Painting acrylic over enamel - Mistake?

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Jun 28, 2009
USA Norway
Hello all, I'm new to airbrushing, and new to Vallejo acrylics (I have spent the past 30 years brush-painting Polly-S, now Model Master Acrylics on 1/72 scale aircraft).

Did I just make a mistake airbrushing Vallejo Acrylic (Air), over Testors flat enamel? - The failure being that the Vallejo is being lifted off the Testors enamel, by the Testors masking tape I'm using.

The Story So Far:
The model is Revell's 1/32 Ju-88A-1, in grey plastic. After masking the canopies and degreasing the plastic, wearing nitrile gloves, ready for painting the whole aircraft, I decided to give it a first coat of grey to give me a even color to the whole model (in other words - the canopy areas are clear, with RLM Grau showing through - painted on the backside - making them darker than the surrounding gray plastic, and I didn't want this darker RLM Grau color to show through the Vallero paint I'd be using on the model).

The best match to the model's grey plastic was a spray can of Testors Lt.Gull flat enamel I had handy, and I sprayed it on in two light coats. That was 48 hours ago. This morning I began applying the German colors using Vallejo Acrylic (Air), and I happily and successfully airbrushed the Hellbllau on the bottom, in two light coats, waiting maybe an hour between coats - that was 8 hours ago...

With the full underside airbrushed with Vallejo Acry Hellblaul, I began masking the edge with Testor's masking tape, "low tack", to get ready to airbrush the topside with Grün (70).
When I tested the adhesion of the masking tape, it pulled about 60% of the Vallero Hellblau off the Testors Lt.Gull flat enamel.


I can think of some options:
- Wait til tomorrow morning, in case the Vallejo needs to be bone dry for better adhesion.
- Experiment with the tape - try a different kind, or abuse the adhesive to create and even lower 'tack' before using it.
- Switch from masking and airbrushing the Vallero, in favor of my usual forte: Hair Stick. Brush paint the topside with ModelMaster Acrylics without masking.. (but that splinter camo on a 1/32 will be hell).

Thanks for any suggestions.... I am enjoying learning to airbrush, but I'm also learning as I go.
- Art
Last edited:
..another option would be "Damn The Torpedoes" and just proceed with masking and airbrushing the large fields of upper Grün and Schwartzgrün splinter camo, then touch up the edges with a brush afterwards... I'll experiment with other tapes first though, and if successful, just go very light on the paint coats.
It should never be an issue to paint acrylics over enamels. Though I've never used the Vallejo acrylics, I've heard many complain about their adhesion abilities in general. I have also not used Testors masking tape but even with Tamiya's tape, I "detack" it by applying it to the palm of my had a couple of times before putting it onto a painted surface.
Thank you for offering that background on Vallejo, and the validation on tape tackiness.. I'll start by de-tacking a few different tape types and see what works better...

I'm otherwise pleased with my first foray into airbrushing, and plan to keep using it.

- Art
IMHO the problem is the Testors/ModelMaster enamel. Contrary to the Humbrol enamels the Testors/MM coat looks fattily. The Humbrols always give a matt finish that looks much better and not too fattily . I think it is because of the enamel oil medium. Humbrols seem to have it less or just lighter than the Testors ones. But I agree with CR on the Vallejo adhesion. The colours like peeling off even if the dedicated primer had been used there.
Thanks for the confirmation - and yeah, I can agree the finish of the Testors enamel has a quality that could be described as fatty, soft, oilish.. something like that.
I am having success de-tacking standard household 3M masking tape. The slight downside is some slight lifting at inside corners, for which I hope to compensate by careful attention to the nozzle orientation of the airbrush and by not applying a light coat, several times.
- Art

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