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Scale model (aircraft) painting questions, please

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  • I have just got back into making plastic scale model aircraft after over 25 years of neglect, but now I'm retired.

    I've just completed a 1:72 scale MiG-29 (Farnborough 1988 "Blue 10" - the first time it was displayed in the West, I believe) which I bought back in around 1991 or so! I am unhappy with the all-too-visible painting brush-strokes (used Humbrol enamels; some new, some maybe 10-15 years old which were given to me) and when I bought a new model kit last weekend, the hobby store said I need to thin enamel paint, even if manually brushing. I have never used an airbrush, BTW.

    Is there any rule of thumb for dilution percentage of [Humbrol] enamels with [Humbrol] thinners, please? Surely it varies - for instance, gloss/satin/matt enamels appear to be more viscous than metallic enamels. Do you need to thin [Humbrol] enamel primer?

    For my new kit (1:72 scale Gulf War RAF Panavia Tornado GR.1) I had to buy Vallejo Model Color acrylic (70.876 brown sand) as there was no enamel (Humbrol or otherwise) in stock. Model paint is hard to get here (it's all imported); stocks are eroded! I've never used acrylic paint; never anything but Humbrol enamels. I'm definitely not claiming any superiority of any brand or medium, etc - it is simply all I've ever used!

    I understand it is OK to paint acrylic paint over enamel primer (but not vice-versa?) but is it really necessary to prime bare styrene before top-coating, whether with acrylic or enamel colours?

    Do you just shake the Vallejo "eye-dropper" type bottles of acrylic paint, or do you need to stick a thin object through the tiny hole to try to stir it as well. I don't know how effective manual shaking would be... especially when the bottle is new and totally full. Do you have to thin Vallejo acrylics?

    Finally - I'm sure it does no harm, but is it worth it to wash a new model's parts in warm soapy water, before commencing assembly at all?

    Thanks for any input - there is so much conflicting information about these things...
    Aussie Seahawk
    NET Veteran
    Posts: 1297
    Joined: Thu Jul 23, 2015 10:37 pm
    Location: Adelaide, South Australia

  • Hope I can help , I owned a Hobby Store for 23 years but have been out for about 6 years. Things might have changed.

    Humbrol paints don't require thinning for hand brushing , they changed the formula about 10 years ago so they were pre-thinned for airbrushing , and thus became useless for hand brushing. I find Humbrol paints more miss that hit now.

    In short , thinning paints make them harder to hand brush with, so I don't agree with the advise you received.

    Yep , most Acrylics over enamel will work , priming can be handy when using lighter colours , as they don't tend to cover well when hand brushing.

    Vallejo can only be shaken , it is a weird bottle !

    Yeah , I always washed the plastic first , some of the cheaper brand kits require this .

    Tamiya make a good spray Primer , it can be a bit thick so it's easy to loose some of the detail on smaller scale kits...keep it warm and apply very light coats.

    Try a few different paint brands , I found Lifecolor Tamiya and Gunze Acrylic's easy to brush with. Tamiya Enamels can be thick but do cover well.

    .....Don't scrimp on the quality of paint brushes as well.....
    VB Hawk
    NET Rookie
    Posts: 130
    Joined: Thu Apr 30, 2009 2:35 pm
    Location: Melbourne , Australia

  • VB Hawk - thank you very much for your valuable info and advice!

    I never knew that, about brush painting with Humbrol enamels (now being pre-thinned for airbrushing)! I've joined a modeling forum ( and done many internet searches, without finding this secret out! I must try other paint brands, as you suggested. I've always used Humbrol enamels, because... I've always used them (they were what my father used). I showed the Hobby Shop my brushes, and they said they were fine. I didn't actually think to mention to them that my Humbrol paints were all old, and will indeed do so when I am there again in the next couple of weeks.

    It was suggested by someone on the forum that I get a battery-operated paint shaker for the Vallejo-type "eye-dropper" bottles (I never knew such a thing existed)! But I'll just try shaking the living .... out of it; obviously no paint is going to perform well, if not properly mixed!

    I'll definitely wash the kit before assembling anything, thanks. I've never actually used any sort of canned spray-paint on models, or used an airbrush. Guess I've simply never been game enough to try it, and possibly I should. I just sort-of also thought 1:72 was maybe too small to make airbrushing worth it, and also I have assumed you need a proper painting area to do this safely and away from other people (ie, not in the house)!

    And I'll prime my 1:72 Tornado - the principal colour is indeed a light shade. Thanks again for your help... I realise I should get scrap sprue and styrene pieces out, and simply experiment for myself more.
    Aussie Seahawk
    NET Veteran
    Posts: 1297
    Joined: Thu Jul 23, 2015 10:37 pm
    Location: Adelaide, South Australia

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