Today I received a box of 30 Italeri acrylic model paints that the original owner had struggled to use successfully and passed on to me free of charge, so I’ve decided to test them out for myself and see how I get on, and report back here with my findings.
I’ve never used these paints before, my usual acrylics are Tamiya or Gunze for spraying, and Vallejo model colour for brush painting. By all accounts these are very similar to Vallejo (possibly even made in the same factory if the internet is to be believed).
So how am I going to test these?
Well the original owner had limited success airbrushing these, so my efforts will focus on spraying them.
I’ve got a few airbrushes, but for starters I’m going to use my usual one, an Iwata HP-C+, which has a 0.3mm needle and nozzle. If I find the paint does not spray well through this, I also have a Harder and Steenbeck Silverline 2 in 1. This usually has a 0.2mm needle/nozzle, but it came with a 0.4mm nozzle/needle combination. I’ve never used the 0.4mm set up, but if the paint struggles to spray well through the Iwata this will be the perfect opportunity to try it out. The larger nozzle is designed to handle coarser pigments which may help in this case.
For thinning I’m going to try Vallejo Airbrush thinner first up. This should work quite well as Italeri’s paint may well be very similar to Vallejo. I’ve also got some distilled water which should work as well, if reports from the net are anything to go by. What I wont be using is Tamiya X20A, or other alcohol based thinners. I also don't expect lacquer thinners to be any use, although I may try this, just not in my air brush in case it turns to goo.
I need to find something to use as a surface to paint – then I’ll make a start. My plan is to paint the colours on primed and un-primed surfaces, and to do some broad coats and some detail painting. If they are going to clog and suffer from tip dry, it will probably be during the detail painting, so I want to push the paint a bit to simulate real world spraying.
Here’s a photo showing the airbrushes, some of the paints and the thinner I’m planning on using.
To be clear i found tip drying was the problem after 2-3 minutes of spraying the paint dried and shot in blobs abit like silly string, water and other thinners (italeris's own thinner) only made the time to dry slightly longer
All power to you Phil, i think the paints for the volume are a good price,...just couldn't use them.
I have the AK Retarder and a Winsor & Newton one, I just pick up whichever is nearest.
Also drop the pressure down a bit and add a flow improver (again by W&N) the only reason I say this, is that sometimes I thin it so much that it loses surface cohesion (meniscus) and the flow improver helps maintain this, you can also use a drop of washing up liquid to do the same thing.
Very short update tonight, I went to the supermarket and bought some cheap plastic bowls. These will be my test subjects.
I've washed each one in soapy water to degrease them, then masked each one in half and will prime one half so I can see the difference between spraying over primed and unprimed plastic. Italeri claim no primer is needed so I'll see how well that stacks up. I've prepared two as I intend using one light colour and one dark colour for the testing.
I'll probably just use a rattle can automotive primer. Hopefully get that done tomorrow night if I'm home in time.
I sprayed them onto the half primed, half bare plastic bowl shown below.
I started with the Lichtblau RLM 76. The paint was thoroughly stirred in bottle, then thinned the paint until it looked thin enough to airbrush. I erred on the thick side, as I prefer to thin the paints only as much as I need to get it to spray.
I started with an overall coat, then proceeded to paint some lines.
I then applied a second coat.
I made up a second batch of paint and thinned it more, and used this for some more lines, before applying the last part of the paint left in the colour cup as a third, thin coat. I actually applied this a bit too wet and got a bit of a run. Also I noticed that this thinner coat dried with a mottled appearance.
I didn’t notice any issues with the stringy effect using the blue.
Next up I repeated the process with the Dunkelgrun RLM 71 on the second bowl.
Thinning was done in the same way, erring on the thicker side.
As expected with the darker colour, this covered better. I did an overall coat, half on the primed area, half on the bare plastic. After applying a couple of coats the paint was covering with a reasonably opaque coat.
I then started painting some fine lines, but at this point I was starting to get some tip dry and splatter from the build up on the tip, and the paint was a bit thick to spray the finer lines so I added some more Vallejo thinner to the colour cup and stirred it in.
This is when I started to notice some issues.
I was getting some splattering and the paint colour was separating a bit in the colour cup into two distinct shades of green. I decided to try and spray a broader coat on another section of the bowl, and this was the result:
What I believe is happening here is that the paint has started to dry a little in the airbrush, not enough to be noticeably thicker, or skin over, but the drying process has probably started. I’ve then mixed the new thinner in, and this has reacted with the paint and not so much as thinned it, but broken it down where it was beginning to dry. These are the little solid splatters you can see.
So I flushed out the airbrush and mixed a fresh batch of paint and started again. I thinned it a little more from the start, and again painted an overall coat on bowl. I then started again on the fine lines.
Again by the time I moved from the overall coat to the detail painting, I was starting to get tip dry. I was dealing with the tip dry by using a paint brush soaked in thinner to wipe the tip of the needle, and by loosening the needle and rotating it a little to break up any dry paint in the fluid nozzle.
In my experience these are both only temporary fixes though, and this was the case here.
You can see as I moved on to painting some fine lines the paint was starting to cause some minor blockages.
Line 1 in the photo below is ok, and Line 2 is ok but I could tell the paint wasn’t flowing as well and you can start to see the paint flow starting and stopping a bit as the flow is interrupted by paint starting to dry on the tip of the needle.
Line 3 is stopping and starting, a sure sign of tip dry restricting the paint flow. I pulled the needle back a bit, and of course then got a bit too much paint which you can see on the upper part of Line 3 where it gets a bit heavy. You can also see the flow is being interrupted by the way the line is intermittent.
Line 4 is suffering from a blockage, and line 5 starts with a rush as I pulled the needle back a bit, but then quickly clogs up again as more paint dries on the tip of the needle.
This is pretty typical of my experience with painting with acrylics, this paint performs in much the same Way as Vallejo model colour in this regard.
By now it was clear that simply flushing the airbrush wasn’t going to solve the problem so I pulled out the needle and cleaned it down as well as back flushing the brush.
I decided to try some Tamiya Lacquer thinner, and much to my surprise it worked fine. It sprayed with no issues for the little bit I used. Because I expected a total failure and gloopy mess I only mixed a small amount.
Here's an overall view of the green bowl showing the different areas:
Top is where I started, then moving around to the 1 and 2 O'clock you can see the lines I started painting when the paint was a bit thick. The mess at 9 O'clock - 12 O'clock is where I tried using the re-thinned paint and got all the messy bits in the paint.
The solid area 5 -7 O'clock is the second batch of paint, and the lines around 7 - 9 O'clock is where the airbrush was starting to clog.
Around the underside of the rim of the bowl from about 2 - 8 O'clock is the paint thinned with Tamiya Lacquer thinner.
In conclusion, I managed to spray the paint with a reasonable level of success, but due to the tendency for it to dry on the needle and clog the nozzle, it is pretty tricky to use for detail painting, and it's hard to predict when you might start to have issues.
The finish is very smooth (smoother than Vallejo Model colour).
The finish seems to be pretty soft when compared to Tamiya or Gunze. I will re-asses this after the paint has dried for a day or two.
Well this is interesting it sounds like you have more success than i did BUT i saw the same thing. tip drying.
A) The picture below is the wing of a 1:32 Ju88 the spitting and stringy stuff happened AFTER i'd already sprayed most of the wing which was ok.... and of course not all in one go, so it may have started to dry in the airbrush, not a problem i have ever had with any other paint.
I use retarder...winsor and newton galeria, so i don't understand why it dries so fast.
C) You are right on the detail work, when using the Italeri paints for the squiggles or spots on the HE 219 it spit and dried and ruined the paint to the point i sanded all off and mixed Tamiya to the approximate shades, i was very close to binning the project.
It looks like you have had more success than me, but i think the paints are too twitchy and too hard to spray consistently so i'm gonna keep to my Tamiya/Gunze/Vellejo paints.
Nice structured analysis tho, hats off to you sir,... couldn't tell you were an engineer... not at all.
Thanks for taking the time to test this paint Phil and post your results here. I'm curious how the hard the paint is now after nearly a week to dry?
I've been considering trying out some acrylic (for airbrushing) and Vallejo Model Air seems to get positive comments. Do you have any Vallejo Model Air to compare against the Italeri please Phil? I'm curious as to the difference, but in my mind a paint needs to be able to spray both broad and detail depending upon subject and scale, so I've certainly got reservations about the Italeri for detail work.
Going back to the toughness of the finish - understandably it has hardened up after a few days. The paint over the primer takes a bit of scraping with my fingernail to remove it (I actually have to try to scratch it) the paint on the bare plastic comes off pretty easily.
It's harder wearing than I expected, and seems more scratch resistant than vallejo model colour.