Customs: Enamel paints - how to get the best out of them

Discussion in 'Creative General Discussion' started by Ramrider, Feb 1, 2008.

  1. Ramrider

    Ramrider TF Art Lad

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    Sorry, this isn't a miracle thread that tells you all you need to know about working with enamels. I don't have the experience yet to claim I can do that.

    But for years, I've shied away from enamels, fearing that they were much harder to use than acrylics. I used enamels on model kits for several years with... okay results, but once I started miniature painting and discovered acrylics, my work almost immediately started to improve. Naturally, it was easy to assume that acrylics were somehow 'better' than enamels, and I stuck with them.

    However, recently there have been several artists claiming that enamels are generally more durable, bonding with plastic better, and the results they produce certainly seem to be of a quality at least on a par with equivalent acrylic painters.

    So I got thinking, maybe I should give enamels another try. Maybe they're not actually the bane of my existence (or something a smidge leess dramatic :p ). I've gained a lot of knowledge and experience in the last fifteen years or so with acrylics... can I use that and get the results I want from enamels.

    Well, I've only been playing with them again for the last week or so, and I have to say, they haven't been as difficult to use as I remembered.

    The only trick I've established so far is don't use enamels straight out of the tin; they'll almost invariably be fairly thick, and the couple of coats it'll take to cover will start to fill in scribed detail.
    I'm tending to dip the tip of my brush in thinner before taking a little paint from the tin, and it's covering areas of my KO Reverse Convoy in 2 or 3 coats without much hassle.


    The idea of this thread, though, is to throw the question out to those members who do successfully use enamels. I'm not intending to attempt to sway people to the cause (especially as I'm still deciding how 'sold' I am myself), so much as to remove some of the barriers that stop people from trying them.

    How do you do it? What key facts do we need to know about enamels to get the best out of them? What equipment is essential to get started?
     
  2. frenzyrumble

    frenzyrumble Banned

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    to begin with, I am making an 'enamel tutorial' hopefully sometime this weekend/main reason: enamels are colorfast. they won't fade like acrylics. even the 'best' acrylics. enamels will hold their color even in direct sunlight for many years.

    other quick reasons:
    -slower dry time
    -easier to blend/fade
    -better metallic colors
    -more chip resistant
    -bonds to plastic
    -cleans up with thinner
    -can be 'reactivated' with thinner
    -doesn't bead when too thin
    -doesn't clunk up when too dry

    I'll elaborate on any of these points if someone has an disagreement. However, I am not gonna start another 'debate', each artist has his own preference and technique, so before we start - to each his own.
     
  3. SonRay

    SonRay Banned

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    Eh. They are ok, better than Acrylics obviously but i find them to be too much hassle most of the time. Too messy, they take too long to dry and stuff. Unless im painting an area with lots of impact areas or chances of sections rubbing together i just use acrylics for detailing like that when i can. Saves having to wait a day to be able to touch it and move on to another area.

    Thats why i just like to do as much as possible with my airbrush and automotive paint. As of yet i have found nothing that beats them but i know most people wont be able to use them as they require specialist knowledge in painting to be able to use them.

    Glad to hear that you are broadening your painting horizons though! ;) 
     
  4. Ramrider

    Ramrider TF Art Lad

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    Bear in mind, this isn't a thread about why you should or shouldn't use enamels. We've been down that road far too many times, as you both well know :p .

    The thread is for people who may be considering enamels, or want to try using them, but don't have the knowhow to use them at their best.

    I'm looking forward to that tutorial, F_R... thanks a lot.
     
  5. StarFire_MK2

    StarFire_MK2 'Till All are One! TFW2005 Supporter

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    FR has hit almost all the main points! Another is oil enamels are far more self-leveling that acrylics, meaning you see fewer brush strokes, if you're applying them correctly. Put it on too thick, and it's not going to look nice no matter what paint type you use. I don't find oil enamels stick any better to plastic than acrylics though; I learned that the hard way, when I ignored everything I've ever learned about painting once and skipped the primer step. :( 
     
  6. Bigbot3030

    Bigbot3030 Well-Known Member

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    The biggest thing i've learned over the years with enamels has more to do with the small aerosol cans. You CAN get a great finish out of them if you follow these two tips.
    1-Before using the can shake it up thoroughly (duh) but also put the can under some warm water a bit to warm up the paint. It loosens it up considerably and you get a smoother finish.
    2- When you start to get to the bottom of a can and are working on something important (such as the outside of a car body) Don't try and squeeze the last bit out of the can. It will ultimatley sputter and leave you with the "orange peel" finish. Get anouther can and use the last bit on something not as important.
    Hope that helps and was on topic. :) 
    Randy!
     
  7. TonyzCustomz

    TonyzCustomz Am I doin it rite? TFW2005 Supporter

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    I have used several different types of paint before (including car paint) and like F_R said there are a lot of reasons that enamels and car paint are better than acrylics. I do think however that the skill required to use such paints will definitely deter a new customizer because of simple mistakes and issues unbeknown to them(F_R will hopefully address all those) and because of that reason I usually recommend water based over oil based paint. What everyone should remember when doing any painting though is that your final coat is only as good and your prep and primer, before even thinking of painting something always take the time to do proper prepping, sanding, and primer coats. If you do that it really should not matter what you use as your medium. Also always be sure to give your figures a good sealing(future floor finish or Krylon Clear Coat). Fin.
     
  8. SonRay

    SonRay Banned

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    A man after my own heart. Best advice ive seen shared on these boards in months! Im glad im not the only one who knows these things.
     
  9. TonyzCustomz

    TonyzCustomz Am I doin it rite? TFW2005 Supporter

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    ;)  I speaks the truth! LOL
     

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