Bad day with the airbrush

Dont you just hate it when you have one of those bad airbrush days where nothing works?

I had one today. Trying to airbrush semi hard edge camo stripes on a Tiger. Base coat of dunkelgelb(s) went down like a dream. Camo just… appalling.

PS771, 0.15mm needle with the limiter dialed back. VMA Dark camo green, well shaken, a drop of drying retarder and 25% thinner. Dropped the pressure to 12% - spiderweb city. So I must have over-thinned it right?

Emptied the brush, cleaned it and tried again only without the thinner. Immediately dried on the tip. Cleaned the brush again. Tried again, spiderwebs - it was going down way, way too wet. Also spattering.

Figured the brush must need a deep clean and it might have been a nozzle issue.

Changed the brush to Takumi Custom Micron, 0.15mm needle. Exactly the same. Not getting nice fine lines as I should do.

So I figure I need to increase the pressure a little as the spattering is the paint not atomising as it should as I’m in too close, so i need to increase the pressure. Tried it at 20, same result. Tried it at 22, the air just chases the spatters all over the model.

Maybe the Takumi needs deep cleaning?

Pulled out my reserve Fenga FS180 with a 0.20mm needle and tried that - worse because the back stop doesnt have enough control to work effectively for the fine lines.

I deep cleaned all my brushes, emptied the paints, emptied the moisture trap on the compressor and started again.

12psi pressure, 0.15mm needle, PS771 detail optimised airbrush. Same paint, different bottle in case it was the paint.

Still not happening. Overspray all over the place, tip drying every few seconds, spattering, going down way too wet, inconsistent flow, either none or flooding, and then working fine for a few seconds, then going haywire again.

So annoying.

Anyone else have those days too?


Yep, same here. I hate days like that where all I want to do is paint and then I can’t get it to work. Really frustrating stuff there. Hope you get it resolved soon!


Those days are never fun.

My last misadventure traced to an airbrush needle with a very slightly bent tip. Some how it had gotta a slight J in it at the very end. I’d even cleaned it twice before catching the tiny J bend at the tip.

Likewise, wish you the best and hope it’s sorted out soon.


I thought it might be a bent tip too but they cant all have bent tips can they? I’ve gone through like four different airbrushes today.

I’ve switched to Tamiya and it is behaving vastly better than the VMA was at the same pressures. Go figure.

Still not ideal as it keeps clogging the brush…but a deep clean down every twenty minutes of airbrushing is okay right? Right?? lol


I found out what it was btw.

I’d been stirring the paints in the cups with cotton buds. Little fibres were coming away and bunching up behind the nozzle. Blocked them right up. I ended up having to wrench off the front of the nozzle on the Creos to understand what it was - clods of soaked cotton bud fibres.

So I need a new nozzle for the Creos :slight_smile:

I ran some heavy duty undiluted Tamiya airbrush cleaner through the Micron and left it in there for about ten mins, flushed it out very thoroughly and then tried again. Tamiya spraying like an absolute dream now.

When I think about it, stirring the paint with cotton buds is the dumbest thing imaginable, but hey, its a mistake I’ll only make once.

Posted here so you can laugh at me and then not make the same mistake.


You can rescue the Creos nozzle, leave it in a strong solvent for some time and try cleaning it. Aceton will work too but it might damage the coating of the nozzle. If you think it is a write off and you cannot clean it dip it in alcohol and set it on fire, I am pretty sure it will clean up. Had to do the same with a badger nozzle, cleaned perfectly.


@BringupthePIAT Yes, I have had countless of these days. Because, I’m really struggling with getting enough practicing time with the airbrush. And when I finally got the hang of it. Getting actually in the flow of working with it. I got sick… Throwing me all the way back once more… So I totally understand what you mean.

How did you learn to airbrush? And how are you systematically troubleshooting during airbrushing practice when you are running into problems? And where are you getting the time from to actually being able to airbrush enough?

Fenga? Do you mean Fengda? Because I have a Fenga AB as well. Easy to clean and maintain. Cheap to run. But giving good results.

How do you ‘deep clean’ your airbrushes? With an ultrasonic cleaner? And how are you doing that? For how long of a time duration? And doesn’t cost that a lot of power?

What is overspray? Are you using acrylic paints to airbrush only? I have constant tip drying issues as well. Taking a cotton swab with some AB Cleaner on it. Sticking it in the tip of the airbrush. Poking in the needle. Twist it maybe once or twice. And then trying. Doesn’t seem to help much. Trying full blast through pulling back further on the trigger. To get the dried up paint out of the front of the AB. Seams to help somewhat. But not much. Still tip drying issues. So yeah. I also completely understand this.

@CKPlasticModels What are you doing when you have such days? How are you going to deal with them? I know such days can really ruin my entire day I have still in front of me. Maybe you can give me some tips and pointers?

@Armor_Buff How are you inspecting/investigating for those difficulties? How do you actually spot them? And how much time does it take you? Are you doing those inspections frequently? Or just when something stops working?

@BringupthePIAT I remember probably one of my subjects on here asking which cotton swabs to purchase for my airbrush cleaning. And that I suspected those swabs you buy in the grocery store or supermarket have those little fibres hanging losely on the end of the swabs. And that I suspected they could cause troubles for the airbrush. And that someone here. Confirmed my suspicions about this. Now I see another confirmation how important it is to have good cotton swabs. With no loose fibres at the end…

@gtdeath13 Sounds quite dangerous to me, this method of cleaning.

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I encountered the exact same problem Chris, except mine came from cleaning the nozzle with cotton swabs, I use a paint brush to stir my paint in the cup. Glad you found the problem, live and learn right.

Cajun :crocodile:


It is not that dangerous provided you do not let the metal get too hot (for metal not compared to room temperature) and that you do not quench it in liquid because the coating will wear off.


I A) try to solve the problem, and if that doesn’t work, just walk away and take a break (it gets me a little irritated sometimes), or B) divert that energy into another project. More often than not step A occurs :laughing:
Thanks for asking!

Colin :grin:

Edit: I just thought of something to add that makes it worse! I hate it when I am so happy to paint that I forget to shoot some water through my airbrush to make sure it sprays. Sometimes I will have mixed an entire batch of paint that I then can’t spray and have to figure out how to get it out so I can clean and spray later. That is the worst feeling!


Yes, I sure DO hate when that happens, and I think it happens to everybody. Some days the stars are out of alignment and there is no way you are laying down some paint. You get spidering, sputtering and spattering no matter what you do. Doesn’t matter what kind of airbrush you have, or what kind of paint you use. No dice. The next day you try it again and everything flows perfectly. It’s a phenomenon that happens to all of us.
Or, you discover little bits of Q-Tip in your nozzle! That’s an insidious problem I would never think of. To avoid that kind of thing, and to keep your airbrush nozzles squeaky clean from now on, go on EBay and search “absorbent paper points”. You will come up with these, for $5.99 / 200 -

These are dental items but they are perfect for cleaning out airbrush nozzles. They are fine and pointed enough to go through the nozzle. Just soak your nozzle in lacquer thinner, then take it out, and using a tweezer, insert a dry paper point through the nozzle and twist away. You will be amazed at the amount of black gunk you will get out of your nozzle, with no risk of damage to the nozzle at all.
Use the medium for .5 and up, and the fine for .3 and down. You need these if you own an airbrush, you really do. I’ve been using these for years and my airbrushes perform perfectly [almost] every day.


I looked those up and I noticed there’s also extra fine, not sure who would need those but I thought it was worth noting. Thanks for that suggestion, imma grab some of those!


I got a tool similar to this one from Amazon, fits right through the nozzle orifice without flaring the metal.

Cajun :crocodile:


Looking at the tip of the needle. I like to have good light and a clean light colored surface in the background like a paper towel or index card.

By actually opening your eyes and looking at the tip of the needle. Slowly rotate the needle 360 degrees while looking at the needle tip a couple of times.

As much time does it takes you to pull the needle out of your airbrush, wipe it down with thinner, carefully look at it and replace it.

Remeber slowly rotate the needle 360 degrees while looking at the needle tip a couple of times.

If the tip is bent, the needle may need to be replaced. Getting a J bend out of the fine point tip is often challenging.

Every time the needle is removed from the airbrush and cleaned.

Every time the needle is removed from the airbrush and cleaned.


Best to spray with Tamiya, fail safe. Use Mr Hobby levelling Thinners, also for cleaning the airbrush. That seems to work best for me without conflict of chemicals. Although i use a vented spray booth to extract fumes - essential!


Thank you for answering.

I recognize step A with my own situations. It’s nice to know I’m not alone in this.

No problem, I’m just learning that there’s nothing wrong with asking. And that most people are actually decent and kind.

I also recognize the edit your put in. Except, my situation is often caused by a lack of time and preperation before using my airbrush. And sometimes I’m wanting to airbrush something real quick. And then when I’m actually working. I suddenly realize I forgot a lot of things I should’ve done first before proceeding to a session of airbrushing.

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Thank you for your community service.
:+1: :grin:


That describes every single session I have ever had with an airbrush.


Bad day with my Airbrush is still better than a good day at work!

:wink: :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: :kissing_heart:


Amen brother!