Painting With Tamiya Acrylics
by Bill Wolfe
I admit getting a little weak in the knees at the thought of painting my models with anything other than enamel paints. I’ve been hearing quite a bit about these Tamiya acrylics lately and wanted to give them a try. The subject for this project is Italeri’s M-901 “Hammerhead”
This is really not my first attempt at using these paints. I have base coated a few figures, but wanted to see how they do on something a bit larger. While this is not a construction article, I wanted to mention that this kit from Italeri is not exactly ‘detail packed’. The whole reason I opted for the ‘Nato’ scheme in the first place was to give the kit some visual interest.
Prior to this project, I mixed these Tamiya paints with 70% ISOPROPYL ALCOHOL. This time out I thought I would do it ‘by the book’ so I picked up a small jug of Tamiya’s acrylic paint thinner.
This stuff is a bit pricey, but it’s recommended by Tamiya and I felt, for some reason, it did a better job than just using the rubbing alcohol. The good news is that you really only have to use the thinner while you’re painting: you can still use the alcohol to clean the airbrush. This helps the thinner to go a little farther.
O.K. So you have your model all built up and ready for paint…now what?
I used my Badger 150 single action airbrush for this job. I’m not ready to take a chance clogging up my double action brush just yet. I thinned the Tamiya NATO green paint in a 1:1 paint / thinner ratio, set the air pressure to about 20 psi, closed my eyes and pressed the button!
The first thing you notice about this paint is that is goes on very much like the enamels I was used to, without the smell!
It dries VERY QUICKLY which is the reason some people are a little afraid of it: They’re worried it will dry up in the airbrush causing a huge mess! This did not happen in my case – – perhaps the mystery Tamiya paint thinner?
Let’s talk about the PRO’S for a second. With paint that dries that fast, you’re able to get on with other aspects of the job much sooner. Another plus – this paint is acrylic and won’t be lifted or adversely affected by an enamel paint wash! This is very good news as many people have a tough time with the wash phase
While I was happy with the base coat, it was still far from the NATO scheme I set out to do. While many NATO vehicles have a hard-edge type of camo on them I was trying to test the limits of this ‘new’ paint and wanted to see how fine a line I could paint with it. So. . . . back to the spray booth, this time with Tamiya NATO black and NATO brown. The paint was thinned at a 1:1 paint / thinner ratio just as before, but I backed down on the air pressure just a little to about 15 psi.
This time with my eyes open wide I hit that button yet again!
The rest of the work needed to get to the results you see in the “after” photo below were just washes, drybrushing, some detail painting and a touch of pastel chalk weathering.
I would have to say that my test use of the Tamiya acrylic paint went better than I had hoped. I’ve bought some more in fact. This time some of the WWII colors. And the final result? You be the judge. .. . . Hmmmm…….What can I build next?
Photos by Bill Wolfe