View Full Version : Acrylic vs. Enamel?


SD64
01-15-2006, 09:36 PM
I'm planning on detailing some of my JL's....the interior, chassis, etc. I'm not planning on paining the body of the cars. At the hobby shop I noticed there were both enamels and acrylics. I picked up a bunch of colors in Testors enamels. Can someone give me the lowdown on the pros and cons of using both types of paints. I know Acrylics are water based and can clean up with water, but do Enamels offer any advantages such as durability, etc.

One other question... I bought a bottle of enamel brush cleaner. What is the best method of cleaning brushes? Do I just place all my brushes in the bottle or should I pour some cleaner into a separate container each time I use it?

Thanks,

Skip

ClearHooter
01-18-2006, 11:23 AM
People who use acrylics swear by them. People who don't swear at them. I fall in the latter. They do offer the advantage of clean up with water. They dry pretty quick. On certain surfaces like the interior plastic, I've noted sometimes they behave funny. As in bead up. If you decide to use both, keep them seperate! Water and oil don't mix. I would also use a seperate airbrush for acrylic if you plan on spraying both. As far as finish...Personally I can't get the gloss out of acrylic that I can out of enamel. I've seen some guys get a pretty nice shine out of acrylic. But not me. The acrylics I have successfully used were used in a flat finish application ie WWII aircraft. If all your planning to do is flat finish they may work well. I learned on enamel. I'm comfortable with it. Flat black enamel thinned down works great on grills wheels etc. as a wash and really make the detail jump out.

As far as leaving the brush in a bottle....Don't! It will distort the shape of the brush and cheap ones will come slam apart! If you want to keep your thinner clean designate a "brush cleaner bottle." Pour some thinner into it. Adgitate (sp?) the brush to saturate the bristles with thinner. Then squeeze them through a paper towel or cloth. Repeat until the bristles are clean. If you want to be real picky designate a set of brushes for light colors and one for dark. Red seems to never come completely out of mine and its a real pain to want to paint white and get pink.

I hope you get an acrylic advocate to present their side. :wave:

SD64
01-18-2006, 01:53 PM
Thats good info....thanks for the reply. :wave:

96gsfan
01-18-2006, 02:30 PM
That is good info by Clearhooter. I have used both acrylic and enamel with mixed results on both. I still use both depending on the project. There are alot of factors that can affect any paint. Humidity, rain, dust, etc. Whatever you use dont get in a big rush. Patience can be everything sometimes. You will not get it right everytime, that is why we practice. The next thing is cleanliness. Try to keep you work area as clean as possible. Nothing like a big speck of dust on a nice slick paint job to really make you mad.

ClearHooter
01-19-2006, 10:46 AM
I'd still like to hear some pros from acrylic advocates and some techniques to make the stuff work properly. It has to be me that just doesn't know how to use it. They wouldn't continue to make the stuff if it didn't work.

I'm also able to use fingernail polish in much the same way as enamel. Except I thin and clean-up with acetone. Most of the time I have to finish out with Triple Clear Glaze. I usually do this anyway. But many of the fingernail polishes I've used don't gloss right when sprayed. So far I've not had any adverse reaction from the TCG in combo with the polish. I mostly use it when I need a pearl, flip color or something enamel doesn't readily provide.

Joester41
12-06-2007, 12:22 AM
Ive used both acrylic and enamels extensively. I mainly use Testors enamels (Standard and Model Master), and Citadel Acrylics. both work extremely well. As far as durability is concerned, I feel that acrylics win. acrylics seem to be much more durable then most testors enamels that i have used. flat testors enamels in particular seem to wear off with frequent handling, mostly though the absorption of finger oils/sweat. acrylics do not. however, acrylics generally build thickness on the surface and require a final clear coat of either gloss or flat to obtain your desired finish. by nature acrylics tend to have a satin-matte finish (somewhere between gloss and flat). in my opinion though, acrylics are easier to work with. most of my enamel experience has been with plastic military models (1:35 figures and ground vehicles), most of my acrylic experience is in pewter models (Warhammer 40K, Modern Micro Armour). pewter usually requires a flat primer coat. plastic models with enamel I would not prime. as a previous poster stated, acrylics are water cleanup, enamels require thinner or brush cleaner. acrylics are generally solvent free too, if solvents are a concern to anybody.

jlfphoto
12-06-2007, 10:38 AM
I use both and have been happy with each. I use separate paint brushes for each kind of paint. I do find the acrylic paints over time tend to thicken up a bit and go on thick in the jar...but I just thin them out a bit and they're good to go.

Jerry

Dragnet_Supporter
12-07-2007, 02:02 PM
I'd still like to hear some pros from acrylic advocates and some techniques to make the stuff work properly. It has to be me that just doesn't know how to use it. They wouldn't continue to make the stuff if it didn't work.

I'm also able to use fingernail polish in much the same way as enamel. Except I thin and clean-up with acetone. Most of the time I have to finish out with Triple Clear Glaze. I usually do this anyway. But many of the fingernail polishes I've used don't gloss right when sprayed. So far I've not had any adverse reaction from the TCG in combo with the polish. I mostly use it when I need a pearl, flip color or something enamel doesn't readily provide.

I think acrylic works for different effects, like if you want part of your diecast to have a flat color. But it doesn't stick well to slick surfaces. My father swears by it for his airplane models. But again, these are moslty older military planes and it looks very smooth and right on those.

I've clear-coated acrylic after airbrushing it on to make it shiny, but still doesn't look as glossy as the rest of the car. The flames below are acrylic, for the most part, used through an airbrush. Took quite a few coats to get that yellow base though. But when it came to doing some little hand details, like the yellow highlights under the flame tails, and the yellow spatter effect, the acrylic did not want to go on smoothly, and I had to use an enamal.

Mostly, I think a mixed medium works best for any thing. Practice, then use whatever paint or brush gives you the desired effect as you go along.

http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q218/RobertJ_2007/Picture132.jpg


http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q218/RobertJ_2007/Picture129.jpg


Plus you can see how all those coats of yellow stuck part of the hood down and pealed off when I tried to open it. Which caused me more work of having to patch the dings.

My verdict overall: acrylic on metal has mixed results for me.