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Idiots guide to Acrylic Paints?


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As its over 50 years since I last waved a paint brush at an Airfix aircraft, with dobs of Humbrol Enamel paint, I'm wondering if the "new fangled" acrylic paints are better to use for OO railway model kits?

 

Also, which Humbrol Acrylic colours would be best for a very basic beginner, for GWR, SR and BR early blue eras?

 

Thanks in advance for any advice, or pointers to an online Dummies Guide to Painting OO Railway Kits.

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The "professionals" will extol the pros and cons of both mediums all with valid reasons, however, personal preference will often sway your decisions.

 

I have an allergic intolerance of enamels/thinners. Acrylic paints are a godsend in that thinning and cleaning present no issues and have been used very successful on wagon kits and weathering.

 

It is worth considering the relatively quick drying time of acrylics which can be useful when applying additional coats. This quality can be problematic insofar as airbrushes can clog sooner if not flushed through regularly during, and thoroughly stripped and cleaned after use.

 

The much longer drying time of enamels will allow easier manipulation of colour which many find useful.

 

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I've used both and acrylics and as Right Away says the drying times are much quicker which has it's pro's and con's. I also try and use the manufactures thinner although you can thin with water. Can you try other makes of acrylic? Vallejo and Lifecolour are both good options with Vallejo good for brush painting. 

Google or youtube it and look at other peoples experiences, although there seems to be more military modelling videos, but that is not a bad thing. 

As said a lot is down to personal preference, I prob prefer enamels but don't like the fumes so I'm trying to move to acrylic paints.

As for colours I'm afraid I cant advise too much, I think Humbrol's rail colours are available in acrylic form and I've got a few Lifecolour BR colours.

Hope that helps a bit.

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Like you I used Humbrol enamels.  I did try some acrylics but found them to be poor in coverage needing several coats. However I’ve now  started to switch to acrylics as I needed some paint urgently and all I could get locally in the correct colour was Tamiya  acrylics. I find Tamiya acrylics work really well, although you do need to use their own brand of thinners to dilute them.

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Off the wall suggestion

 

Call in at your nearest Games Workshop when it is relatively quiet. They are keen on getting people to make things and are usually happy to get you doing something. Yes it will be fantasy wargaming, the skills are very transferable

 

They'll get you using acrylics with water - very versatile. I much prefer acrylics

 

Richard

 

DO NOT buy any Empire/Catachans/Space Marines - you'll end up in a whole new world of modelling that way

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As mentioned above, acrylics tend to dry quickly and it is this property that can clog airbrushes.  When you are buying the paint, get some retarder.  This slows the drying in the airbrush.  I find it very helpful.

 

John

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8 hours ago, ColinK said:

Like you I used Humbrol enamels.  I did try some acrylics but found them to be poor in coverage needing several coats. However I’ve now  started to switch to acrylics as I needed some paint urgently and all I could get locally in the correct colour was Tamiya  acrylics. I find Tamiya acrylics work really well, although you do need to use their own brand of thinners to dilute them.

 

I find Tamiya acrylics have a strong smell as well, and you do need to use their own thinners.

 

8 hours ago, RLWP said:

Off the wall suggestion

 

Call in at your nearest Games Workshop when it is relatively quiet. They are keen on getting people to make things and are usually happy to get you doing something. Yes it will be fantasy wargaming, the skills are very transferable

 

They'll get you using acrylics with water - very versatile. I much prefer acrylics

 

Richard

 

DO NOT buy any Empire/Catachans/Space Marines - you'll end up in a whole new world of modelling that way

 

Games Workshop are pretty helpful if you can get used to the names their paints are ok.

Steve.

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As this topic is an idiot's guide, can I ask a supplementary idiot question:

What is the difference between acrylic model paint and the stuff artists use?

I have a modelling project in mind which would require quite a lot of painting; I can see I'd be getting through quite a few bottles/tins of model paint  

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1 hour ago, rab said:

As this topic is an idiot's guide, can I ask a supplementary idiot question:

What is the difference between acrylic model paint and the stuff artists use?

 

I wondered that, and I'd never heard of Vallejo either, so I looked on their website. It looks like it's all the same "stuff", but in different viscocities to suit different roles and applications. But which one would be best for an artist?

 

Quote

Vallejo offers four different water-based chemical formulas in these colors lines, each one created for a particular segment of the hobby market, but all compatible with one another.
Model Color and Panzer Aces are creamy, highly opaque acrylics formulated principally for brush application: the two ranges total some 246 matte colors and mediums, and 8 brilliant alcohol based metallic colors.
Game Color has been developed for tabletop games. The range consists of 119 acrylic colors, washes and inks; designed for painting small figures, the formula has a lower viscosity than Model Color and a resin more resistant to frequent handling. The colors provide opaque coverage without loss of minute detail.
Model Air is a line of 129 colors which have been formulated especially for airbrushing, although they are also frequently used for painting small details with a brush.
These product lines are further augmented with a line of Washes, and a complete assortment of Medium, Varnishes and auxiliary products.
Premium Color, a new range of 51 colors and 8 auxiliary products, developed with a new hybrid acrylic-polyurethane resin of extreme strength, has been designed principally for use in an Airbrush and for surfaces exposed to handling and exterior conditions.

 

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2 hours ago, rab said:

What is the difference between acrylic model paint and the stuff artists use?

Generally artist acrylic paint is far more viscous (thick) and more similar to artists oil paints than modellers brushing paint.

Having said that, there are a huge range of acrylic paints and inks that 'artists' use, so it's not a simple subject. Have a look at https://www.jacksonsart.com/blog/2019/10/18/the-four-acrylic-consistencies/?utm_campaign=1468168_Blog_Newsletter_2019_10_22 for more detail.

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Sort of related, if you are painting a green and black loco, say an A2, does anyone have a preference of which goes on first (after the undercoat).  I am leaning to the green first because I think it will be easier to mask it off.

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If you're going to experiment with acrylics, my advice would be only to buy one or two to try out at first. I bought a whole range of colours based on the way people were talking them up on here. They are now sat in a box and likely never to be used again. I found the drying time to short when brushing and got too much tip drying when airbrushing (using a retarder didn't really help much in either case). Trying to use them as a wash, they just didn't flow into seams as well as solvent based paints. I've gone back to enamels and am much happier.

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New fangled? I was using acrylic in the early 1980s for fantasy figures.  :laugh:

 

Personally I feel it depends on what you are painting. Great for things like figures,  buildings and weathering, totally rubbish for locomotives and rolling stock where you need a "sheen". For those I would stick with enamel.

 

 

 

Jason

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Re Tamiya acrylics: I find these the best of the acrylics I've used and my first choice. I find they don't clog my airbrush, provided that I mix properly outside the paint cup, thin sufficiently and clean the brush well between colours. They will build up and clog if the brush is not properly cleaned, but shouldn't do so while spraying if starting from a clean brush.

 

I can't get Vallejo acrylics to work when spraying, either when using their pre-thinned range or when thinning with their own thinners. There's some trick to them that I don't have.

 

Re artists' acrylics as sold in tubes: remember that these are a quick-drying, low-toxicity replacement for oil paints. As such, they tend to be glossier than typical model paints and are specifically made to retain and show brush marks. They are not very good for painting flat panels of railway liveries, but they are quite good for representing unpainted wood in open wagons, where the retained brush-marks can simulate part of the grain pattern. It is infeasible to thin these tube paints for spraying: I've tried it and always end up with clots that block an airbrush.

 

Liquitex, who were first to market water-soluble acrylic paint for artists, sell a range of good-quality acrylics that are a smoother paste than the oil-paint replacements. They come in small, plastic jars and have high density of pigment, with very good covering power. These are useful for models, especially the red-oxide colour for wagons. These are for brushing, not for spraying. Unfortunately, they are now hard to find in the UK.

 

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Re Liquitex

I've seen those in The Range

https://www.therange.co.uk/stationery-arts-and-crafts/arts-and-crafts/art-supplies/paint/acrylic-paint/#sort=relevance&page=1&lpp=24

and in Hobby Craft shops

https://www.hobbycraft.co.uk/brand/liquitex

 

But I assumed those were heavy duty versions more suitable for artistic/canvas painting.

Is that true?

 

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Another vote both for Vallejo and GW acrylics. Both brush very well. Tamiya I don't like, they are very fussy, need their own thinners and can react with other acrylics and I don't like the pots they come in. Vallejo in particular has such a huge range of colours that you will find a close match for that elusive "Inverness & Perth Junction Railway Pink" that you can't find anywhere (probably). I would recommend looking at some of the acrylic techniques widely used in Military Modelling like washes, dry brushing and glazes.

 

Somewhere on here is a thread I created when starting using an airbrush with Vallejo Air (pre-thinned for airbrush use) I had no problems at all spraying it in a cheap Chinese airbrush...

 

So I bought a cheap airbrush - Airbrush thread for anyone interested.

 

I don't use enamels any more they are smelly and hard on expensive brushes - especially if you like good kolinsky sable brushes!

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10 hours ago, Rumblestripe said:

Another vote both for Vallejo and GW acrylics. Both brush very well. Tamiya I don't like, they are very fussy, need their own thinners and can react with other acrylics and I don't like the pots they come in. Vallejo in particular has such a huge range of colours that you will find a close match for that elusive "Inverness & Perth Junction Railway Pink" that you can't find anywhere (probably). I would recommend looking at some of the acrylic techniques widely used in Military Modelling like washes, dry brushing and glazes.

 

Somewhere on here is a thread I created when starting using an airbrush with Vallejo Air (pre-thinned for airbrush use) I had no problems at all spraying it in a cheap Chinese airbrush...

 

So I bought a cheap airbrush - Airbrush thread for anyone interested.

 

I don't use enamels any more they are smelly and hard on expensive brushes - especially if you like good kolinsky sable brushes!

 

Thanks for that link Rumblestripe, that's a great thread. Have you still got the same airbrush and is it still ok and I know it's called Vallejo Air but do you use it with absolutely no thinners or retarder at all?

Sorry for the questions but how do you get on with acrylic washes?  I would love to use only acrylics but have not found any way to get the performance of an enamel wash.

Many thanks.

 

Steve.

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16 hours ago, KeithMacdonald said:

Re Liquitex

I've seen those in The Range

https://www.therange.co.uk/stationery-arts-and-crafts/arts-and-crafts/art-supplies/paint/acrylic-paint/#sort=relevance&page=1&lpp=24

and in Hobby Craft shops

https://www.hobbycraft.co.uk/brand/liquitex

 

But I assumed those were heavy duty versions more suitable for artistic/canvas painting.

Is that true?

 

Correct. Liquitex's heavy-body paint in tubes is the oil-paint substitute. The one I referred to is hte medium-body range, sold in jars.

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5 hours ago, sb67 said:

 

Thanks for that link Rumblestripe, that's a great thread. Have you still got the same airbrush and is it still ok and I know it's called Vallejo Air but do you use it with absolutely no thinners or retarder at all?

Sorry for the questions but how do you get on with acrylic washes?  I would love to use only acrylics but have not found any way to get the performance of an enamel wash.

Many thanks.

 

Steve.

I do still have the same airbrush and it is still "earning its keep" though I confess I am only an occasional airbrush user and not a particularly skillful one! I really bought it for the compressor and was surprised at how useful the airbrush was. If the airbrush does start misbehaving there are many choices for less than £20 or you can move up to a better quality AB like the Iwata Neo. I can usually spray Vallejo Air without further thinning, if it is a new bottle, once it has been opened I tend to add a little Vallejo Airbrush Thinner to help it a bit. A good thing about trying the Vallejo Air paint is that it gives you a good idea of what people mean when they say thin your paint to the consistency of "milk" which I never found a very helpful description!

 

In terms of getting a good acrylic wash try the GW washes, they have rather silly names but work really well straight from the bottle. If you want to make your own washes the trick (if there is one) is to reduce the surface tension of the liquid in the wash so simply diluting with water will not work terribly, well add a proprietary "Flow Enhancer" (I use W&N Acrylic Flow Improver) you can also add a very small touch of Washing Up liquid and many swear by this (I swear AT IT as I find it puts bubbles in your wash which can dry on the model)

 

Many military modellers use oil washes over acrylic paint and there is no reason not to (apart from the lengthened drying times) use something like a "Lamp Black", "Paynes Grey" or "Burnt Sienna" and thin right down with turps/white spirit as you would with enamels. It is best to buy a decent quality Artists' oil paint for a finer denser pigment. Also make sure your acrylic paint is completely dry, this is not the same as touch dry so leave it for a minimum of 24 hours (preferably 48) before applying an oil or enamel based wash.

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I too have in the last few years largely moved over to Vallejo air acrylics from enamels. I bought a basic colour set and have mixed the railway colours I need from them. The dropper bottles they come in make this pretty repeatable as long as you keep a record of your mixes. 

When airbrushing don’t allow the paint cup to empty, the air flow will dry any residual paint in the airbrush very quickly.

I have found thinning with their thinners produces workable washes.

This coach is an example. I finished it off with Vallejo satin varnish diluted and sprayed. Beware that this will bloom if too thickly applied or if 1st coat is not dry when 2nd applied.77DC4F0F-8439-4AA7-AFD4-9A683D8F690E.jpeg.baa0586ccb03946c646ac9fd1a64506f.jpeg

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  • 3 months later...

I have recently emigrated from UK to Canada. I brought a quantity of Humbrol enamels with me. The only paints available here locally are Tamiya and Lifecolor. I am having trouble in finding anyone who ships, however, I am now using Tamiya acrylics through an airbrush and am amazed at how good they are. Granted that they are not the most economical but if you stick to an advised paint to thinner ration of 2:1 the coverage is superb. I have applied a matt varnish and a gloss varnish without any orange peel or frosting and am impressed by the finish achieved. I think that my enamels will be used for "odd jobs" and when exhausted will be consigned to the bin.  

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