Plastic Model Paints?
January 21, 2012 10:30 AM   Subscribe

This black acrylic paint sucks for the plastic model I am building. What model paints should I be using?
posted by toastchee to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You've obviously got Testor's, but what kind of black is it?

When I used to do plane models, mine never looked anything like the things on the box, but the really serious guys use airbrushes or a bunch of other techniques that are way more involved than I felt like being, and I just used a brush.
posted by LionIndex at 10:47 AM on January 21, 2012

Sorry - I meant to say that the request for clarification is because the labels in the photo are blurry and I can't read what kind of black you have.
posted by LionIndex at 10:48 AM on January 21, 2012

HAve you considered using one of Testor's 3oz spraycans of lacquer?
posted by buggzzee23 at 11:17 AM on January 21, 2012

The testor's enamels are pretty much nail polish. It tends to be on the goopy side, takes forever to dry, and picks up fingerprints until then. This can be helped by thinning it with, well, thinner. For large areas, I prefer spray enamels. Make sure you give your plastic parts a wash with soapy water and a coat of primer.
posted by plinth at 1:28 PM on January 21, 2012

I always use Citadel paints from Games Workshop, and Daler Rowney FW acrylic inks for my models.

Citadel/GW also puts out a good spray-on acrylic basecoat, in black or white.
posted by edguardo at 1:46 PM on January 21, 2012

What are you trying to achieve? For quick-drying matte finish, I usually use the citadel paints edguardo links to. For gloss and glossy transparent dyes, I like Tamiya acrylics. For airbrush work, I like Tamiya enamels, purely because they're not true enamel; even once completely dry, you can still thin them (and even reuse them), so it's always easy to clean out the brush perfectly)

The citadel paints you'll have to get at a gaming store. Other gaming-store paints are usually very good too (and often cheaper than Citadel) if you want matte.
The Tamiya paints are sold in model/hobby stores.
posted by -harlequin- at 10:00 PM on January 21, 2012

Best answer: What are you trying to achieve?

Oops, sorry, on second look at your photo the background is a Camero kit, 1:25ish.
I'd use gaming paints for matte details in the interior. (Perhaps glow-in-the-dark paints for some instrumentation detail :-)) Tamiya metallics and dyes for metal engine parts.

But the big challenge is probably the body paint - it has to be completely flat tone, and polished super-gloss. I'd use two steps for that. A Tamiya spray can for that (or an airbrush if you have one) to lay down a flat even colour (build it up using several very light coats that individually aren't fully opaque) then a few very light layers of gloss varnish if necessary to get it really shiny. Like painting a real car :)

And like painting a real car, remember that you can use the clearcoat to enrich the colour (ie a tintcoat). For example, a red paint overlaid with a yellow dye instead of a clear one will add depth to the colour. It could be a lot of fun to buy a few paints, regular, metallic, and transparent, and play with the various finishes you can achieve on bits of plastic before painting the model.

If the model is of a car you own, or you're otherwise trying to replicate a real-world facotry colour, look it up online and see how the colour is made. My car uses a factory tintcoat to get its colour. Heh, in your shoes I might even mess around finding out if I can use a dremel to buff the clearcoat :-)

Alternatively, if you screw it up, paint sprays of mud up the sides, window-wiper-shaped clear areas on the glass, scuffs and scrapes, driven like it's been stolen :-)
posted by -harlequin- at 10:29 PM on January 21, 2012

Response by poster: Wow! thanks... Being a novice, the first thing I would like to achieve I just to find the paint that doesn't end up streaky and runny like the acrylic did. The two pieces in the pic were the seat and engine block...both of which ended up looking like a layer of watercolor was added. Is that the fault of the acrylic I chose?
posted by toastchee at 6:37 AM on January 22, 2012

Best answer: both of which ended up looking like a layer of watercolor was added. Is that the fault of the acrylic I chose?

It could be. Ideally, a paint will be completely opaque with a thin layer, but a lot of paints aren't - even within the same line of paints you can get variation between different colours, some colours are more difficult to make as opaque than others.

Also check that the paint is thoroughly stirred and mixed - use a toothpick if you're not sure. Many paints tend to separate out as they sit on the shelf. The pigments fall to the bottom, collecting into a sediment, while binders and thinners tend to rise to the top. The result can be that you inadvertently try to paint with mostly translucent chemicals that have barely any of their intended pigment.

Gaming paints are pretty good at being highly opaque. You can paint them without adding any water, and should do so if you're trying to get a flat even tone, though more advanced techniques (like blending a gradient between one colour and another across a surface) involve using water.

But even with highly opaque paints, depending on your brushstrokes or how much (if any) you thin them, you can get streaks. Often that means you'll need to add a few more layers until it's evened out.

Failing that, get a different brand. It looks like you're trying to paint red plastic with black paint, and the black isn't properly covering up the red. I can't tell if it's a case of brush strokes being indelibly left in gooey paint (in which case, try thinning it slightly so that the paint doesn't hold its shape quite as well) or if it's a case of the paint being too thin (in which case mix it thoroughly, and paint without thinning, let dry, add another layer if necessary to cover any thin areas), or if the paint just isn't very opaque. Black is an easy colour to get extremely opaque, I wouldn't think much of a paint where a black struggled to be opaque.

It can also help immensely to undercoat. A spray primer is good for that (don't overspray or the excess runs into the recesses of the model, swamping some of the detail. If that happens, blow it off, preferably while not facing anything you mind getting a spray of paint over :)). You generally pick a primer that is similar in colour to your intended paint colour. Eg even though priming with white will help black paint stick better, it'll obviously be easier to get good streak-free results with black if you prime with black (or even grey).

I've had a few red paints that struggled with opacity. In those cases I found that they needed a white undercoat to get good bright results, while a black undercoat or dark plastic made a murky mess.
posted by -harlequin- at 2:52 PM on January 22, 2012

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