Enter keywords or a search phrase below:

Vallejo Model Air - secret to minimize its dreaded “tip dry”

3 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    August 2019
  • From: Northern Nevada
Vallejo Model Air - secret to minimize its dreaded “tip dry”
Posted by HighDesertmodeler on Monday, August 12, 2019 10:00 PM

I finally joined this excellent forum.  Been enjoying it as a guest for awhile.

I‘ve seen posts/discussions here and on other forums which discussed the difficulty spraying Vallejo Model Air (VMA).  Moving from a humid New England climate to a very arid high desert (Nevada) I couldn’t get VMA to spray well without constant tip dry.  I tried everything, Vallejo airbrush thinner with flow improver, other retarders, etc, but to no avail.  I followed Vallejo’s instruction with it’s thinners and flow improver, still no go.  

The solution was not using Vallejo’s thinner.  I substituted the thinner with Vallejo flow improver.  I conducted experiments based on inputs from other airbrushing forums and used the flow improver at a greater ratio.  I can now spray fine lines and camo patterns using my .3mm Sparmax and VMA paint with minimal to no tip dry.  The ratios I use of Vallejo flow improver to VMA paint are 60/40 (camo, fine lines) to 40/60 (base coating).  The greater ratio of flow improver to paint does not degrade the paint’s properties.  Only the drying time is increased, but not nearly as much compared to using a more concentrated retarder product.

My Vallejo thinner is now earmarked only for washes - it works terribly in a dry environment out of an airbrush; whereas, Vallejo’s flow improver works as a thinner and is a great surfactant.  It will increase drying time a bit but not as much as one would think. I spray and let sit for 24 hrs before putting down another VMA coat or camo/fine lines.

I can now enjoy my VMA paints.  Vallejo flow improver has been a game changer for me.



  • Member since
    November 2018
Posted by oldermodelguy on Thursday, August 15, 2019 6:38 AM

Ya I imagine that desert environment would require special treatment but I also imagine not just with VMA. That said I did watch a video not too long ago where they did basically the same as you, going with straight flow improver and I think it was a Vallejo produced video. Well in what ever video it was they too used straight flow improver as thinner in Vallejo paints.

I'm still back here in NE lol. But in the dry winter season with our pellet stove going the air is quite dry, especially if I don't keep up with the humidifier and then I up the retarder I use in my thinners. I always have some retarder in my acrylic thinners anyway except ones that are already controlled for tip dry. I think Aztek is, so far I haven't had tip dry issues with that thinner but I've only used it a few times and it's summer now with humidy up. The test will come in January.

  • Member since
    March 2003
  • From: Western North Carolina
Posted by Tojo72 on Thursday, August 15, 2019 9:48 AM
Interesting,its all about adopting to circumstances.Thats why sometimes advice works for one and not another.

  • Member since
    July 2004
  • From: Sonora Desert
Posted by stikpusher on Thursday, August 15, 2019 10:11 AM

Thanks for the heads up. I’ll be moving from a coastal climate in Southern California (moderate humidity) to a desert climate in southern Arizona next year. I’m sure that many of my airbrushing techniques will need adjustment for the change of locale. Low humidity most of the year, plus the summer monsoon coming up from Mexico. 


F is for FIRE, That burns down the whole town!

U is for URANIUM... BOMBS!

N is for NO SURVIVORS...

       - Plankton




Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account.

By signing up you may also receive reader surveys and occasional special offers. We do not sell, rent or trade our email lists. View our Privacy Policy.