DIY Airbrush Paint

graffiti image by Gudellaphoto from

Things You'll Need

  • Acrylic paint
  • Water
  • Empty, plastic 1-ounce bottle
  • Drop cloth
  • Plywood (4 feet by 8 feet by ¼ inch)
  • Painter’s tape
  • Razor knife
  • Airbrush
  • Paper towels
  • Bucket
  • Safety glasses
  • Dust mask

An airbrush is a painting tool that ejects a fine mist of paint onto your chosen medium. Cartoons on T-shirts, detailed designs on motorcycles, works of art on a canvass and everything in between can be done with an airbrush. A little practice and a few tips will put you on the road to airbrush painting no matter what surface you are painting or what type of paint you are using. Technique can be refined as you practice, but, as with any tool, proper use starts with the basics.

Pour half an ounce of paint into the empty plastic bottle. Add one-quarter ounce of water to the paint and twist the lid onto the bottle. Shake the bottle to mix the ingredients.

Lay out your drop cloth. Lay the plywood onto the drop cloth. Maneuver the plywood so that one of the long sides of the board is parallel to the wall, with 18 inches of separation between the wood and the wall. Lift the side of the plywood that is farthest from the wall. Stand the plywood up and lean it against the wall.

Assemble your airbrush according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Shake the bottle of water and paint to mix well. Fill the reservoir cup of your airbrush three-quarters full with the thinned paint from your mix bottle.

Set your mixture bottle aside, keeping it close by to refill your airbrush as needed. Refill your airbrush when the reservoir is one-quarter full.

Outline your pattern by placing strips of painter’s tape onto the plywood. Trim the tape with your razor knife to achieve the desired shape. Practice painting on the plywood with your airbrush. Use long, smooth strokes following the long axis of your pattern. Press the trigger 3 inches before your pattern begins to ensure proper paint coverage. Remove the tape from your pattern while the paint is still wet. Allow the paint to dry for two hours before shading or continuing with a new color.


  • Clean your airbrush by filling it with clean water and squirting the paint into a bucket. Continue refilling and shooting water through the tool until the water runs clear. Disassemble the airbrush and wipe each piece with a wet paper towel. Dry each piece with a paper towel and reassemble the airbrush for storage.


  • Always wear safety glasses and a dust mask when using an airbrush to protect your eyes and lungs from injury.


About the Author

After learning electronics in the U.S. Navy in the 1980s, Danny Donahue spent a lifetime in the construction industry. He has worked with some of the finest construction talent in the Southeastern United States. Donahue has been a freelance writer since 2008, focusing his efforts on his beloved construction projects.

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