This week's Sprue Cutters' Union subject is paint, specifically "what paint(s) do you use?". The picture below shows a random selection from my motley collection of paints – as you can tell, I've had some of them for decades.
For the first twenty years of my modelling life I used enamels exclusively, because that's all there was: Airfix in the little glass bottles and Humbrol in the tinlets. Having learned to brush paint fairly well, it wasn't until I got my first single-action Badger airbrush in my late teens that I was able to achieve a reasonably smooth, consistent finish (after lots of practice and many ruined kits). At some point I made the change to acrylics, which wasn't a smooth transition as I struggled to find the right consistency that wouldn't clog the airbrush, dry with a grainy texture or blow off like dust from the model's surface. After lots more practice and some more ruined models I found the ratios and paints that I liked. Then, a few years ago a friend introduced me to Gunze lacquers which were by far the easiest paints to handle, requiring fewer ruined models before a satisfactory finish was achieved. So, in order of favourite brands:-
Gunze Mr Color lacquers: spray thinly and evenly, dry fast and a good range of colours. They have two main drawbacks. Firstly they're difficult to find in North America, and now many Far East mail-order outlets won't ship them either. I amassed quite a collection of them some years ago so I'm OK for a while, except for the second drawback – some colours seem to dry up in the jars very quickly.
Tamiya acrylics: readily available, spray superbly (especially when thinned with lacquer thinner) and dry quickly. Main drawback: there aren't many aircraft specific shades, so if I'm looking for a particular FS or RLM match I usually end up mixing it from several colours.
Xtracrylix: great range of accurate aircraft colors, dry quickly and semi-gloss (perfect for decalling). They're not the easiest to use – some colours seem to dry on the needle tip, and I've found a primer coat an absolute must or they peel off along with the masking tape. Despite these idiosyncracies I use them a lot.
Vallejo Model Color acrylics: these are the ones in the plastic bottles, and I use them for brush-painting details. They're really opaque so cover well, and I like the convenience of the little squeezy bottles.
At the end of the day, although those are my preferred paints, if I need a particular shade and I have it in stock, I don't mind whether it's acrylic, enamel, lacquer or what brand it is.
Now, achieving a good, gloss finish is another matter. If anyone reading this has a foolproof – i.e. not Future – method for gloss coating, please share...
Other Unionist posts:-
The Eternal Wargamer
Jay's Scale Model Adventures