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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Over the last 10 or so years I got back into the hobby that I started when I was maybe 8 back in the early '60s. A big part of the reason was because of acrylic paints and not having to deal with noxious thinners and such. I still remember well those little Testors and Pactra enamels which I only owned a few colors due to finances and the ubiquitous bottle of thinner to go with them. Well since I've returned and bought an airbrush I've had a fair amount of experience with various paints and have a load of brands and colors in my shop. So I thought I would start a thread where we can express our thoughts on paints and new and fun ways to use them.

Since my return I've used hobby acrylics for about 85% of my work. I've tried maybe 8 or so different brands. All have worked but some definitely better than others. My first primary brand was Freestyle sold by Dan Jorgenson of Kitbuilders fame. They were formulated for airbrushing mainly and I started big with those because I got to spend some time with him at a horror con and he gave me some valuable information. I also believe these were the precursors to Garage Kits US Colors paints. Overall I like these paints but I have had trouble on occasion with them. There is a large selection of colors with lots of effects paints. They cover fairly well for most colors and are pretty much ready to airbrush. The main problems I've had are with getting some bottles that the pigment apparently is not ground up too fine and then they clog the airbrush nozzle. One bottle of black in particular almost 3 years ago really gave me a headache clogging within seconds of spraying when I was doing a large MIM Dracula. I talked with Dan and he told me he knew of the problem and had spoken to the guy who makes the paints about it. Lately I haven't been using these as much but for particular colors out of the selection of about 30 paints I still pull them down frequently.

When I first returned to modeling after my break, at least serious plastic modeling as I have never completely stopped modeling in some form or another (mainly model rockets for a good part of those years), I started seriously with WW2 aircraft and I still have a huge stack to work on someday. I didn't know anything about all the garage kits so I simply went to the hobby shop and bought Testors acryls. I also taught myself airbrushing with these and didn't know any tricks or much of anything else so I did have some frustration for a while. I will say though that these paints airbrush very nicely and sometimes I don't even thin them. They also hand brush extremely well. It seems the quality is very consistent across the line and I still frequently use them for various models. I would highly recommend these.

Two and a half years ago at Wonderfest I bought a box of Badger Freak Flex paints in all the colors. These I used probably the most of all my paints as there is a large selection of very good colors in the set. However I couldn't call these my favorites as far as ease of use. The reason for that is probably similar to the Freestyle, they seem to clog my airbrush nozzle much easier then some other brands. But still due to the color selection I really like them. While they are formulated for airbrush use out of the bottle, they are Badger paints afterall, they seem to thicken rather quickly during use and seem to thicken in the bottles over time. I am thinking I ought to just add some water to the bottles if I find them thicker than they should be and maybe that would be a good solution. Anyway I would still recommend them for anyone doing figures. I really like some of the flesh tones for certain jobs like pale flesh and suntan flesh and so many other colors.

I've bought some Vallejo air paints from Mega in the past and I really like these for airbrushing. They are consistently easy to use and every color I have sprayed works like a charm. They cover well and have a good selection of colors although the colors are more along the lines of military model use there still are lots of colors appropriate for figures out of those. I would be happy to use these most of the time if there were more colors to select from.

I just recently picked up some ComArt airbrush paints from Tom Grossman and I can't say too much yet. I have only used them a couple of times so far and noted they spray very well but almost seem too thin. While that makes them spray well they run easier and it takes more coats to cover. But as I said, I have very little use and shouldn't make any judgements yet. I bought them in sets for things like horror figure models and other things. The color selection is nice and I plan on putting these to more use soon.

For airbrushing and such those are my main paints. I also use Alclad for metal finishes on cars and things and can only say they are excellent. Or course they are a lacquer so you get into the nastier clean up chemicals but they are simply fantastic to work with and for the finish they deliver. I now strip all the chrome off my parts and spray them with Alclad.

I have a large selection of Vallejo miniatures model paints as well. They are used for detail work and again they are great overall. Some are thicker than others and they don't generally go on too smoothly so large surfaces are really out of the question. But for having a large color selection and for detail work I love them.

Finally, just recently, I tried my first use of a Grumbacher squeeze tube acrylic thinned with water for painting the Moebius Bride couch. This worked perfectly and sprayed out of the brush with no problems giving me a great finish of crimson on the couch leather. I would think the Liquitex tube acrylics would work similarly. Other than taking a bit more time to mix they seem easy to work with and are hugely less expensive in those huge tubes than bottled hobby paint. I also use them for doing stone work and wood straight from the tubes and mixing colors for effects and they are perfect for that kind of work as they are obviously formulated exactly for that.

So these are just some of my thoughts on paints and using them and anyone else who wants to relate their favorites and experiences would be great.
 

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Good read! I'll add some of my insights, too. I've worked mainly with Testors enamels and acrylics, as well as Tamiya acrylics.

The Tamiya paints have a low odor, and airbrush wonderfully. They don't do so well with a brush; if you have to brush them on, I recommend a Microbrush. I like being able to clean them with 91% isopropyl alcohol.

In terms of consistency, I've had the best luck with Model Master enamels. They go on great with an airbrush or a brush. However, they do give off a more objectionable odor, and require nastier chemicals for clean-up. They also congeal pretty badly if not used for a while. Model Master acrylics are much the same, though they seem to be a little harder to shoot with an airbrush, and of course the clean up with water.

I've also used the "House of Kolor" paints sold at Wal-Mart about five years ago. There are some pretty colors in that line, but they gas off for what seems like weeks at a time, are a bear to clean out of an airbrush, and require nasty chemicals to strip. I don't recommend them, and they'd probably be hard to find anyway.
 

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I've been using craft acrylic paints for a while now and really like them. Some brands and some colors do not cover well, and since I brush exclusively (I'm working up the nerve to try an airbrush), I've had some brush stroke issues with them. However, in my latest build, the Airfix Apollo Saturn V, I've only used acrylics a very little bit, mainly for the silver on the Service Module and touch-ups of the black on the roll patterns. I'll be using acrylics a little more on this kit, but just for small details, like the RCS quads on the Service Module and the silver on the fins and fin shrouds. I used Krylon white primer for the white on the kit and Krylon flat black for the roll patterns. (BTW, I'm NOT impressed with Frog tape! Despite my best efforts at burnishing the tape edges, it leaked where the 3M blue painters tape did not.)

Larry
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the additional input guys. I completely forgot about the Tamiya acrylics and pretty much agree with you Alter. They airbrush fantastically but are not so great hand brushed. What is funny with them is you have to hand brush them thick and if you go back over them while they are still wet sometimes that second stroke will remove the first coat. So if you hand brush them you've got to be extra careful.

And also I forgot to mention I do some painting from rattle cans and have used Testors and Tamiya lacquers with great results. Finally I also use industrial primers like Krylon and Rustoleum (which I have a preference for) and also for some things I use Kyrlon colors like my current Bride project where I am using Krylon semi-gloss white for the Bride's gown. I almost strictly use Krylon paints when I am painting my model rockets and they work perfectly as well as being fairly cheap when bought at Walmart. I also use Krylon paints on models when it is appropriate.
 

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I use a lot of different paint brands and types; usually for different applications. Often the type of paint I use is determined by the color I need. For example, if I am building US Navy 1930s "yellow wings" planes, Tamiya Camel Yellow in their TS Spray series is the BEST match and goes down great.

I started buying Tamiya acrylics when they first came out in the US around 1983. They airbrush great and you can thin them with isopropyl/rubbing alcohol, or lacquer thinner. Their Olive Drab is about the best match for US WW2 armor. The common Testors shade is a modern aircraft color. Tamiya paints are very durable for weathering and handling too. The basic assortment of colors is a bit limited but there are many mixing formulas online if you want specific historic colors. Tamiya acrylics are not the best for brush painting larger surfaces, although they now offer an extender/flow medium that makes them brush paint much better now. While acrylic, the Tamiya paints are still solvent-based and brushing on a second coat can lift up the first coat.

Tamiya also makes an enamel range that mirrors their acrylic series. These are not sold in the US but are VERY good. The paints behave like pre 1980s US model paints - dry quicker, more opaque, one coat coverage, aren't sticky or gooey. I don't use these quite so much because of the somewhat limited color range and difficulty in obtaining them, but they are good.

Vallejo Model Color paints are my number one choice for figure painting. They make a vast range of acrylic, water thinnable, colors, including metallics. The paints are very thin, and a bit translucent so you can apply them in layers to build up colors, highlights, etc. Side ranges like Game Color, Railway Color, Panzer Aces, etc. offer more colors and variations of colors. I like the clear black grease/oil color in the Railroad range. Model Air is the Vallejo airbrush line. Myself, I hate these and think they are junk. To me they are too thin and when you spray them, its just like spraying ink or colored water. The finish is also not so durable. I prefer other paints for airbrush work. Model Air Chrome is not very bright either considering its called Chrome.

Alclad lacquers are the best paints for many metallic/natural metal finishes. The paints are airbrush only, but are easy to use and durable. The notion that you need special gloss black undercoats, etc. is largely untrue. Most of the colors can be sprayed directly on bare plastic, or any smooth primer not just black. Chrome and Polishes Aluminum do best on black, though. You can even mask over many of the Alclad metallics. Alclad also offers a range of color shifting car colors, clear candy colors, and clear top coats.

I like enamel paints but do not like the current, more eco-friendly, safer, versions of most brands. In the 90s, most companies like Testors, Humbrol, and at the time Floquil revised their enamel paint formulas. The paints became more syrupy and translucent, didn't dry as well, didn't cover as well, etc. as the old versions. You can take 1970s Humbrol Flat White and brush paint it over black plastic and get almost total, opaque, smooth coverage. And the paint will be dead flat and not sticky. Try that with the new Humbrol Super Enamel and you get a transparent streaky mess that is gummy and tacky for days. Testors is no better now for the most part. Testors metallics like silver in a spray can seem to never dry.

I have little use for the various $.99 craft paints like Plaid, Apple Barrel, etc. I want to like them, but for models they are not that useful IMHO. Yeah they are cheap but that's about it. You can get good results with them but they take more effort than its worth if you can use any other type of paint. Again they are not so durable either.
 

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I had forgotten about Krylon. It's cheap, easy enough to work with, and yields decent enough results on a model. However, if you mess up or change your mind about a color, it'll require nasty chemicals to completely strip, and don't count on it too much if color accuracy is a priority.
 

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I just recently picked up some ComArt airbrush paints from Tom Grossman and I can't say too much yet. I have only used them a couple of times so far and noted they spray very well but almost seem too thin. While that makes them spray well they run easier and it takes more coats to cover. But as I said, I have very little use and shouldn't make any judgements yet. I bought them in sets for things like horror figure models and other things. The color selection is nice and I plan on putting these to more use soon.
ComArt paints were originally designed for illustrator artists. That's why they're so thin. As you said, numerous colors available in opaques and transparents. I use them primarily for weathering and shading. I definitiely wouldn't recommned them for base coats. Some of the tricks I've picked up when dealing with ComArt is to build up the colors up slowly. I either put a couple of drops of Future or Dullcoat in with the paint to give it more "tooth" and always seal between coats.

I love AV Model Air paints. They flow very nice and dry rock-hard! Plenty of colors too.

Rob
Iwata Padawan
 

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what about clearcoats

Being relativly new to modeling after a 55 year hiatus, I've had some discussions regarding clearcoats. Many guys have sworn by Future floor finish. I got some and used it with mixed results. Theory is the formula was changed when it became Pledge future and it's not the same stuff.
I used it as a base after painting to lay decals on. Seemed to work ok. However, as I build military ships (mostly aircraft carriers) I prefer a flat finish. Really, a less than dead flat, somewhere between semi gloss and flat. I've used Model master ACRYL clear mostly but was wondering about alternatives in different sheens.

EJ
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Being relativly new to modeling after a 55 year hiatus, I've had some discussions regarding clearcoats. Many guys have sworn by Future floor finish. I got some and used it with mixed results. Theory is the formula was changed when it became Pledge future and it's not the same stuff.
I used it as a base after painting to lay decals on. Seemed to work ok. However, as I build military ships (mostly aircraft carriers) I prefer a flat finish. Really, a less than dead flat, somewhere between semi gloss and flat. I've used Model master ACRYL clear mostly but was wondering about alternatives in different sheens.

EJ
Most everyone here swears by Testors Dull Coat. I know I use it on almost every model and I wouldn't call it a totally dull coating but pretty close. In fact on my current build I put it on over some glossy acrylic and while it toned it down it didn't really give it a true dull coat. I then used an acrylic matte finish sprayed on with my airbrush and it dulled it down about how I wanted it. But for 90% of my models I usually finish them up with the Testors.
 

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For clear coats I use Future for a gloss (I brush it on) and Testors Clear Flat lacquer for an airbrushed flat finish.

I have used the Testors Acryl Flat and found that, while it dries flat, can discolor some dark paints. I have a couple models where the black paint turned grey with the Acryl junk. The laquer causes no problems and dries dead flat all the time.

For those unfamiliar with Future http://www.swannysmodels.com/TheCompleteFuture.html
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks everyone. I'm headed to my LHS to get some Dullcoat Laq. to test out.
EJ
I almost always buy it at Michael's using the 40% off a single item coupon you can get online almost every week. That makes the price about $2.60. Usually, since Michael's are a bit of a drive from where we live, I get one and my wife picks up one for me to when we are going by the store.
 

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Hobby Lobby carries it also and at least here HL honors Michael's coupons plus you can use their 40% off coupon that is on their web site to print out.
 
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