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Everyone's paint preference

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I thinking about filling my work space with great quality hobby paint. Like to know everyone's preference when it comes to their paint supply.  Model Expo, Billings paint, tamiaya or other.....

Model Expo got paints set on a great sale.... has anyone used their paints ?


                                                                                                                                         Thanks Everyone

Current Build:

      Andrea Gail - Billings Boat 608 - scale 1:60 

      St. Elme - Soclaine - scale 1:20 


Finished Build:

     Marina II - Artesania Latina - Scale 1:50

       Lobster Boat - Midwest 

       Mare Nostrum - Artesania Latina - Scale 1:35

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Model Expo paints are okay. But be sure you mix them well. Like most small containers of water based paint, they tend to dry and thicken. I use all kinds of paint from oil to enamel to lacquer to acrylic but mostly water based stuff just because over the years they seem to have found their way into my work area. For large area primers, I use Krylon ....

I'd suggest sampling and experimenting until you find what works best for you.





Completed      Robert E Lee, Misisssippi riverboat               


Completed,  HMS Victory Bow Section


Completed,  Wells Fargo Stagecoach...Picasa album.... 


Completed,  Lackawanna tugboat converted to private yacht...


Completed:  Sopwith Camel, 1:16 Scale, Model Airways...at another location...


Completed:  1961 Ferrari F-1 Sharknose


Completed: (sorta)  OcCre BR-18 Locomotive


Completed: 1/35 Pz.KPfw.III


Completed: Allerton Steam Pumper circa 1869

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I use artists acrylics almost exclusively. There are literally thousands of colors and they are cheap and easy to find at any craft store. Most brush and spray very well, but others are a bit more work. It seems the difficulties I have  are more color dependant than manufacturer dependant, so if Folkart's "fire-engine red" (just kidding Brian ;-) doesn't mix or spray well I'll try a similar color from anothe manufacturer.


I do totally agree, bright colors on a period ship can make an otherwise great work look "cartoonish". Dull down those bright colors guys!

From about as far from the ocean as you can get in North America!

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I too want to put in a word for "artist" acrylic paint. In tubes or in small jars, manufactured by Golden, Liquitex or whatever. All of them are water based and can be mixed with other brands. Full strength or thinned to nearly nothing at all, acrylic can be anything from a stain to an thick opaque coating. Water is all you need to thin or clean up. The paint dries as fast as water dries and when its dry its no longer water soluble and will stand up to U.V. light, changing humidity and who knows what else? Acrylic artists paint is available in nearly any size, from a very small tube the size of your pinkie on up to gallons, and in every color. Its possible to find "student grade" acrylic colors and these will have a "hamburger helper" dumbed down pigment content but the artist grade paint will contain the best sorts of pigments available anywhere and the pigment content is listed on the container- something I suspect other hobby paints won't do for you. Note that the use of the finest pigments includes poisonous ones like cobalt and cadmium which should NEVER be used with a sprayer. Sometimes the "student grade" colors are better for what you have in mind and they cost about 1/3 less than the Artist Grade ones. You can't use Acrylic over unprimed metal though, nor any sort of smooth ceramic like surface. But it will stick fairly well to plastic. The shelf life of the paint is pretty good. If you leave a tube of acrylic paint sealed it will still be fine a year later. 




 Niagara USS Constitution 


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Oh, Man...... Here we go. Madame Anja is going to throw my butt so far off the site after this post that I'll be lucky to be building ships from walnut shells, plasticine, and toothpicks..... All that follows is opinion, needless to say, with the odd fact creeping in. First, I HATE acrylic artist paints. I hate the colors, texture, dry time, smell, feel, taste, and everything else about them. For some genetic reason, I was born to play with oils-- paint it, wipe it, smear it, lick it, snort it, shoot it--- whatever it takes. The colors are infinitely better, there are dozens of interesting media, and they give you time to adjust color, shading, highlights, etc.

OK,OK--- my kink. But there are some principles that apply, regardless of paint type. As Brian says, choosing colors needs care, and will require mixing, more than likely. Those bulwark reds and Nelson Fashion ochers, ie., need a lot of thought to look right, and as is being spoken-of in the weathering thread, all colors change with time and weather--- quite dramatically. All kinds of fading and patination occur quickly in the marine environment--- do we want to show that, or not? Black ain't black and white ain't white, and all stops in between..... Second, this business of gloss stumps me, as well. In my brief spate of film work, there was a guiding rule---no gloss. If you intend to photograph your model in any serious way, gloss is ruinous. Also, it's understood that gloss makes a model look smaller. Eggshell is as glossy as it should get.  Even you guys who polish the hell out of your coppering--- I don't get that at all. But, as always, different strokes...... What I want to see is a piece of craftsmanship that crosses over into art--- I want the model to say something, not just sit there as an ornament on a shelf. I want the viewer to be sucked into a story, a dream of another time and place, a world within a world. I mean, we work our asses off on these filthy things for years at a time--- don't we finally want them to have a life of their own, greater than the sum of their parts?? Greater than their creators??? There is a magic that is possible to achieve in this avocation. In the 60's, I worked one summer for a ship modeler in Laguna Beach, Ca, named Ed Sims. He could be cranky, and generally treated his potential customers like idiots, but there is a ship of his for sale on line, and when I look at it with its blue green copper and carefully faded paint, I think what a great man Ed was. These are legacies of beauty, folks.


All right, all right---- I feel the hot breath of the dominatrix Anja and her cat-o-nine, ready to turn my quivering flesh into strawberry jam. Set up the grating, boys!!


Edited by johnegert
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I have used artist's acrylics (by the German manufacturer Schmincke) for some 30 years for air-brush application (it comes in bottles with the right consistency to be applied directly). More recently the Spanish manufacturer of artist's paints Vallejo, came onto the market with a good range of modelling air-brush-ready paints. I use the same paints also for application by brush, but this needs priming on certain materials.


I also use traditional artist's oil paints, e.g. for painting details on figures.





panta rhei - Everything is in flux



M-et-M-72.jpg  Banner-AKHS-72.jpg  Banner-AAMM-72.jpg  ImagoOrbis-72.jpg
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  • 1 month later...

i use Atelier Free Flow. They have a nice yellow ochre and the light red ochre is also very nice. High on pigment with good coverage so it won't take 10 million coats. Good finish too.

Kits owned: Mamoli Royal Louis, Mamoli Friesland, Mamoli HMS Victory 1:90, Occre Santisima Trinidad, Constructo HMS Prince

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I used Floquil for years.  Then I switched to Polyscale acrylics.  I am now using Modelflex by Badger.  I like it because you do not have to thin it for an airbrush and it is easy to clean up.

David B

Edited by dgbot
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I like Humbrol as well and general have hade good results as I have with Tamiya. Admiralty Paints are pretty good and a good period match, in these I have only used the older solvent ones yet to try the acrylics. I have used some of the Revel Acrylics in blacks and I like the colour of their Tar Black on period iron work.



Edited by normanh




Current build Trumpeter Arizona 1:200 with White Ensign PE and a Nautilus Wooden Deck.

Built Caldercraft Convulsion, HM Brig Badger and HMS Snake.

Awaiting - Zvelda HMS Dreadnought planning to get the Pontos Deck and PE Upgrades, Panart 1:23 Gun deck model and couple of the cannon kits Manatu - French siege mortar, and American coastal cannon.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi, thanks for the info on those paints.  Do you thin the Artist Acrylics with water or something else?



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Ahoy Andy :D


I have only used water and alcohol with the water based Acrylics. With the water based oils I have used the Windsor and Newton Safflower Oil, mineral spirits, water, alcohol, and enamel thinners. I have even used it to dye the WOP.


Lots of fun

Edited by JPett

 On with the Show.... B) 




“If you're going through hell, keep going” (Winston Churchill)


Current build:  MS Rattlesnake (MS2028)



Side Build: HMS Victory: Corel



On the back burner:  1949 Chris Craft Racer: Dumas



Sometime, but not sure when: Frigate Berlin: Corel









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Interesting responses.


Personally I have never really sat and thought about my preferences, but since this topic came up; now I have :D


Primarily I like the acrylics as well.  They are just superior overall with regards to no or low odor, easy clean up, quick dry time and just a tremendous amount of variety of colors, brands, mixes and what not.  However, that being said - not all acrylics are made equal :huh:


I do very little spraying (from a spray can) but when I do that is the only place I go with enamels.  I have tried the house brands but the paint is just too thick and too easy to obscure details.  Model sprays (mainly testors) are scaled so the paint is thinner and go on much easier.  Again though, I don't too much there.


For brush on I find that Humbrol Acrylics, Model Masters Acryl Line and Model Shipways are for the most part great right out of the bottle.   Depends on the colors though,  so far Model Shipways White has been the one I had the best luck with.   I have recently discovered (thanks to folks on this board) artists acrylics.   Not sure if I like the tube acrylics, although just like any acrylic a little water thins the consistency to whatever you like and are comfortable with.


For shooting I really like Model Masters acrylic,  so far I havn't had to thin them much out of the bottle and they shoot great!  I have heard you can thin down the artists acrylic to shoot, but that just seems wierd to me.


If you looked in my paint closet you would see quite the random assortment of paints.   Overall I don't steer away from any paints much,  paint is paint - but if i had to pick favorites, then the above is where I would go.



As for colors, like others have said - not much Gloss used on those ships.  More modern ships maybe, but the old tallships not so much.  A nice semi looks quite nicely I think.  Although, when it comes down to it - any model is a good model; it is all in the enjoyment of the hobby and expressing your own vision/view and likes.  I have never looked at a ship and thought much about the colors;  although if someone did a constitution in pastels and neons THEN I may take a moment to gag :D   but still, in the end - it is what you want it to be and I will appreciate the art if nothing else :10_1_10:




Good luck,  and enjoy!!



Current Builds

Santa Maria - Artesania Latina (1:65) POB

MayFlower - Model Shipways (5/32"=1') POB
Blue Shadow - Mamoli Revolutionary War Brigantine. (Fict) (1:64) POB (Recommissioned as the Kara June)


On The Shelf Waiting so Patiently

USRC Ranger - Corel (1:50) POB

18th Century Longboat - Model Shipways (1:4) POF

La Nina - Artesania Latina (1:65) POB

U.S Brig Syren - Model Shipways (1:64) POB


Completed Builds

Phantom NY Pilot Boat - Model Shipways (1:96) Solid Hull


Decommissioned Builds
(Time and conditions were not good to these. They have been cancelled =( )

Willie L Bennett - Model Shipways (1:32) POF
USRC Harriet Lane - Model Shipways (1:128) Solid Hull


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My preference is Vallejo.  Since I  only paint with a brush and these are formulated not show brush marks, it's a huge plus for me.  They have a large selection of color, washes and mediums for just about any shade or appearance you are trying to achieve.  My present build I started with Admiralty paints ( nice color but shiny) and switched over to Vallejo. I used Vallejo matte medium over this paint and it toned down all this shine. 

Happy modeling,




Current build: HMS Bellerophon semi-scratch from plans of Victory Models HMS Vanguard 

Drydock:  MS Constitution

Completed builds: MS AVS, scratch built Syren, Victory models HMS Fly

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