Paint Choices for Craftsman Kit Building

edited September 2020 in Brett's Blog
I am working on a "tour" of several paint brands from other hobbies suitable for our use. I get several inquires on this subject a week and thought it was time to address the issue. Model railroading is sadly lacking paint brands designed for great coverage that we can use to paint castings, metal or resin. As many of you know I sold a paint set with many custom colors based upon our old standbys from Floquil like Earth, Grimy Black, Roof Brown, and Boxcar Red. The manufacturer I was working with surprise discontinued the line of paints mine was made from so that has sent me on this search for the perfect water based paint. I have extensively tested five popular brands and will report my findings. All water based and relatively easy to find and purchase. I will discuss Citadel, AK Acrylics, Reaper, The Army Painter, and Vallejo Model Colors. I will also discuss ordinary craft paint.

Your thoughts are welcome here before I start posting. I am only going to discuss water based acrylics and those suitable for craftsman kit work, not solvent based, airbrushing or locomotive painting, etc...


  • This is badly needed information. I thank you ahead of time for doing the research.
  • Citadel metallic colors cover well and have a good sheen.

    Vallejo has, obviously, a huge selection. I recently purchased the “flesh tone” collection. There are some hues that seem good.
    I also bought an airbrush set (by mistake) of Vallejo paints. The Rust works great with a brush as it is thin and doesn’t cover completely.

    I like the SW paint set. Sorry to see it disappear.
  • I think you are right Ed, for figure painting Vallejo is the choice of many of the best. Might not be the best choice for painting castings however...
  • I use all of those, except Citadel. Vallejo has a lot of washes, that seem to be very useful. There is a wood set along with a rust set. I have used just a few of the Army Painter colors.

    I have been using Vallejo for castings and I'm little surprised that you feel they do not work well, but painting is really not a strong suit for me.

    Mike S.
  • Brett... sent you an email.
    Hands down ... Mission Models. Best Acrylic paint period. Ideal for airbrushing and/or hand painting. Primers, metals, wide selection of colours. Constantly adding colours. My 2 cents worth.
  • Mike, it's not that I don't think they work well. I have found that they develop a subtle satin sheen when weathered/buffed with chalk. The other brands don't.
  • Ok, now I see. My meaning of buff, would be a hard rubbing, which I do not do after painting. I do buff my metal castings, as you instruct in your kit manuals, before painting and after blackening. I have not tried buffing them with chalk after painting, as I just use a light chalk dusting after painting to dull the colors a bit.

    Mike S.
  • Ammo of Mig may be worth consideration as well.

    For castings I've been using acrylics from vallejo model color, reaper and ammo of mig after a disappointing first try with craft paints.
  • Should be an interesting subject!!

  • Looking forward to the results as I am always looking for good paints to paint my detail parts. And you know I love those details!
  • Brett,
    Excellent topic and thanks for taking this on ! Looking forward to your tests and your analysis / conclusions on the different acrylic paints for painting and weathering scale castings and details.
    I too was a fan of the Reaper paints and the set you produced; but with no future run by Reaper your efforts here will be most appreciated.
    Thanks and be well,
  • I use Valejo, MIG and Reaper mostly. Happy with them all. I do see a bit of a satin finish with some colors from each brand. Nothing some dulcoat won't fix.
  • luckily I have enogh Floquil and Poly S to last me for the rest of my life.
  • I have a pen pal Model Railroader who is a real craftsman. We met online and exchange emails, photos, ideas etc. He has much experience using some of these other paints and techniques. The military modelers have these painting and weathering techniques down soild. Here is an excerpt from an email I got from him months ago.

    "I stopped using Floquil paints quite a few years back and I primarily use military model paints. My preference is paints from Mission Models. They are acrylic and I find them really great to use. I also use paints from Mig Ammo, AK Interactive and Life Colour. They are all acrylic based military paints, but they work really well.

    A number of the military paint manufacturers also have weathering powders, oils and enamel washes that can be used for weathering and rusting that work quite well. I use all these various methods. I also really like using Life Colour rust colour paints. They are really good to use. They have a really nice set of rust paint colours that I really like. I also use oils for rust as well. Of course there are all kinds of methods and such that you can use. I often apply rust with a piece of torn sponge type packing material. Almost like dry brushing. Take off most of the paint on paper towel and then lightly dab it on. It is a military technique often referred to sponge chipping - you can find videos of it on YouTube and articles on line if you want to give it a try. You can use it to make paint chips etc. I use this method frequently in my own modelling technique. I really like it.

    One thing to keep in mind if using any of these methods - it is important to use Acrylics for your base colours. Enamel based washes, white spirt etc don't react typically with Acrylic base colours. So it is important to keep in mind if you are using any of these other products for weathering subsequent to acrylic base colour. Just a quick word of advice and helpful tip.

    There are a lot of online retailers for these kinds of products if you want to give them a try - many in the US. I typically order items from a company in the US called the Last Cavalry but they are presently closed due to the stupid virus. I have also ordered from Michigan Toy Soldier. Both these guys sell typical military stuff, but you can get paints and other weathering stuff from them as well. That sort of thing. That being said, you don't have to go to all that trouble or expense either.

  • edited September 2020
    I've been using Decoarts Americana with great success. Covers well and has a nice selection of colours.

    They cover well (some colours better than other but this is usual in other brands also), are easy to mix and clean.

    The metallics however are not up to task so I use other brands.

    They are inexpensive and, from my experience, don't have many problems with aging.
  • I have amassed a huge amount of different brands of acrylics over the last few years. I have gotten away from the solvent based long ago. They all have different "cover" capabilities, which I try to use to my advantage. Those that cover in one coat are great for little details....where you want to paint it just once. The ones that don't quite cover well....are really great for dry brushing. As for washes...I been drawn to some of the sepia's and they create shadows without being too dark. We all tend to develop favorites...but this discussion is a good way to get answers.
  • Oh...forgot....priming the surface always makes any paint work better...
  • The primer is essential. I've found a use for all those old Testor's enamel hobby paints. I build lots of old HO scale metal truck models from Lee Town, Ulrich, alloy Forms etc. They are great kits but need some filing and adjusting to make them look right. Once primed, the Testor paints cover easily in one coat without brushmarks. Excellent!
  • engine909 said:

    Come Robert, we are waiting.

    Well, I have the AK , the Valleyo, but I use solvent based Humbroll for the castings. That is strong and dead flat when dry. Takes longer than the acryllic brands. I also know by experience that every acryl brand gives a light sheen when buffed when dry. That isn't necessary a bad thing. I you don't want a sheen, don't buff or apply a Matt varnish.
    Only real chalk paint is flat , but the color palet is poor and only available in large cans.
    All acryllic paints contain acryl...deuhhhh, and this gives the sheen. One more than the other.
    The Tamya brand is also a flat drying paint. Dries to fast except when adding a retarder. For our use, painting castings, the surfaces are so small that coverage isn't an issue I believe.
  • That's the brand I was referring to ,Annie Sloan. But you have to get a large can. Well for our use that is. I use it for other purposes so I have a few. And yes a lot of colors... :wink:
  • The number of choices are overwhelming for a new modeler. Lots of folks just getting into building craftsman kits and I want to give them a nice overview of several quality brands. It is obvious everyone has their own favorites and opinions about brands and usage. Very cool. The more participation and personal experiences the better!
  • That is also the reason, why all the kits start the same, but end as very personal ones . And that is the fine thing about this forum, you learn from every post. Techniques, materials, brands, and now focus on paints. Good initiative.
  • there's an art store a couple town over that stocks annie sloan paints. i'll probably head over there to pick some up. what do you thin them with?
  • Just water..
  • thanks fellas....
  • Just another observation....we all tend to paint with flat or dull finishes.....even brand new stuff. Take the HP gas cylinders....I work around them a lot.....and they are normally finished with a gloss finish. Same with some vehicles. And one last thought....I don't tend to airbrush too much....I look at how the real thing would be painted......brush marks are the norm on a lot of stuff since they use a brush to apply most getting "scale" brush marks....that's the rub.....I watched them re-painting the boiler on a steam loco at Steamtown....using a big brush......
  • I watched them re-painting the boiler on a steam loco at Steamtown....using a big brush......

    But for some unknown reason they know what there doing!!!

  • Great topic Brett, anxious to see how it shakes out...
  • Brett, once the dust settles and you have decided on a brand to recommend, are you going to offer them through your website similar to what your did with the Reaper paints, or just table the recommendation?
  • No plans to sell from my website. Reaper was unique since they were custom colors available in a special SW paint set. I'll provide a recommended list of colors.
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