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Posted (edited)

The situation is that there are two schools of thought on this subject here.

 

School Tradition: 

Use the proper species of wood to begin with.  That is wood with pores that are too small to present a visual problem.

Primer is an inexpensive material with a function to reduce the number of coats of paint or clear coat by one.

Half concentration shellac is a primer that is compatible with any type of clear coat or paint.

Full strength shellac is an excellent clear coat - as long as it is not exposed to water - like a sweating cocktail glass.

Shellac with a bit of linseed  or tung oil is French polish.

Shellac has two primary flavors: garnet and near water clear.  It comes either premixed (Zinsser) or as dry flakes. Alcohol is the solvent (usually ethanol).

The wood can be colored using a aniline penetrating dye - if grain still visible is desired.  Alcohol base is less deep, but does not raise the grain.  Water base is deep, but requires pretreatment with water followed by abrasion to fix the raised grain.

Stain is a sort of paint meant for poor quality wood.

Paint -

raw pigment can be mixed with a binder ( for example: polymerized linseed or tung oil) for a really traditional material.

Commercial  - finely ground pigment is important - usually marketed as model paint.  More important than brand is that the finish be either flat, or matt - but never gloss or high gloss.

 

School Tradition also holds that CA is to be avoided.  PVA for wood to wood and two part epoxy for metal to wood. 

 

School Tradition is also a minor segment - usually inhabiting the scratch build wing.

Edited by Jaager
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On my last model I began using Americana Decor Chalky Finish acrylics.  Previously, I was using my wife's artist acrylics, mostly Windsor and Newton.  The artist paints, though labelled "matte" are not flat enough in my opinion.  The chalky finish paints can easily be mixed in small amounts, leave no brush marks, dry quickly and are fairly durable.  Touch-ups don't show on original paint.  The black, which I use a lot, is particularly forgiving.  They were, until recently,  available in 4 ounce jars, but now they only have 8 ounce.  Still, the jars seal well and I have had no drying out or deterioration in about six years.

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hate buying new paints! Of course, that's probably because I remember Floquil paints and finishes. :D 

 

I learned how to paint growing up with cousins who ran a large painting and decorating company. That was a long while ago and I've been painting and varnishing full size boats and furniture for much of my life, together with ship models. I have to say I'm an unabashed Luddite. I believe much of the traditional techniques and materials remain the best option. While I strongly support environmental values, I'm dismayed that regulatory agencies so often "pick the low-hanging fruit" and restrict things like VOC's in paints and solvents, which contribute relatively little to envioronmental air pollution, while ignoring other widespread corporate industrial carbon omissions, often for no reason other than that they have a more powerful lobby. Thus we end up with paints and varnishes, or "coatings" as the industry now calls them, which last a third as long and probably have three times the carbon footprint to manufacture than do the old oil-based materials.

 

Living in California, I can't go to the paint store and buy real turpentine or paint thinner because their sale has been banned (except in very small bottles sold in art supply stores.) Luckly, I can still buy acetone, they tell me because it's sold as a "cleaner" and not a "coating," and I can buy Rustoleum oil paint because it's a "rust inhibitor, and not a "paint." (Surprisingly, the hardware stores sell five gallon drums of acetone! Who needs five gallons of acetone from a hardware store? Ask your local meth cook!) Oil paint can also be purchased in marine chandleries because "marine paint" is exempt from the prohibitions. Rattle cans can still be purchased, but like booze, you have to be over 18 to buy them. It's getting pretty crazy and I've had to devise work-arounds, but it's doable. (It's not against the law to possess paint thinner. It's just a crime to sell it.)

 

I use Zinsser white shellac for sealing bare wood (and also for sealing rigging knots.) It's thinned with denatured alcohol.

I use Interlux marine sanding base coat or an equivalent for fairing surfaces, such as topsides.

I use Interlux surfacing putty or an equivalent for heavier fairing of surfaces and such.

I use quality artists' oils in basic colors to paint models, together with the appropriate additives to condtion them to taste for brushing or spraying at the  degree of drying time and the level of gloss or matt I desire.

 

In my opinion, most of today's modeling-specific paints and other finishes are extremely expensive and not particularly easy to use. Their chemistry is complex and there are often incompatibilities between the different brands. The manufacturers take advantage of the fact that their customers don't know how to condition paint or mix colors, hence, we see varieties sold "for brushing" and others "for spraying!" I will concede that where exact color matching is essential, as with modern naval and armor models, pre-mixed paints may offer an advantage in mixing colors (if you trust the paint company's version of "olive drab" and "field gray" as of a certain date during WWII !) That notwithstanding, while I've obtained good results with acrylics, they aren't near the quality of traditional oil-based paints, which also will not raise the grain on bare wood. I've found the pigment size on quality artist's oils is entirely suitable for modeling detail. They are easy to condition for whatever application method one desires. They thin with common solvents and flow control is a function of how much linseed oil one wishes to add. Drying time can be accelerated using Japan drier and the finish controlled to the user's taste with flattening additives or clear matt overcoating. Many pigments can be quite expensive and the quality one is looking for will be reflected in tubed artists' oils, but with oils you aren't paying for packaging in minute amounts, nor is there any need to buy dozens of seven or eight dollar one ounce bottles of different colors. Six or eight tubes of basic primary and secondary colors should enable the ship modeler to pretty much mix any color they'd wish and tubed artists' oils have far less tendency to "dry up" in the tube. How many times have barely used bottled model paints been thrown out because they went bad or dried up in the bottle, no matter how much care was exercised in replacing the screw caps?

 

Interestingly, the "gaming figure" modelers who employ a wide range of colors seem to be the first of the modeling fraternity who have discovered this fact and are going over to artists' oils in increasing numbers if their YouTube posts are any indication. I encourage anybody to try artist's oils (using them correctly) and see if they don't find them a better alternative. It's a matter of taste and opinion, but, as the saying goes, "Try it. You may like it."

 

 

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Decoart water based sanding sealer. Humbrol spray primer, grey, red, sometimes white. Valejo acrylics, humbrol enamels (very rarely now). Daler-Rowney System 3 brushes. Consistent very good results. With enamels, I use low odour mineral spirits. With Valejo acrylics, only their medium-different for hand painting and spray. For filler, Elmer's colour changing filler.

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On 4/27/2021 at 6:43 PM, Bob Cleek said:

They thin with common solvents and flow control is a function of how much linseed oil one wishes to add. Drying time can be accelerated using Japan drier and the finish controlled to the user's taste with flattening additives or clear matt overcoating.

Bob,

Some questions about tube artist's oil paints.

Can they be applied straight from the tube?

By linseed oil, do you mean the "Boiled linseed oil" - like what I saw at my local hardware store.

Can Tung oil (pure) be used like linseed oil?  Or the Sutherland-Wells polymerized Tung oil?

From where is obtained Japan drier?

What about the powdered pigments?  Can they be mixed with Tung or linseed oil?

What are flattening additives - the names of them?

 

My bias tells me to use the primary color aniline dyes instead of paint and cover with shellac - which can be made egg shell by using 0000 steel wool on the final coat.  A dye is not as in your face as paint and with paint, the scale effect runs the danger of it looking like a toy.

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, Jaager said:

Bob,

Some questions about tube artist's oil paints.

Can they be applied straight from the tube?

Certainly! That's how Van Gogh and Bob Ross did it. (Well, maybe Van Gogh still mulled his own paint. I'm not sure when it started being packaged in tubes like toothpaste. :D ) It's about the consistency of toothpaste, but as it dries slowly unless a dryer is added, it can be spread very thinly if desired.

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By linseed oil, do you mean the "Boiled linseed oil" - like what I saw at my local hardware store.

A FAQ, for sure. "Boiled linseed oil" is not boiled at all. It designates linseed oil which has been packaged with a drying agent added prior to packaging. This is usually Japan drier, which contains manganese in a linseed oil and mineral spirits base. This added drier makes "boiled linseed oil" dry (i.e. polymerize) much faster than "raw linseed oil, which is pure untreated linseed oil. If it is difficult to source linseed oil in your area (usually due to environmental regulations,) it can also be purchased in health food stores labeled as "flax seed oil," this being "food grade" linseed oil. Linseed oil and Japan drier can be purchased anywhere oil paints are sold (i.e. art and craft stores,) but it will be packaged in small amounts and priced at twice the cost of the very same product purchased in a paint or hardware store, so caveat emptor.  Smaller quantities in "artists' packaging" are permitted where regulations prohibit sales of pints, quarts, and gallons in paint and hardware stores and the manufacturers are happy to accommodate the new regulations at twice the profit. Also, a paint conditioning product made by Flood called "Penetrol" is an excellent linseed oil based conditioner for achieving good leveling with oil paints. This is also readily available at paint and hardware stores, although in some areas environmental air quality regulations now also prohibit its sale. (Arrrgh!  Sale is prohibited, but not possession. Sourcing now may involve travel across state lines.)

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Can Tung oil (pure) be used like linseed oil?  Or the Sutherland-Wells polymerized Tung oil?

Yes, but why would anybody want to? Tung oil is the Oriental analog to linseed oil in the West and both have been around for centuries. Tung oil takes even longer to dry (i.e. "polymerize") than linseed oil. It can be heated (i.e. "boiled") to shorten its polymerization time, like linseed oil (hence the term "boiled linseed oil,") but modernly drying additives are employed to hasten its drying time just as with linseed oil. Tung oil naturally has a honey brownish tint which serves well to rub into unpainted wood. In the 1970's the Homer Formby company popularized tung oil finishes with driers and UV filters premixed and tung oil has become something of a marketing driven fad with amateur furniture finishers ever since. Sutherland-Wells' polymerized tung oil, from the looks of their materials, is simply tung oil conditioned with driers and a UV filter. Bottom line, Tung oil + a thinner (e.g. turpentine or mineral spirits) + a UV filtering agent = marine spar varnish. I would hesitate to use tung oil when conditioning artists' oils, however, because it naturally has a slight honey-colored tone, which some manufacturers also enhance by adding stains or pigments, and that will affect the resulting color of the mix, unlike  pure linseed oil which is essentially colorless.

 

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From where is obtained Japan drier?

As mentioned above, from any paint store or hardware store that sells paint. It's also sold in small size bottles anywhere artists' oil paints are sold, but at a greatly increased price over the same sold in pint or quart cans. It's used in relatively small amounts, compared to linseed oil or turpentine.

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What about the powdered pigments?  Can they be mixed with Tung or linseed oil?

As mentioned above, yes, they can, but I wouldn't recommend tung oil for the purpose without experimenting to see what it does to the color of the pigment mix, not just when mixed, but as the paint ages over time. I would stick with linseed oil for mixing colored paint. That said, mixing paint from powdered pigments is a very time-consuming and laborious process called mulling. (See: https://www.scribalworkshop.com/blog/2019/6/5/mulling-paint-a-beginner-ish-guide) Suffice it to say, the introduction of pre-mulled paint was one of the great advances in Western technology. Pre-mixed colors are so much more convenient, traditionally mixing pigments and oil is only done today when a particular rare pigment is required by art restorers (and forgers!) or for some other historical reason. Additionally, many pigments are highly toxic in one way or another when inhaled as dust, but not so when suspended in oil and so not recommended without suitable industrial quality protective gear.

 

One should note when purchasing artists' oils that they are not priced by quantity alone, but also by pigment. One color will be priced differently than another, based on the cost of the pigment. One should also purchase the highest-quality artists' oils. Most manufacturers sell two or more "lines" of their paint, each at a different price point. At the bottom are "hobbyist paints," then "student paints," and "amateur paints," and "master's paints" or whatever grading system the manufacturer employs. The top of the product range will contain the most finely ground pigment and thus the most opaque, which is favored for miniature work and spray painting, and the colors will tend to be more basic. Without going into the mechanics of color mixing, suffice it to say it is possible to make a color of, say, three basic expensive pigments or to make the same color of five cheap pigments, and when the expensive version is mixed with another color, the resulting color will be as intended, while when the cheaply pigmented paint is mixed in similar fashion with the same other color, the resulting color will not be as intended and the color expected impossible to achieve. The more basic the pigment and primary the color, the better if one intends on mixing colors, which is frequently done and enables the painter to create an infinitely wide range of colors from a small number of tubes of paint. (Google or YouTube will give you more than you ever want to know about "palette choices." Obviously, the color range for a ship model will be next to nothing compared to an artist's oil painting. The modeler may well be able to purchase the three or four exact colors they need in tubes and not require any color mixing at all.)

 

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What are flattening additives - the names of them?

There are several different ways of controlling gloss in oil paints. Adding a bit of gasoline to the paint is a "quick and dirty" method used by old time painters which I don't recommend. Ordinarily, "flattening paste" is used which can be purchased at any paint store and also anywhere artists' oils are sold. It's basically oil mixed with dirt... silica to be exact. (It's consistency varies with the products. Some are really "paste," others "goop," and others the consistency of the paint itself. Many flattening pastes are sold mixed so that a 1:1 ratio, paste to paint, will result in a "dead flat" finish.  I've always had great results with the 1-Shot line of sign painters' enamels and additives. See: https://shop.ndgraphics.com/product.htm?PRODUCT=YOS121&SOURCE=Category&CATEGORY=MAT-PAI-ADDITIVES#:~:text=Clear Flattening Paste 4329500 when,from semi-gloss to eggshell. (Sign painters paints contain a very high level of finely ground pigment so that the sign painter can form the element of a letter with one stroke of the brush without having to go over it again to cover sufficiently. Just the ticket for model painting.)

 

Note also that paint containing flattening agents must be continually stirred to ensure the flattening agent remains in equal suspension throughout the paint, as it tends to settle if the paint is not stirrred, resulting in an uneven flattening result.

 

 

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My bias tells me to use the primary color aniline dyes instead of paint and cover with shellac - which can be made egg shell by using 0000 steel wool on the final coat.  A dye is not as in your face as paint and with paint, the scale effect runs the danger of it looking like a toy.

That can work, but hand rubbing with fine steel wood or pummice and rottenstone only works on smooth, wide open, surfaces. If you are dealing with detailed forms, it's not possible. Dyes really have to permeate the surface to cover any figuring on the wood and react differently to different materials. I must confess I have little experience with dyes short of using India ink to mimic ebony. If the proper paints are used, such a the mentioned 1-Shot sign painters' paint, or properly conditioned oil paints with finely ground pigments, (or, obviously, hugely expensive high quality model paints) there is no problem achieving total paint color coverage without loss of detail due to paint build-up, the "toy effect" you mention. Where it can be applied effectively, I find dyes do indeed ensure the "crispest" finish and I appreciate them for that. Most of the time, however, there are problems with masking and bleeding that negate that advantage, but maybe I'm just not sufficiently experienced with using them.

 

I think that in any comparison of oil-based versus water-based finishes, it must be acknowledged that water-based finishes will raise unsealed wood grain, while oil-based finishes will not.

 

As in all things, "your mileage may differ." If it works well for you, by all means "Dance with the gal ya brought."

 

 

Edited by Bob Cleek
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For priming/filling wood I use a nitrocellulose base product (German brand Clou). It often suffices, when a satin finish is required, the second being rubbed down with 0000 steel-wool. Can be polished to a higher sheen with e.g. felt polish wheels - almost invisible coating.

 

For high-gloss finishes bleached or unbleached shellac solution, either ready made (by Clou) or dissolved as flakes in denatured alcohol for special applications - can be used as cement (as watchmakers traditionally do).

 

The traditional varnish to prevent silver and brass from tarnishing is 'zapon varnish'. I use it also for various other applications, where I need a fast drying almost invisible varnish, e.g. for stiffening ropes or securing knots. Can be softened again with a drop of acetone.

 

These days I normally apply paint with the airbrush, only details, figurines and the likes are treated with a normal brush. Being a 'miniaturist', I only need minute quantities of paint any time, as mixing up such small quantities for air-brushing is difficult, I prefer them readily conditioned for air-brushing - saves a lot of time and trouble and the branded products seem to keep for decades. I also use these diluted paints for washings. I only use acrylics in the airbrush to facilitate cleaning and not to have to mess around with solvents.

 

Long-established artist's paint suppliers have a reputation to loose, so their products are likely to be of good and reliable quality. The brands I am typically using are Schmincke (German), Vallejo (in France they are labelled Prince August), and Winsor & Newton. 

 

If at all possible, I apply the acrylics without primer. Brass and copper can be difficult due to the slightly hydrophobic oxides that form on them. If possible, polish the surface or apply e.g. zapon varnish as primer if needed.

 

Of course, in the past I extensively used Humbrol paints, but as noted above, I do not like to airbrush solvent-based paints.

 

For figure-painting I sometimes used artist's oils in the past, but find that I can get similar results with washes of acrylics for airbrushing that have been further diluted. 

 

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