I generally use a 0.6 mm needle and a 5 ml cup on my airbrush, and find that that combination works fine.

I have never tried to airbrush other paints for this sort of large surface, so don't know what sort of coverage one would get with for example Humbrol enamels.


Edited By Banjoman on 09/02/2020 20:36:32

Edited By Banjoman on 09/02/2020 20:47:57

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