FAQ – Terminology

Here are some of the Terminology and Vocabulary associated with Airbrushing, Painting and Spraying in General. If you have any words you’d like to recommend for our list, leave a comment below and, thank you for visiting Painter’s Forum.


*Acrylic – Polymer Emulsion and pigment used in water based paints.

*Air tank capacity – Air tank capacity represents the volume of air stored in the tank and available for immediate use. The larger the tank, the longer the air tool usage in situations where the air tool requires more SCFM than the compressor can deliver.

*Adhesion – The ability of dry paint to attach to and remain fixed on the surface without bubbling, blistering, flaking, cracking. Types of Adhesion are related to the paint you are using.

*Atomization – The Mixture of air and paint into fine atom sized particles.

*Basecoat – Refers to the bottom base color you’ll be working on top of.

*Complementary colors – colors that compliment each other that are opposite each other on the color wheel.

*Cool Colors – Colors that are predominately blue in tone. Cool colors are those which trick the eye into receding an object in a painting and of course they are opposite of warm colors.

*Warm Colors- Colors that are predominately red or orange in tone. Cool colors are those colors that draw the eye into an object and are the opposite of warm colors.

*Color Cup – That part of your airbrush where you put paint, please refer to AIRBRUSH page for more info.

*Dual Action – Type of airbrush where the trigger controls both the air valve (by pushing down) and needle/nozzle (by pulling back).

*Single Action – Type of airbrush where the trigger controls both the air valve and the needle/nozzle simultainiously (by pushing down only).

*Extender – added to paint to increase to alter the paint by making it cover more, become more transparent.

*Fluid Nozzle – That part of your airbrush in the front where paint pass’s thru, the size of your Fluid Nozzle will determine the type of paint you can spray easily and the coverage you will get, see AIRBRUSHS page for more details

*Gravity Feed – type of airbrush that has the cup on top, feeding the airbush paint through gravity

*Masking – process of covering and protecting an area of your painting where you do not want paint. Masking tape, paper, liquid masking fluid, transfer paper and frisket, are just a few products used to mask areas.

*Opaque – The opposite of transparent Paint. Paint or light can not be seen thru it and will not allow the color underneath it to show through.

*Transparent – The opposite of opaque Paint. Paint or light can be seen through it and will allow the color underneath it to show through.

*Over Spray – Unwanted airbrush spray that effects the areas that you do not want paint to spray over.

*PSI – Pounds per square inch refers to the air pressure setting on your compressor regulator…i.e. 10psi, 20 psi, 50 psi ect.

*Pigment – a substance that imparts a color to other materials; especially : a powdered substance that is mixed with a liquid in which it is relatively insoluble and used especially to impart color to coating materials (such as paints) or to inks, plastics, and rubber

*Reducer – Product which lowers the viscosity of paints like enamel, urethane and acrylic paints

*Respirator – A mask worn over the nose and mouth to prevent you taking in toxins and water base paints pigment particles while you are spraying paints. There are many different kinds of respirators please make sure you are using the correct type for the material you are spraying.

*Retarder – Added to paint to slow or retard the drying time.

*Viscosity – Refers to how thick a paint is. Physics of a fluid and the resistance to flow

Water Based Paint – Paint which is generally made with acrylic or latex thinned with H2O (water). These paints have the pigment suspended in water and the paint dries when the water evaporates.