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westerhamstation

Choice of paint for airbrushing

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Apologies if this has been asked before, but I need some advice on my choice of paint, I have wasted hours looking on the internet and have come to the conclusion that I have no conclusion on which  paint to use. Though saying that I may have narrowed it down to a choice of two, Vallejo Model Air or the LifeColor Rail Weathering set, so if any one can advise me as to which one of these would be the easiest for someone who has never used a airbrush before and it will only be used for weathering and touching up some of the landscape I would be really grateful.

All the Best Adrian.

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20 minutes ago, westerhamstation said:

be the easiest for someone who has never used a airbrush before

That alone poses a number of questions but FWIW I would say start simply. Get some Tamiya acrylics and thinners as they are pretty forgiving when it comes to mixes and practice on some bits of card/old models to get a bit of experience.

Rail weathering sets have a place but there are plenty of "standard" colours that are useful. You can do basic weathering with Tamiya's Flat Earth+ NATO black either on their own or mixed.

Weathering is an art and  people get to the same end in a very wide variety of different ways and I'm sure there'll be others with different views.

So just my off the cuff thoughts. Good luck and let us know how it's going.

Stu

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If it's ease of use that is your main requirement then Vallejo Model Air would do the job because it is ready to use in an airbrush straight from the jar.

 

Lapford34102 is right in that Tamiya acrylics are easy to use, but they will need thinning, and require either Tamiya thinners or Ultimate thinners.

 

The Lifecolor Rail Weathering Set contains 6 good and useful colours, but will also need thinning for use in an airbrush.

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Adrian

 

Orderliness and Cleanliness are almost next to Godliness when it comes to using airbrushes no matter what type of paint you use.

 

Airbrushes will clog quickly if your paint is mixed too thick....particularly with Acrylics.... Enamel paints are more forgiving.

 

both need to be flushed out of an airbrush immediately after use.  I`m sure you have already discovered that most peoples problems concerning airbrushes are to do with poor cleaning practice.

 

 So Orderliness is really planning ahead  with appropriate thinners and cleaners and flushing through if you have long delays in spraying. And learning to mix the paint to the correct consistency before you start.

 

Cheers

 

John

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I always use Humbrol enamels for weathering locomotives, coaches and wagons. Easily thinned to the correct consistency with bog standard white spirit. Advantages are that any unwanted overspray can be removed with a cotton bud dipped in white spirit and the airbrush is easily cleaned by blowing through white spirit. 

I tried acrylics but found that they clogged the airbrush and required a special cleaner.

colour mixes of 33 Matt Black, 62 Matt Leather and 121 Matt Pale Stone give realistic underframe dirt.

 

John

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Posted (edited)

Acrylic paints can be more acceptable by other household members as there is much less odour apart from the thinners and cleaning agent. Most can be thinned either with H2O or water based thinners.

As Rosspop says, they will clog the airbrush nozzle quicker as their drying time is much shorter, coupled with the fact that compressed air imparts heat. This faster drying can be beneficial when weathering, especially when blending one pigment into another, being able to create an effect where a change from one tint of colour to another is almost indiscernible.

 

On the other hand the slower drying time of enamels allows a good degree of flexibility for manipulation after application and is the choice of many people who are not affected by the fumes. Spraying booths with extractors can help greatly in this respect.

 

Lifecolor's Burned Black, Roof Dirt and Frame Dirt acrylics are a pretty good starting choice for basic weathering of locos and stock. The pigments complement each other very well and varying degrees of mixes are easily attained.

 

Practice on spare pieces of plastic; eg plastic card and cylindrical shapes will give a "feel" to how you operate the airbrush.  

A good tip is to spray onto some spare offcuts of Plastikard or similar every time you fill the paint cup and before applying to the model. This enables you to check paint consistency, air pressure setting and any tendency to splatter.

 

A strict airbrush cleansing routine is paramount; don't be tempted to head off for a cuppa without at least thoroughly cleaning the cup, nozzle and needle, otherwise you'll spend the rest of the day using up your vocabulary of expletives!

 

After every session, strip the 'brush down to its component parts and clean all in a 50:50 mix of IPA (not Greene King!) and waterborne thinners if using acryics. Lubricate the needle and button/trigger mechanism with airbrush lubricant before reassembly. Afterwards, spray clean water through to check all is well. Ensuring all is dry, store the airbrush ready for immediate use next time.

 

Practice to see the various results. You'll find the time spent actually spraying is minimal compared to the preparation, masking and final cleaning but the rewards are many.

Good luck.

Edited by Right Away
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I don't know what equipment you might have, but could I make a few suggestions for stuff I have found very useful in recent years whatever paint you may decide to use, ( I originally used Enamels and having tried alternatives have returned to them alongside using Rowney poster paints for scenic stuff).

 

This is possibly one of the most useful accessories and makes keeping any airbrush clean during and after use quite easy.  With any spray well contained it assists using an airbrush indoors in a confined space. It all packs up into the plastic tub - with the separate bits inside the glass spray jar.

 

1929783284_RMwebAir02.jpg.d7653ca22935044c3f0f4d41356621d3.jpg

 

If you don't have an airbrush or want one just mainly for small work like weathering, where just a brushfull of any one shade is often all that is needed, the the Iwata Neo is ideal. It's advantage is that it has two removable cups, is gravity feed, and so you can just put a brushful straight into the top along with a bit of thinners. Means little waste this way and easy/ uick to clean between fills.643654881_RMwebAir03.jpg.2f0f7051467ce52b4f6c90c7e9e9d364.jpg

 

Lastly these Tamiya bits are great for holding/rotating things while painting weathering, especially smaller items.

 

1015340901_RMwebAir04.jpg.56dbd5b933145ae0143cb56ce835c91e.jpg

 

Hope the info might help.

 

Izzy

 

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As a airbrush novice, I agree with Model Air and Tamyia acrylics as being easy to use and cover well. Recommend you use Tamyia’s own thinners - I mix them in a ‘shot glass’ bought from Poundland.

 

Indeed a neighbour popped in this morning with some coaches for repainting.  One is green plastic and he wants the lower panels to be white. Quite a challenge, but a few very thin coats of Tamyia flat white acrylic and its starting to look good.

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Posted (edited)

Thank you all for your input, it has been most useful and helpful. My thinking now is to try a few different makes of acrylic paint and a few enamels Humbrol / Revell.The only question I have about using enamel is, will it effect the rubber o rings when using white spirit. All the best and thanks for the help Adrian.

Edited by westerhamstation

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I am fairly new to airbrushing, but I am old school and I still prefer enamels.

 

Cheers, Ade.

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5 hours ago, westerhamstation said:

The only question I have about using enamel is, will it effect the rubber o rings when using white spirit.

Which airbrush are thinking about?

Some brushes use PTFE rings which IIRC aren't affected but "rubber" O rings do deteriorate over time, often with wear as much as chemical attack.  Those on my old Badger 150 lasted a very long time though.

An airbrush (and compressor) should be viewed as a long term investment so look at those with a good spares supply.

 

Stu

 

 

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6 hours ago, westerhamstation said:

Thank you all for your input, it has been most useful and helpful. My thinking now is to try a few different makes of acrylic paint and a few enamels Humbrol / Revell.The only question I have about using enamel is, will it effect the rubber o rings when using white spirit. All the best and thanks for the help Adrian.

I only use enamels for airbrushing - I personally dont get on well with acrylics, though many many people do! 

 

I have 2 airbrushes, one is a Paasche (external mix) and is 28 years old, never had to replace anything on it, the other I have a is an Iwata Neo, now about 6 years old.   The Paasche has been a workhorse, spraying all sorts through it, and even with minimal maintenance in the early days, it still performs faultlessly.  The Iwata is great, the 2 cups being very handy, I mainly use this for smaller jobs.

 

The most important thing with any airbrush is cleaning after use.  Dont skimp on it, I plan a good 15-30 mins into each session to clean the airbrush alone.

 

Dont get sucked into the trap of paying for an expensive brush, I've seen some great results from very cheap brushes, and some terrible results from very expensive brushes - its all down to the user.  A good compressor is essential, many people use cans of compressed air or old car tyres, but these don't have a consistent pressure, which is essential.  There are good sets on eBay (just to give an example), for a reasonable price.

 

Oh, and practice makes perfect!

 

 

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I had an Iwata NEO and have graduated on to an Iwata Eclipse and have never had any problems with white spirit affecting any of the internal seals.

 

John

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23 hours ago, 37501 said:

 

I tried acrylics but found that they clogged the airbrush and required a special cleaner.

 

 

I've tended to find the exact opposite! 

 

Yes acrylics do dry quickly (but remember you can a drop of artist's acrylic retarder to slow that down a tad) and therefore the needle can indeed clog if you're not disciplined at cleaning between colours or when taking a break.

 

BUT I, personally, find enamels much harder to airbrush with. I think my most frequent problem with them is lumps clogging the airbrush. With some colours and brands more than others, it seems impossible to fully get rid of lumps, even with an electric stirrer and much vigorous shaking. And it doesn't take much of a lump to block the airbrush. I find that much more difficult to sort out than a dried nozzle from acrylics.

 

Additionally, I find enamels much less consistent in their consistency - some colours are so thick it seems difficult to actually get them thinned inside the cup - you can easily end up with nicely coloured thinned paint on top but thick sludge at the bottom, ready to block the airbrush. 

 

I've switched almost totally to using Vallejo acrylics now. The dropper bottles are ideal for dosing into the airbrush, and they can be thinned with water. Lifecolor seem generally much thinner paints, needing very little thinning, and seem to have pretty variable coverage - they do make a good airbrushed base for weathering though. Tamiya definitely have the best coverage, but as others have said, they need special thinners, and the colours in the range are quite biased toward military colours. Some particular ones are good though - "deck tan" makes a great base for weathered wooden wagon decks and interiors, and "flat brown" is a good dark chocolate colour that I often use, instead of black, as a base for weathered underframes.

 

Where enamels really come into their own though is for washes and that style of brush weathering. The crucial difference is that you can reactivate them with thinners for a while to adjust, which you just can't do with acrylics. BUT I'd say that advantage is even more true with artists oils - which also make great weathering washes.

 

J

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Very much a personal choice of what works for you.

i thin down Humbrol enamel with white spirit in a plastic lid from a fizzy drink bottle and stir it thoroughly with a wooden coffee stirring stick. I go through a lot of these so thankfully they are easily obtainable. 

Once satisfied with the consistency, a pippet dropper is used to transfer the paint into the airbrush. This is also good for removing any excess paint prior to changing colour etc. 

The Eclipse is very easy to clean and only requires removal of the needle occasionally. Blowing through with white spirit is essential when changing colour or when session finished, Also, I recommend pulling the needle fully back and running a white spirit soaked cotton bud around the nozzle. This clears any paint away from the small air passages which surround the nozzle. 

Happy weathering.

 

John

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When I started airbrushing at 13 years of age, 50 years ago, it was with enamals, Humbrol to be specific. And it was all I used until I gave up models at age 20. When I started modelling again in 2001 I of course went back to Humbrol..familiar ground. But about 15 years ago I started experimenting with acrylics, didn’t go too well....until I discovered Vallejo Model Air....I haven’t looked back. Easy to clean-up, easy to thin if necessary, no waste and covers well. Oh...and no odour.  There is a bit of a learning curve but nothing too onerous. Love the stuff!!!

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Posted (edited)

Good luck with your airbrushing Adrian, that's something I'd like to get the hang of. I've tried both lifecolour and Vallejo, and found them both ok,  I like Model Air as it doesn't need thinning and the Vallejo dropper bottles are dead easy to use. I've found Ultimate thinners work with pretty much all acrylics I've tried and I've always added a tiny bit of acrylic retarder to slow down the drying time of the paints.

I'd like to try Tamiya paints as they seem to have a good reputation for airbrushing.

The thing I cant quite master yet is a cleaning and working routine so that the nozzle wont block between colours and creating effects etc, and I need to practice not putting too much paint on the model as that is, in my opinion, fundamental to weathering.

I'll look forward to seeing how you get on.

Steve.

 

 

 

Edited by sb67
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Steve,

 

I had the same problems when I started using an Airbrush. A cheap 20£ ultrasonic bath solved any cleaning problem I had.

-- After use, I am filling the reservoir with cleaner and wipe all surfaces with a cotton bud.

-- I use the bud to poke into the bottom of the reservoir to loosen as much paint as possible.

-- Next step is to flush the remaining cleaner through the airbrush.

-- CAREFULLY push a wetted cotton bud into the nozzle and turn it so that sticking paint is removed from this zone. Make sure you make no radial movement or the needle might be bent.

-- I remove the needle cap, the nozzle cap and the nozzle and drop them into a small container filled with cleaner. Depending on the design of your airbrush, there might be more or less parts to remove.

-- Pull the needle from the airbrush, if possible to the front to make sure that gunk is not smeared onto the internal sealings.

-- drop the needle, the closed container and the whole pistol into the ulrasonic cleaner filled with hot water and sonicate it for 5 minutes.

-- Reassemble the whole unit and spray until all l water is removed. At reassembly, push the needle from the backside into the airbrush. 

Done.

I have had never any problem since I use this procedure.

 

Michael

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Steve...the important thing is to develop a cleaning system that works for you. Basically you need a system to use while painting and switching between colours to prevent tip-dry and so you can quickly switch between colours while painting. And you need to develop another system to clean your airbrush between painting sessions. 

 

Since Michael has pretty well described the process for cleaning between painting sessions I’ll quickly deal with cleaning during painting sessions. The main problem while painting is tip-dry, wherein acrylic paint coagulates and hardens right at the tip of the airbrush as it leaves the airbrush. This disrupts and ruins the spray pattern and then blocks the brush. Three things to do to avoid this..1) make sure your paint is properly thinned( one reason why I love Vallejo Model Air)  2) make sure your air-pressure is adjusted properly and 3) keep a small jar/container of the appropriate paint/thinner handy with some cotton buds...every few minutes dip a bud into the thinner and very gently push it into the airbrush tip and very very gently spin it to remove any paint...you want to keep the tip clean and lubed.  As far as cleaner...I was a big fan of ammonia based household window/glass cleaner because it worked wellas both a thinner and a cleaner with pretty much all acrylics, except Tamiya acrylics, it was cheap and easily available. However I have now switched to each brands proprietary cleaner/ thinner because I was told that ammonia will eventually pit some of the metals in my airbrush. 

 

Cheers

gene

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12 hours ago, sb67 said:

 

The thing I cant quite master yet is a cleaning and working routine so that the nozzle wont block between colours and creating effects

 

 

Go to an exhibition where there's a demonstrator who will let you have a go. :crazy_mini:

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Thanks for the tips guys.

Mick - Is that an invite, where's your next demo? ;)

Steve.

 

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1 hour ago, sb67 said:

 

Mick - Is that an invite, where's your next demo? https://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/uploads/emoticons/default_wink.png

 

 

 

Of course it is. :)

 

Great Electric Train Show at Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes - 12th/13th October

Great British Model Railway Show at the British Motor Museum, Gaydon - 9th/10th November

 

Full complement of kit available for testing at both events.

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Ta Mick, I'll do my best to get to Milton Keynes.

Steve.

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I’ve been painting four 7mm scale narrow gauge coaches for a friend.  The sides have blue lower panels, white from window level upwards.  I used Tamiya acrylics and the results were good. However, I spotted a very small imperfection on one side, an area about the size of a nail  head where the blue was too thin. Unfortunatly it was too prominent to ignore. I tried painting the imperfection with a brush, but it looked worse as the brush finish was not as good as the airbrush - I will not try doing that again. So I’ve rubbed it down with a tiny piece of very fine emery board and resprayed that area - success.

 

Now that the coaches have had a week for the paint to dry fully and harden, the final job was to varnish them to protect the finish. Yesterday I bought a rattle can of Humbrol acrylic satin varnish. I started by  warming the varnish by standing the can in warm water then shaking it well. I started by spraying one end of a coach - disaster, the varnish has softened and removed some of the Tamiya paint. I’m not sure what I did wrong, but suspect the high pressure of the spray can has put too much varnish on the paint and softened it. Could there be any other reason?

 

Can anyone recommend a varnish I can use in my airbrush at low pressure?

 

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Because you've had good results using tamiya acrylics through your airbrush (i like them too) is there any reason why you didn't use tamiya acylic flat clear base over the paint?

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