Thinners & Future

Acrylic thinners for airbrushing, Future Floor Wax, varnishes

Thinners for Airbrushing

One of the major problems I have had and hear about with others revolves around thinners for paints or airbrushing. Because acrylics tend to dry quickly, they can clog the airbrush or dry on the needle tip. But, harsh chemicals can dissolve the acrylic binder causing them to lose their ability to stick to the model. Of course, I always recommend a primer.

  1.  Vallejo Airbrush Thinner
    • This is my main thinner for paints.
    • Works with Vallejo, Lifecolor, Mig/AK acrylics, Model Master
  2. Golden Airbrush Medium
    • A good additive to the Vallejo thinner or by itself.
    • Helps prevent tip dry.
    • It looks white but dries clear.
  3. AK/Mig Airbrush Thinner
    • Alcohol-based thinner that works for AK/Mig paints, as well as Tamiya
  4. Vallejo Airbrush Flow Improver
    • Add a drop or two to prevent clogging
    • Too much will weaken paint
  5. Fluid retarders or slow-dry (not pictured)
    • These slow paint drying times, but don't add too much or you will weaken the paint
  6. Mr. Leveling Thinner (not pictured)
    • Lacquer thinner for Tamiya and Mr. Color paints
    • It's extremely strong. You WILL NEED good ventilation and a respirator.

Future Floor Wax

Love it or Hate it, Future Floor Wax is very popular modeling tool. It is an acrylic fluid that dries glossy and pretty hard. You can airbrush it fairly well, but it requires either Windex or an ammonia-based windshield-washer fluid to thin it. If it is not thinned, it may create an orange peel effect on the model. Future has several uses:

  1. Add to paint to improve adhesion
  2. Add to paint to add satin sheen
  3. Use by itself to create a gloss coat
  4. Dip canopies/clear parts to improve look
  5. Use to adhere decals
    • Dries quickly, so best used for only small decals
    • Don't use with vinegar or Micro Set
  6. Use to adhere pigments
    • Brush on a surface, and drop pigments onto wet Future
    • Also, mix pigments with Future to create a glossy paint

Keep in mind that Future was not meant for modeling at all, so you may experience problems with it. Sometimes it works great for me, other times it doesn't. It also gets old over time, and you might find it not drying well or messing up in some other way. Test it every time just to be sure.

These days, I tend to use other products instead of Future. But I still have it just in case.


Finally, it is important to consider a clear coat for models before decals and weathering. Some people may choose to add a clear coat after weathering. Personally, I find that a flat coat after weathering tends to deaden the finish and kill the different tones that make the model vibrant and interesting. If you do add a final coat, I strongly recommend AGAINST using a dullcote or flat coat. Instead, create or use a semi-flat or satin coat that won't kill the colors.

I also love AK Interactive's line of pre-made varnishes, which spray nicely and clean up easily. I would recommend staying away from rattle can varnishes, since they tend to go on too thickly. I have used Vallejo Matt Varnish mixed with Future in the past to create an almost-flat coat, but I tend to stick with AK these days (or no final coat at all).

Warning #1: Pigments may change color if a clear coat is applied over them (use a pigment fixer instead)

Warning #2: Bottles of varnish seem to yellow over time or if left in direct sunlight

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