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Acrylic paints?

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  • Member since
    April 2020
Acrylic paints?
Posted by JimF51 on Wednesday, May 13, 2020 10:17 AM

In the past couple of years I have switched to acrylics for all my model railroad, military vehicle & WWI aircraft modeling, much as nost other modelers have, in these areas.

Now getting into model cars. Are acrylics being used for these, also?

And just as a FWIW, I did try to search out this topic, but just as other topics I have tried to find, using the Search Forums feature, I got zero results.




Jim F

  • Member since
    December 2003
  • From: Nova Scotia
Posted by Bainford on Wednesday, May 13, 2020 10:54 AM

Some builders have switched to acrylics for all their building due to the reduced toxic fumes and no need to mess with strong solvents. When it comes to painting bodies, there are varying degrees of success; some very happy with the results and others disappointed compared to their trusty enamels and lacquers. For some builders, there seems to be a stigma to using acrylics for body painting.

Having said that, even many of the lacquer and enamel users are using more acrylics in interior and chassis, etc painting, and for doing washes. As you know, acrylics are still an expanding trend in the hobby, with numerous companies recently producing lines of hobby specific acrylics with a wide range of colours and textures. There is a lot to choose from out there, and any builder would do well to take advantage of it. Paint lines produced specifically for Gundam, armor, etc, not to mention the plethora of cheap craft paints, can certainly be exploited for car building.

Personally, I am guilty of shunning acrylics for body painting, though I do use it for interiors, chassis, and weathering quite a bit. I try to keep an open mind, though. So far I have only experimented with Tamiya acrylics (a lot) and Vallejo (very little). I was determined to give acrylcs a fair shake for body painting, but I was disappointed in the results. I found the Tamiya acrylics for body painting problematic in several ways, though I have not heard others having the same problems, so I may actually be the problem. Some builders make it work quite well.

This is a rambling way to say, if it works for you, have at it. Hopefully someone with more personal experience will chime in.

As for the search function, don't waste your time. It used to work poorly for many years,  but since the last forum renovation (quite a long time ago) it ceased to do anything at all. It's a shame, as there is a lot of excellent information locked up in this forum, but it's not easy to find these days.

"It would be unusual, if the unusual didn't occur."

- Steamboat Gariepy


  • Member since
    December 2004
  • From: West Bloomfield, MI
Posted by steveracer on Wednesday, May 13, 2020 12:42 PM

Guys, this is quite timely!  Just yesterday I was pondering this question, while I used Tamiya clear and Tamiya Flat agent together (after a search of FSM) in a ratio that would dull my Goodyear Slicks and not ruin the Goodyear decals, and not be sticky....needless to say, this was a very positive experience all around for this application, as Lacquer leaves a weird mess.

I find the Tamiya silver to be too grainy for scale applications from the TS bottle, however since I don't like it, I am going to try to paint a scrap body to see the results, and clear over for the final verdict!  I will probably end up like Bainford, disillusioned, but if I don't try it, I will never know.  Anyone else have anything to share?

steelies, dog dishes and poker chips

  • Member since
    August 2015
  • From: Hamptonville, NC
Posted by TarheelRick on Thursday, May 14, 2020 6:51 AM

I am considering moving more toward acrylics to get away from the toxicity of laquers.  However I have a drawer full of different nail polishes that I am determined to use.  I have used different acrylics over the years with mixed success.  I have worked with the "craft" acrylics and was surprised at their effectiveness not only on interiors, but car bodies also.  Of course they do dry flat and require a gloss coat, but then so do nail polishes.  I do believe acrylics will be the paints of the future.

I build models because I can't afford the real thing!

  • Member since
    December 2003
  • From: Nova Scotia
Posted by Bainford on Thursday, May 14, 2020 10:50 AM

Of course they do dry flat and require a gloss coat, but then so do nail polishes. 

Really. I had no idea. I have a drawer full of nail polishes as well, but haven't tried to shoot any yet.

"It would be unusual, if the unusual didn't occur."

- Steamboat Gariepy


  • Member since
    April 2020
  • From: Rocky Mountains, USA
Posted by micrometer on Friday, May 15, 2020 4:25 PM

I'm just recently building my first auto in 40 years. I've done plenty of WW2 models, mostly aircraft. I exclusively use craft acrylics due to the reasons previously mentioned and also I'm really frugal (cheap).

I used a gloss craft acrylic for the body and I'm well pleased with the results. I won't be entering any contests so my quest for perfection is not at that level. I build for my personal satisfaction. I've seen many modelers who go beyond imagination when it comes to details and my hat's off to them.


You can do a Google search of acrylics for model cars and get plenty of information.


Good Modeling!


  • Member since
    May 2015
Posted by Goofy62 on Friday, May 15, 2020 5:27 PM

I have tried nearly everything in my modeling career, including gloss enamels, which actually will give you a very nice glossy finish in just a couple of coats.

The down side is that they go on thickly and will hide detail quite easily, not to mention that they are prone to running and sagging and take forever to cure.

I have also used flat enamels, which is a pretty good system.

Flats dry much faster, level better and go on much thinner than gloss.

They can then be gloss coated to achieve a shiny finish.


I have never had any luck at all with acrylics for spraying bodies.

I use them sparingly for detail work, and it might just be my technique or the paints that I chose, but I always had issues with coverage and just overall uniformity of finish.

I eventually settled on lacquers which I agree are more difficult to deal with in some respects, but the ease of use, virtually endless array of colors, and almost indestructable durability are the main hallmarks that make it a fixture in my shop.





  • Member since
    February 2020
  • From: Massachusetts
Posted by Ricmod on Tuesday, June 16, 2020 9:40 AM

I'm confused by the term "acrylics" on this forum. There are acrylic lacquers and enamels that are solvent based. Are you refering to water based acrylics rather than solvent based acrylics?


  • Member since
    January 2013
  • From: Sugar Land, Texas, USA
Posted by VintageRPM on Tuesday, June 16, 2020 10:38 AM

While there are acrylic enamels & acrylic lacquers, most modelers use the word "acrylic" to mean acrylic water-based paints.



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