Vallejo Paints Questions

Hey, hey.

About a year ago, for health reasons, I made the decision to transition from enamel to acrylic paints. In the past, I avoided acrylic paints because they scrape off very easily. However, with so many people getting such good results, I figured I would make a serious effort to figure it out.

After doing a lot of reading, I purchased about 50 Vallejo paints, divided between the Game Color, Model Air, and Model Color lines. If I recall correctly, each line uses a slightly different formulation and they do not always play well together, but I can figure that out as well.

I do a lot of sculpting with Milliput and decided to try out the new Vallejo paints on a pair of small custom creatures. After priming the sculptures with Model Master Light Ghost Gray Enamel, I hand painted a few Vallejo colors and one wash. The results were pretty horrible. The Model Color paints did not cover or level as advertised and the wash looks extremely poor when compared to oil paints. Obviously, I have much to learn.

After that experiment I had to put the figures and models away for about a year but now I am back at it. Testing new paints on custom sculptures was a terrible idea so this time around, I made up some cheap little models for practice–a Bogward, Flakvierling, and PaK 38.

The Light Ghost Gray Enamel worked very well as a primer so I will use that again. It bites well and seems to form a very strong basis for the Vallejo Acrylics. My useful knowledge with these paints pretty much ends there and so here come a whole bunch of questions in hope of reducing the learning curve. :slight_smile:

When spraying Model Air paints, should I thin or retard them? If so, how much thinner and/or retarder should I use? I am in a dry climate–Northern California–and have Vallejo Airbrush Thinner and Vallejo Flow Improver on hand. Do Model Air paints work consistently or will I need to adjust ratios for each color?

When spraying Model Color paints, should I thin or retard them? If so, how much thinner and/or retarder should I use?

When spraying Game Color paints, should I thin or retard them? If so, how much thinner and/or retarder should I use?

Can I safely spray Game Color, Model Air, and Model Color paints over and around one another?

What is the best product for cleaning an airbrush after using these paints? I really want to get away from using Lacquer Thinner for that purpose.

Using acrylics on acrylics, how long should I wait before brush painting over a sprayed coat to avoid lifting?

Can I use an oil wash directly over these acrylics? I have a lot of MiG oil paints and thin them with Mona Lisa odorless spirits.

Can I use Testor’s Acrylic Flat/Semi-Gloss/Gloss over Vallejo Paints or should I switch to the Vallejo equivalents?

I am sure I am missing something important but answers to those questions would make a super helpful start. Thank you for reading and any advice you may offer!


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Firstly welcome Doug.

I can answer a couple of your question but not all, others views may differ.

  1. Model air are pre thinned so can be used straight from the bottle but most will still add a bit more thinner/flow improver, your climate is very different to mine (UK, cold and humid) so I can’t really give you a recommendation on quantity.

  2. Yes these need to be thinned

  3. Same with these, thin them.

  4. Never had any problem using them around each other

  5. After blowing water through I normally blow through Medea Airbrush cleaner or Lifecolor cleaner, I then blow water through again. Anything stubborn I use Premi Air Liquid Reamer.

  6. I’m only going to say 12 hours as I normally spray as my last session at the bench before retiring for the day and returning to the model the next day.

  7. Yes oils/enamels can be used over acrylics

  8. Never had an issue using Testors Dull Coat over acrylics

Hope these help in some way

Hello Doug, welcome along to the forum.

I just wanted to add, in addition to the advice from @Littorio that if you plan to use oils over acrylics like Vallejo it is generally a good idea to seal them down with a varnish. Satin or Gloss is best if you are going to do an oil wash as it will flow nicely into the details. Matt will let the oils stick a little more which can be handy depending on the affect you wish to achieve.

In terms of cleaning the airbrush- Vallejo’s own Airbrush Cleaner is ace and actually cleans other acrylic brands quite well.

Welcome aboard.

I use both the flow improver and retarder when spraying, you will have to play with the ratio for your climate.

I cleaner with generic window cleaner and then 91% IPA after as the cleaner can put the airbrush if just left on but will remove all Vallejo paint.


Thank you, gentleman!

Having just cleaned the bedroom and office, I herded up about 80 acrylic paints from Citadel, Reaper, Testors, and Vallejo, including everything to paint World War II American and German stuff. The Citadel, Reaper, and Testors paints were from a previous attempt to transition to acrylic paints that occurred about 11 years ago. I suppose I need to test and see if they play well with each other and the Vallejo paints.

It appears I was not prescient enough to purchase a paint caddy or airbrush cleaner specifically for acrylics so those are now on order.

My bedroom currently looks like a used tank lot being browsed by fantasy ladies and their monster pets. I suppose they are looking for a good deal on better armor.

All right. Someone hold my drink. I’m going in.


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Pretty sure I have seen figure painters mix Citadel, Reaper and Vallejo paints. I don’t think Testors would mix well but should be fine if you let each layers dry before spraying over each other.

Citadel and Vallejo paints will work well together, I can’t comment on Reaper as I’ve never used them and Testors are extremely difficult to find this side of the pond so I don’t even try looking for them.

As the others have said, here is My 2C worth, based on spraying VJ.

Your mileage will vary as your climate is different to the UK.

It is worth downloading the guides from Vallejo in the language of your choice from here:

When spraying Model Air paints, should I thin or retard them?
Yes, a little with Vallejo Airbrush Thinner and Vallejo Flow Improver.

You Can spray Model Color paints, you need to thin them more and retard them, 50-60% with Vallejo Airbrush Thinner and Vallejo Flow Improver.

Note that the ModelCOLOR will colour-shift lighter when thinned for spraying, when compared to shame color no from ModelAIR.

Vallejo have a “Dillutante” thinner, a white gloopy stuff intended only for brush-painting, allows more transparency & layering effects.

What is the best product for cleaning an airbrush after using these paints?
Never use IPA/alcohol, = rubber-gloop!,
Vallejo Airbrush Thinner, Vallejo Airbrush Cleaner, or Medea Airbrush cleaner are good.

I cannot get on AT ALL with The older VJ Flat/Semi-Gloss/Gloss, (never used the new stuff with silver labels) I use Windsor & Newton Gallerea, the most drama-free top coats I’ve found.

Good luck & enjoy yourself.
PS if you need, to you can strip VJ acrylics by dropping it in a bath of Isopropyl Alcohol without affecting the plastic or resin kit.

Yep, happened to me too…
Also found a nice tip on Youtube on cheapest way to clean your airbrush after using Vallejo: Hot water
Tried it out and it sure works!

Thank you again for all the advice!

Unfortunately, my 20 year old air compressor failed during the aforementioned paint session in a way I cannot fix. I am reading all the Vallejo painting guides and building up a couple more tanks while I wait for the new compressor to show up.

I cannot find any Isopropyl Alcohol lying around so I need to order some along with that Dillutante stuff. If the alcohol will clean up the miniatures I ruined last year, that would be just great. :slight_smile:

Hopefully, I will be back at the painting this coming weekend.


Hey, hey.

My new air compressor arrived and works great so I hooked it up to my airbrush to finish priming models and…my airbrush stopped working. Just like last time, I sprayed Model Master Light Ghost Gray thinned with Model Master Airbrush Thinner. The airbrush worked for a few minutes, then began to sputter, then stopped spraying. I cleaned everything, sprayed thinner through the airbrush without issue, made a new batch of Light Ghost Gray, and immediately experienced sputtering. I repeated this cycle of cleaning, mixing up new paint, and sputtering three more times. I blew normal Testor’s thinner through the airbrush during some cleaning cycles and Mr. Thinner through on other cleaning cycles. By the end, it was not spraying any paint at all but thinner goes through without issue.

The airbrush is an Iwata Eclipse side loader. Until now, it performed very well. All my best models were painted with it (11 years ago). Just two weeks ago, using my old air compressor that could only muster 10 PSI, it was able to spray the exact same paint. I tried at air pressures between 10 PSI and 60 PSI.

Does anyone have an idea what may have gone wrong?

The obvious answer is the paint but the paint has the proper consistency, thinned to proper consistency, and when it did spray, it looked fine. The color cup might be clogged, but how come it sprays thinner? I used some Iwata airbrush lubricant on the needle but that never caused an issue in the past.

Hard to comment on your specific setup. All I can think is that you need to thin your mix more? Have you tried spraying any other colours or brands?

I don’t use MM acrylics, but solvent based products like Mr. Color and Tamiya won’t play well with paints like Vallejo, Citadel or others that are pure water based. The thinners will cause them to clump and turn to goo. Shouldn’t be a problem as you’re using their thinner, but if there’s residue in your cup from cleaning it might be an issue.

I don’t know if you’ve taken notice of them in the last few days, but @TopSmith just posted up a wealth of beginner airbrush videos that might serve to get you on track.

My last two airbrush sessions only involved spraying Model Master Light Ghost Grey enamel as a primer. During the first session, my air compressor developed a very bad leak beyond my ability to fix, forcing me to stop in the middle of priming everything. During the second session, having replaced the compressor but spraying the same paint, the airbrush began stuttering.

I have not yet attempted to spray any of the Vallejo paints because my equipment keeps malfunctioning before I can get that far.

I currently have the disassembled fluid cup soaking in Testors paint thinner in an attempt to dissolve any hidden clot. If that does not work, I can purchase an ultrasonic cleaner. If that does not work, I can purchase a new fluid cup. If that does not work, dunno. The constant equipment malfunctions are getting rather frustrating.

Edit: During the last session I mixed the paint to very thin consistency, well below the consistency I usually use, in an attempt to determine if it was the cause of the clog. Dunno.

I don’t think it’s your equipment (well the compressor leak was), I think it’s the paint. If it can spray thinner/cleaner then your AB is working.

Two things (maybe 3) are happening.

  1. You’re not thinning the paint enough. Go to town with your thinner mix. Like 70:30or more. Then see what happens. You can always work your way back from there to find a consistency you like

  2. Your paint has gone weird. How old is that bottle? Enamel is pretty resilient but if it’s gotten bits of dried paint or whatever in there it could be clogging. Acrylics are even more prone to setting with age.

  3. Your paint and thinner are incompatible. Is that Model Master thinner designed for their enamel line or their (now discontinued) acrylic line? If you’re still trying to spray enamel (I know you said you were switching to acrylics) try going to your local hardware store and getting a jug of plain lacquer thinner and using that with the enamel paint.

If you’re really switching to acrylics, toss the enamel and start fresh! There are different techniques for thinning and spraying acrylics so you’d might as well get familiar with them now.

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I gave it another try this morning. Under magnification, I could see dried paint in the pipe exiting the fluid cup. I used a piece of piano wire to dislodge the clog and clear both tunnels in the fluid cup. After another thorough cleaning and thinning the paint as described above, the airbrush began working and I proceeded to paint two models.

After maybe 20 minutes I realized something was wrong. The paint was not drying and even the slightest touch rubbed off the primer coat. At that point I stopped and put everything to the side to dry.

Twelve hours later, it appears all the paint powdered on both models. After some reading, it appears I thinned the paints too much. Those two models went into the trash and I have a killer headache from the fumes. Good times.

I will pick up some lacquer thinner tomorrow and build up some more models for testing. Building them is a whole lot easier than painting them, that’s for sure.

Pull those models back out of the trash! Or at least one of them. Use it as your paint mule to test things ok before you move onto painting your actual subject.

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I second this advice. I keep a Tamiya AAV in my booth as a test bed for spraying colors. If you still don’t want those models around get some plastic sheet as a test bed for painting.

[quote] I have a killer headache from the fumes.

You are wearing a suitable paint mask…? Especially if using enamels and thinners.

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Before each session, I put down a grocery bag or piece of card stock and test paint on that. Sometimes I just practice spraying squiggles and writing on the card to see how fine I can go with a given paint.

I suppose I could leave a model in the booth and test on that, but it would get crummy pretty quick and take up needed space. Anyway, I decided to pull the Bogward and PaK out of the trash and clean them up as I may learn something in the process. It looks like the PaK 38 will turn out okay.

I have not send all the enamels to the recycler because they cost a lot of money, I am familiar with them, and they serve as a crutch until I gain enough familiarity with the Vallejo paints. They really do need to go, though.

As for the mask, I have two. The first was quite good but wore out. It no longer provides significant protection. The second, which I am using, is brand new and completely useless. Both need replacing.

I’ve been spraying every day with the old enamels and brush painting every night with the new acrylics. Most of my trouble was user error. Over the last week I rediscovered how to properly clean the airbrush and my skill at thinning paints is improving. The Vallejo paints definitely take practice but I am learning. I am really impressed with their quick drying time and leveling characteristics. Coverage is okay. They do not blend as well as I hoped, out of the bottle, but I am experimenting with all the Vallejo mediums to get past that. Also, I now have their Primer in Gray and White, which I need to test.

Thank you sincerely for all the advice. I continue to plug away. It occurred to me last night that I have dozens of unbuilt 1/35 military figures lying around so they will serve as the basis for my next round of experiments. Onward.


Hey, hey. Having mostly resolved airbrush issues, I am now relearning how to paint.

DML PaK 38: Primer coat Model Master enamel Light Ghost Gray. Base Coat Model Master enamel Panzer Dark Gray. Initial weathering by airbrush using various Model Master enamel earth tones. Detail painting and weathering with various Vallejo acrylics.

This turned out okay. I am waiting for Vallejo clear coats to arrive in the mail so I can finish it. The Model Master enamels were super finicky but I eventually got through it. Vallejo acrylics are difficult to control for fine detail painting and washes. The super fast dry time is both a boon and a curse.

Tamiya Panser II Ausf. C. Primer and base coat Model Master enamel Panzer Dark Grey. Initial weathering by airbrush using various Model Master enamel earth tones. Camouflage bands, detail painting, and weathering with various Vallejo acrylics.

Yuck. With some more practice behind me, the Model Master enamels went on without any issues and looked quite good. Many people report success brush painting camouflage with Vallejo Model Color paints so I decided to give it a try. Yeah. No. My second attempt to use Vallejo paints for detail painting and weathering also went very poorly.

The biggest problem with Vallejo paints is the high surface tension of water. I cannot decide if Vallejo Flow Improver helps or not. Vallejo Airbrush Thinner does not seem to help.

My new questions:

What is the best way to thin Vallejo paints for washes, resulting in the least possible surface tension?

Do you have any suggestions for improving the PaK or fixing the Panzer II using Vallejo paints.

Please note, I read many Vallejo Step by Step guides, often more than once. I am not achieving results anywhere approaching what those guides show. I am missing something important because other modelers achieve good results with these paints.

Thank you!

Edit: I should also mention that I did not attempt to paint the tools or jack block on the Panzer II. After laying down the camouflage stripes and looking at the wheels, I sighed and went to bed. Breaking off the right front headlight did not help matters.