Paint drying in the front of the airbrush

When I was airbrushing the AK 3rd gen acrylic varnishes.
I noticed that my AB wasn’t doing exactly what I was asking it to do.
When I was spraying varnish, at first all seemed to work well.
The AB does exactly what I wanted it to do.
But, after a short period of spraying.
The AB didn’t do anymore what I was wanting it to do.
I had to pull further and further back on the trigger to get some varnish out.
I tried cleaning the front end of the airbrush with a cotton swab dipped into airbrush cleaner.
But, the problem persisted.
I tried blasting the airbrush through with a few really short times pulling all the way back with the trigger to get the dried up varnish out of the internal part of the airbrush front.
This might have worked for a really short period of time.
But then, the problem returned again.
I already have the retarder of AK, but it seems it doesn’t result in good results.
Because the paint goes running.
I’m thinning my paints now 1:1.
I did thin them 2 drops of paint and 10 drops of thinner.
It seemed to work well for a while.
But recently it didn’t work so well anymore.
I’m suspecting the air and climate in my appartment is very dry.
Because there is also barely water in the watertrap of my airbrush compressor.
When I empty the tank of the compressor using the watertrap, no water comes out of it.
Only air.
I’m cleaning my airbrush as thoroughly as I can, everytime when the day is done with airbrushing.
Except when I have very little time to do so.
But then my intention is to clean it as soon as I have more time availlable to clean it thoroughly.
What can I do to solve this problem?
I’ve seen that AK Interactive has recently brought out their own flow improver.
Vallejo has one.
Should I try one of these products or both?

Thank you for reading and taking the time to possibly come up with an answer,


Sounds like tip dry or your paint needs straining to get some particles out.

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Yes, I’d go with Flow Improver.

I had the darnest time with any paint clogging my airbrush and not spraying out of the nozzle smoothly. Then I tried Flow Improver and adding that worked wonders. I don’t know what formula Flow Improver has, but it works and is endorsed by many airbrusing videos on YouTube.

I believe that a lot of airbrushing issues can be solved with Flow Improver. It’s not so much thinning the paint (I did that many times), it’s to improve the flow and for that you need Flow Improver to make it spray out better.

Amazon sells Flow Improver if Amazon is where you live.

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@Trisaw Your story sounds familiair and recognizable to me, so I’m going to give the flow improver a try. Do you have any tips, pointers, advice or anything to help me going? Maybe save a little of my precious time and making the experience a little less painful?

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I’d go with the above suggestions, however, most of my AB problems have been from poor or lack of cleaning. I’d try that if the flow improver doesn’t help the problem.

As for the moisture trap, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. I live in Florida and the humidity is awful here, but when I empty my moisture trap like you do no water comes out. There is some condensation, but I don’t have enough for it to come out.

Colin :grin:

PS, I’d recommend spraying water through the airbrush before adding your paint. That way you can see if anything comes out at all. That has saved me a lot of trouble.

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Vallejo Flow Improver has helped me Vallejo,Mig,Ak, and the like

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I don’t airbrush a lot so I can’t advise you well. I will say that adding three to four drops of Flow Improver to the paint and stirring it around with a toothpick in the airbrush’s paint cup is what I did.

Vallejo sells a large bottle of Flow Improver and that is what I used with Monument Hobbies paints. It might not be the same brand, but it worked for me.

I also know that Tamiya paints require Clear Flat Base mixed in or else they will dry like the texture of sandpaper on the model. Tamiya paints have a tendency to spittle and dry in midair from the airbrush nozzle to the model.

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Have you checked if there is any water inside the compressor tank?
There was never any water in the water trap on my compressor and I live in a fairly dry climate. I never had any problems until air started escaping and the compressor had to work harder to get the pressure up.
Then the tank rusted through, water had pooled on te horisontal bottom of the tank.
No more tank. Have to build/assemble something new.

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I am curious as to what type of airbrush you have. I too have experienced much of what you have. I was using AMMO paints.

No, I haven’t checked inside the tank…
Maybe I should do that. Then again, this compressor is fairly new, I’ve only had it for a few months and I don’t get to painting a whole lot.

Considering Floridas awful humidity it could be worthwhile to drain the tank regularly

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@modelbouwnederland Artemis, when spraying varnishes or acrylics flats etc, what air pressure is set?

I avoid acrylics in general as I dislike how they spray much prefer enamels or lacquers or acrylic-lacquers. When I do spray Pactra acrylic flat coat, I crank the air pressure up to ~30 psi or just over 2 bars, basically twice the pressure that I normally use for painting.


Haven’t needed the Clear Flat Base to get a smooth coat out of Tamiya’s acrylics just Tamiya Lacquer thinner or Mr Color Leveling Thinner.

I’ve only seen Tamia spray nasty when thinned with a suboptimal thinner and/or the paint was poorly mixed or other issue present:

  1. unthinned out of the bottle
  2. thinned w/water
  3. thinned w/random alcohol
  4. thinned w/water & random alcohol
  5. thinned w/“home brew” concoctions

^ those are all paths to flustration with Tamiya paints in my experience. Their X20A acrylic thinner works pretty well for spraying, I’ll use it for ground work etc. It’s seems to have surfactants (soap?) in it to break down surface tension in the paint so it sprays better.

However, with Tamiya Lacquer thinner, Tamiya sprays like a quality enamel or lacquer. Thinned with Mr Color Leveling Thinner, Tamiya sprays excellent like a high quality enamel or lacquer.

Haven’t needed Clear Flat Base to get a smooth coat out of Tamiya’s acrylics just Tamiya Lacquer thinner or Mr Color Leveling Thinner.



I do have Mr. Color Leveling Thinner but I haven’t tried it.

I try to avoid spraying anything toxic these days even though I wear a respirator with activated charcoal carbon filters.


I’ve started using Mr. Color leveling Thinner and i am sold 110% on it. Works beautifully on both Tamiya and AK Interactive REAL COLOR acrylics. I have a couple bottles of X20A as backup, but I am using Mr. Color from now on. :+1:


That’s the main difference i have between Mr. Color and Tamiya; the smell of the Leveling Thinner is much stronger than that of the X20A; but i wear a mask as well. The end result is worth the smell IMO.