How to Airbrush Paint on Plastic

Airbrushed paint can drip and run on the wrong surface.

Airbrushing is a delicate process that requires thorough preparation and a gentle hand. Most airbrushing artists choose to paint on canvas, paper or other materials that paint naturally adheres to. Others will take a chance on glass, fabric and even plastic, but special steps must be taken to ensure adherence to these materials. To airbrush on plastic, you must prepare the surface to receive the paint.

Lay newspaper across your workspace to protect it from spilled paint.

Sand the plastic surface with 800-grit sandpaper. Sand in firm, tight circles until the shine of the plastic is dulled. Plastic that is shiny and smooth will be harder to paint, and the paint may not adhere.

Paint a thin layer of plastic primer on the plastic surface. Let dry for at least 15 minutes, then paint a second layer. Let the second layer dry.

Drop airbrush paint onto your painting palette with a dropper and mix it with a toothpick.

Load your airbrush paint into the paint bottle of your compressor. Connect the paint bottle and needle to your compressor.

Turn the airbrush switch to the “ON” position.

Test the spray of your airbrush on newspaper. Become familiar with the feel of the airbrush.

Hold the airbrush at least 6 inches away from the plastic as you spray. Spray in long, even strokes, stopping only when necessary. Let your painting dry overnight.


Lay the object flat on your work surface to prevent drips.

About the Author

Michael Monet has been writing professionally since 2006. At the San Francisco School of the Arts, he studied under writers Octavio Solis and Michelle Tea, performed his work in Bay Area theaters and was published in literary journals such as "Paradox," "Umlaut" and "Transfer." Monet also studied creative writing at Eugene Lang College in New York and Mills College in Oakland.