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what paint for what airbrush thread

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Glenderg
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Instead of brining the other thread completely off topic, i thought i'd throw down a few notes on paint and how it affects your decision for what airbrush to purchase. This is not intended as an "enamel vs acrylic" discussion.

I took some time to take photographs of paints to inform rather than use handy marketing snaps from the web. I hope this info is of some use to the younger brigade who may be assembling a paint collection or those who are are thinking of getting an airbrush.

 

In the interest of supporting the home grown retailers, I'd like to include availability and cost per pot, so if I don't have you listed post or pm, I'll update the thread. Every little helps.

 

Acrylics

 

Tim Shackleton has a whole chapter on paint in his book on weathering techniques, so i'll briefly sum it up.

 

Acrylic paint consists of particles of paint suspended in water, which never dissolve completely with the medium, and is why you will see separation of water and paint in a tin left for some time. Acrylic is a plastic, a polymer emulsion, the medium it is suspended in being the emulsifier. One is a plastic (from oil) the other water, or a derivative medium (water-based). How they work is best left to Mr. White. Acrylic paints generally break up into various dilutions, some which love water, like watercolours, others that don't - like artists acrylic. Avoid both for airbrushing, they are not designed to be fired out of a gun at high pressure. The paint I want to focus on is the variety you can buy in the Modelshop, Marks, Easons, ModelshopBelfast. Now let me get to the separation part. Some paints are better than others at avoiding this and i'll get to the products shortly. As the particles of water and acrylic leave the airbrush at high pressure, much of the water evaporates. As these two media separate, particles stick to poorly engineered airbrush nozzles, in the microscopic grooves left behind at manufacture. These will build up creating a little pile obstructing the flow. I find the more a paint is willing to separate in its tin, the more hassle you'll have later on.

 

Acrylic paints then...

 

Vallejo - or - Model Colour

 

DSCF6684.jpg

 

Both the paints above have been shaken for a good minute, but still produce this "snot". Not ideal for airbrushing small amounts of colour, but if you can decant it into another pot to mix and thin, all the better.

 

This stuff loves separation, will clog readily a cheap airbrush, but it's colour depth is great. Perfect dispensing nozzle for airbrushes, no wastage or spillage. Not readily available here on the high street, and sometimes labels do not match the contents. My Algal green is battleship grey..! For the novice I'd steer clear - to find a colour to suit a particular rail livery you may have to buy several to see which is best. 17ml tubs though, and they don't take up much room.

 

DSCF6685.jpg

 

That's the green one on the right....!

 

Available from :

 

The Model Shop, Capel Street, Dublin 1 - €2.80 ea

Any Other Retailer - ?

 

Humbrol

 

 

DSCF6688.jpg

 

 

The older type love the clogging, and are better suited to hand painting for figures. ( the ones at the back) However the more recent versions are excellent, especially the authentic rail colour variety. Readily available from most retailers here, and I'm sure if you wanted a batch purchase a deal could be done. The only way to assemble a paint collection quickly. 14ml tubs like their enamel cousins, and same size so if you have a drawer with separations to accept both even better. Accurate painted lids make these really good value when looking for a colour in a hurry.

 

Available from :

 

The Model Shop, Capel Street,

The Model Shop, Belfast,

Marks Models, Almost Nationwide,

Banba/Toymaster outlets,

Any Other Retailer - ?

 

Tamiya

 

DSCF6690.jpg

 

Lovely smelling paints, which are in an acrylic medium rather than water, and go on well. Domestic authorities tend to mention the smell though. Not easy to find, usually in bargain buckets, and rather expensive relatively. The nice little glass bottles only come with 10ml, opposed to 14ml normally, so a bit of a swizz.

 

Available from :

 

The Model Shop, Belfast,

Marks Models, Almost Nationwide,

Banba/Toymaster outlets,

Any Other Retailer - ?

 

Games Workshop

 

DSCF6687.jpg

 

These paints never seem to separate and generally do not clog, though it's not easy to get consistent dilution to suit airbrushes. Also at 4eu for 12ml, it's poor value. Also the colour range would not be as wide as the guys above, with highly saturated colours, more suited to lazer wielding orcs than brake vans.

 

Available from :

 

Games "Hey, what orc are you painting then (get away from me freak...grrr)" Workshop - €4.00

Free pain in the ass from the spotty kid with every purchase.

 

Revell Acrylic

 

DSCF6696.jpg

 

I like these a lot, good square pots - hard to knock over after a beer or two, and the lid doubles as a brush holder, - most importantly - the paint does not separate. My only complaint is that the sticker on the lid doesn't always match the contents accurately, but this could be from shop soiling and age. The big upside is that it is in an 18ml jar and I find the yellows and orange tones to suit Irish Rail colours. If I were to restart my acrylic paint collection again, I'd go with Revell for brush and airbrush work.

 

Available from :

 

Banba/Toymaster outlets

Any Other Retailer?

 

Lastly, there are acrylic mediums out there - Tamiya and Windsor & Newton. I have yet to see Tamiya for sale here, but I believe it is excellent. Rather than using water to dilute, it's a specialized formula to try and blend the paint and carrier more effectively, so less clogging. I uses the Windsor & Newton one, and it does a great job.

 

Des noted once that denatured alcohol also works fine, but I assume that's only available from chemists. The alcohol evaporates nearly instantly on contact with the surface, for quicker times between coats.

 

Enamels

 

Enamel paint generally has a different molecular make-up than acrylic, whereby the solution which dilutes it becomes a constituent part of the paint rather than a carrier. However, there are two different formats when it comes to enamel paint that aren't such an issue whit acrylics. Matt and Gloss. No, not a poor boy band from the mid eighties, but two different paint formulas which behave completely differently, particularly in the tinlet.

 

Matt paint generally has thicker particles which, when suspended in a thinner, and gravity effects same, means it falls to the bottom of the tin. It may never harden, but the long it stays in the pot, the more stirring is required to re-agitate the paint and make it useful. Matt paint, prior to airbrushing, requires a hell of a lot more time stirring to ensure you will not get gummed up in an airbrush. Cocktail sticks and fancy coffee stirrers aren't worth a fiddlers for waking up the paint - grab a fat paint brush that has seen better days and hammer the crap out of it. Lumps will be stuck to the bad brush. Be sure to transfer the "good paint" to another pot, via the brush, and then thin. Don't take matt paint direct from the pot, or else you'll get textured bits like orange peel coming out the end of you airbrush. I have a 25 year old pot of Humbrol 82 - the Gurkha colour - and the Gurkha mentality. It just keeps coming back for more punishment.

 

Gloss paint has a different compound make up, though a lot heavier in parts per million than matt paint, has a finer solution. Rarely will you find a tinlet of gloss paint that has separated, this is commonplace with it's matt cousin . It also contains extras which enhance colour, glossiness, and at times metal particles to produce silver, metal, and bronze. With gloss paints, the main drawback is dilution - a crimson red gloss will be as thick as snot, and a silver will be as thick as kids snot. This has to do with the components added above. The way I work out the dilution for the above paints is that if its an old colour that would appeal to a 40 year old, thin it 4 to 1. If it would appeal to a 10 year old, thin it 1 to 1. Not scientific at all, but its my non patented Snot Scale. It's easier to thicken paint in the airbrush environment than thin it. Thin paint won't adhere to anything.

 

So sum up with enamel paints, matt paint is really enjoyable to work with, though if from an old tinlet, needs to treated with caution - and gloss paint it is the easiest formula for airbrushing, without question. Whether you stick to the Snot Scale or not is your choice! Thankfully the range of enamel paint falls doesn't vary as much as acrylic. If you have good ventilation and a 3M mask, patience to wait between coats drying, enamels are the way to airbrush.

Edited by Glenderg
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Richie Tim Shackleton is a highly regarded weathering and painting expert along with people like Ian Rathbone and Martyn Welch and they have all written about the subject. You touch on an important fact regarding the needles. The high end airbrushes use precision engineering in the manufacture of their airbrushes. The cheaper brushes under analysis are not engineered to the same standard, therefore the needles are often pitted and have an orange peel effect on the surface. I'm not going to add anything to your op as you have covered everything that matters.

 

I will say that when using varnishes use the paint manufacturers varnish and don't mix paint and varnish from different manufacturers as this can cause a yellowing effect in years to come. People don't release dvd's or articles in the written media without years of experience or experimentation and these guys know their stuff. Learning how to mix colors to produce a particular color are also very important. I can't wait for part two and happy new year to you also Richie.

 

Rich,

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Humbrol

 

DSCF6692.jpg

 

These tinlets are the standard bearer of enamel paint, we probably all have them as leftovers from Saab Viggens or Bristol Beaufighters. The ones above span a thirty year period, and are all in working condition. Prices vary from "stolen from easons limerick 1987" to "€2.40 Easons limerick 2007" As a product, they have undergone a bit of a transformation in the last few years, and I'm endeavouring to replace the aul' wans. Matt paints can still be a bit cantakerous, but the gloss versions are great. Metallic though could do with some help.

 

Available from:

 

The Model Shop, Belfast,

Marks Models, Almost Nationwide,

Banba/Toymaster outlets,

Any Other Retailer - ?

 

Revell

 

DSCF6691.jpg

 

These can be found at great value in Banba/Toymaster stores - and as long as you make a note of the equivalent humbrol colour on the pot lid, you won't go wrong. I've generally had less problems with the Matt paints from the Revell range, but they have much longer drying times. Requires a lot of tinkering with dilution for airbrushing and can have a lot of wastage as a result. Same applies to Humbrol above.

 

Available from:

 

Banba/Toymaster outlets, €1.50

Any Other Retailer - ?

 

Railmatch

DSCF6694.jpg

 

After reading about these for years, I discovered these for sale a few years ago in the ModelShopBelfast, and everytime I pop in, I pick up a bottle, irrespective of colour. They are perhaps the finest paints for weathering with an airbrush, particularly for a beginner. The colours they generate, and their dilution makes them an excellent starting point for dirt, be it a little squirt, or an overall blast. I've never had any trouble with them, and though they are not cheap, they are excellent. A little really goes a long way with these guys, and airbrushes love them. However, the colour range is limited to dirt etc. Perfect for Irish Rail.

 

Available from:

 

The Model Shop, Belfast,

Any Other Retailer - ?

 

Jim Poots Paints

 

DSCF6695.jpg

 

At Raheny I picked up two tinlets of what I believe to be heritage CIE colours. Forgetting about my discomfort with the colour of the LSD green, they are perhaps the finest paints I've ever put into an airbrush. A quick stir and the colour in the tin matches that of the tin lid. That can't be said of all the paints above. No lumps, bits stuck to the end. My only trouble with these is that there is no text on the outside to remind me if its early or late CIE green etc. etc. I should have marked it on, but I thought my memory was good. :cheers:

 

Available from:

 

Jim Poots - Fairs and Shows (?) open to correction.

 

Conclusion:

 

There are obviously ranges I am not including, like Phoenix Precision, but the ones above are the only ranges I have experience with. This is not meant to be a definitive list or a "I know it all" thread, but I have 30 years of inhaling this stuff with over 1200 tinlets from all the ranges above. I'd like to include the thoughts from Anto, GeorgeConna, Seamus, and any other "auld hand" airbrushers here, if they'd be good enough to post some thoughts, I'll include them above.

 

Kind Regards,

 

Richie.

DSCF6688.jpg

Edited by Glenderg
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Hi Richie.

 

Two questions for you please as I understand you like Vallejo acrylics for air brush use.

 

  1. I was browsing the Vallejo web site, but got rather confused by their vast range of different products. Within their modelling range they have over six sub-ranges including 'Model Color' (designed for hand brushing) and 'Model Air' (designed for air brushing) according to their web site. Would you recommend both, or just the 'Model Air' range for air brushing?
    .
  2. If yes, would you recommend their basic 16 colour set (71.178) which includes the primary colours, or their basic 8 colour set (71.174) which also includes the primary colours as a good starter set for air brush use and colour mixing?

Thanks in advance.

 

Noel

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Model Colour is undiluted paint, Model Air is pre-thinned. It really doesn't bother me if I have to thin out the Model Colour paints. Dump the whole lot out into a little bowl, thin to suit, and syringe it back in. Vallejo have a their own thinners, but water is fine. Either or, as I said, but if you're not fully comfortable with thinning, Model Air would be the one to use.

 

Both ranges can be sat on shelves for a time, and you'll get separation of pigment and carrier fluid. Shaking well is not good enough, you'll have to get in there with a busted brush and make sure the mix is even.

 

I'd be inclined to go for the 16 colour set, as many can be used for weathering, buffer beams and so on.

 

Buying paints online is fine if you're replacing a known colour, not good for trying to colour match. (mithril.ie supply at a good price in Ireland) and Gamersworld on Jervis Street have the best selection I know of in a shop. They carry other brands too, so it's not all Wehrmacht Feldgrau tones etc. HTH. R.

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Model Colour is undiluted paint, Model Air is pre-thinned. It really doesn't bother me if I have to thin out the Model Colour paints. Dump the whole lot out into a little bowl, thin to suit, and syringe it back in. Vallejo have a their own thinners, but water is fine. Either or, as I said, but if you're not fully comfortable with thinning, Model Air would be the one to use.

 

Both ranges can be sat on shelves for a time, and you'll get separation of pigment and carrier fluid. Shaking well is not good enough, you'll have to get in there with a busted brush and make sure the mix is even.

 

I'd be inclined to go for the 16 colour set, as many can be used for weathering, buffer beams and so on.

 

Buying paints online is fine if you're replacing a known colour, not good for trying to colour match. (mithril.ie supply at a good price in Ireland) and Gamersworld on Jervis Street have the best selection I know of in a shop. They carry other brands too, so it's not all Wehrmacht Feldgrau tones etc. HTH. R.

 

Thanks Richie. That makes perfect sense. Happy to mix thinners. Noel

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