paint selection

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Nov 17, 2023
Idaho USA
Tamiya acrylic paint vs Mr. color etc. lacquer paint, which do you prefer? my issues with both have been somewhat challenging. I always use Alclad II lacquer primer then airbrush with Tamiya acrylic paint then clear coat with alclad klear kote . problem is the paint scratches so easily before the clear coats, lots of corrections. lacquer paints are significantly more durable but the fumes and cleanup are horrible. What would an award winning model maker use typically? this is my 1st attempt at trying to duplicate camo from the illustration provided in the kit. thanks so much to all who participate in this lovely forum;)


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If this is your first attempt at duplicating a camo then I applaud you, it is a very good effort. As you mention, acrylic paints do mark and scratch off easily and for my own efforts I always spray a protective coat over the first camo layer and again after the second camo layer. The protective coat I use is just a readily available household floor polish. As for paints, were lucky enough down under to have a new locally made product developed by a fellow modeller known as SMS (Scale Model Supplies), its a lacquer based paint with a lovely even and smooth finish. Having said that I'm also a user of Tamiya and Mr Color acrylics particularly for the hand painting and have recently converted away from using enamel paints. :D
I just need to be more careful about handling the model and get a protective clear coat on asap. thanks so much for your advice. Mr. color is a lacquer paint....right?
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90% of my work is with Tamiya acrylics without primer. Yes, care needs to be taken with scratches and I handle the model with a tissue between fingers and paint work before a clear coat is applied. I assume that you assemble the model completely and fill gaps before painting.
Good thread. So I have only used enamel paints before.

For an upcoming Bf 109 model I am preparing for I am going to use Acrylic paints. Specifically a mixture of different brands because of what is available.

Mr. Color
Mission Models

How are Acrylic paints when it comes to airbrushing? How easy are they to thin? Same general rule? One drop of thinner for each drop of paint?
The Vallejo Model Air series offers colours as the paints "ready" to use. So no need to thin them. The other colours usually need to be thinned. Depending on these the proportion is 1 drop of paint and 1 to 3 drops of thinner. However the most important is the thinner you have to use. Please remember that some of the paints are water based while other ones base on the alcohol or mineral thinner. Usually it is not possible to use the different paints with different thinners. The kind of mixture can't be airbrushed mostly due to the paint failure or clogging up of the airbrush. Therefore the dedicated thinners are the best way for getting colours diluted. Each of the paint manufacturers offers a such liquid for his own paints. Of course there are the equivalents of the thinners availabe and offered in different shops in cans of large capacity what affects the costs. The same may happen if you want to mix colours of different brands.
Also the acrylic paints require the low pressure of the air for applying. Usually it is about 1-2 bar ( 15-26 PSI)

- thick paint ... higher pressure
- thinner paint ... less pressure
- a small distance between the airbrush and the ground ... lower pressure
- long distance .... higher pressure

I'm sure the other guys here can have other tips.
I'm newish to airbrushing and still learning. My thinning ratios are all over the place and I've never had a problem spraying. For Tamiya I mostly use their acrylic thinner and as Andy just mentioned, Iso. My ratios are dependant on how much paint I have left in the bottle as my nearest paint source is a 4hr round trip. Not much paint, 1:1 paint to thinner. Lots of paint, 3:1. I always spray at 18psi regardless of what I'm doing unless its Vallejo Metallics then it gets dropped to 15psi. As Wojtek says, Vallejo Model Air doesn't need thinning but a few drops of their retarder and flow improver doesn't hurt. I'll add these when I remember. I'm not a professional but I did stay at a Holiday Inn
OK Alder, you have a few comments for spraying. I was hoping others would chime in but sometimes more just confuses things. Myself.....I like more as I can go through all and pick and choose. Now what about cleaning up? Remember, I'm still relatively new to this and it may be over/under-kill but this is my cleanup process for my Harder & Steenbeck Evolution


Ignore the #1 paint brush and 1ml syringe on the right. I use these to transfer and mix paint in the AB cup. I buy the syringes in bulk at the local pharmacy and I find the 1ml size is perfect for most paint work
  1. Plain old tap water. I use the glass eyedropper on the right to transfer all fluids. Once I'm done spraying. I'll fill and empty the cup as many times as to get rid of most the the paint in the system
  2. Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA). Its 99% only because I can get a box of 4 at Costco in the pharmacy section. After I flush with water I half fill the AB cup and spray the the AB then I'll half fill again and, using a Q-Tip, I'll clean out the inside of the cup and empty out cup. I then flush the AB twice with water. I don't know if this is necessary but everything I do with a cleaner I'll repeat with water. DO NOT USE THIS WITH VALLEJO UNLESS YOU LIKE HAVING AN AB FULL OF GOO. I read somewhere that someone, as a final cleaning process, blasted IPA through the AB and not water so I tried it. A week or so later I fired up the AB with some Vallejo and couldn't figure why nothing was coming out. I took the AB apart and spent about 20 minute cleaning the goo out; I had totally forgotten about the previous IPA method.....lesson learned
  3. Odourless Paint Thinner. Sometimes I'll run half a cup of this through the AB. Its usually on a whim and may get done every third or fourth session. Repeat after with the water thang
  4. Vallejo Air Brush Cleaner. Used after spraying Vallejo. Lots of different ways to clean up Vallejo on the web, lacquer thinner comes to mind.
  5. Medea Airbrush Cleaner. Great for all acrylic paint cleanup including Vallejo.
  6. VMS Airbrush Cleaner. For removing stubborn dried paint from the AB. Use it full strength to do this and a 50/50 mix with water for normal cleaning including Vallejo
I then clean out the internals with any of the above depending on paint and then again, over flush with water. Re-assemble the AB, fire about a quarter cup of IPA through, a half cup of water, quarter cup of Medea, one cup of water and I'm done. Hope this helps and I'm hoping others will chime in with their methods
Forgot to post this. Mentioned up-thread I said I do all spraying at 18psi. When I'm done a session I use the left-overs to practice mottles and freehand camo on my paint mule. Still a work in progress and a long way to go

I used to have fits trying to thin paint, this works for me every time. so many different factors with paint. "Paint consistency not ratio of paint to thinner because all paints are formulated differently" read this some time ago and it made sense to me. I thought the guy offered a brilliant solution. my humble opinion , I am a rookie on this forum ;)
90% of my work is with Tamiya acrylics without primer. Yes, care needs to be taken with scratches and I handle the model with a tissue between fingers and paint work before a clear coat is applied. I assume that you assemble the model completely and fill gaps before p
you prefer to not use relatively toxic paints, lacquer etc.? they are nasty. I have been trying to omit them, perhaps i need to keep trying, maybe use alclad aqua gloss as a primer.

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