Introductory: Paints: Some Recommended Types/Brands

Discussion in 'Tutorials and How Tos' started by Superquad7, Oct 9, 2009.

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  1. Superquad7

    Superquad7 OCP Police Crime Prevention Unit 001 Super Mod

    May 19, 2003
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    Hello! If you're clicking on this tutorial, there's a really good chance that you're just getting started with customizing your Transformers toys, but you're looking for a step in the right direction regarding which paints to use. The reason I say this is because there have been quite a few people who have never painted a Transformer toy (or even a model kit for that matter!) and find themselves stuck trying to figure out which paints to use. Fret no more! The Radicons Tutorials are here to help you!

    A bit of a disclaimer: while many of these different types of paints have been used frequently, by all means try some different paints yourself! I'm definitely a proponent of making use of what's at one's disposal work and work well. EVERY artist has some sort of limitations, whether it's the work area, a particular method, etc. Use your disadvantages to your advantage! Keep your mind open to new things and new methods. You may end up finding you like one particular paint more than another, even to the point you become very comfortable with one thing. I recommend just being open to trying new things. If it works, GREAT! If it doesn't, you can always start over.

    With that being said, let's get started:

    Acrylic Paints:

    Welcome to Testors

    Testors makes a wide range of paints for those who want to paint their TFs. I have used this set many times:


    Testors Primary Acrylic 7 Color Gloss Paint Set

    This set is great for flat paints:


    Testors Aircraft Acrylic 7 Color Flat Paint Set

    These are essentially the two basic sets I've used for quite a while. While Walmart doesn't carry these any more, you can still get them at arts & craft stores (like Michael's and Hobby Lobby).

    A step up from these (price and quality) are the "Model Master" series of paints:


    Model Master Acrylics. I've also used these, but the $3+ per bottle price tag makes me a bit more choosy when I buy them. The advice I'd pass along is to plan ahead for certain colors. If you know you're going to be using a lot of a certain color of blue paint, then this is a good way to go.

    Another type of paint that I really enjoy using is Testors Pactra Acrylics:


    Testors Pactra Acrylics

    These paints are also on the upwards of $3+ per bottle. Again, plan ahead for your projects. These are marketed as "R/C Paints", but I love working with them. I love the Pearl Blue, so when I go to the hobby store I know to pick up a bottle when I'm running low. REV here, is example of my usage of the Pearl Blue from Pactra:


    (Click the image to view the full gallery)

    Beyond that, I've use the "craft" paint that Walmart and other stores sell in hoards of different colors. The trick with this paint is that it's mixed for usages such as paper and other materials with more of a tooth, or rough surface. I've done two things to circumvent this and use them well for the plastics found on TFs:

    1. Mix them in another container with a bottle of Testors Acrylics (which are mixed to work on plastics). If you don't want to change the color of the craft paint, use a Testors Acrylic clear coat, such as the Model Masters Clear Acrylic. If you want to use the color but want to mix your own color, use the other component color from Testors. Here, I've mixed my own vat of green, using some green craft paint that needed more yellow in it (so I used Testors Gloss yellow, along with an array of other colors):


      I used this vat of green on a commission I did for fellow Radicon Brazilian. Buster, a custom character of his, comes from an Alternators Camshaft:

      (Click the image to view the full gallery)
    2. Mix the craft paint with Future floor polish. I've been mixing Future floor polish with my paints, and I find that it works great. Future is essentially clear acrylic paint, but it's mixed to be very durable. The great thing about Future is that it's self-leveling. This is especially nice since craft paint has a higher tendency to leave brushstrokes behind. I point this out because I've noticed that even when I've mixed Future in with clear acrylic from Testors, the paint still tends to have a viscosity that yields towards leaving behind brushstrokes more.

    Other artists use Tamiya Acrylic paints and have had much success with them:


    (Tamiya bottle and spray can acrylics)

    Tamiya Acrylic Paints

    Acrylic Sprays:

    There are several sprays one can use, but the kind I've found most effective (along with many other artists) is Krylon Fusion for Plastic:


    Krylon Fusion for Plastic

    Oddly enough, K-mart typically carries the largest assortment of colors of Krylon Fusion. Walmart carries a few colors, along with hardware stores like Lowe's and Home Depot. The product is made and marketed for bonding to plastic surfaces. TheTransTorture has contributed a wonderful tutorial with sprays in our tutorials section:

    While I typically try to stick with Krylon Fusion, I have used Krylon Indoor/Outdoor paint as well with very good results:


    I think with sprays, you can get many sprays that are designed to be durable to work well as long as you keep a few things in mind:

    • developing a process that works well;
    • you're in an area that's ventilated well;
    • you don't over soak your coats/use light, multiple, even coats;
    • you let the paint dry and cure well
    • your work/drying area is relatively dust free

    I've used both acrylic and enamel sprays with good results.


    While I don't prefer or recommend solely using enamels for painting TFs, there are some artists who like to use them 100% of the time. A standby is, of course, the Testors enamels, and is a good starting place for beginners who are specifically looking to use enamels for their customs:


    (Testors bottle and spray can enamels)

    Testors Enamel Paints

    One of the advantages that Testors Enamels have is that you can pretty much find them anywhere that sells paint, and in a very wide variety of colors. Places like Michael's may not sell Testors Acrylics in individual bottles, but rest assured you'll be able to find most any color in any finish that you're looking for.

    If you are wanting to use enamel paints, having some thinner is essential:


    A trick I often use while painting is much like where I dip my brush of acrylic into a small amount of Future floor polish. While I'm painting, if the enamel is either too thick or I see it drying unevenly (e.g., showing brushstrokes, paint clumping up), I'll simply dip my brush with the same color into a small amount of thinner and go back over the area. Also, you'll need this thinner to keep your brushes clean after you're finished using enamel paints.

    I've used some these enamel sprays with good results. I've also used the smaller bottles with my brushwork painting, however I typically only use the silver and gold for metal parts (like faceplates and such).

    I hope this helps out, guys :thumb 

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    Last edited: Sep 24, 2010
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