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I'm not brand new to the model industry, but I'm not a pro by any means. I just wanted some help answering these questions (mainly about painting), so bear with me.

Okay, so this is what I know.

2-3 coats of primer. (I have tamiya spray primer)
2-3 coats of paint. (I will be using Vallejo or Humbrol Acrylics, DISCLAMIR: I will be investing in an air brush, but for now I will be hand painting so please don't tell me to airbrush!)
2 coats of clear coat. (I don't know what brand to use)
Apply decals.
1 coat of clear coat. (Again I don't know what brand to use)
Washes and filters. (Don't know what brand to use)
That coat of matte clear stuff?? (Don't know what brand to use)
Pigments. (Don't know what brand to use)

So these are my questions:
Would you recommend priming every piece, and if so, do I use the same brand as the paint?
How long do I wait between coats (primer, paint, etc.)
How do I know how much to thin the paint, and do I use alcohol, water, or name brand thinners?
What is the difference between washes and filters, and how would I apply them on my model?
I was watching weathering techniques and the guy used enamel thinners for applying pigments (on acrylic paint), so do I need to do that, or how would I do that?

Guys I'm sorry for the long rant, but help would be much appreciated. If I'm wrong on my steps please tell me! I'm 16 years old and would like to begin this hobby. I'm interested in modern day armor (MRAPS, Buffalos, Blackhawks, Apaches, Bradleys, Abrams, etc.), not planes. Some WW2 armor/planes, but not much. I enjoy my generations armor, and I love American armor! I very much do appreciate other countries armor/planes (especially Russia and Germany), but I just enjoy American armor, it looks bad ass and performs bad ass. Any help would be great and very much needed. Techniques would also be appreciated. Sorry again, but I'm lost and need to be found!

Thanks, Jared!
 

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In the end, a lot of this is going to be a bit trial and error, and you will learn as you build a few kits.

Primer serves a couple of purposes. It really depends on what you are doing at the time. A lot of acrylic paints have poor adhesion to bare plastic, resin or metal, so they require a primer to provide tooth for the paint to bite/bond to. Vallejo paints in particular will just bead up on bare plastic, and then rub off when dry. Tamiya solvent-based acrylics are more durable and stick better on bare plastic, but are not the best for brush painting. Enamel paints stick very well to plastic, etc. and generally require no primer.

I like Tamiya's spray primers. Generally you want to prime a model after its completed, or in sub assemblies. Not part by part before you glue it together. When I do armor models, I usually wind up with the hull, wheels, turret, and hatches. If you have multiple parts that glue together, that are all painted the same color, they can be assembled, primed, and then painted as a unit.

If you don't know what you are doing (hey your a beginner, so thats okay) use proprietary thinners. Vallejo paints can be thinned with water. Tamiya acrylics can be thinned with their own thinner, isopropyl alcohol, or Tamiya plastic-safe lacquer thinner. I think in the past I thinned Humbrol acrylics with just water. Testors makes an Acryl thinner for their acrylics. Acrylic is really a rather general term and not all acrylic paints have even similar formulas.

Enamel thinner is basically Mineral Spirits. Its pretty safe over acrylic paint, but is also very hard on plastic. For washes, filters, applying pigments, etc. I use Weber's Turpenoid (blue bottle or can) synthetic thinner (for artist's oils). It is inert, safe over acrylic and a lot of enamel finishes and all clear coats).

I use some basic oil paints for all my washes and filters. A wash is just thinned out paint. I use black, burnt umber, raw umber, peach, raw sienna, ochre. Various black, brown and tan shades that can be used to pick out details, represent dust or dirt, etc.

Filters are like a tint to add depth to a solid color area. Like if you paint a Stalin tank dark green... its just solid dark green. So, take some tiny dots of red, yellow, white, blue, green, etc. oil paint and apply them to the surface. Oil paints are translucent, and when you flood thinner over them and work them into the green paint, they add depth. You may find some colors give a more pleasing result on a particular base. You can buy pre mixed filters, but what you pay for a couple bottles of the stuff will buy you a basic set of oil paints that will last forever.

I dont apply too many clear coats to models. They can be used to seal a base coat for a wash, but I find that is unnecessary a lot of times. Decals do need to be applied to a smooth glossy area so I will apply some clear gloss to those areas using an airbrush. When done, I tone down my armor models with clear flat. A lot of real equipment has a satin finish, but I find that on small models, gloss tends to look toylike and a flat finish is more realistic.
 

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First future floor polish will work as a primer for acrylics on styrene, and it works as a gloss coat because it will not yellow over time.
Second wait 24 hours between coats of primer/paint.
And the only time you should need to thin paint is when you'll be running it through an airbrush and then only to the consistency of milk.
 

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Future used to be called Future Acrylic Floor Finish. It's only called Pledge now because J&J decided to consolidate their brand names as part of a marketing restructuring. Most people still call it Future. It's a water-based acrylic, part of a group of household products called floor polishes. The use of the word polish is entirely appropriate, if not precise.
 
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