A Guide To Model Paints
HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR PAINT
We’ve scoured the world wide web for information that will help you with your hobby – when we find posts or information we can endorse at sprueVerse it will be here for you. For those of us who have spent countless hours painting our miniatures or scale models, we know all too well the importance of using high-quality paint. Once you have a better understanding of paints and how they work on different surfaces, as well as the different types of paints available choosing the best paint for a given project will be much easier. One of the first decisions you will face is what type of paint you want to work with. Next, you will want to decide how you are going to apply it whether that is with a brush, airbrush, or less common but very convenient is the paint marker. Aside from this the rest of what you will want to know is what affects the performance of the paint on a given material whether it is plastic or metal.
TYPES OF PAINT
What kind of paint should I use for plastic models or miniatures? What type paint should I use for metal models? These are common questions and really comes down to preference. Paint typically consists of color pigment that is then emulsified with a binder that can be delivered to a paint medium, which for this purpose is usually plastic or metal. These binders will typically determine what the paint type will be. Below are the two types of paint available to hobbyists to use on models or miniatures. Aside from the binders, sometimes paint will have additional additives that affect performance but more on that later.
ACRYLIC BASED PAINT
Acrylic based paint is the most common and popular form of paint used on miniatures and plastic models and will achieve the best results in most cases. It is made by adding color pigment to an acrylic polymer then emulsified with water to create the final product. Acrylic paint can also contain various fillers that may or may not affect performance. Over the years acrylic paint has improved vastly and can now perform as good as oil-based paint in most cases. Some benefits are very short drying times, and the ability to change the flow or viscosity of the paint without diminishing the color saturation. Conversely, you can also change the transparency without changing the consistency. Acrylic paints are also incredibly easy to clean up as well as being non-toxic. In most cases, acrylic paint is the best choice for painting your miniatures or scale models. Acrylic-based paints can be brushed on, sprayed on, and can even be found in paint markers. Acrylic paint is also available in a variety of finishes or sheens ranging from glossy to flat.
OIL BASED/ENAMEL PAINT
Oil-based paint used to be the the most common form of pain this is until acrylic paints improved drastically to offer similar performance. Oil-based paints are those that mix pigment with a drying oil, typically linseed oil, as a binder. When oil-based paints are applied, the oil reacts with the air to dry to a very hard finish. These hard finishes are very durable and depending on the formula, can achieve a very glossy sheen. When used with turpentine or other thinners, oil-based paints can be thinned to change the viscosity and flow. The luminous properties, as well as its ability to bond to just about any surface, are just a few reasons some artists use oil-based paints. The downside of oil-based paints is the slow dry time, the need to use turpentine for cleanup which is both cumbersome as well as toxic. The slow dry time id not a total negative though since it can allow the artist more time to develop the paint job gradually but just as well you will need to wait longer when layering colors. As you can see, while either paint can work well on pretty much any type of application, you may be better off using acrylic over oil or vice versa. Another thing to keep in mind is using oil and acrylic paints that will touch or layer over one another isn’t advised as acrylic paint will not always bond to oil paints.
PAINT FORM & APPLICATION
Paints can be applied to miniatures and scale models in a number of ways of achieving a variety of effects. Some are more versatile while others can produce very unique designs and appearances.
OTHER CONSIDERATIONS TO SELECTING MODEL & MINIATURE PAINT
Paints have a few characteristics you need to be aware of in addition to the paint type and application method. These are other attributes that will also affect both the final appearance and application of the paint. Understanding this will help to achieve better results.
PAINT BODY & VISCOSITY
The body and consistency of paint will affect the application of the paint. A thin or body-less paint will work well in an airbrush system or for someone who desires a more watercolor-like consistency when painting. The most color-rich and opaque paints will contain mostly pigment and binder with small amounts of water. On the other end of the spectrum, heavy body paint is how paints are able to achieve textured or raised appearances when dried. You can achieve virtually any desired consistency using different additives, simply adding a little water can make the paint more flow. Keep in mind that any additives may affect the opacity of the paint particular in acrylic when water is used. There are a variety acrylic additives like these made by Liquitex that can change the flow of the paint or slow the dry time. Consider an additive if you need to achieve a particular effect.
High-quality paints will usually have a lightfast rating. This rating determines how susceptible the color will be to fading or shift due to light exposure. Look for paints that are described as being lightfast to ensure a long-lasting paint job.
ARTIST PAINTS VS MODEL/MINIATURE PAINT
Artist quality paints are usually made of the highest quality materials and the highest concentrations of pigment. Paints marketed as “Model Paint” or “Miniature Paint” are really not too different at all. Any difference is usually in auxiliary additives that are included in “model paint” that are there to produce effects like slowing dry times. Since a manufacturer’s paint formulas are generally trade secrets we will never really know what they contain but as a general rule, artist quality paints are usually superior. You may be wondering which is better but the debate continues and I usually tell people to use what works for them. There is a case for either if you are an artist who already has a stock of paints to use I wouldn’t recommend buying all new paints. If you are just starting out, model paints sets offer a great variety of sets in pre-selected colors which are formulated to provide great results even for the novice. If you do use artist-grade, select light-bodied lines or thin them when using.
Color shift is a natural effect of color darkening as it dries. Acrylic resin is generally white and dries darker than it appears. This is why it is a good idea to test paint before painting an entire piece. Artist quality acrylic use clear resin so their color shift is imperceptible and any color shift is due to the combination of surface color and a paint’s opacity. Finally, the best paint should not be without the best paintbrushes. Once you decide on your paint, quality paintbrushes are equally important in laying smooth color. Since you have a better understanding of what makes great paint you can set out to find one that works best for your needs. We have also provided several choices of the best miniature and scale model paint.
THE BEST PAINT FOR MINIATURES & MODELS – QUICK REVIEWS
Below is a complete list of the best paints for both miniatures and scale models available. We have included an option for each type of paint which should provide unlimited capabilities when painting on plastic, metal, and other materials. From acrylic based paints to oil-based enamels, you will find one on the list. If you are heading to your local craft store, some of the best paint brands are going to be Vallejo, Game Workshops, and Liquitex among others.