Mastering painting

OK I’ll admit I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed but this painting thing is getting under my skin.

Let me first say that I’ve been modelling for about 200 years. Would you believe 100 years? How about 50 years? So in that 50 years I’ve use numerous brands such as Testors, Floquil, Tamiya, Humbrol etc etc etc. Used brushes and airbrushes. Painting has always caught me out. Something I have never mastered.
So what’s the secret? I’ve worn Google out looking for answers. I find an answer only to find another site that contradicts the first site.

Here’s my latest predicament. I use Mig Ammo. I’ve ‘almost’ figured out the air brush. Lay down a primer. Some hairspray. Top coat of acrylic. Then some oil dots. Wham oh. My thinners removes the oil and my top coat. Some say to spray on a protective clear coat. Others say no you don’t.
Is it my thinners? Is it the hairspray? Is it the humidity here? Is it me? No can’t be me! :roll_eyes:

Well I’m building this 88mm flak gun. Primer. A bit of hairspray on just a few select parts. Top coat. Oil dots and the removal of the oil dots is also removing my top coat. Yes I can go so far but then the top coat starts to come off. I can work with that. I can go lightly. But what’s the answer? What’s my problem? Folks on YouTube throw the oil on and take it off with a broom and have no issues!

Last night I did an experiment. I brushed on some Mig Ammo satin clear coat on a to be unseen area. This morning out with the oils. A few dots on top of the clear coat. Thinners and brush brush brush. BINGO. No top coat coming off. A clear coat works. Good now I have to get the air brush out every time and clear coat everything!! :thinking:

Now why do I find it essential to apply a clear coat while others say no you don’t? Why is there no one answer fits all?

If Santa really existed he would write a book about “Fool proof model painting”.

Rant over.

Who else finds painting a mystery?


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Fear not Brucey old boy, it’s not just you.

So you and I are in a similar boat and I feel your frustration. It’s taken me eons to sort of figure out my air brush and paint formulas and I think I I’ve finally nailed my system.

I prime using Mr. Surfacer. I’ve tried Stynelrez/Ammo One Shot and while I like it for figures, small bits because it brushes nicely, I can’t spray it for a damn and I find it doesn’t adhere as nicely to the plastic or subsequent paint layers. I know several very talented people on here don’t prime. I know several do. I don’t care, because this works for me.

I paint the big things with solvent based acrylics like Tamiya, Mr. Colour and AK Real Colours using an airbrush. I thin with cheap hardware store lacquer thinner, or Mr. Leveling Thinner if I want something less “hot” for doing highlights and such where I don’t want to risk the base coat.

I have no luck spraying “true” acrylics like Ammo 3rd Gen, Vallejo etc…. I’m sure there’s a way, but I haven’t figured it out. Humidity is 100% going to affect how these go down and cure because they’re water based and humidity is well… water.

Only time I break out the harry stick for models is touch ups and details like tools and what not. I do however use brushes and Vallejo/Mig/AK for figures because I’m not adept enough with an airbrush for any of that.

Clear coats: 100% of the time always once the base is down. Why? Because I’m an ape and I will do something moronic. Again, lots of opinions, not interested in them. It works for me and keeps me from throwing things across the room. You’re right in that it’s an extra step but I’m ok with that. This may be even more important with your choice of paint because the finish isn’t as durable as a solvent based paint.

I use either Mr. Colour Semi-Gloss or plain old Future.

As to your thinner for oils, what are you using? It might simply be too hot for what you’re doing. I use Mig thinner in the red bottle. My washes are a mix of pre-made AK/Ammo enamels and W&N oil paints, but all thinned or cleaned with the Mig thinner. It’s the only one I’ve tired and I probably won’t mess with it.

Keep at it buddy. I’ve seen your work on here and you’re selling your self short if you think it doesn’t look the part even with your challenges.


Thanks Canmedic. I’ve looked at 27495956 YouTube videos they all make it look like I’m a penny short. I’m sure there is a YouTube video I haven’t seen but phsssst.

I purchased some Mr Surfacer. Took the lid off. Phewee. I couldn’t stand the smell. (I suffer from migraine/cluster headaches that’s why I stick with Mig Ammo).

The thing is there’s paint types. Enamel, acrylic etc. Then there’s brush or airbrush. Thinner or not or how much thinner. Needle size. Pressure. Spray distance. Wet coat dry coat. Sheez I’ve forgotten by now what I was going to paint.

Painting is an art form in itself. I really admire those who do it well. I want to do it well. But sometimes I just wonder.



Oh yeah, if you’re not one for smells you’re gonna be out of luck with my method. I’ve got a well vented booth and a proper respirator for painting. The nastier the paint, the better it works.

Keep at it though. My mix ratios are all eyeball and results vary as expected. I’m sure you’ll pick it up.

There will for sure be someone on here that can comment on the dark arts of water based acrylics

For what it’s worth I’m tracking right alongside you on the ups and downs. I’ll throw out what I do since I’m relatively new back in modeling and this go around I’m new to airbrushing too.

Because I can get them local I use Mission Models, Tamiya and Vallejo mostly. I treat them with their own branded thinners, don’t care, it’s really peanuts to me cost wise. After all. I’m painting a 1/35 tank where the paint isn’t even measured in ounces. Not a real one with gallons and gallons of paint…

Acrylics. Any chipping, details and highlights, then a clear varnish several days after my final coat giving everything time to cure. After that has set up I do my filters etc w thinned oils, oil dots I work w light thinner on the brush though, by their nature you don’t have to work them w heavy thinners. Try just a dab on your brush, blot on a paper towel and aim for more light passes to work them in vs attacking it w vigor and more thinner on the brush. I did learn after giving my first attempt (3 color Stug) a decidedly green tint to use a color wheel and watch my combo’s of oil colors a bit more closely.

Dozens of opinions, each different, most I bet honed over 100’s so the little nuances are muscle memory and probably don’t make it into the “how too’s”. I keep w specific thinners for the brand of paints, before I do oils I use a clear varnish then seal it afterwards. Don’t care if others have astounding Mike Rinaldi results and omit or skip, good for them. But I prefer, where I am at, to take an extra step for peace of mind and to eliminate any X factors because if something should go awry I can trace back to a source because of the method.

My 2 cents is all, as another respected contributed says, your mileage may vary.

This might be of interest, has comments with step by step pictures of a basic finishing process. old-school-shadow-painting-finishing-primer

I don’t use Mig, but Vallejo or Tamiya. Why the hairspray? I use hairspray for chipping but only with Tamiya paints as the next step is to use water to remove and paints like Vallejo would need lots of control I don’t have.

Seems like the thinner is too strong or not paired correctly with the top coat.

I used some hairspray on the just the areas I wanted to chip. Chip then oil dots!

Just for the heck of it I have brushed on some Mig Ammo Lucky satin varnish. Just as an experiment. I’m surprised at how it levels. In fact it looks almost as though it was sprayed. So once it cures I’ll try some more oil dots.

Thanks everyone. It’s good to know that I’m not the only one who finds painting a challenge.



I’m back.
A question - yes another one.

OK I primed with Mig Ammo One shot. A bit of hairspray in some places. Top coat of Mig Ammo acrylic. Now I figured out the issue with oil dots and my thinner removing the top coat. I brushed on some Mig Ammo clear varnish. That protected the top coat from the thinners.
So every thing is going fine. The oil dots are working and the varnish is protecting the top coat. I’m getting the results I’m after. Good.

Now the question - The mix of top coat, varnish and oil weathering is giving an inconsistent finish. What can I spray as a final coating to protect the model? I want a matt finish. Remember the surface is a mix of acrylic, varnish and oil weathering. Has anyone used Mig Ammo’s varnish over these surfaces? I could experiment but I’m not inclined to stuff up a few weeks work! :thinking:


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Any clear matt varnish will even put the inconstancies but I recommend very very thin coats.

Thanks. I became concerned when I tried to brush on some clear as an experiment and the Mig Ammo varnish didn’t take to the areas with oil on them. It may just be a consequence of using a brush.