Friday, September 20, 2013

Sprue Cutters Union #9: My Paints

Your model only looks as good as your finished paint job. Its the icing on the cake if you will. There are a bazillion options for modelers to choose from these days in regards to brands, medium, and color that its really no surprise to hear modelers say they have used several different paints through the course of their lifetime, if not the course of a single model.
There is an advantage and disadvantage to most paints on the market, but ultimately it is up to the modeler to decide what works best for them and in what situation. This week's Union topic requires that I spill the beans about my paint preferences. Here you go...

When I first started modeling, I had only one brand of paint at my work bench. It was cheap, and readily available at the local Michael's Arts and Crafts shop just a few minutes drive away. Most modelers should be familiar with it, and I'm sure most modelers have used the little bottles at some point in their hobby careers. The paint was Testor's Enamel and came in the tiniest of jars that would become impossible to open after several uses. But they were easy to brush paint (I didn't have an airbrush) and were plentiful, so I continued to buy and use them. I still have a few bottles hanging around on a shelf but they haven't been opened in who knows how long. To be honest, I'm not sure why I still keep them as they're just taking up space. But most modelers are "hoarders" in some way so I guess I'll chalk it up to that. I just can't get rid of them.

When I started getting more serious about the hobby, it was time to consider a more serious paint option. Having been pleased with the enamels, I stayed that route but opted for a larger container in Model Master enamels. I found that this didn't coagulate as quickly as Testor's enamels and the bottles were fairly easy to open. The ability to brush painted them remained the same. They weren't as easily obtained but purchasing them gave me an excuse to drive 40 minutes to the nearest true hobby shop, not the local Michael's. Like the smaller counterpart above, I still have a few of these on my paint shelf. They don't come out often, mostly to paint the jar lid bases that I use for small vignettes but that is about it. I guess I'm saving them for an emergency. Who knows...

Again, my ascension to serious modeler led me to change paints. This time I got away from enamels and went straight to acrylics. Vallejo paints are great for figure painting, and other small details. They dry fairly quickly and brush paint superbly for an acrylic paint. They have a wide range of colors and the bottles keep paint waste to a minimum.
I've been using this brand for several years now, mostly for painting figures or details in a cockpit or something similar. They thin nicely with water and clean up in isopropyl alcohol. Unlike the enamels, Vallejo paints come off my shelf on a regular basis throughout the course of a project. Never the less, they are not what I airbrush with...

For airbrushing, I prefer Tamiya acrylics. They are fairly durable, cheap and available at my local hobby shop. They come in a vast array of colors and shoot nicely through my Passche VL when thinned with alcohol or Future floor polish. I use them strictly for airbrushing as they simply don't brush paint well at all. 

A model isn't complete without a wash. For that I pull out the artist oils. Being oil based, they dry slowly and are therefore workable for quite some time. They can be thinned with Testor's paint thinner and work well for pin washes or a wash with a wide brush. 
They are versatile for weathering, useful as filters, rain or dirt streaks, or even mud depending on how you apply them. I'll even use them for dry brushing. I don't have a particular brand loyalty when it comes to these paints, as long as they are oils they work for me!

So, that'll do it. Pretty simple assignment, and nothing particularly mind blowing as I'm sure a lot of other modelers use the same paints I do on a regular basis. Don't believe me? Well have a look at what the other Union members had to say! Thanks for reading!


Part of being in the Union means you must include links to fellow contributors' posts within your own response. If you liked this post, then perhaps you'll enjoy what some other modelers have to say about this topic!

Jay's Scale Model Adventures - New to the Union!

Want to join the Sprue Cutters Union? Its simple. If you model and have a blog that is all you need to start. Just write a post in response to the weekly topic, copy the link in the comments section for that week's assignment and you're in! Check out more detail about joining the Sprue Cutters Union.


  1. Better late than never, my post:

  2. Scraping in late...

  3. Looks like we use similar paint brands, I would like to one day try some oils etc for a figure or even to dirty up a car. Nice article.