Right now I have a small set of enamels and am thinking of switching
to acrylics before building up a large collection of supplies, what
are the pros and cons regarding each?
From what I've read acrylics sound so much easier to deal with but
what are the drawbacks? I had to thin my enamels and used naptha for
lack of a proper thinner and thought how much more convienent it would
be to use water. (the naptha worked well though).
I'm essentially a novice revisiting a hobby I enjoyed as a kid and
will be dealing with styrene kits.
ps- I will be using an airbrush if that matters.
No real problems really.
Just remember that acrylics dry a LOT faster than
solvent based (they are ALL enamels) in your airbrush
and they need to be thinned a little more.
Generally you want the consistency of skim milk.
Also, I live in a climate where it goes from very
dry to very humid. For the very dry an acrylic extender
really helps. The humid environment poses the problems
of improper drying of the paint, and increased fisheye
and orange peel. This is where a spray booth helps out
a lot. check your local weather and dont spray when the
temprature and dew point are within ten degrees of each
other. Also helps to clean airbrush are higher pressures
60 psi works fine.
For brush painting, thin as above, and just make one pass
on the object. It sets up so quickly that another pass with
the brush pulls/rips at the finish.... A real pain but with
practice, you can get a beautiful almost sprayed on finish
with a brush :)
Testors acrylic paint thinner seems to work VERY well with
Poly Scale, Tamiya, and Gunze Sangyo acrylics.
A CLEAN surface is also a must for acrylics......
For me the smell of Enamels and the headache thay cause it enough reason to
make me forget about them.
I have noticed that the flatness of Revell enamel is much better that of
Pactra acrylics. I don't recomend Pactra - thay are cheap (al least in
Poland) but I don't like the glossiness of the paints that I have bought as
Tamyia acrylics on the other hand have similar nice flat look - I can
One more thing - revell enamel changes from flat to gloss easily when
surface is touched/polished. Same is for Tamyia though it is a bit harder to
polish it. Still it is ofter enough to touch to get a glossy spot (and I
don't mean dirty-greasy hands). In my opionion such surface feature can be
used to get very nice look of partally flat- partially glossy surface.
Newsflash for you here.
When airborne, the fumes from acrylic paints
are just as bad as the fumes from solvent based.
Not bad when brush painting, but every bit as
bad when spray painting...........
To put it another way, you want to avoid breathing
fine particulate matter in airborne suspension.....
True. But the big disadvantage of acrylic paint over enamel is
adhesion. You can't mask acrylic the way you can enamel. (Anybody who
says you can has been spray painting acrylic for so long they forgot
what it's like to be able to mask anything, anytime, and never, ever see
any paint lifted by the masking tape.)
On the other hand, new technologies make masking acrylic relatively
painless. Low-tac masking tape (like a Post-it Note) is available from
3M as well as (very) low tac masking fluid (Micro Mask). Tamiya makes a
low tac masking tape that's available in hobby shops.
(Note: if you brush on a coat of Microscale Metal Foil Adhesive on the
bare plastic, allow it to dry, then spray the acrylic paint over it,
even old Poly-S paint will stick like enamel and you can mask it with
anything and the mask will not lift it!)
I recommend using Model Master Acryl or Polyscale paints. I'm in the
USA so these are the brands I can get at my local shop. They use newer
technology (acryl) than the old acrylics and they just work better.
Avoid Tamiya paint. Tamiya is good paint for kids in Japan who want one
coat coverage and instant drying paint. For adults, it's very poor.
Hard to spray or brush, and requires a toxic thinner. If you must use
Tamiya paint, get some stuff called Liquitex Slow Dry Acrylic Medium
(liquid) and experiment around with it. Adding a small amount to Tamiya
paint causes it to dry slower and this makes it much easier to spray or
I've tried the Vallejo paints that some folks rave about and I was not
impressed. I did some experiements with this paint and it resembled the
Tamiya paint in many (unpleasant) ways. I paint with brushes and this
paint that is "formulated for brush painting" had all the disadvantages
of Tamiya-- dries too fast, poor adhesion, and not self leveling.
Gunze Sangyo is better paint but the lids stick on the bottles (for me)
and I have to use dynamite to remove them. The neighbors are beginning
to become concerned...
I use Tamiya to brush only. I don't know what do you mean 'one coat coverage
and instant drying paint'. Not thinned tamiya dries slower than Pactra and
much slower than Revell enamel paint. In fact Revell enamel is unusable when
One coat is not enough event with not thinned Tamiya.
Maybe acrylic thinner is also toxic but at least doesn't smell that
horribly. I think it is alcohol based and perhaps not as toxic as enamel
Never tested Model Master though - I am planning to do so soon.
ps.And no, I am not a kid from Japan.
I must have been doing too long then, I dont have any lifting
problems anymore because..... I mask, then paint then lift
the mask right then and there. (within the first hour)
Key with masking over acrylics is not to let the masking
medium stay on there long. Also use frisket paper. Excellent
low tack, and clear.
Actually the Tamiya, and Gunze Sangyo are same technology.
the difference being that they expect you to thin with a
50/50 paint/thinner ratio average. I love them and the PS.
You can actually thin these paints to 70/30 thinner/paint
ratio and spray at 15psi for fine work. Finish is superb !
I have just started using the MM Acryl, so far I like.
I have several of their airbrush only paints, and at low
psi they work well for small stuff. thats about it. They
are a fine grind though, and very smooth. Very thin tho...
I never have a problem with ANY lid's sticking (except
Humbrol)because I store all paint upright, NEVER shake
it, always clean the cap on opening, and always stir the
paint. For airbrushing, I always mix thinner/retarder
then paint, mix in small container, seal paint jar, then
add to airbrush (my new :)iwata HP-B, more on this puppy later)
I also now prime models with Gunze Mr. Surfacer 1000
Acrylic paint loves to stick to that no end ! Though
a clean plastic surface is probably the best. It does
etch the plastic.
I use ModelMaster Acryl thinner for all of the above
acrylic paints. ModelMaster Airbrush thinner and or
Floquil solvent thinner, for solvent based paint.
I use Liquitex FLOW-AID Flow enhancer for acrylics
I use Floquil retarder for solvent based paints.
Clearcoat with either Floquil Crystal Cote (awesome !!)
or Testors Glosscoat, either out of the can, or sprayed
in container then airbrushed.
I use Testors Dullcoat for final, and or Gunze Semi Gloss.
For better or worse, I have around 500+ jars of paint
around here. (better than the 50+ gallons of various
house paint I have sitting around also !!!!)
The big thing I have against acrylics is that it dries almost too fast
for airbrushing. If I get a phone call and let the brush sit while I
answer it, the nozzle clogs. ANY distraction that prevents IMMEDIATE
cleaning of the brush and I have a really bad cleanup to do. Acrylics
are not as easy to clean up as enamel. Now, some have mentioned using a
retarder in the acrylic. I have not tried this yet. I do keep acrylics
around for brush work.
I found the real key to airbrush cleaning is
60 psi. At that pressure even water works lol...
But the real issue is immediate through cleaning.
(like using corrosive ammo, or blackpowder)
Thin the paint to where you you can easily spray it
at 20 psi. It gets easier to clean out of airbrush
For acrylic paints it's called an extender, and or flow
enhancer. I mix 4/1 thinner/extender, THEN add paint.
This is for dry to very dry climate conditions. For
regular conditions, not necessary. More important to
pay attention to your local dew point and temperature !!
Very humid conditions lead to increased fisheye, and
orange peel. Just a nearby fan works wonders to helping
the situation. Spray booth, spraying indoors the best.
I have seen an airbrush spray ICE on an 80 deg day
in the sun, with a 75 deg dewpoint........
I tried Xtracrylics not so long ago but went back to enamels.
Despite intense testing I could not find a solution for the acrylic
paint drying up in my airbrush.
I will only use the semi-gloss white again (for wheel wells, etc.) as
it covers any primed surface better than Humbrol's Flat white, let
alone gloss white.
For any large scale paint jobs I will stick to my enamels.
Extra Dark Sea Grey as an acrylic was quite managable too, but only
with cleaning the airbrush nozzle every minute or so.
The satin varnish was a complete mess. Didn't work at all.
So it's still Xtracolor enamels for me.
Just my opinion an experiences.
*time is an enemy*
You must have considerable skill and experience with Tamiya paint. I'm
still a bit unhappy over having bought quite a few bottles of Tamiya
paint, all at once, assuming that the name "Tamiya" guaranteed that I
would like it. I didn't (as you can tell).
I can brush Tamiya, with some effort and planning. The stuff I have
seems to dry almost instantly. I haven't seen "Pactra" paint in years.
I have never seen a bottle of Revell paint. And I've been around-- to
a rodeo and world's fair, anyway. I assume that maybe you are in
Europe? Maybe the paint is different???
dancho wrote in
I use Tamiya exclusively for airbrushing.
Which gives a superb result every time, but don't seem to get the paint to
stick to the model when I brush it.
One sroke with the brush is kinda OK, but the second removes the paint
With Pactra (and all other paints I use) I donot have that problem.
I've had these problems reasonably bad with my
MM Pro, and MM Aztec airbrushes. Not quite
so bad with the Passche VL, and almost not at
all with my iwata HP-B Out of the four I have,
only the iwata handles acrylics no problem.
Using the FLOW-AID does help here I guess....
Apparently you've been using enamels so long you've forgotten what it was
like when you first tried to apply them or mask them. I've had enamels
lifted by masking tape, until I learned what not to do. I had to learn
again when I switched to acrylics, but it was worth it.
Yes, acrylics have different characteristics, so you can't use exactly the
same techniques as for enamels. It took time for you to learn how to use
enamels, and it'll takes time for you to learn how to use acrylics.
Not in my experience. I find all three brands of acrylic are equally good.
There's very little difference in drying time and adhesion. If you're
seeing a difference, you must be doing something different. And Tamiya
Acrylic does NOT require a toxic thinner -- in fact, I use the same stuff
for all three: windshield washer fluid. (Are you sure you didn't look at a
bottle of Tamiya's enamel thinner by mistake?)
That's good advice for any acrylic. Gives you more working time when
brushing, reduces clogging when airbrushing, and helps the paint even
itself out for a smooth finish.
Another tip: If you have to cover a large area, use a wider brush. I like
to use a 1/2" wide brush with a chisel-shaped tip. It lets me finish
before the paint dries, and I don't have to overlap strokes as much.
The only adhesion problems I've had with enamels is covering aluminum or
silver. I do occasionally have problems with those, but not with other
colors of enamel.
Wayne C. Morris wrote:
>>>To put it another way, you want to avoid breathing
>>>fine particulate matter in airborne suspension.....
>>True. But the big disadvantage of acrylic paint over enamel is
>>adhesion. You can't mask acrylic the way you can enamel. (Anybody who
>>says you can has been spray painting acrylic for so long they forgot
>>what it's like to be able to mask anything, anytime, and never, ever see
>>any paint lifted by the masking tape.)
> Apparently you've been using enamels so long you've forgotten what it was
> like when you first tried to apply them or mask them. I've had enamels
> lifted by masking tape, until I learned what not to do. I had to learn
> again when I switched to acrylics, but it was worth it.
> Yes, acrylics have different characteristics, so you can't use exactly the
> same techniques as for enamels. It took time for you to learn how to use
> enamels, and it'll takes time for you to learn how to use acrylics. >
>>I recommend using Model Master Acryl or Polyscale paints. I'm in the
>>USA so these are the brands I can get at my local shop. They use newer
>>technology (acryl) than the old acrylics and they just work better.
>>Avoid Tamiya paint. Tamiya is good paint for kids in Japan who want one
>>coat coverage and instant drying paint. For adults, it's very poor.
>>Hard to spray or brush, and requires a toxic thinner.
> Not in my experience. I find all three brands of acrylic are equally good.
> There's very little difference in drying time and adhesion. If you're
> seeing a difference, you must be doing something different. And Tamiya
> Acrylic does NOT require a toxic thinner -- in fact, I use the same stuff
> for all three: windshield washer fluid. (Are you sure you didn't look at a
> bottle of Tamiya's enamel thinner by mistake?)
>>If you must use Tamiya paint, get some stuff called Liquitex Slow Dry
>>Acrylic Medium (liquid) and experiment around with it. Adding a small
>>amount to Tamiya paint causes it to dry slower and this makes it much
>>easier to spray or brush.
> That's good advice for any acrylic. Gives you more working time when
> brushing, reduces clogging when airbrushing, and helps the paint even
> itself out for a smooth finish.
> Another tip: If you have to cover a large area, use a wider brush. I like
> to use a 1/2" wide brush with a chisel-shaped tip. It lets me finish
> before the paint dries, and I don't have to overlap strokes as much.
I don't use anything but acrylics and I always paint with a brush. I
don't mask anything. I use decal material for some tricky things and
glue metal foil to models for unpainted planes. It works good enough
But once upon a time (thirty years ago) I used Testors, Pactra Military
Flats and Humbrol enamels in an airbrush thinned with laquer thinner.
YEE HAW! Those were the days. Of course, my lungs and liver could take
more abuse in those days....
I never, ever had ye olde enamels lift up due to masking. Not one time.
None. Zero incidence. I used plain old masking tape that you buy at
the hardware store and it stuck to the surface with bite like an
aligator. You could mask some fine, fine lines with it. I used a
swivel knife to cut camoflage masks, placing the tape on a clean piece
of window glass and cutting the pattern freehand.
But times change and paints change. I suppose that the enamel paints
available now may not have the adhesive properties of the old-timers.
Maybe. But, truly, I am beginning to suspect-- just suspect-- that your
acrylic paint does not peel away with the mask because you have such a
beautiful, child-like faith in it. Truly, it is *faith alone* that
holds that paint to the surface! Hallelujah!