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A lot of us are using acrylic paints in our modeling. I felt we needed a central location where our various tips and techniques could go, instead of being buried in one of our build logs.

 

One area I see time and again is the proper thinning for airbrushing. Coming from a model railroad and aircraft background, I've seen a few different ways to deal with this. I can't reproduce this pamphlet on our site, but you can get it here.   It doesn't cost you anything to log onto the site, but you do need to log in. Sorry about that.

https://model-railroad-hobbyist.com/subscribers-only/painting/acrylics

 

The whole pamphlet is excellent, but chapters 3 Mixing and Storage & 4 Formulas for Thinners apply here. They address Modelmaster, Badger and Vallejo paints. Like a lot of hobbyists, model railroaders were put out by Testor's when they dropped the Floquil/PollyScale lines. This pamphlet was done to help folks move into acrylics. And many have adopted the Badger and Vallejo paints. Hence the extensive charts for converting the old paints into these newer acrylics. I'd like to see more on the Tamiya paint, since the big box craft stores seem to stock them around here.

 

I've been on another site that also addresses home made thinners, but parts of that site are undergoing renovation and I can't find the appropriate page to link to. More to come. And please add to these tips and techniques.

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Thanks for putting this thread on.

For thosee who decide to paint with brushes, here is a handy tip when using water-based paints (or paints that can be successfully thinned by water, such as the Valejo paints):  in orde to preserve your brush, use a shallow saucer or dish with a puddle of water in the middle.  Place your brushes on the edge of the saucer / dish with the hairs submerged in the water.  That way when you do apply paint the water will aidd in filling the spaces between the hairs with paint much quicker, and at the same time allow for the tip of the brush to remain in shape for much longer.

When finished, wash out your brushes with water, rubb the excess water off on a paper towel, then store the brushes HAIRS UP and let dry naturally.

This technique works well if you use your brushes regularly.  There is a tip on storing your brushes long term, but I need to double check before I post it here (do not want to mix up tips for oil paint with acrylics - both media are very different in nature and application, and both require different techniques to ensure longevity of your brushes).

 

Hope this helps

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Mark, thanks for the pinning. Lou and LH, thanks for reading and adding techniques. I hope we continue to build on this.

 

I want to dig up additional info on using some of the other acrylics, such as Tamiya and Lifecolor.

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Here's another website with a short article about making homemade acrylic thinner: https://www.cybermodeler.com/tips/thinner.shtml

 

He has a longer blurb here about painting aircraft, but since we seem to have merged builds of plastic ships many techniques will work for us, too. He also addresses airbrushes in the article. The link: https://www.cybermodeler.com/tips/painting.shtml 

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Canute/mtaylor, thanks for posting/pinning. It seems though that one needs to sign up to the Web-site in the first post ...

 

Personally, I prefer to use those bottle of paints pre-thinned for use in the air-brush. Much less hassle, albeit there is a somewhat narrower range of colours. However, as I am building only 19th century models, this has not really bothered me - no one knows exactly what colours on a particular ship looked like and normally colours would have been mixed on site/on board anyway ;)

 

I use these pre-thinned paints also for washes applied with the brush.

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The technique I have found most valuable when brushing with acrylics is the use of a "wet palette".

I came across this method when I was painting Warhammer figures, it is great for mixing colours and/or thinning paints.

 

All you need can be found in the kitchen; 

a waterproof base - a plastic margarine tub lid is ideal,

a sheet or two of kitchen roll/paper,

a piece of greaseproof/ baking paper

and some water.

 

Fold up the kitchen roll so its 4 layers thick, place in the base and flood with water. Pour off the excess water and place the greaseproof paper on top.

Put a dollop of the required paint/s on the paper and mix/thin to your hearts content. The paint will stay wet far, far longer than it would on an ordinary palette.

It works well with Humbrol, Tamiya, Citadel and Artists type acrylics. I haven't tried it with other manufacturers paints but I can see no reason why it would not work with any acrylics.

 

1205.thumb.jpg.25c978b75f68ea778b7de6b4f1e25892.jpg

 

 

Another acrylic tip, or rather non-acrylic tip, is that for washes and drybrushing, don't use acrylics.

I have had much better results with artists Oil paints thinned with white spirit. As they take longer to dry than acrylics they are much more controllable and subtle, giving little or no "tide mark" when the wash dries.

 

Cheers

Paul

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I am still building my first ship model, so I still have no experience with wood and acrylic. but have done miniatures, plastics and other crafts. 

 

I have to second the wet palette. By far the best way to use acylics. I use Vallejo paints and they work well with this method. 

 

Flow Aid helps thin out and makes washes 

 

Retarder Medium will help slow the drying time to help with blending and making fades. 

 

Great topic to have all in one place. 👍

 

cheers

Berto

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Hand brushing is a good alternative, quite satisfying as well!

I have only basic painting skills and do not want to use an airbrush. I have had excellent results with hand brushing using Valejo colours following these rules:

1. Use very good brushes, with appropriate width for the job

2. Thin the paint (should be runny but not like water), avoid heavy coats.

3. For Valejo, use the hand brushing thinner, different and better than the air brush thinner. It congeals if left so must have resin in it (this is what valejo claims so not easily reproduced at home). Get the 60 ml bottle, it is not expensive.

4. Use a bit of retarder.

5. Start from dry and end on wet. Take your time, you can go over the area 2-3 times. Avoid puddles at the edges.

6. Trust the paint! Do not go over again to "correct" or smooth out brush marks. They will disappear. You ll probably need a dozen or more coats either way.

7. Best to seal the wood, I use a water based wood sealer sanded to 400 grit

8. I use plastic pots with caps that seal pretty well and are cheap. The paint stays wet for months.

9. Use only frog tape or Tamiya tape or equivalent. The paint will bleed under ordinary masking tape or electricians tape.

10. Acrylic paint is not tough so needs to be protected with varnish or some topcoat

 

Hopefully these will be of help to some. May not work for all but I was able to paint my 80 cm hull with almost no brush marks.

 

Vaddoc

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I'm almost embarrassed to ask this.   I have a couple of questions about painting using rattle cans.  I'm starting a plastic build and haven't used rattle cans in about 40 years.  Is there any difference in using acrylics compared to the enamels and lacquers from back then?  What about thinners for brush painting... special thinner? Do they dry faster than the old enamels.  Lacquers used to dry pretty quick as I recall.

 

Yeah, basic questions but I have no knowledge of this material so thanks for any help.

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I did not like rattle cans Mark, too expensive, easy to put too heavy coats, needs a lot of masking and makes a mess. Acrylics dry incredibly fast (so they do not trap dust) but their coverage is very poor compared to enamels. I need 12 coats vs 2 for enamels. I always tell myself I ll use enamels and always end up with acrylics. The depth of colour is much greater with enamels. Use the brands' thinners, do not make your own. Valejo hand brush range is fantastic.

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On 1/30/2019 at 11:47 PM, vaddoc said:

Hand brushing is a good alternative, quite satisfying as well!

I have only basic painting skills and do not want to use an airbrush. I have had excellent results with hand brushing using Valejo colours following these rules:

1. Use very good brushes, with appropriate width for the job

2. Thin the paint (should be runny but not like water), avoid heavy coats.

3. For Valejo, use the hand brushing thinner, different and better than the air brush thinner. It congeals if left so must have resin in it (this is what valejo claims so not easily reproduced at home). Get the 60 ml bottle, it is not expensive.

4. Use a bit of retarder.

5. Start from dry and end on wet. Take your time, you can go over the area 2-3 times. Avoid puddles at the edges.

6. Trust the paint! Do not go over again to "correct" or smooth out brush marks. They will disappear. You ll probably need a dozen or more coats either way.

7. Best to seal the wood, I use a water based wood sealer sanded to 400 grit

8. I use plastic pots with caps that seal pretty well and are cheap. The paint stays wet for months.

9. Use only frog tape or Tamiya tape or equivalent. The paint will bleed under ordinary masking tape or electricians tape.

10. Acrylic paint is not tough so needs to be protected with varnish or some topcoat

 

Hopefully these will be of help to some. May not work for all but I was able to paint my 80 cm hull with almost no brush marks.

 

Vaddoc

Thanks, Vaddoc, for this great information! On #5 you say to "start dry and finish wet." I'm not sure what that means. Could you explain that part?

 

Bob

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Mark, hand-brushing of acrylics is rather difficult (at least I am not good at it), because the medium (water or water/alcohol mixtures) has a low viscosity compared to the medium in e.g. enamels (oil/organic solvent mixtures). This means that it is very difficult to apply even and thin layers with sufficient coverage - you push away the newly applied paint too quickly. There is also no time to even out the layer, as you would do for enamels/oil paints, acrylics cure just too fast (I tried my hand at artistic painting with acrylics, but am too slow - the paint cures/dries on the brush). The away around it is to apply numerous very dilute and thin layers (Vaddoc talks about up to a dozen), which is tedious and time consuming. Then there still is the risk of paint accumulating in engraved details etc.

 

The power of acrylics is in air-brushing. Compressors and spray-guns have become so cheap and ubiquitous that the investment should not really be an obstacle. I found that two to three layers are in most cases sufficient. Being lazy and not trusting my mixing capabilities, I normally use paints pre-diluted for air-brushing. They are relatively expensive, but then we don't paint square-metres. Vallejo were originally manufacturers of artists paints and their products for modellers show that. Personally, I use also a German brand (Schmincke) with a similar pedigree. The colour ranges in these pre-diluted paints are more limited than that of their other acrylics, but for 'historic' shipmodelling subjects this should not be a problem - we normally do not have to reproduce 'standard' colours as used on aircraft or military vehicles etc. For an occasional user, like me, mixing one's own colours and keeping perhaps stocks of them is not really working. The pre-mixed and -diluted paints keep in the order of years or even decades, while home-mixed ones disintegrate in the matter of weeks.

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Wefalck, to get good coverage with acrylics you really need a dozen or more coats. Thicker paint does not increase coverage, it just increases the chance of messing things up and reduces the self levelling properties of the paint.

 

Bob, dry to wet means this: If you have a surface to paint, start on one side and paint a bit. Then continue working from the unpainted surface and ending to the previously painted segment so the two blend together. Do not rework the painted surface even if you see brush marks. If you have the right dilution and the right paint, the brush marks will disappear.

 

Have a look at the following pictures. Both boats shown are very large, 1:12 and 1:10 scale.

 

This is gloss blue enamel, only 2 coats, 6h apart I think. Great coverage and depth of colour. No brush marks! The boat is about 50+cm long

enamels.jpg.097c5c4ebcaaa8a6e45862bd03313d8e.jpg

 

This is Valejo acrylic, can't remember how many coats but they were many, 15 min part. Brush paint, no brush marks! The planks in this hull are 70+ cm long

acrylic.jpg.f5429834460cc8bfbaa50a2c72057eba.jpg

This is the same hull with Valejo matt polyurethane varnish on the red and satin on blue. The brush marks are actually the matt medium in the varnish that did not distribute evenly, matt varnishes are very tempermental.

polyurethane.jpg.f59398dc6778d207d722d8f12e5b5e2b.jpg

I am actually not good at all at painting. It is the modern paints and brushes that are so good. The Valejo hand brush thinner is very different than the airbrush one and has more stuff in than alcohol and water, it actually congeals. 

No ties with the company, I just like it a lot!

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My point was that the self-levelling of certain acrylics are not very good, which is related to the viscosity of their medium and hence also the capability to keep the pigments in suspension. It seems that the Valejo hand brush thinner overcomes just that problem, if it congeals wiithout drying and initiating the cross-linking of the acrylics particles. Acrylic paints are actually very complex gels (in the physico-chemical sense).

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Thanks to everyone contributing to this topic. I'm about to start painting some areas on my Medway Longboat with Vallejo Red Acrylic Paint and this information is very helpful.

 

Vaddoc:  I would be happy to paint as well as your photos show! You mentioned that you use a water based wood sealer to prep for painting. Have you ever used any of the Vallejo Grey or Black Primers?                

 

 

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Beware that there is a difference between 'priming' and 'sealing wood'.

 

Primers are meant to increase the adhesion of paint to particular surfaces as a sort of physico-chemical go-in-between between the surface and the paint. Filled primers (as the Valejo Grey one is) also levels the surface, i.e. it covers up some of the surface roughness.

 

Wood sealers penetrate into the wood, filling (partially) the pores in the wood. They are essentially a kind of lacquer filled with say pumice dust. Thes normally dry quite hard in order to facilitate sanding. Aqueous sealers work best on dry and low-resin wood. For more resinous woods you better use an organic solvent-based sanding sealer.

 

Hence, I would prepare wooden surfaces with sanding sealers, rather than 'primers'.

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I personally like acrylics.  I just brush paint them on.  They mix easily and they’re easy to work.  


I don’t typically have issues with brush marks, but I also don’t typically use gloss paint.


Plus, techniques such as dry brushing, washing, and highlighting work very well with acrylics, to add realism and depth to a model.  I like to use faux metallic painting techniques in lieu of metallic paint (unless I’m using actual metal such as copper tape).  Weathering techniques also work great with acrylics.  However, I like to make my models look well used and a little battered because I learned and developed most of my painting and modeling techniques from 28mm wargaming.


I essentially treat my models like gigantic wargaming miniatures.

 

I primarily use Delta Ceramcoat and the other craft paints.  I like the Army Painter brushes, paints and their washes (although, I make my own washes just as frequently).

 

My Victory and Prince de Neufchatel are painted with acrylics.  I thoroughly drybrushed and weathered the Prince de Neufchatel and plan to do the same to Victory.

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6 hours ago, wefalck said:

Beware that there is a difference between 'priming' and 'sealing wood'.

 

Primers are meant to increase the adhesion of paint to particular surfaces as a sort of physico-chemical go-in-between between the surface and the paint. Filled primers (as the Valejo Grey one is) also levels the surface, i.e. it covers up some of the surface roughness.

 

Wood sealers penetrate into the wood, filling (partially) the pores in the wood. They are essentially a kind of lacquer filled with say pumice dust. Thes normally dry quite hard in order to facilitate sanding. Aqueous sealers work best on dry and low-resin wood. For more resinous woods you better use an organic solvent-based sanding sealer.

 

Hence, I would prepare wooden surfaces with sanding sealers, rather than 'primers'.

Thanks for explaining the differences between sealing and priming.

 

I understand that a sanding sealer would be used prior to sanding seal the pores and they typically dry hard which helps when sanding. Does this then leave a good surface to directly apply paint to? Since primers increase the adhesion of paint and can fill and level surfaces, it seems to me that this would be very helpful in providing a  good, smooth surface to paint on. Are there situations when a sealer is preferred and situations where a primer is preferred?

 

Bob 

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In the past I ve used a lot of humbrol or automotive primer (not good) but for wooden models is really not needed most of the time. There is no problem with adhesion and to smooth imperfections, a filler is needed. It might be useful if the colour of the underlying surface needs to change dramatically, for a large red surface applying a red or grey primer will reduce the number of coats needed. But since you can add 4 coats in an hour with acrylics, maybe not worth the cost and trouble. I usually sand away the primer leaving a thin smooth film. Never tried the Valejo primers, I ve been using the Humbrol white and grey spry can primers which I think are good but will not fill in imperfections. 

 

I like using sanding sealer as it seals the wood leaving a very smooth surface so the paint later does not soak into the wood and does not raise the grain. Painting on sealed wood is a better experience than painting raw sanded wood. I very much like the decoart/Americana water based sealer, the large bottle should last a very long time and has a very long self life. Dries in 15 min, sands very nicely. This sealer sits on top of the wood, filling the valleys and essentially levelling the surface. I usually sand the wood to 400 grit, apply a coat, sand smooth with 400 grit and repeat with a second coat. The surface should reflect light afterwards and be smooth  and slippery. No worries, the paint will adhere very nicely.

 

Never tried weathering, on my to do list!

 

Do not dismiss enamels completely, they are wonderful. Low odour mineral spirit will allow you to paint in the house but cleaning the brushes is a pain, it takes a long time to dry so attracts dust and if you leave everything on the table waiting to add another coat in 6 hours, you will inevitably spill the mineral spirit on the table/floor and the admiral will not be impressed and will ban indoor modelling activities. Much easier to use acrylics...

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This is the hull of the Deben with all imperfections filled and sealed with sealer. Actually this was sanded to 240 grit and then rubbed with 0000 steel wool. Humbrol grey primer was sprayed prior to painting. It was very nice to touch! Between various coats it was wiped with isopropyl alcohol.

1401291349_sealedwood.thumb.jpg.20aeadcc195d88335d5f324e2bfeb63d.jpg

 

 

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