How to Thin Citadel Paint for Airbrush

How to Thin Citadel Paint for Airbrush

If you have dozens or hundreds of miniatures to paint, speeding the process along with an airbrush can be tempting because it can paint multiple pieces quickly. However, the density of Citadel paints can cause permanent damage to your airbrush if you are not careful.

Thinning agents, like paint thinner, can be used to thin citadel paint for airbrushing. Paint should be thinned until it is the consistency of milk.

The remainder of this article will discuss how to thin Citadel paint for airbrushes. It will also discuss the best thinners to dilute Citadel paint, how much thinner to use, and why regular Citadel paint is not the best paint to use for airbrush painting. 

Are Citadel Paints Good for Airbrush?

Citadel paint is one of the most commonly used paints for tabletop miniatures, figures, and pieces. This paint brand is known as the paint of Warhammer, the popular tabletop game known for letting players customize their tabletop characters.

It is a thick and functional paint great for beginners and advanced tabletop players. Citadel paints help people create unique characters.

This paint is wonderful for crafting texture, special designs, and more. However, the density of Citadel traditional paints makes it incompatible with airbrushes unless a thinning agent dilutes it.

How to Thin Citadel Paint for Airbrush

To thin Citadel paint, add a thinning agent to your paint. Many thinning agents are on the market, available at low and affordable prices.

The two most common methods for thinning Citadel paint are using paint thinner or rubbing alcohol. After thinning these paints, you may use them inside an airbrush to paint.

The necessary steps for thinning paint are: 

  • Choose your paint
  • Choose your thinning agent
  • Pour the paint into a small container
  • Add the thinning agent in by one drop
  • Mix as you add the agent
  • Stop when the paint is a milky consistency

There are several methods for diluting paint to a thinner consistency.

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Paint Thinner

You can add paint thinner to your Citadel paint to thin it enough for your airbrush. It is the most common and professional method for thinning Citadel paint. 

Paint thinner is made to thin paint, making it the most effective way to thin Citadel paint for airbrushing. When diluting the paint with a paint thinner, pay careful attention to the consistency. If your paint surpasses the creamy, skim milk consistency, then you might have diluted it too far.

Paint thinner thins the density of the paint without compromising the opacity. Consistent density means that you will still yield the same vibrant colors without the need for numerous coats.

We recommend using Vallejo Paint Thinner for Airbrush. It’s ideal for Model Air and Liquid Acrylic paints and will dilute the paint without the loss of color.

Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol, also called isopropyl alcohol, is one of the most common and affordable ways to thin Citadel paint. Unfortunately, it can be incompatible with some miniatures and paints. Use rubbing alcohol as a paint thinner with extreme caution.

Citadel paint thins nicely with low-percentage rubbing alcohol. But, tabletop artists encourage people to test their paints with rubbing alcohol in a small portion before using it in large amounts. In the worst-case scenario, rubbing alcohol will lump or rub away dried paint colors.

Some people recommend keeping a test figure or remaining test piece to test thinned colors. Paint over a dry color with the agent thinned with rubbing alcohol to see if it strips paint from your miniature. 


Thinning Citadel paints with water is an ineffective way of thinning paint. In addition to separating, it can decrease the opacity of the paint and cause streaking.

The main reason that water is a poor mixing agent is that it bonds poorly with the components of Citadel paint. Therefore, it will temporarily thin the paint until it eventually separates from the paint.

This separation results in thinning of opacity, not density. Colors are less vibrant and are prone to leaving streaks. Paint thinned by water also requires more coats than paints thinned with alcohol-based thinners like paint thinners or isopropyl alcohol.

How Much Should I Thin Citadel Paint?

You should thin Citadel paint until it becomes the same consistency as milk. Milk has a thicker density than water. 

Slowly add thinner into your paint by the drop to control the amount of thinning the Citadel paint experiences.

Without thinning the paint, it will likely clog your airbrush. Clogging can lead to wasting precious time, breaking your equipment, and aesthetic defects. Often when machinery like airbrushes become clogged, their paint will become splotchy. This splotchy paint can severely affect the design of your figures.

Can Citadel Paints Be Safely Used in an Airbrush?

Citadel’s regular paints are not ideal for airbrushes. You may use Citadel paints in an airbrush if you thin them with a professional thinning agent, like paint thinner. 

The density of Citadel paint usually makes it a bad choice for airbrushes. The narrow airbrush nozzle can easily become clogged with paint. When the nozzle becomes clogged, it can take a long time to remove the nozzle and unclog it.

When people invest in airbrushed to cut down on time, spending priceless time unclogging nozzles can become a hassle.

If you are uninterested in diluting Citadel’s regular paint, you can invest in airbrushing paints specially formulated for airbrushing. These come in dozens of colors, including matte, metallic, and clear.

Final Thoughts

People traditionally use Citadel paints to paint miniatures and other figures using paintbrushes. Paintbrushes accommodate the thickness of this paint and allow for precise painting. However, paintbrushes are time-consuming and outdated. That is why many people are converting to airbrushes when painting large quantities.

You may use airbrushes with these paints, but you risk clogging your nozzle. To use an airbrush with Citadel paints, you must thin the paint by adding paint thinner or rubbing alcohol. Even with one of these thinning agents, you still run the risk of clogging your airbrush.

Before painting the hundred pack of miniatures you just bought, consider trying the airbrush technique. Dilute the paint with an alcohol-based agent until it is a milk consistency to decrease the density without compromising opacity.

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