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Thread: Acrylic vs Enamel Paints

  1. #1
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    Default Acrylic vs Enamel Paints

    After a long hiatus from scale modeling I'm back building scale models. For the record Tamiya was the best armour model kit when I was a dedicated modeler, and still are judging by the Tiger 1 Initial Version kit I purchased last night.
    There were no acrylic paints available when I was last building kits.
    Would you please give me some feedback on Acrylic Paints vs Enamel Paint? Likes, dislikes, plusses, minuses etc?
    Thanks for your help.

  2. #2
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    Hiya I hope my thoughts help you decide and/or experiment and get back to enjoying our hobby. If your break has been for a long period, you will likely know that in the early days of acrylic paints, they were not always as stable and easy to use as the good old fashioned enamel. Another issue was that they tended to be targeted at the art market and so did not offer a great deal of choice in appropriate colours for the military modeller. However things have changed and many of the top manufacturers such as Tamiya are offering a range of high quality acrylic paints, alongside their normal enamel ranges. The colour choices are fantastic and are being produced in selections of colours that match the various ones that were specified by various agencies, like the RLM in Germany, so mean that we can obtain superb sets of properly matched colours. However one great advantage is the much reduced drying times that acrylics offer us, allowing us to spend less time waiting for hours or even days, for paints to dry, so that we can continue working on a model.

    Also in these times of environmental protection, on the whole acrylic paints cause less harm to the planet and living things as they do not rely on the oil industry, nor are there the same groups of harmful chemicals used in both manufacture, disposal and indeed our cleaning painting tools. Once dry acrylics are stable, colours are well manufactured and paints from many different sources can be intermixed for things like weathering. There are a number of diferences in some paints where they may be water based, or contain an alcohol base, this does make a difference in the cleaning process, but does not really cause any difficulty in thinning or cleaning, as there are normally matching thinners offered alongside the paints.

    One of the most important factors is that acrylics are that they offer a much lesser intrusion and risk of toxicity on us and the other people who may well share our modelling space as their use does not flood the environment with the often harsh odours and other effects to people who may live around us. However as with any paint or glue it is still as important to use sufficient ventilation and breathing protection, particularly when using an airbrush. This should be common sense I guess when using any chemical.

    With their nature of fast drying and forming a solid sealing coat over the model surfaces, acrylics are much less likely to suffer harm, when using other products and thinners over them.

    I would say give them a go as they offer excellent quality, although do not forget the good old fashioned enamels as they still have a place in our armoury and can still offer some advantages in their use, weathering is one area as they do make excellent washes.

    I am afraid this is a potted history based on my experience and preferences in using modern acrylics, but I think will help you and might generate some other peoples responses.

    Aye,

    John

  3. #3
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    John, thanks for the information. I have in fact used acrylic paint exclusively on the Tiger 1 I'm currently building. Everything you say is exactly what I have encountered with the acrylic during my build. And you're right the amount of authentic colors that are available blows me away.

  4. #4
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    Default Hmmm

    While acrylics are faster drying, IMHO a lot depends on your airbrush (if you have one). I have two; a Badger Anthem 150 (general purpose) and a Paasche Turbo AB. The 150 does both types of paints equally well but the AB LOVES enamels best.

    Guess it all depends on the individual.I have plenty of both and use them both all the time.

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