Airbrush painting basically entails the use of a nozzle to convert the paint into some sort of fine spray or misty solution. The airbrush allows for the latter to happen because it uses the process of nebulization to spray paint.
This process of nebulization of paint will allow you to create very fine art or to cover a big area with a coat of paint very evenly. The big elephant in the room, however, is the question of whether or not the paint actually smells.
Every type of airbrush paint has a unique smell to it when it is applied. Depending on the type of paint different diluting agents and binders are used and also the mixture of these agents vary. All of that impacts how much airbrush paint smells. Oil-based airbrush paint generally smells worse and more intense than water-based paints,
Does Every Kind of Airbrush Paint Smell Bad?
The kind of paint used by most artists for airbrushing is either oil-based or water-based.
Airbrush paints normally consist of some pigments, binders, and diluting agents. Pigments don´t usually smell very strongly. But depending on what kind of paint you are using the binders or the diluting agents can indeed smell very bad.
These different components have specific chemical compounds and play different roles.
The pigments are responsible for the color and are often very small in size.
The diluting agents allow the paint to flow smoothly.
While the binder on the other hand enables the paint to adhere to a surface.
These different compounds, however, result in the paint smelling bad.
Especially oil-based paints have quite strong binders and diluting agents mixed in them which makes them smell so bad.
So, in short, not every kind of airbrush paint smells bad. Water-based paints are usually not that bad-smelling while oil-based paints usually do smell very strongly. Most effect airbrush paints like metallic paints, glow in the dark paint, or similar are oil-based and usually smell quite bad. While Acrylic paint doesn´t smell strong at all.
Use Acrylic Paint for Airbrushing. It Doesn´t Smell Much
Now, for starters, let me begin by taking you through the kind of experience I have had with airbrush paint.
I have worked with a lot of different airbrush paints. From transparent and effect paints to enamel and acrylic paints and more.
After trying all kinds of airbrush paints the kind of paint that smells the least is acrylic paint. At least amongst all the types of paints that I tried so far.
Water-based paints for airbrush are generally the least smelly paints while oil-based paints are the worst smelling ones. So keep that in mind before you buy any airbrush paints.
I personally prefer acrylic paints for most of my projects. mainly because they are Water-based and do not smell all that much, they are waterproof after they have dried, they are water-soluble and you can easily dilute them with water if you want to spray them so you don´t need any thinner.
I have been using airbrushes to paint details on my work for about seven years now and if you are a beginner I can only recommend using acrylic paint in the beginning. Especially if you are worried about the paint smelling bad.