Trains.com

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Been learning a thing or two about Acrylic paint

15452 views
19 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    September 2014
  • 311 posts
Been learning a thing or two about Acrylic paint
Posted by PRR_in_AZ on Wednesday, May 25, 2011 8:08 PM

As the title suggests, I have been re-evaluating my choice of paints and am deciding to give acrylic paint another try.  I have been painting my brass locos with Floquil, and Scalecoat I enamel paint and the results are fine but the fumes and clean-up are not the best.  Also I am getting sick of paying over 5 bucks for a stupid 1 oz bottle that probably costs pennies to make.  So, in my quest I decided to give craft paints a try.  I bought some Delta Ceramcoat paints at the craft store and started experimenting.  After doing some research on-line I learned quite a bit about how acrylics work and how to thin them.  I've heard here and on other sites about people thinning paints with washer fluid  and alcohol.  I do none of that.  All that is going to do is make your paint dry faster.  Something you probably don't want if you are trying to airbrush.  Also, when you thin your paint you are making the bonds between the acrylic polymers weaker.  As the paint is weaker it tends to chip and flake more easily.  What I learned to use is a product by Liquitex called acrylic airbrush medium.  This is basically used to thin your acrylic paint and preserve the strength of it because it is essentially clear paint (binder with no pigment added).  It is about the consistency of skim milk and thins most paints beautifully.  For some paints with heavier pigments I have been finishing off with just a bit of distilled water.  I've been painting a brass loco with my craft paint mix and it is working well.   I also bought some Floetrol at a paint store and have been adding it to the mix.  It is an additive for acrylic paint that makes the paint somewhat more slippery to allow it to lay down evenly and improve flow through the airbrush.  It also acts as a retarder.  It makes a huge difference and the paint is silky smooth even with flat colors and spraying at a higher air pressure than with my solvents.  Just thought I'd share.  Oh, btw, for those who use Pledge with Future for a gloss coat prior to decaling, you've probably noticed the new Future doesn't seem to airbrush as well as the original stuff.  Add Floetrol to the mix.  A medicine eyedropper full to 1 oz of Future will make it behave nicely.

Chris

  • Member since
    September 2007
  • 569 posts
Posted by ratled on Wednesday, May 25, 2011 8:41 PM

Thanks Chris for posting this. I have tried the craft paints and haven't had any luck.  I found this interesting on the Dick Blick site

This pre-filtered, ready-to-use medium thins any acrylic, watercolor, or gouache to the right consistency for spray application, while maintaining the integrity of the paint, even at high dilutions. It also decreases clogging and paint buildup.

gouache - that could make weathering even more interesting.  At $5 a bottle I'll have to give it try

ratled

 

 

Modeling the Klamath River area in HO on a proto-lanced sub of the SP “The State of Jefferson Line”

  • Member since
    May 2011
  • From: Anna, TX
  • 189 posts
Posted by CP guy in TX on Wednesday, May 25, 2011 9:08 PM

Hey Chris,

I read your article with interest. I use Floquil as well. I really like how it flows out, etc.

I've used acrylics for weathering, and have just thinned them with water. Worked OK for me...

Tru Line Trains came out with some Prototypical CPR colors and I picked a pile of it up when I was up in Canada railfanning, and I've tried painting a plastic diesel and a brass steamer with it, and it's gonna be a learning experience, it seems.

The colors are exact, but I'm worried about adhesion...

 

Van Hobbies H1b, K1a, T1c, D10g, F1a, F2a, G5a. Division Point: H24-66 Hammerhead, Alco covered wagons A-B-B-A, C-Liner A-B-B-A, EMD FP7A A-B-B.

H1b modified to replicate modern day 2816. All with Tsunamis.

  • Member since
    September 2014
  • 311 posts
Posted by PRR_in_AZ on Wednesday, May 25, 2011 10:26 PM

The colors are exact, but I'm worried about adhesion...

 

Well, try to mix in some of that liquitex additive and see if you like it.  Spray some of the paint thinned with water and then spray some with the additives instead of water or mostly additive with a little water. See if you notice a difference.  I'll bet you will.

Chris

  • Member since
    July 2004
  • From: Weymouth, Ma.
  • 5,199 posts
Posted by bogp40 on Wednesday, May 25, 2011 11:10 PM

Very informative post. Have been painting primarilly w/ solvents for many years, as you say the fumes and ,worse- cleanup, is a pain. I've tried painting w/ acrylics on numerous occasions and just was never satisfied w/ the results. Varying pressures, using different thinners and ratios as well as changing the needle sizes. Just never came out as good as Floequil or Scalecoat jobs. Will have to try some of your findings. Paint would always seem to heavy, almost hiding minute detail as well as having a slight transparancy that requires priming for various colors.  Always had a time trying to get that smooth dead flat finish you describe.  See what happens next time using some of these suggestions. Going to have to do it well sometime in the near future- solvent paints won't be found one day!

I have been using Floetrol as an additive/ conditioner for all my interior trim painting for quite a few years since those VOC Regs really screwed up all the paint formulas. My word, w/o using a conditioner, it is like painting with Elmer's glue.  Quick dry almost on the brush, and brush marks gallore. Floetrol  retard the drying and allows the paint to level to a Formica like finish.  I never would have considered it for airbrushing acrylics.

Thanks for the tip.

Modeling B&O- Chessie  Bob K.  www.ssmrc.org

  • Member since
    September 2014
  • 311 posts
Posted by PRR_in_AZ on Thursday, May 26, 2011 12:06 AM

I have been using Floetrol as an additive/ conditioner for all my interior trim painting for quite a few years since those VOC Regs really screwed up all the paint formulas. My word, w/o using a conditioner, it is like painting with Elmer's glue.  Quick dry almost on the brush, and brush marks gallore. Floetrol  retard the drying and allows the paint to level to a Formica like finish.

No problem at all.  I think the Floetrol is a key component as well as the airbrush medium.  I can spray the paint very wet and it just lays down and evens out like your experience with your other painting.  I like your analogy of painting with elmer's glue cause that's kind of what it feels like sometimes when you have to brush paint acrlylics let alone try and airbrush.  I think it would be very hard to accidently get orange peel with hte additives because the paint flattens out so nicely.  Because the Floetrol is kinda thick (like you are aware I'm sure) you have to use the airbrush medium as most of the thinner and then maybe a smidge of water at the end just to tweak the consistency to make sure it is thin enough.  Some paints need the water some don't.  Depends on the pigments and thickness of the paint.  The only caveat is that some paint can be somewhat transparent with just one coat so you may need two or three coats with some colors.

Chris

  • Member since
    August 2004
  • From: Amish country Tenn.
  • 10,027 posts
Posted by loathar on Thursday, May 26, 2011 12:57 AM

IMHO, craft paint is great for structures and scenery. Ceramacoat seems to be the best. Smaller particle size.
I would still go with solvent based paints for locos and rolling stock. Floquil and Scale Coat are the best since you may want to decal and over coat with a dull finisn.
Craft paints don't play nice with things like Decal Solve or Set.My 2 Cents

What's $5/bottle compared to having to strip and redo a project?

  • Member since
    September 2014
  • 311 posts
Posted by PRR_in_AZ on Thursday, May 26, 2011 1:20 AM

loathar

IMHO, craft paint is great for structures and scenery. Ceramacoat seems to be the best. Smaller particle size.
I would still go with solvent based paints for locos and rolling stock. Floquil and Scale Coat are the best since you may want to decal and over coat with a dull finisn.
Craft paints don't play nice with things like Decal Solve or Set.My 2 Cents

What's $5/bottle compared to having to strip and redo a project?

I guess I will find that out soon enough.  If I have to strip, so what?   I figure you have to try things in order to learn.  Also, I think the real reason your solvaset. etc. is eating through your acrylic paint is that most folks are thinning the paint with stuff that was never intended to thin paint thus compromising the durabilty of the paint.  I may need to conduct an experiment to see if this is actually the case.  If it works on scenery (structures) that is made of plastic or metal why not on a loco?  Anyhow, I'm not tossing my solvent paints just yet as they are excellent. 

Chris

  • Member since
    July 2006
  • From: Pittsburgh, PA
  • 1,776 posts
Posted by JoeinPA on Thursday, May 26, 2011 8:02 AM

Chris:

Thanks for the information.  I've been experimenting with acrylic paints lately and your experiences and advice will help to shorten my learning curve.

Joe

  • Member since
    September 2014
  • 311 posts
Posted by PRR_in_AZ on Thursday, May 26, 2011 10:31 AM

One thing I forgot to mention is the airbrush I'm using.  I spray my base coats with a Badger 200 internal mix, single action airbrush.  I use a medium tip and needle (the one the brush comes with).  I've been spraying around 25-30 psi.  I just bought a Badger Renegade Velocity double action gravity feed for detail work.  It has an extremely fine tip that I want to spray thinned oil paints through for weathering.  I don't think I'll be spraying acrylics through it as I think i'll be asking for trouble.

Chris

  • Member since
    May 2007
  • From: East Haddam, CT
  • 3,272 posts
Posted by CTValleyRR on Thursday, May 26, 2011 6:50 PM

I've been airbrushing acrylics for a couple of years now, using an Aztek gravity feed double action brush.  I thin the paint with dilute rubbing alcohol (35%) and it works fine for me.  After every cup of paint, I spray some soapy water through the brush to keep it from getting gunked up.

Connecticut Valley Railroad A Branch of the New York, New Haven, and Hartford

"If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right." -- Henry Ford

  • Member since
    January 2007
  • From: Eastern Shore Virginia
  • 3,290 posts
Posted by gandydancer19 on Friday, May 27, 2011 10:09 AM

I live out in the sticks.  Where do you find or get Floetrol?  What kind of store?

Elmer.

The above is my opinion, from an active and experienced Model Railroader in N scale and HO since 1961.

(Modeling Freelance, Eastern US, HO scale, in 1962, with NCE DCC for locomotive control and a stand alone LocoNet for block detection and signals.) http://waynes-trains.com/ at home, and N scale at the Club.

  • Member since
    June 2002
  • From: Michigan
  • 334 posts
Posted by georgev on Friday, May 27, 2011 10:52 AM

loathar

snip....I would still go with solvent based paints for locos and rolling stock. Floquil and Scale Coat are the best since you may want to decal and over coat with a dull finisn.
Craft paints don't play nice with things like Decal Solve or Set.My 2 Cents   ...snip

Just an FYI here.... I discovered the hard way that acrylic PollyScale doesn't like Solvaset any more than the craft acrylics I use for weathering.  I did not apply the clear coat thick enough (prior to decaling) and the Solvaset affected the PollyScale black on a tender.   Next attempt I put on more clear coat and did not have the problem. 

George V.

  • Member since
    September 2014
  • 311 posts
Posted by PRR_in_AZ on Friday, May 27, 2011 11:33 AM

gandydancer19

I live out in the sticks.  Where do you find or get Floetrol?  What kind of store?

Elmer,

You can get it at any paint store.  I got mine up here in Oregon at Rodda paint, but you could probably get it at some place like Sherwin-Williams, Pittsburgh Paints, etc.  If you don't have those near you try Ace or Tru-value hardware.  Some of the big box stores like Home Depot or Lowes may stock it.  Depends on the area.

Chris

  • Member since
    September 2014
  • 311 posts
Posted by PRR_in_AZ on Friday, May 27, 2011 11:44 AM

georgev

 loathar:

snip....I would still go with solvent based paints for locos and rolling stock. Floquil and Scale Coat are the best since you may want to decal and over coat with a dull finisn.
Craft paints don't play nice with things like Decal Solve or Set.My 2 Cents   ...snip

 

Just an FYI here.... I discovered the hard way that acrylic PollyScale doesn't like Solvaset any more than the craft acrylics I use for weathering.  I did not apply the clear coat thick enough (prior to decaling) and the Solvaset affected the PollyScale black on a tender.   Next attempt I put on more clear coat and did not have the problem. 

George V.

I agree some of those decal solutions can be pretty harsh to paint.  I think the key is putting on enough clear to protect the paint and making sure it is good and dry.  Maybe a few days to a week before decaling.  Future seems to protect OK but when using the Microl-sol it can leave a bluish residue where the solution was.  I try a blot up excess solution as I go but sometimes you need to let it sit on a decal in order to get it to conform to the detail.  After the solution is evaporated and the decal dry, I take a damp paper towel and lightly rub over the bluish areas.  A clear overcoat should make these areas go away.  I'm also going to experiment with artist version of clear varnish to see if they form a harder protective barrier.

Chris

  • Member since
    March 2002
  • From: Lakewood NY
  • 679 posts
Posted by tpatrick on Friday, May 27, 2011 3:07 PM

Say PRR, can you give us a sort of recipe? How much Liquitex do you use for a given volume of paint? And then how much Floetrol? My color cup can hold about  8 droppers of liquid, so assuming 4 droppers of paint, how much of the others do you recommend? I have Testor's acrylic MRR paint.

  • Member since
    September 2014
  • 311 posts
Posted by PRR_in_AZ on Friday, May 27, 2011 3:33 PM

tpatrick

Say PRR, can you give us a sort of recipe? How much Liquitex do you use for a given volume of paint? And then how much Floetrol? My color cup can hold about  8 droppers of liquid, so assuming 4 droppers of paint, how much of the others do you recommend? I have Testor's acrylic MRR paint.

That's a good question as it does depend on the paint you start with.  Since you are using an acylic paint that is designed for models, it is probably a thinner consistency than the craft paint I've been using.  For instance I was mixing up a batch of DGLE (dark green locomotive enamel) from Hunter green and black craft paint.  I got the color nearly spot on but my craft paint was much thicker.  In a 1 0z bottle I filled it about halfway with paint and then added between two and three droppers of Floetrol.  To thin to airbrush consistency I thinned with Liquitex airbrush medium until it was nearly the right consistency (heavy cream consistency) then finished off with about 4 droppers of water.  The way I judge consistency is to take my mixing stick and drop some paint down the inside of the jar.  If it flows down the side like milk and is not transparent then you have the right consistency (for a base coat).  That's about as best  mixing instructions as I can give because there is a fudge factor with different manufacturues of paint, etc.., that you'll have to play around with.

Chris

  • Member since
    March 2002
  • From: Lakewood NY
  • 679 posts
Posted by tpatrick on Friday, May 27, 2011 7:32 PM

Thanks, Chris. That will get me going in the right direction.  A little experimenting should get me where I want to go.

  • Member since
    May 2007
  • From: East Haddam, CT
  • 3,272 posts
Posted by CTValleyRR on Friday, May 27, 2011 8:56 PM

You should thin your paint to the approximate consistency of 2% milk before airbrushing with it.

Another caution about using acrylics, especially with top coats and decals.  While it may feel dry to the touch after a few seconds, it's not fully cured at that point.  Acrylics need a couple of days to fully cure.  The person who said he waited a couple of days before applying decals has the right idea, although I would let the paint dry for 72 hours, then let the clear coat dry for 72 hours before putting on decals.

Connecticut Valley Railroad A Branch of the New York, New Haven, and Hartford

"If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right." -- Henry Ford

  • Member since
    April 2003
  • From: Clinton, MO, US
  • 4,235 posts
Posted by Medina1128 on Saturday, May 28, 2011 6:44 AM

I strictly use acrylics. For general weathering or common earth tones, I use the ones available in the crafts section at Walmart. For railroad specific colors, I use Polly Scale.

I dilute them with 70% rubbing alcohol, which aids in drying.

I've found that the real keys to almost perfect paint jobs are:

  • A clean surface. Wash in warm soapy water to remove any mold release, finger oils, etc. I let the model air dry for at least 24 hours. Once clean, I always wear non-powdered latex gloves to handle the model.
  • Give the paint something to adhere to. I use Krylon automotive primer.
  • Just prior to painting, and between each color, I gently wipe down the model with dryer sheets. This removes dust, lint, hair, etc. from the model.
  • Once dry, I spray Krylon clear gloss over that. I've never had any adverse effects on the paint job using this. It also gives me a smooth surface to apply decals to.
  • I give the clear at least 24-72 hours to dry.
  • Next, I apply the decals, then wait a couple of hours for the decals to dry, then apply DecalSet.
  • If the decals have bubbles, I use a new #11 Exacto blade to gently poke holes in the decal and reapply the DecalSet.
  • I then give the decals another 24 hours to dry, then I spray Testors Dullcote to seal the decals.
  • Next comes the weathering. I like to weather with an airbrush. The colors don't get diluted like chalks when you seal with Dullcote. One exception I've found is weathering with Bragdon chalks, they don't get washed out like generic chalks when you seal with Dullcote.

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Users Online

Search the Community

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Model Railroader Newsletter See all
Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter and get model railroad news in your inbox!