Here's some real basic info on airbrush paints for doing realistic flames, etc.:

First I want to make it clear that in general I do NOT recommend airbrush paint kits. For flames you probably want an opaque white, an opaque black, a candy orange, candy red, and maybe a candy blue or purple for edge flame effects.

Most airbrush paint kits you will find -- whether they are for fire or some other airbrush art -- will try to saddle you with colors you don't need. Usually you are better off just buying a la carte.

I get a lot of emails from people who are confused about this kit versus that kit, etc. These airbrush paint kits are usually set-up to be confusing so that you are buying colors you don't need and possibly even buying more than one paint kit.

If you don't see a clear choice in kits, just buy al la carte.

I don't go into paints a lot on videos because they change so much over time and I hate to be telling someone about a paint on a DVD that is not so good anymore or is out-of-production.

I have a paint video on my YouTube channel ( ) that shows some of the differences in paint types.

Basically there are various paints (opaque, semi-opaque, and transparent) in the opaque family and then there are candy colors.

Opaque paints are what you might think of as "normal" paints. They are what people normally think of and visualize when they think of "paint." Opaque paints reflect light to some degree or another. Completely opaque paints are very solid and have little to no transparency to them. Semi-opaque paints are still mostly solid -- mostly reflect light -- but pass some light through them. Transparent paints let a lot of light pass through them, providing some filtering effect or tinting effect, but they still reflect most of the light that hits them.


Candies are very translucent paints. Candy color airbrush paints are like ink, or dye or tint. If you see a bottle of real candy color airbrush paint, it will appear to be black no matter what the color is. You might see a bit of a tinge of the airbrush paint color around the edges but mostly they look black.

Candy colors or candy paints are all tint. They only refract light -- or filter it -- they reflect only a very tiny amount of light. Candies are like ink or dye or a tint. They add color to light in an area of paint only where they have a light -- usually white -- background behind them.

If you spray candy over a opaque white flame shape on a black background, the flame will take on the color of the candy. The black background remains black. That retains the integrity of the shape -- the sharpness of it. If instead you use a transparent paint, the white flame will take on that color but the black background will take not that color to a lesser degree as well. The shape and lines of the flame then tend to blur.

When we airbrush fire and flames on a black background -- the typical method -- we lay down white flames on the black background and then color them with candy color. This makes the flames very bright because the candy color paints over white have a very bright, backlit effect to it. They are much brighter than if we just painted the flames in an opaque colored paint such as orange. By using candy we do not erode the flame shape or the sharpness of its edges.

If you want to try using transparent paints just be aware that you will have a tendency to fog out or blur your flame shapes.

Transparent paints a great for a lot of painting as well though. Just be sure you play with different paints and are aware of the nature and tendencies.

Auto-Air has made candy-color paints but unfortunately they made them very poorly. Unless they have changed their formula there candies fade -- very, very quickly.



There is no need for poor quality water-based candy paint since all you need for a good-quality water-based candy airbrush paint is a good water-based airbrush clear -- such as Auto-Air Clear or Transparent Base -- and a good, stable dye or tint.

For that I recommend buying UV-protected ink jet ink refill kits. You can find these on eBay You will have to mix colors since you will only have magenta, yellow and cyan -- but magenta and yellow will mix to make an orange, cyan and yellow make green, etc.



Candies are very translucent paints. Candy color airbrush paints are like ink, or dye or tint. If you see a bottle of real candy color airbrush paint, it will appear to be black no matter what the color is. You might see a bit of a tinge of the airbrush paint color around the edges but mostly they look black.

That's because candy color airbrush paints do not really reflect light, they refract light. They filter light. They tint light. When light hits candy color airbrushing paint, it goes through the paint and hits the background behind it -- usually white or silver -- which then bounces the light back through the candy paint, giving the paint the color.

This gives candy color paints a much brighter look because of this backlighting effect.

Candy color airbrush paints work great for custom painting realistic flames because the brightness adds to the lighting effect of real flames. The neat trick is that the candy airbrush paints are invisible on the black backgrounds when custom painting custom realistic flames airbrush art on black backgrounds. The black backgrounds then add to the custom-painted flame lighting effect by their contrast to the light bright candy-colored realistic flames on your custom-painted airbrush realistic flames.

Regular opaque airbrush paints -- including semi-opaque and transparent airbrush paints create color by reflecting light -- bouncing it off.

You might find various ranges of transparency available in an airbrush paint line -- everything from "Opaque" to "Semi-opaque" to "Transparent" to "Candy".

Additionally there are often you can mix clear base in with a color to make the transparent airbrush paints more transparent. Sometimes a line like Auto-Air have an actual "transparent base" in their airbrush paints that you need to mix with their candies and you can use it to increase the transparency of a given paint color.

Auto-Air candies that I have tried to use faded -- and they faded very, very fast!!!! Auto-Air may fix that at some point but I would very cautious of their "candy" paint products. Be absolutely sure to test any of their candy paints for fading before using them on a real job. Otherwise they might be fine for practice even if they still fade very badly.

You can make your very own water-based candy paints that will work just fine. Use the transparent or clear base water-base paint. Then add coloring using UV-protected inkjet inks. You will have to mix to get a variety of colors but you will end up with very good water-based candies.

water based airbrush paints Createx airbrushing paints
For practicing , nothing beats good old water-based airbrush paints -- Createx and Auto-Air, Wicked Paint, -- all the same.

Again, just do NOT buy their water-based candy airbrush paints or at least be sure to test them very well. Fading -- very fast, horrible fading -- has been a major problem with water-based candies. You can always make your own good quality water-based candies by dying the water based airbrush clear paint with UV-protected inkjet ink using refill kits.

These water-based airbrush paints are easy to work just fine anywhere -- even in apartments -- because there are no fumes. Water-based airbrush paints are also what you want to use on indoor art murals in homes, restaurants, bars, etc because of the lack of fumes.


For custom paint jobs on cars, motorcycles boats, etc many people use solvent-based (urethane) airbrushing paints or your own or very-well tested water-based candies. Be aware -- the fumes from urethane airbrush paints are completely unacceptable in any indoor setting. They are horrible and they are very, very strong.

Fumes from other solvent-based based airbrush paints (typically urethanes airbrush paint) can linger for days and often permeant carpets, drapes, etc. releasing their oder for quite some time. Some people -- with smaller and more delicate noses than mine -- claim the smell never goes away. So water-based airbrush paints for indoor work is nearly essential.

.Airbrush paints are thin enough to easy pass through and aerate through a small airbrush needle/nozzle. Some regular car paints -- for use with an large air gun -- can be thinned and work just fine in an airbrush and it is definitely something to think about and try out from time to time. Sometimes you find a brand and series of car paints that you like or that offer certain qualities that you like.

The Xotic brand of urethane custom airbrushing paints are very popular these days. They are what I actually use most of the time but there are other brands that are just as good. They are solvent-based and are supposedly some kind of urethane. Since you don't catalyze them, I am really not sure how they can be urethane but the important thing is that the work great.

You can buy various airbrush paints online for your custom paint jobs. eBay and other sites have people selling various paints. You might also check out your local paint and body supply shop. A lot of times they will carry various airbrush paints.

I don't really care for House of Kolor (HOK). House of Kolor is a brand that has changed a lot over the years. It started off as a really great mom and pop brand for years and was highly prized -- now it's just highly-priced. Their reputation from the old days may carry over with some people today but now HOK is just part of a huge corporate paint conglomerate. They have changed the formula significantly from their original old airbrushing paints that really were good back in the day.

Clear coating is important as well. Find a good quality, highly flexible catalyzed clear coat paint. I would say the best right now is Dupont "Concept" clear. There are comparable and less expensive counter-parts to Concept. Check with your local paint and body shop for their recommendations.

Do a real good prep cleaning finishing with a tack cloth and then fog on one coat of clear. Again, just a fog coat. Wait about ten to fifteen minute and hit it with a good flow coat. You can do subsequent flow coats every ten or fifteen minutes after that as well. A few good flow coats will give you a great clear.

You may you have a lot of overspray roughness -- perhaps orange-peel look. This is almost inevitable when airbrushing -- especially realistic flames. No sweat. Let hard for a day and then wet sand with a fine paper -- 400, 600,...

You don't have to go nuts wet sanding and you definitely don't want to accidentally sand through to the actual artwork. Just knock it down a good bit and re-prep and re-clear -- starting with the fog coat again. That should do it but if it still looks a little rough wait a day and re-do one more time.

Really most of the expense of doing custom realistic flames paint jobs and other airbrush art is the original surface prep work and the finish clearing work. You can almost do the artwork for free as fun as it is.

Just be sure not to use something like lacquer clear. Lacquer clear coat paint is way too brittle and needs to be buffed anyway. Over time the non-flexible characteristic of lacquer clear will lead to spider-webbing cracks especially on today's thinner and more flexible car bodies and component pieces. A nice airbrush custom paint job like realistic flames needs to be topped off with a really nice clear coat paint job.

Let me know if you have any more questions.


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