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Acrylic paint tips and techniques


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A few basic rules and understanding what you are actually doing and why helps to sort the confusion - there are many roads that lead into Rome ;)  Just slapping on something, because it was written so in this or that thread is not likely to lead to Rome though ...

 

Assuming that we are talking about 'painted' wood only:

 

In principle you can put any paint on the raw (sanded) wood, but the wood will drink a lot of paint. Also, many paints take a long time to sufficiently dry/cure to let you sand them nicely - and you will need a lot of coats of paint with a lot of sanding in between.

 

The purpose of 'sanding sealer' is to close the pores quickly with something that dries fast and hard, thus allowing you to sand the wood nicely after one or max. two coats. To this end the sanding sealer is 'filled' with something such as pumice powder. Without the filling the sealer would be essentially a varnish. After sanding the filler is essentially invisible, except perhaps on very dark woods.

 

A primer is something completely different and wood is not normally 'primed'. Primers are formulated to somehow interact with the surface they are painted on in order increase the adhesion of the paint used. Thus metal primers undergo some sort of physico-chemical interaction with the bare metal surface that makes them adhere very well. In turn the primer provides the paint sufficient 'key' to attach well. Plastic primers may slightly dissolve the surface and in this way stick to it very well. Again the primer provides sufficient key for the paint to stick well.

 

Personally, I am not using any primers, as I do build only static models that are not handled afterwards. Acrylics applied with an airbrush hold onto most surfaces well enough, when applied in several thin coats. In this sense I often apply the base-coat by airbrush and then continue with a brush, depending on the circumstances. The thin base-coat provide enough key for paint-brushing.

Edited by wefalck
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If I get what you are saying @wefalck, any combination will do in the end: paint straight on the wood with lots of coats and sanding, primer straight on the wood with several coats and sanding and then the paint, sealer in 1-2 coats with sanding and then paint, sealer and then primer (if needed because of the specific paint color) and then paint. All will stick well. It is just a question of what combination works for your needs in terms of minimizing wasted coats as well as covering up imperfections. 
 

What you put on top of the paint, if anything, is there to protect the paint itself, for which I have varnish (and can get the recommended wax, although that’s glossy). 
 

Is that about it?

 

 What do you use for sealer?

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I use acrylic paints exclusively.  I seal off the wood prior to painting with shellac - it dries very quickly and seals off the wood from the acrylic primer I use without raising any of the wood's grain.  When the primer is applied there is no worry about having to knock down the wood fibers that are raised when acrylics are used w/o a sealer.  I use a primer - Badger's STYLNYLREZ not only as a primer but sometimes as the final color.  It's made in 16 different colors.  I recently did a model sailboat that won a gold medal and it was painted exclusively with STYNYLREZ as the final colors.  An added bonus I didn't have to take it home and put it in a case because a fellow modeler offered to purchase it and I said OK.

 

I used to spay the wood with water - a light coat - to raise the grain, let it dry sand and repeat until no more raising of the grain occurred then I would prime/paint w/o having to sand wood fibers between color coats.  I decided to simplify things and shellac was the answer.  Others have said sanding sealer, etc. - nothing wrong with doing it tat way - but shellac works for me.

 

 

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5 hours ago, Avi said:

Oh yes. I’ll look into renaissance wax. But isn’t that more of a glossy?

 

speaking of which, although a bit off topic, I’ve been thinking about how to protect the copper plating over the years. Due to oxidation, it’s likely to turn green. I’d heard about people putting a coat of copper paint on it. I’m wondering if gloss varnish or renaissance wax would help. 

For the copper cladding, have a look here at an ongoing discussion:   

 

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For a sanding sealer I use a German brand, Clou Schnellschleifgrundierung G1 (https://www.clou-shop.eu/clou-heimwerker/holzlacke/g1-schnellschleif-grundierung.html), but I don't think it is marketed outside the country, so this information might not be very helpful.

 

For acrylics I mainly use Vallejo model color, Vallejo model air (for spray-painting), and again a German brand: Schmincke Aerocolor.

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I also am going the Vallejo route; it was just the easiest high quality to acquire here in Israel. Although I do travel regularly to the US (well, depending on covid restrictions), and lots of Amazon ships here, most paints do not.

 

As for the Clou, I have not found it outside of Germany either; I looked in Israel, UK and US.

 

How would I evaluate the quality of a local/imported brand? Or find the right USA-based ones to order on Amazon?

 

So far, I’ve seen a lot on the decoart Americana multi purpose sealer (which is ~$5 for the 8oz bottle on Amazon but doesn’t ship here, and is about 2x that here), and then larger ones like 0.5L mylands and some local ones that come in litres or more. 
 

and I have found the rustoleum varathane premium sanding sealer

Edited by Avi
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Got in touch with the local manufacturer, turns out his product is sort of sealer that gets absorbed plus varnish in one, definitely not intended for painting or any other layer on top. 
 

Back to square one. I may have to suck it up and either buy the DecoArt or the Varathane or the Mylands. Mylands is cellulose, so thinning will be smelly. So is the varathane. Oh well. 

 

UPDATE: The Varathane is water-based, easy to clean up, no spills. I know, not as good as the cellulose, but good enough for my usage for now; trade-offs. Local importer was out, along with most of his retailers, but one still had. Ordered it, should show up in a few days.

Edited by Avi
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  • 1 month later...
  • 3 weeks later...
On 1/26/2019 at 5:59 PM, nikbud said:

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

I opened my first jar of Admiralty Paints yesterday and was using some dull black on a cannon and noticed how fast this stuff was setting up. I found Paul's post and painted 10 cannon carriages today. The good woman of the house provided all the utensils and WOW. The thinned paint (not too thinned) stayed workable and fluid for 45 minutes while I worked on the carriages. THANK YOU PAUL! 👍

Edited by Dave_E
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  • 4 months later...

Apologies if this has been covered ad nauseum elsewhere but can I ask a newbie question - is there a way for me to remove just the wash layer on a large, flat painted plastic object (cutty sark deck), all of which has been painted using vallejo acrylics? Or is it all or nothing? The wash is on top of humbrol matt acrylic varnish.

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1 hour ago, GrandpaPhil said:

Have you thought about drybrushing to add texture?

I have thought about it, quite a lot lately to be honest, but haven't really got the hang of it. If you're reflecting on my build log and the lack of texture on the deck, this is because I start with a dead smooth surface, and that's a problem. If I had a little texture the variations in tone would be working better, especially washes. At the very least the light would pick out highlights and shadows. My washes tend to come out flat i.e. I can get the silvered wood colouring, but once you stop believing your own projection, it really just looks like a flat, thin coat of greyish paint. What would be a good way to add texture right at the start, that will then be used to bring out highlights etc? I almost bought some oils today as I know these sit on the surface more, but I've never used them. I should have mentioned, I currently only use acrylics and some inks, though I did find some watercolour pencils in a drawer today, which might come in handy. But I only want the tiniest bit of texture in terms of thickness. Any suggestions? I was also going to try the opposite, roughing up the surface with some coarse emery cloth or suchlike.

 

Re' stripping, I thought as much.

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Try brushing on the next layer with the brush strokes going fore and aft.  
 

I used that on a carrier with good success to create the impression of nonskid.

 

If you decide to strip the deck, you can use contact paper, like for cabinets, to add wood texture.

 

That’s what I did on my Prince de Neufchatel and my Hannah builds, on this forum.

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17 hours ago, Kevin-the-lubber said:

Apologies if this has been covered ad nauseum elsewhere but can I ask a newbie question - is there a way for me to remove just the wash layer on a large, flat painted plastic object (cutty sark deck), all of which has been painted using vallejo acrylics? Or is it all or nothing? The wash is on top of humbrol matt acrylic varnish.


It may be possible to remove only the wash, as most washes are made for application and then to remove a bit until you achieved the desired effect. It depends, what kind of wash you used. You can try to remove the wash with the appropriate thinning medium for the wash, but if it's the same like the acrylics underlying, bad luck, the base layer will be affected too.
BTW.: You haven't sealed the wash with varnish afterwards.
 

9 hours ago, Kevin-the-lubber said:

I have thought about it, quite a lot lately to be honest, but haven't really got the hang of it. If you're reflecting on my build log and the lack of texture on the deck, this is because I start with a dead smooth surface, and that's a problem. If I had a little texture the variations in tone would be working better, especially washes. At the very least the light would pick out highlights and shadows. My washes tend to come out flat i.e. I can get the silvered wood colouring, but once you stop believing your own projection, it really just looks like a flat, thin coat of greyish paint. What would be a good way to add texture right at the start, that will then be used to bring out highlights etc? I almost bought some oils today as I know these sit on the surface more, but I've never used them. I should have mentioned, I currently only use acrylics and some inks, though I did find some watercolour pencils in a drawer today, which might come in handy. But I only want the tiniest bit of texture in terms of thickness. Any suggestions? I was also going to try the opposite, roughing up the surface with some coarse emery cloth or suchlike.

 

Re' stripping, I thought as much.


The best option for a natural wooden finish deck, IMHO is to strip the deck, if possible, paint it in a matte acrylic sand brown and than use the oil paint technique for texturing. With this technique, you can adjust the wood texture as you desire, using white spirit, to spread and erase the oil paint until the grain looks perfect. The effectiveness depends on the scale of course, it's easy to produce too much texture in small scale.

If you think, that is a solution for you and you need more information about the how to's, I can explain the technique a bit more detailed.

 

Here are some examples I did with this technique in 48 scale. It's only oils on acrylics, at this stage without varnish.

IMG_7292.JPG.1c9dd335cde9900ebfea27d3188b87fa.JPG


IMG_7293.JPG.d4c174b0e4bb361ab556501951bacd18.JPG

 

Some more examples in 32 scale

 

P1150846.JPG.74168e7e2bc34c8d9d5d4cc16316a4ef.JPG

 

P1150851.JPG.06ccea1556150b7b912c58c2452f3341.JPG

 

IMG_7529.JPG.35424ce997c2c1894bdfc2b490b98783.JPG

 

Cheers Rob


 

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Kevin, why do you want to get surface texture on a wooden deck? At 1:96 scale plastic models one usually has to work hard to get rid of the misguided 'wood' texture molded in. Wooden decks are normally kept very smooth.

 

The example below is in 1:160 scale, the bakelite-paper deck was lightly engraved with the plank seams and thent he wood character was achieved by giving each plank a slightly different colour, imitating the natural variability of wood. The piece was given a base-coat of Vallejo Model Air 71075 ‘sand (ivory)’ using the airbrush. In a next step single planks were randomly given a light wash with Prince August 834 ‘natural wood transparent’ or Vallejo Model Air 71023 ‘hemp’ (which turned out to be a bit too dark actually). In a next step randomly selected planks, particularly those ‘hemp’ ones were given a very light wash with Vallejo Model Air 71288 ‘Portland stone’. Another very light wash with Vallejo Model Air 71041 ‘armour brown’, toned down with yet another very light wash using Vallejo Model Air 71132 ‘aged white’, pulled everything together.

image.png.85343fe18e2d38f0b5ec2cfc21030490.png

 

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DocRob, Wefalck, you've both given me something to chew on. Here's the paradox - as this is 1:96 I don't really want grain texture, only the effect. Wefalck, I'd looked at yours previously and did something very similar on mine. The result was quite good but quite a bit too dark. I've realised that was me using too many different colours from the vallejo old/new wood kit and when I re-do this, I'll just use 2 or 3 of the lighter colours, mixing to get slight variations in shade. I also finished mine off with some brown ink, partly to accentuate the plank lines but also because it does weird and wonderful things on the surface that hint at grain. Subsequently, this week in fact, I played around with washes to lighten and weather the result. This is where I'm still lacking confidence (aka don't really know what I'm doing). The wash itself 'flattens' the surface and negates the inking. I think it's probably the case that I just need to keep experimenting, including applying different wash shades selectively rather than across the whole deck. 

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You need to work with very dilute washes, to the point that you barely see any paint on the brush, and to apply this to planks selectively to get a random pattern, but not too different.

 

Opt rather for lighter shades. In my case I assumed the deck was teak, but you would have to check, whether CUTTY SARK's decks were teak or pine, I don't remember. Compare also photographs before and after the fire.

 

And yes, a wash with burnt umber or other dark brown can bring out nicely the surface texture, but you don't necessarily want this on a well-maintained clipper-deck.

 

At the very end I sealed everything with gloss(!) varnish and redrew the engraved plank seams with a 0.1 mm thick permanent marker. One could also use a pen and ink, I suppose. I wiped off any excess immediately, so that only the engraved lines were filled with ink - that's the reason for the gloss varnish, then the ink does not get into the surface roughness of the acrylic paint. Finally, I spayed the deck again with flat varnish and applied a very dilute white/off-white wash to tie everything visually together. The very last step was to spray on some flat varnish - such decks are basically flat and not satin.

 

Quite a bit of work, but I think it pays off. 

 

 

Edited by wefalck
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Wefalck, I think you've highlighted some of the small errors I'm making that gradually add up to an almost but not quite right end result. Because I used maybe 5 or 6 colours, ranging from light sand to very brown, the differentiation is a bit too much. I'm glad you've pointed towards using lighter shades, that confirms that I'm starting to logic it out as that's what I'd decided for the next try. One thing I hadn't yet worked out was blackening the lines, but you may have handed me a solution via the gloss varnish. That wouldn't have occurred to me, I've just used matt all the way. Mine is a 3D printed deck and the lines are 1mm deep x 0.2mm wide grooves. I'm thinking a black-grey straight-from-the-tube acrylic or oil paint might fill them nicely and allow me to wipe off the excess to get crisp lines. I experimented with brushing graphite powder into them but that didn't work that well. I'll experiment some more. The Cutty's deck is/was teak, but very bleached and silvered. While I very much like the teak colour that I've been getting on the cabins with inking, I might skip this on the deck now as it does darken everything.

 

I don't mind spending time on painting - for me it's the most enjoyable part of modelling, so long as it goes well.

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Kevin, using black acrylics to fill the seams did not work for me. They are just drying too fast to be wiped off easily. I know that some people used oils for the purpose, but that makes it difficult for the following acrylic washes and the final varnish, as the oils are water repellent.

 

I would rather use some black ink. If you have one of those old-style drafting pens, where you can adjust the line-widths, this might be useful for applying the ink. From the gloss varnish it should wipe off quite well, but may still leave a bit of 'haze' - I found that this doesn't do any harm.

 

It would depend on the pride the master takes in his ship, but clippers in general were well-maintained (the premium freight rates paid for this) and so the decks may have been holy-stoned from time to time, navy fashion. I think I would go for a very light yellowish-reddish tint.

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Oils are perfect for replicating woodgrain. It's simple to do and it's completely removable during the application stage. Matte sand brown acrylics are a good base, better than gloss. You can apply the brownish (depending the type of wood) oil colors onto it, better a bit too much than to less. Then use a flat brush and start to remove the oil color with defined strokes and find the right amount of thinner for your purpose. don't let the mix get too wet, it's better to use a paper towel to get rid of the oil color you removed, while gently stroking.
Have a good idea about the desired finish, which includes varnishing. For a wooden deck a matt clear varnish should work, for other warmer effects, Tamiya's clear yellow or clear orange, heavily thinned work marvels.
Best you try it first on a flat piece of plastic, until you feel comfortable. In your case with a relatively small scale, the brushstrokes should be very light, it's easy to overdo the wood grain thing.

 

I used the oil technique just recently on the anchor winch drum of my Duchess of Kingston build. It's 64 scale and therefore made with only a hint of wood grain texture.

 

P1160345.JPG.9dd660e0bdf699d349a5b1140cfd8a09.JPG

 

Cheers Rob

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  • 4 months later...

I’m building Prinz Eugen (Occre) and having trouble with painting the brass and Britannia parts. I’m using ModelExpo acrylic water soluble paint with brushes. After drying the paint tends to slip off when touched, so I must be doing something wrong. Do I need to prep the metal? BTW, I am really enjoying the kit, it is first class.

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5 hours ago, John Carleton said:

I’m building Prinz Eugen (Occre) and having trouble with painting the brass and Britannia parts. I’m using ModelExpo acrylic water soluble paint with brushes. After drying the paint tends to slip off when touched, so I must be doing something wrong. Do I need to prep the metal? BTW, I am really enjoying the kit, it is first class.

Try putting the brass in some acetone for a bit and then dry. This will remove any coatings. Next step, put into vinegar.  This will etch the brass and give it some tooth.  I rinse in alcohol and let dry before primering. 

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Floquil was one of the best paint, their metallic paint were exceptional. Myself after trying acrylic (hand painting and airbrush) I went to Humbrol (enamel)and Tamiya. If I want to use acrylic for special effect such as wood 

for WWI aircraft I use Liquitex in tube. They do not dry being in a tube so you end up saving money. Also the Liquitex airbrush solution allow you to mix your own color and use an airbrush, I do so for large scale figures skin color. I have owned some of the fancier airbrush but I always fall back on my old Paashe H, simple to clean, comes with different tips. Did splurge on a compressor Iwata Medea, it is now almost 20 years old and still working great.

Another bonus with enamel paint if it is dry you can reconstitute with thinner, Tamiya paint will not dry. The purchase of an ultrasonic mixer will make it easier and less messy, do not buy one for Hobbies they are $$$ and not very user friendly, buy one from hospital supply web site, cheaper and much better quality.

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  • 2 months later...
On 1/25/2019 at 2:35 PM, wefalck said:

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.

What make of pre thinned Acrylics are you use and are there any other you can recommend?Hopefully I can find the colours I need or something similar.

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'Vallejo model air' mostly these days, but also the German brand Schmincke for basic colours. Vallejo has a huge range of colours (https://acrylicosvallejo.com/en/category/model-air-en/). They have colour charts on their (national) Web-sites, but as usual they are not terribly faithful in the colour reproduction for technical reasons. Vallejo branched out into modeller supplies from being a reputable Spanish manufacturer of artists' paints.

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