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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Although I prefer enamel primers, I will always favor acrylic finish-coats because of their faster dry-times and easy cleanup.

If you're into weathering:
Acrylics are best for weathering, because they can be rinsed off with plain water and reapplied.


Of all the acrylics I've used, the six listed here are favorites for various reasons.
Depending on whether I'm handbrushing, airbrushing, or drybrushing, certain brands and types will do better than others for me.
No doubt you've heard of, or might have used other brands. These are the ones I have the most experience with.

• Vallejo & MicroLux.
• ModelFlex.
• ModelMaster.
• Mission Models.
• Tamiya.

These evaluations are based solely on personal experience and observation, and are in no way meant to slight any other choices or favorites.

Vallejo
Airbrushing.
Handbrushing.
Drybrushing.
Right off the bat, I'll go out on a limb, and say that the best acrylics on the shelf are Vallejo... hands down.
They hand-brush the best, and Vallejo/Air & Premium airbrush better than any other.
They can easily be thinned, or they spray right out of the bottle without a hitch, and they dry smooth as silk.
There's also a huge selection of colors.
It's sold by most online outlets, and at most Hobby Lobby's and Amazon.

MicroLux
Airbrushing.
Handbrushing.
Drybrushing.
MicroMark's MicroLux acrylics are made by Vallejo, and are divided into handbrush and airbrush categories. A limited selection lists Engine Black, Grime, Roof Brown, Roof Red, Reefer White, RR Tie Brown, and Rust.
I've used the Roof Brown and Reefer White, and they're both top notch.

ModelFlex
Airbrushing.
Drybrushing.
Badger's ModelFlex is a close second. It sprays like a dream right out of the bottle, but doesn't hand-brush as well. Wide range of railroad colors.

ModelMaster
Handbrushing.
Drybrushing.
One of my favorites for hand-brushing is Testors ModelMaster.
Although it doesn't airbrush as well, it goes on nicely with a brush, and dries smooth. Wide range of railroad colors.

Mission Models
Airbrushing.
Handbrushing.
Drybrushing.
Extremely high pigment density, and excellent coverage. Thinner & "PolyMix" need to be added for dilution.
When thinned according to directions, (about 60/40) it's a superb airbrush paint. It also handbrushes well with less thinning. Very economical... goes a long way. Excellent adhesion.
Mostly military colors, but several basic colors, earth colors, and many shades of rust.

Tamiya
Airbrushing.
Drybrushing.
Tamiya is another one of my favorite acrylics. They're mostly meant for airbrushing, and they excel at it.
Not that they handbrush all that poorly, but they're specifically thinned for the airbrush right out of the bottle.
Their online down-loadable color charts are divided between gloss, semi-gloss and flat, by letter designations... somewhat overwhelming if not confusing.
They're available just about everywhere.

These acrylics all dry fairly quickly, adhere very well to alkyd, enamel and acrylic primers, and render superior coverage.
 

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Since I now have about 10-20 bottles of vallejo, unopened -- I'm glad for that seal approval! I tend to think from the vantage point the paint in spray cans-- which I'm familiar. So i kept thinking enamels for the airbrush -- but got a little concerned about the vapors. I have an organic 3M mask -- but I dunno, it's not clear to me what it does -- and breathing through it is no fun at all. I have no paint trap. Consequently the acrylics seem a great place to start.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
The one and only disadvantage to Vallejo paints is, the small bottle neck makes it difficult to get a mixer in.
The common remedy is to drop a few #10 stainless steel nuts in the bottle, and shake like the dickens. Works well.
In addition, storing them on their sides helps to keep bottom-settling to a minimum.
 

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good idea, never thought of it. i did see a you tube vid where a guy has a home brew (I think) shaker. The guy with the australian accent, I think he gets product paid though.

(here, I dug it up -- but didn't actually watch it...)

 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
IMO, paint 'shaking' just moves paint in a small container violently back and forth... it doesn't actually mix things up that well.
The Badger mixer works best.
It BLENDS the paint, and forces all the pigment upward in a swirling motion.
Just be careful... some folks forget to shut it off before pulling it out... you'll have a tie-dyed shirt.
bad121~2.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #6
In case you're wondering, yes, the Badger mixer's end-thingy can be modified to fit in the neck of Vallejo bottles, but it's not worth the effort.
Three #10 nuts in the bottle will do just fine.
 

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Wait isn't that dual use -- coffee foam maker and paint mixer! har. Pragmatically you are right, I just think Mr Towan is trying to get eyeballs to his vids and paid. Although I have no proof of it.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
I also build, paint, and weather models of U.S. WWII aircraft & armor.
Vallejo makes a vast assortment of acrylic military colors, as well as dirt, mud, dust, rust, and grime colors.
This is how I got acquainted with these excellent acrylics.
Up until I began using them, I was exclusively employing Badger ModelFlex and Testors ModelMaster acrylics, and was very satisfied... they're outstanding paints.
But Vallejo acrylics are so superior, that even the 2nd best is far outdone.
 

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I wouldn't mind doing that. I built some Bandai Star Wars models and have one in a box sitting next to me -- not started. (I didn't paint these) And I built the Pegasus from Battlestar Galactica... which I did finish and painted with a spray can. It looks pretty good. That's in fact what really got me to thinking about the airbrush. In fact I liked the kit so much I bought another with the idea of airbrushing it. And I had this idea for a Star Wars (ok sci-fi) land on the layout. But I'm prone to crazy ideas that I don't finish or even start. Although that's not always true! Then I wouldn't mind myself making some WW2 dioramas or similar. Maybe those could go on the layout. too! Why, why have any trains! There won't be room!

Geeze, I mean I better get to work, I'll never get this all done!
 

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I also build, paint, and weather models of U.S. WWII aircraft & armor.
Vallejo makes a vast assortment of acrylic military colors, as well as dirt, mud, dust, rust, and grime colors.
This is how I got acquainted with these excellent acrylics.
Up until I began using them, I was exclusively employing Badger ModelFlex and Testors ModelMaster acrylics, and was very satisfied... they're outstanding paints.
But Vallejo acrylics are so superior, that even the 2nd best is far outdone.
That has been my experience as well, although most of my non-railroad painting is miniature figures, primarily fantasy and SciFi themed.

Now that I've discovered them, I wish I had discovered them long ago. I only made the discovery when Rustoleum / Testors shut down PollyScale, and Vallejo is way better than PollyScale was.
 
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Besides some basic colors which came with the airbrush i have one of the vallejo "effects" sets, and "military air" set. But I think I see now why folks have more than one brush. There's no speedy simple way to change colors. But if you knew you had say 3 colors primarily on a piece -- you might load 'em all up and this would easier and faster.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Pre-loading a gravity type airbrush, for later use, even a few minutes down the road, is a practice I would definitely avoid.
 

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Besides some basic colors which came with the airbrush i have one of the vallejo "effects" sets, and "military air" set. But I think I see now why folks have more than one brush. There's no speedy simple way to change colors. But if you knew you had say 3 colors primarily on a piece -- you might load 'em all up and this would easier and faster.
That's one of the reasons I like the Aztek brushes. They use detachable paint cups. Finish with color number one. Detach cup and place in soapy water for cleaning later. Run another paint cup full of (clean) soapy water through the airbrush. Then move to your second color, using a separate cup. Repeat this cycle as many times as necessary to paint multiple colors.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
paint dries in the brush?
Not so much "dries", but acrylic paint begins to coagulate as soon as it's sprayed.
Sitting in the cup idle for a few minutes might not clog things up very much, but it can't help... especially since the last one used is at the end of the project, and a 'spit' could ruin everything.
Besides, the airbrush itself must be thoroughly cleaned before spraying a different color.
 

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I wondered about cartridges or something along those lines. the aztec approach seems along those lines. But perhaps there some residual in the "gun" part so to speak ... I guess a lot depends on exactly what is your doing and how much mixing you can tolerate etc...
 

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Discussion Starter #17
In case anyone is wondering about the compatibility of different paints, especially when using primers:

Within the hierarchy of paints --
Lacquers-Enamels-Acrylics... there is a basic rule of thumb:
"Enamels over lacquers; acrylics over enamels."
Any variation of this rule doesn't usually end well, especially if thinners are used.
 

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If hunting for suitable nuts to insert into your paint bottle turns out to be a pain, simply stoop near a roadside and snatch up two or three small rock chips. Wipe 'em clean, or run them under a stream of water/urine if you can manage that for all sorts of reasons, dry them and pop 'em in.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Gotta say, it's the first time I heard that one.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Primer
Just to be clear, before you attempt to paint a pre-painted metal or plastic model, you should strip it, (e.g., isopropyl alcohol) and prime it.
A good coat of primer is essential in achieving a good paint job.

There are many good hobby primers available, including hardware brands like Krylon and Rustoleum.
Some however, are better than others.

Acrylic paints will adhere to pretty much any brand or type of primer...
For instance, (for reasons that are arguable) I prefer enamel primer.
 
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