General Hobby Modelling Paint's Brands
General Ingredients Of Pain
PigmentThis is what gives the paint it’s colour and ability to hide what is underneath it (opacity). The pigment is all important, particularly to modelers.
Because of the fine detail and thin coats demanded by modelers, the pigments in model paints have to be ground much finer than conventional paints. Permanence or ‘light fastness’ is also an important factor when considering pigments – some cheaper paints will contain pigments that may fade over time, particularly when exposed to bright sunlight.
In metallic paints the pigment is often very finely ground particles of metal. Varnishes are often paints with the absence of any pigment.
Binder / Vehicle
This is the substance that makes the pigment particles stick to each other and makes the paint stick to the surface. The binder also determines many of the qualities of the paint such as how hard or flexible it will be when dry, how fast it will dry and how resistant it will be to abrasion and chemical attack. It is the binder that is the main difference between the different types of paint. Typical binders are acrylic resin and linseed oil.
Liquid / Solvent / Carrier/ Dispersant
This component can be called any one of the above names and it serves a number of purposes. A paint with just pigment and binder would probably be a thick unusable paste. The liquid is used to thin this to a consistency where it can be applied as a thin layer and where it will dry in a reasonable time. The amount of liquid determines the consistency of the paint i.e. how thick or thin it is and cheaper paints will tend to have more liquid and be thinner because this is the cheapest ingredient. Typical liquids used are white spirit, turpentine, water, cellulose and alcohol.
A paint may contain just the three components above, but some manufacturers will include small amounts of additives intended to affect the characterisics of the paint. These additives often explain why paints of different manufacturers behave differently.
Some of the effects of additives are:
- speed up or slow down drying time;
- Keep the pigment dispersed i.e. stop it settling to the bottom;
- change the surface texture (make the paint finsih more glossy or matt);
- preservatives, modify surface tension and improve flow:
Types of Paint / Brand Usage
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Since acrylics can be thinned and equipment cleaned with alcohol or water they are very user friendly. However, care is needed because they can dry very quickly and when dried are difficult to remove – airbrushes should be flushed with thinner every few minutes of use with acrylics. Most manufacturers produce thinners for use with their own ranges and to be absolutely safe you should stick with these. Water and alcohol will act as a thinner with most paint ranges, but will not always give such good results and it is not always possible to mix acrylic paints from different manufacturers.
Traditional acrylic paints for artists come in tubes similar to oil and water color paints.
Acrylic paints have been available for a very long time, but traditionally were used by artists for painting pictures. Acrylics came as a thick paste in tubes which was either applied with a palette knife, or thinned with water for use by brush. When specific ranges were introduced for modelers in small pots, their low odour and low toxicity were emphasised rather than any of their other qualities. This gave the impression that they were suited to younger modellers and not equal to the existing enamel paints used by ‘serious’ modelers.
Modelling Enamels Paint
Modelling enamels were the first type of paint to be specifically produced for modelers. This products colours made to exactly match military aircraft and vehicles was revolutionary and welcomed with open arms by modelers worldwide.
Like acrylics they cover well and produce a durable finish. They are not as user friendly as acrylics because they have to be thinned with spirits that are inflammable, toxic and smell bad. Enamels have the advantage that they are slower drying and even after they have become touch dry they can be softened again and removed with spirits which makes them less stressful when used in airbrushes.
Lacquers Modelling Paint (Cellulose)
- Highly toxic
- Very strong smelling
- Fast drying, Very flammable.
- Hard, durable, shiny finish (although some flat lacquers are available).
Cellulose paints are widely used in the auto industry and when you consider how hard wearing the paint job on a car has to be, you will realize how durable lacquer paints can be.
Because lacquers are very fast drying, highly toxic, flammable and very unforgiving they can be a real pain to use. However, they are popular with some modellers. The shiny hard wearing coat is ideal for auto models – particularly radio control which need to survive the real world. Lacquers are also great for realistic metallic finishes and one of the most popular ranges of metallic lacquers is made by Alclad. Another range of lacquer paints popular with modelers is the ‘Mr Color’ range from Gunze Sangyo (not to be confused with their ‘Mr Hobby’ paint range). Tamiya produce a range of lacquer spray cans and Testors produce some clear lacquer coats under their Model Master range.
There is a weird contradiction with lacquer paints and plastic modelling. Cellulose melts plastic, so you might think that you would not want to get a lacquer paint in direct contact with the plastic surface. However, there are some lacquer based spray primers. Because lacquer spray is so thin, it dries within seconds before it does any damage to the plastic surface, but it just has enough time to key into the plastic giving it very good grip.
Lacquers will almost certainly need to be applied very thin by spray can or airbrush in a very well ventilated area and with a protective mask. Use only cellulose thinners and use them well and often if you value your airbrush. Alcohol, water and acrylic thinners will have no effect on lacquer paints except to make an dreadful mess.
Due to their flammability many mail order and Internet shops will not ship them airmail so you might have to find a local source. Lacquer's history Wikipedia.
Oil Paints For Modelling
Oil paints come as a thick paste in metal tubes like toothpaste. Some artists may apply the paint thickly with a palette knife, but modellers will always have to add considerable amounts of thinner to get the paint to a consistency useful for scale modelling. They can be thinned with linseed oil which makes them glossy and slow to dry, or turps which makes them more matt/flat and speeds up the drying time (although it is almost impossible to get a true matt/flatt finish with oil paints).
Only a tiny amount of oil paint is mixed with a lot of thinner to make a wash.
Typically 5% paint to 95% thinner. For modelling purposes, oils are almost exclusively used for brush application. They are popular with figure painters because they have a very slow drying time so can be blended giving soft edges. They are also frequently used for detail painting, filters & washes. Oils would not be considered suitable for painting a whole model.
Oil paints can seem expensive, but good quality oils are very thick and dense so last a very, very long time With regard to quality, it should be noted that many of the better known manufacturers of oils (Winsor & Newton, Daler Rowney) make oil paints in two qualities.
The most important feature of water colours is that they never become permanent. Even when completely dry they can be removed and washed away with water. This apparent disadvantage is what makes some modellers love them. They are of no use for painting the main body of a model, but can be very useful for weathering, or applying a wash to show up surface details or panel lines. Provided the model has been given a protective coat of varnish, the modeller can experiment with the watercolours in the knowledge that if the finished look is not good, then it can be washed away and they can start again. Although water colours are not permanent, they can be sealed in with a coat of varnish when the modeller is satisfied with the result.
Water colours are sold in two forms. They come as a paste in tubes, like oil paints, but the tubes are often smaller. They are also available in blocks often sold as sets. The blocks are called pans or half-pans depending on their size. These blocks are basically dried paint, but as mentioned above, water colours can always be brought into liquid form again with the addition of water. The pans are very portable so are popular with water colour artists who paint in the field. Modellers will probably find the tubes more easy to use.
Mixing Different Paints
Enamels mix well with each other, even different brands and all can be thinned with white spirit or turps. The same applies to oil paints. Most enamels also seem to mix well with oil paints.
All acrylics can be thinned with water although the manufacturer’s own thinner may do a better job. Some acrylics can be thinned with isopropryl alcohol although the only advantage over the proper thinner is that it is cheaper. Acrylics from one brand may mix with those from another, sometimes they will not and will form into lumps. If you really need to mix two brands of acrylics, then do a thorough test first and see how the mixture dries.
Watercolors should be thinned only with water and not mixed with any other type of paint. From time to time, manufacturers change their paint formula, so even if a mixture worked some time in the past, do not assume that it will always be so.
Drying & Curing
It is normally possible to airbrush thin coats of paint one after another as soon as the previous coat has lost its sheen. Much more care is needed with brush painting when the coats are thicker and the brush may dislodge the previous paint layer.
It is also important to avoid sealing in a coat of paint that has not fully dried with another coat of a different type. For example, if putting a coat of acrylic varnish over a layer of enamel paint or vice versa you need to really sure that the coat being covered has fully cured.
By KRIS scalemodelguide