Enamel Paint



  • Hello everyone.  I am new to the forum side of axisandallies.org  I have been inspired to begin painting my A&A pieces.  I used to build scale model aircraft, but I haven’t touched a brush in a couple of years.

    My question to ya’ll (yes, I am a proud Texan) is about the differences between acrylic and enamel paint.  Is one superbly better than the other?  I have a lot of enamel paint for scale models and have never used acrylic before.

    Any advice for using enamel?  (I will at least be experimenting with it because I already have a lot of “military” tones)

    Thanks for the help and advice!


  • 2018 2017 2016 2015 Customizer

    Andy6049, you obviously have painted before, so I don’t think you will have trouble with either one.

    I have no experience with enamel, but some of the members, on here, do have experience with it, and I’m sure will give you some pointers.

    The main thing difference they have told me, is that acrylic is more forgiving, if you mess up.

    I’m also a proud Texan! 😄

    Welcome to the forums. 🙂

    P.S. Myself and Spitfire38 use acrylic. R DiStefano uses enamel. I can’t remember who else uses enamel, but I think IWillNeverGrowUp has experience with enamel as well.

    I hope some of these guys can help you.


  • 2016 2015 '14 Customizer

    In my experience enamel tends to go on thicker so you will lose some detail, but one coat will usually do it. Cleanup is a little harder. Acrylic tends to take more coats but preserves detail better and doesn’t smell as bad.


  • 2019 Sponsor 2018 2017 2016 '12

    @Der:

    In my experience enamel tends to go on thicker so you will lose some detail, but one coat will usually do it. Cleanup is a little harder. Acrylic tends to take more coats but preserves detail better and doesn’t smell as bad.

    Acrylic dries faster
    Acrylic dries matte (generally) instead of the typical gloss of enamel
    Acrylic comes in many more colors
    Acrylic colors blend easily
    Acrylic can be used with a “dry brush” method to add highlights (I have never managed to do this properly with enamel)
    Acrylic can be thinned easily (and should generally be thinned … thin coats make for smoother coats and retain more of the plastics details)
    Acrylic is (generally) cheaper

    Acrylic can be very easily removed if you made a mistake - Enamel can be as well … but with much more difficulty and a good chance of ruining the plastic underneath.


  • 2017 2016

    Sounds like IWNGU is a big fan of enamel painting!  😄



  • Well, gloss finish isn’t exactly a problem as I do have gloss and flat spray finish.  While we are on the subject - flat vs. gloss.  Which has been more appealing/eye catching once on the board?

    What is the dry-brush method?

    Does anyone have experience with thinning enamel?  I never tried.

    Will lacquer thinner mess up the A&A plastic pieces?  It never bothered my Revell and Monogram models, but A&A pieces might be a different type of plastic.


  • 2018 2017 2016 2015 Customizer

    @Andy6049:

    Well, gloss finish isn’t exactly a problem as I do have gloss and flat spray finish.�  While we are on the subject - flat vs. gloss.�  Which has been more appealing/eye catching once on the board?

    What is the dry-brush method?

    Does anyone have experience with thinning enamel?�  I never tried.

    Will lacquer thinner mess up the A&A plastic pieces?�  It never bothered my Revell and Monogram models, but A&A pieces might be a different type of plastic.

    You can look at Cyanights Customization thread, at the top of the customization forum, to view his glossy pieces, and you can view on page 2 of the customization forum for Spitfire38 set he is doing for me, which is painting my pieces in the flat finish, instead of glossy finish.

    Look for John Browns painted G40 set by Spitfire for the flat finish.

    Dry brush from what I’ve been told, is you barely put your paint the tip of the brush and lightly stroke your brush on the edge of the piece your painting, and this suppose enhance the edges and give it more depth.

    You only need a little paint, not too much.

    You can also do a wash, which gives the pieces, a 3D affect, which is really cool looking.

    At the top of the page, Spitfire has a thread demonstrating these techniques.

    It is close to Cyanight’s customization thread.

    The last two questions, someone else will have to answer them. Idon’t have the experience. 🙂

    John



  • Thanks for the info guys.  What do ya’ll know about priming?  Should it be done?  Can it be done with white/grey spray paint?  Since enamel is thicker, I don’t like the idea of multiple coats of light colors just for it to look right.

    Has anyone tried airbrushing pieces?


  • 2018 2017 2016 2015 Customizer

    I use almost exclusively enamels because I like them far more than acrylics. I disagree with almost everything IWillNeverGrowUp said, but that’s okay. Our preferences and experiences are clearly different.

    If you have the money ($80 - $200) it would be best to get an airbrush and compressor. The effect of base coating with an airbrush is far superior to brushing on base coats, which will thicken up, cover up detail and make brush marks. Same for primers. When possible (should be always) use a spray on primer rather than brushing on the primer, for the same reasons of the airbrush.

    Priming should always be done as it gives your other coats a place to stick, better than the smooth plastic. As for the primer color, it is a matter of personal preference. Most people use black or white. I almost always use black because I find that it can also act as a shadow layer once paint is applied. However, some people say that white primer allows your successive colors to show more accurately with fewer coats. All a matter of personal taste though.

    Also be sure to wash your pieces in warm, soapy water and then dry them prior to priming them. There are residue oils from manufacture left on the pieces which can cause issues if you paint them without cleaning first.

    I will go looking for my old thread and link to it, as you may find the examples and commentary helpful.

    Good luck.


  • 2019 Sponsor 2018 2017 2016 '12

    @LHoffman:

    I use almost exclusively enamels because I like them far more than acrylics. I disagree with almost everything IWillNeverGrowUp said, but that’s okay. Our preferences and experiences are clearly different.

    Haha, yup. All of the comments above were based on personal experience between the two types of paints. I absolutely stand by the use of Acrylics, but don’t begrudge anyone who can get enamel to work for them.

    If you have the money ($80 - $200) it would be best to get an airbrush and compressor. The effect of base coating with an airbrush is far superior to brushing on base coats, which will thicken up, cover up detail and make brush marks. Same for primers. When possible (should be always) use a spray on primer rather than brushing on the primer, for the same reasons of the airbrush.

    Airbrush is fantastic if you have the money. Agreed, always spray primer.

    Priming should always be done as it gives your other coats a place to stick, better than the smooth plastic. As for the primer color, it is a matter of personal preference. Most people use black or white. I almost always use black because I find that it can also act as a shadow layer once paint is applied. However, some people say that white primer allows your successive colors to show more accurately with fewer coats. All a matter of personal taste though.

    Black vs Gray vs White primer is part choice, part the final look you’re going for.
    Black is great to get that shadow layer down and/or to have a more muted color on top (allows for easy muting/dirtying of the colors)
    White is great to have bright, vibrant colors (and easier to apply light colors like bright yellow on top of - fewer coats is debatable) or if you have a large area of white already (start with white in this case)
    Gray is somewhere in between those and a good “general” primer to use.


  • 2018 2017 2016 2015 Customizer

    http://www.axisandallies.org/forums/index.php?topic=28579.0

    Here is mine, but honestly, Spitfire38’s sticky on the subject is a far better reference and his painting is superior to mine. Apologies in advance for the pictures; I had a very poor lighting setup at the time. Either very dim or way too bright for the most part.

    I didn’t look through all the pages, but I remember discussions about airbrushing, acrylics vs enamels and many other things you have brought up. It is very possible they are in other threads and not the one linked to.

    Virtually everything you see in there is done with enamel paint. Model Master (Testors) brand.

    An anecdote for illustration:

    I did use acrylics to airbrush the base coat of either the underside or top side of the US Navy aircraft. Probably top. Turned out well, however the process was a tremendous pain. Each time you change colors with an airbrush you need to completely disassemble it to clean all the components. This can be time consuming in and of itself, but it was far worse the one time I used acrylic paint. Even though acrylics are water-soluble, water does not simply dissolve the semi-dried paint away. There is some scrubbing involved and the paint comes off in clumps or solid shards which also have to be removed from the airbrush. Because acrylics dry more quickly, cleaning the airbrush of acrylic paint was very trying. If you had some high pressure air or water hose, that may help the process, but there are still small areas that must be cleaned manually with tiny implements.

    Conversely, using enamels in the airbrush was quite easy. You have to dilute them to the right consistency with mineral spirits or bottled enamel thinner, but that is not as involved as it sounds. Cleaning the airbrush after using enamels is far easier. You use thinner to do this. Because the thinner basically dissolves the enamel paint, it takes much less effort to remove built up paint in hard to reach places. And you do not have to use as much thinner as you would have to use water to clean acrylics.

    I did not use an airbrush on any of the pieces on page 1 or 2… all the way up to the Tiger tank; these were all base coated by hand brushing. After this point I began using an airbrush to base coat the pieces. You will find even with having to clean the airbrush, this method saves a great deal of time and produces superior results to hand brushing each individual piece.

    Aside from the exception above, I base coated and then painted all my pieces using enamel paint. Enamels do not have to be thick or glossy. You can mitigate both factors with thinner, application (airbrush vs hand brush) and dull coat sealers when the piece is complete. Since enamels are oil based and acrylics are water based, you don’t want to mix them or paint one over top of the other. The result will not be good.



  • Did you airbrush any of the after-primer coats?  I have an airbrush that I have only used once.  It is not metal.  It was a airbrush starting kit that came with a compressor.  The compressor has no psi adjustment option and the “Brush” is plastic.  It came with the following instruction for use: plug hose into compressor.  :?  It didn’t come with any material for the proper thinning of enamels.  I experimented with different ratios and finally just used one, but I can’t remember what it was now.

    Attached is a computer picture of the airbrush I have.  The second picture is of my first attempt at airbrushing and weathering.  Speaking of which, is it worth it to weather A&A pieces? It seems like it might be a lot of work for such small pieces.  But if it noticeably makes a difference then I may do it.

    Recommended ratios for the thinning of enamels for airbrush use?

    Model Masters and the plain jane Testors is what I use too.

    For the primer, is it just a color or is the composition different?  i.e. could I use grey spray paint as primer or do I need to use something that specifically says “primer?”

    Thank you all for you help and advice.  When I use to paint, I was never very scientific about it, just grabbed the color I wanted and went.  😄

    I am going through the threads on painted pieces to compare various aspects.  Actually, I am downloading a lot of threads and pics for use in my hobby area where there is no internet.

    TES9169.jpg
    IMG_20170323_095436547.jpg


  • 2019 Sponsor 2018 2017 2016 '12

    @Andy6049:

    For the primer, is it just a color or is the composition different?  i.e. could I use grey spray paint as primer or do I need to use something that specifically says “primer?”

    For priming you really do want to use a real primer. It adheres to the surface properly unlike standard paint and provides you with a good painting surface.
    Also make sure you’re using a primer that will work with the paint you’re using (Acrylic primer for acrylics, for example)

    You may want to consider primers made specifically for plastics as well as they are going to work best (though most primers are fine).


  • 2018 2017 2016 2015 Customizer

    @Andy6049:

    Did you airbrush any of the after-primer coats?  I have an airbrush that I have only used once.  It is not metal.  It was a airbrush starting kit that came with a compressor.  The compressor has no psi adjustment option and the “Brush” is plastic.  It came with the following instruction for use: plug hose into compressor.  :?  It didn’t come with any material for the proper thinning of enamels.  I experimented with different ratios and finally just used one, but I can’t remember what it was now.

    After the primer, the only thing I actually airbrushed was the base color layer for whatever pieces I was doing (olive drab, USN Haze Blue/Gray, etc…). You might be able to airbrush more after that if you have finer nozzles to play with, but I did not. All the other camouflage, marking and weathering I used a normal brush for.

    @Andy6049:

    Attached is a computer picture of the airbrush I have.  The second picture is of my first attempt at airbrushing and weathering.  Speaking of which, is it worth it to weather A&A pieces? It seems like it might be a lot of work for such small pieces.  But if it noticeably makes a difference then I may do it.

    The weathering on your Dauntless looks great. Doing that on your A&A pieces is really personal preference also, though I definitely like to. I feel it adds a pleasant aesthetic to them, which complements any layering, shading (washing) or highlighting (drybrushing). It is definitely noticeable. I attached a couple pictures from other painters here on A&A.org. One is very flat and precise, the other is very dynamic and worn. Two different extremes of the spectrum.

    Looks like you may want to upgrade your airbrush though. I have an Iwata Neo, which I got locally. This is a decent brush, but by no means top notch. However it is reliable and gets the job done well without spending a huge amount. https://www.airbrushaction.com/iwata-neo-cn-airbrush-reviews-specs-and-videos.html

    The compressor you get can be just as important as your airbrush. So keep that in mind.

    @Andy6049:

    Recommended ratios for the thinning of enamels for airbrush use?

    It depends on the results you want to achieve and probably the brand of paint you are using (and also the brand/type of airbrush). I had to do some tests and adjustments when I started airbrushing mine. Honestly, I was not as scientific about it either, like you mention below. I didn’t record exact measurements or ratios. I believe I used a small medicine dropper to approximate quantities or just mixed until it looked and felt right. That is a practice I would like to change once I get going again though.

    Here is a pretty good reference I found: http://www.craigcentral.com/models/thinning.asp

    There is a lot of good information on that website if you want to read it, including about airbrushes themselves.

    @Andy6049:

    Model Masters and the plain jane Testors is what I use too.

    I think they are a good brand. The basic Testors are okay, but they tend to be glossier (IMO) and do not have much variety.

    My local hobby shop carries the MM International Military and Figure line (http://www.testors.com/product-catalog/testors-brands/model-master/international-military-and-figure) which is great. They have a huge variety of specific colors, often by theater and year. Of course, the majority of the colors pertain to WWII, which is exactly what we’d want. I find that extremely convenient. I can buy the exact Afrika Korps yellow or Russian Guards Red each and every time, without having to measure and record exact ratios of different paints to mix together. Makes life way simpler. Occasionally, I will tint or shade here and there, but not much.

    @Andy6049:

    For the primer, is it just a color or is the composition different?  i.e. could I use grey spray paint as primer or do I need to use something that specifically says “primer?”

    What IWNGU said above sounds like good advice.

    @Andy6049:

    Thank you all for you help and advice.  When I use to paint, I was never very scientific about it, just grabbed the color I wanted and went.  😄

    I am going through the threads on painted pieces to compare various aspects.  Actually, I am downloading a lot of threads and pics for use in my hobby area where there is no internet.

    That sounds exactly like what I did. I have a vast library of pictures and colorplates here on my computer broken down by country, vehicle type and camo scheme. I also save a lot of other people’s work and use it to get new or interesting ideas. The community is great for that in particular. There are a lot of creative people on A&A.org.

    14844195295_977d0c4bb9_c.jpg
    rita eg1 (L).jpg


  • Sponsor 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 Customizer

    I use both Enamel and Acrylic.  When I started painting I just used Testors Enamal.  Then when I started getting a little better I moved up to Model Masters, then I went to 90% Acrylic with Vallejo. Its helpful when the name of the color is listed on the bottle, for example: Japanese Uniform, or German Camo Green.  Helps me out deciding on paint color

    I still use a Spray Primer and sometimes Spray Paint for a Base coat, for example White for my Zero’s.



  • Thank you all for the information.  Hopefully, I will start my painting project soon.  Getting a new airbrush isn’t an option right now, but I will definitely keep it in mind for later.  The plastic brush I have works decent when its not being temperamental.

    I will be experimenting with spray paint, at least for primer.

    When I start to finish some some, I will post a new thread with all the information of how, what , when, where, I did to paint the pieces.  Hopefully, it will benefit someone to wants to do the same and be as inspirational as the amazing work already on this forum has been for me.


  • 2018 2017 2016 2015 Customizer

    @Andy6049:

    Thank you all for the information.  Hopefully, I will start my painting project soon.  Getting a new airbrush isn’t an option right now, but I will definitely keep it in mind for later.  The plastic brush I have works decent when its not being temperamental.

    I will be experimenting with spray paint, at least for primer.

    When I start to finish some some, I will post a new thread with all the information of how, what , when, where, I did to paint the pieces.  Hopefully, it will benefit someone to wants to do the same and be as inspirational as the amazing work already on this forum has been for me.

    Can’t wait to see your work. I’m glad to see this part of the forums grow. It has been awesome seeing everyone’s work.

    I hope to be painting again, soon, myself. Glad to have another member to the team. 🙂

    Cheers!

    John


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