Buyers' Guide to Model Paints

Every keen modeller needs to know the right paints for the right project. There are a wide range of model paints to choose from, and so here we present a quick guide to the different options available.

Acrylic Paints

Acrylic paints are now probably the most popular type of paint used by modellers in the modelling world; the paint can be easily applied using a brush or airbrush. Acrylic paints tend to be safer than other types; the drying time is also far quicker allowing models to be painted in hours rather than days.

Acrylic paints were traditionally used by artists however specific ranges were introduced for modellers in small pots; they are generally low odour and low toxicity in nature. The paint can also be thinned with water or alcohol, this also allow for easier cleaning of an airbrush.

There are a number of different brands of paint and all give good results, Tamiya paints are one of the widest ranges of acrylic paints, and are popular with most modellers. Revell and Humbrol also have ranges of acrylic paints aimed at the modeller. Xtracrylix are a UK company that produce paints covering R.A.F., Luftwaffe, Russian and American air forces in both modern and WWII eras.

Water and alcohol will act as a thinner with most acrylic paint ranges, but will not always give such good results as using the manufacturers own paint thinner.  

The paints should be thinned if using an airbrush; the ratio can vary depending on the application however a 50:50 mix with the manufacturers own brand thinner, should be suitable for most airbrushing needs.

Modelling Enamels

Modelling enamels come in small tins and jars, these paints are oil based and can be thinned with white spirit or turpentine.

Enamels were the first type of paint available to modellers and were available in small tins matched to the colours of aircraft and military vehicles. One of the most popular brands in the UK is Humbrol which most of us will remember from our youth being displayed next to the Airfix, Matchbox, Frog and Revell kits.

Modelling enamels are now available from many manufacturers and like acrylic paints there is a large range of matched colours. As well as the previously mentioned Humbrol, Revell and Xtracolor also offer a wide range of enamel paints.

The only issue with enamels is they are not as “user friendly” as acrylics, they require thinning with flammable spirits, and they are also toxic and have a bad odour. However if you are working in a well-ventilated room, which should be the case whatever paint medium you use, this should not be a problem. Enamels do have some advantages - they are slower drying and therefore they can be softened again and removed with spirits; this characteristic is used to advantage by armour modellers for creating washes and filters to weather the exterior of the model kit.

Lacquer Paints

Lacquer paint is very different from acrylic and enamel paints. Although it is highly toxic with a very strong smell and very flammable, it is also hard, durable and very shiny.

The shiny hard wearing coat is ideal for natural metal finishes and aircraft; it is also very popular with auto modellers giving cars that new fresh factory look. Radio control enthusiasts also make use of this hardwearing shiny paint with models which need to survive the real world knocks and bumps.

One of the most popular ranges of metallic lacquers is made by Alclad, these lacquers paints are applied to the surface of the model using an airbrush the room should also be very well ventilated area and with a protective mask. Alclad also supply an airbrush cleaner, this is highly recommended if you value your airbrush.

Whatever type of paint you are using you should wear a good respirator in a well-ventilated room when airbrushing.

Buy Model Paints Online

Wonderland Models has a wide range of model paints available to buy online, including top brands like Tamiya paints, Humbrol, Revell and Xtracolor. We also stock all the associated accessories – including Paint Brushes, Airbrushes, etc. Please do take the opportunity to browse our online store today.

If you should have any enquiries about selecting the right paints for your model, please feel free to contact us for further assistance.


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