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Paint preferences.

I am getting back into the hobby after 30 years! So much has changed. I would like to get some opinions on paints. Back in the 1980’s, I only had access to the Testors enamels, which are great paints. Now I see lots of acrylic paints available. This is enticing, as the paints and required solvents are less toxic.

So the question is, from experience what is your opinion of the acrylic paints vs enamels?

Thank you.


15 responses to Paint preferences.

  1. Acrylic paints nowadays are far better than enamels. For airbrush I use Gunze and Tamiya a lot, Vallejo Air are also good though trickier to paint. I can also recommend Lacquers, my experience with MRP and AK real colours has been very positive indeed. If you use brush Vallejo (white cap bottles) paints beautifully. With just a drop of water to dilute it, I never see any of those dreaded brush streaks.
    Hope this helps

  2. Well I would beg to differ a little…I love my enamels, and for me are better than Acrylics. So maybe we should leave that claim of superiority to the subjective nature that it really is. That said, enamels are getting difficult to find and are more difficult to use, especially indoors. Also, the quality and range of Acrylics has vastly improved over the past 20 years and in time I too will be joining into the ranks of Acrylic users.
    I also would recommend that anyone who is getting into modeling or rejoining the hobby use Acrylic right off. Like it or not it is the future.

  3. Thank you for the reply.

  4. I have also found my way back to this hobby. I grew up on Testors as well but went directly to acrylics (Tamiya brand) upon return, mostly because of the ease of cleanup.

  5. I used to exclusively use Testors rattlecans, but as my painting skills improved and widened– and after I finally broke down and got an airbrush– I’m almost exclusively acrylic. I still keep some enamels around for detailing and drybrushing, but their stench and the brush-destroying properties of the paint and brush cleaner are all but gone from my bench. Even metalizers are on their way out with Vallejo’s new metallic acrylics.

    I also realized that there’s a lot wider variety of painting options out there than just what one would typically think of for “model kit paint”– like the vast array of Citadel paints and Gundam Markers. Heck, even artists pens that use india ink are a good way to go.

    My latest love for glossy black detail painting is a Faber-Castell artist marker with a brush-point tip. Shiny, tough finish, no brush marks if you practice to get it right, and it goes on best over a light spray just to give it something to bite. Best part? No smell and no cleanup.

  6. I love Tamiya, both the bottles and spray cans. I usually decant the spray cans and airbrush them cut with a bit of hardware store lacquer thinner, for the bottles I use Mr levelling thinner. I have been learning to use Vallejo Acrylics for brush painting and am really starting to like them. Tamiya brush paints ok, but the Vallejo seem to brush really nice and cover well.

    • I have only one bottle of Vallejo white cap paints, a black-grey. I use it as a standard brushing detail black base and add model air black to darken it up if needed. The Vallejo white cap paints thin out with just some water in a pallet, and has good pigmentation.

  7. Enamels take forever to dry and stink. Acrylics dry quickly without odor. You can thin them with rubbing alcohol.

    I use Tamiya mostly, still have some Xtracrylix that I use. Would use Gunze if it was still available here, I think it’s the best.

  8. Worked with Mission, Vallejo, Testors, Xtracrlyix, Gunze, Tamiya, MiG and Hataka.

    Testors acrylics have poor stick and need to be primed.
    Same with Vallejo, but avoid their vinyl based primer (which is almost impossible to smooth/sand.)
    Xtracrlyix is okay, but I have had some stick issues so I prime before using. I would put MiG and Hataka in the same prime first before using.

    Mission has great stick when used with their thinner.
    I miss Gunze because that paint was great.
    Tamiya is the majority of my paint. Colors can be off and some of the colors are too grainy.

    I would recommend the Badger Stynylrez primer as a acrylic primer. It is sandable and you can polish coats using sanding cloths with it (for Near Metal Finish.)

    I have used Tamiya spraycan lacquer primer which is awesome but I don’t use it in the house because of the fumes.

    As for NMF, I think the gold standard is the Vallejo Metal Colours in the black bottle (avoid the older Vallejo metallics.) I’ve built more NMF models in the four years than i have in 13 previous. Makes it easier/safer to do.

  9. I use acrylics exclusively because of their low toxicity. I also use a good spray booth for the same reasons. I like to feel comfortable about my health when modelling (glue fumes, aside). The easiest acrylics to use that don’t clog the airbrush when well thinned are Tamiya. I have also gone with Lifecolor, Gunze, and Model Master. All the later can clog the airbrush fairly readily, but I thin close to 50-50 and get good coverage on a model before it chokes up. Disassembling and cleaning on the fly is also not too difficult with my Iwata. Acrylics are extremely forgiving in that most can be stripped off with soap and water or Windex for Tamiya. I love reversibility in everything I do in modelling so I can go back a few steps after mishaps. Acrylics really help that process. I used to have trouble brush painting acryls for details until I starting using retarder, which really smooths them out. They dry too fast and get clumpy, otherwise. For final finishing, Tamiya acrylic gloss clear coat is the best coating for doing an oil wash over. Tough as nails and very smooth. Future does not compare, in my opinion. Others may have had better luck with it, however. Finally, most acrylics spray on thinly and are perfect for weathering with pre-shading and other layering techniques.

  10. Enamel and lacquer fan here. I use Humbrol and Xtracolor mostly. They’re durable, don’t dry out in the airbrush tip, and stand up to masking. I still use a few Modelmaster colors like Gloss Sea Blue, but MM is becoming rare. I use Mr. Color lacquers occasionally too. The only acrylic that I’ve ever really liked is Tamiya. The problem is Tamiya’s color line is very limited and I prefer not to mix my own shades. I like consistency. Tamiya’s lacquer spray paints are excellent too. I use the metallics on a regular basis.

  11. Mostly what these other guys said. I was a big Model Master enamels fan for years but they just can’t be found like they used to. Man they sprayed nice. And stuck where you put them. I’m the only one in the US that does not like Tamiya paints. They go on like a sand blasted finish, so dead flat and chalky. Can’t get used to it. Used Vallejo Air on my last one…much better. Went on nice and smooth with a normal coverage. STILL had some peelage on the top layer when the Tamiya masking tape came off, despite careful pre-cleaning with alcohol. And the Vallejo Air will NOT mix with regular Vallejo, so you gotta buy another line of paint. I’ve heard very good things about this new MRP line of acrylics, and my kid has good results with Hataka, who sell beautiful sets of colors (Luftwaffe, US Navy, etc.)

  12. Tamiya acrylics 👍

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