Spraying Lifecolor

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David Thorpe
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Spraying Lifecolor

Postby David Thorpe » Wed Jun 03, 2020 2:04 pm

In the past I have always used enamel paints with my airbrush.. It's not just that I've heard many awful stories about acrylics clogging airbrushes, it's mainly that I've always used enamels and have seen no reason to change. If it ain't broke.....

However, I've acquired some Lifecolor paints, a weathering set to be precise, and I'd quite like to try them using my cheapest airbrush (not going to risk my best one). Has ayone any experience of spraying Lifecolor? From what I've read thinning in particular can be problematical and results indeifferent.

DT

nigelcliffe
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Re: Spraying Lifecolor

Postby nigelcliffe » Wed Jun 03, 2020 2:50 pm

Can't answer for Lifecolor.

However, I've found that acrylics designed for airbrushes, such as Vallejo Model Air (there are others) are a delight. Set air pressure low into the brush. No p******g about with thinners trying to get the consistency of cream/treacle/beer/honey. Just a put a few drops straight from the paint dropper in the airbrush and spray. Clean it out by running water through a few times, then drop in next colour and spray again. Final cleanup of airbrush parts in water. No mess, no smell, no worry about passing out from the solvent fumes. It means I can do airbrushing in 15 minutes from start to cleaned up and put away, whereas with solvents and enamel paint, it was nearer an hour minimum and don't start it unless you've got a spare two hours to be on the safe side.

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Allan Goodwillie
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Re: Spraying Lifecolor

Postby Allan Goodwillie » Wed Jun 03, 2020 4:19 pm

Hi David, :)

I have not tried the particular formula you are going to use but I am reasonably sure that Nigel is right about most of the ready made examples examples. If there are any problems it tends to be with working in a hot dry atmosphere when the particles are dry before they even hit the surface of whatever you are painting. Instead of thinning as such try adding a small drop of Artist's Acrylic flow formula (Windsor and Newton) to the mix and that immediately sorts out the problem. I have used it with acrylic paints for years when spraying, not just models , but when painting acrylic on to canvas, etc. (And that is using Artists tube paints and mixing down). You can use fairy liquid for the same effect, however I would not guarantee colour fastness compared to the Windsor and Newton, which being formulated for Artists is guaranteed.

Make Note to self - Must have a chat with Nigel about a demo sometime! :D

Allan :)

Allan :)

David Catton
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Re: Spraying Lifecolor

Postby David Catton » Wed Jun 03, 2020 4:42 pm

In the light of your recommendation, do you have any particular colours that you use for model railway use? While I am particularly interested in BR Midland Region 1950s - early 1960s locos and coaching stock, I'm sure others may have thoughts on using these paints.

David C

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David Thorpe
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Re: Spraying Lifecolor

Postby David Thorpe » Wed Jun 03, 2020 7:49 pm

Allan and Nigel, thanks. I had been wondering about cleaning the airbrush, particularly in view of the stories I've read about acrylics drying quickly and clogging everything up. I note that Nigel just uses water - is that sufficient, and if so, why on earth do people buy the really very expensive airbrush cleaners that are on the market? There are a number of YouTube videos showing how to make your own much more cheaply, ditto thinners. It certainly makes a change from the rather long time I take to clean up after spraying with enamels. Anyway, I've placed an order for both LifeColor thinners and Winsor & Newton Flow Improver and when they arrive (probably about a fortnight in the current circumstances) I'll give it a go.

David, so far the only uses to which I've put acrylic paints are to paint the interiors of open wagons and I must admit to being very pleased with the effects achieved , largely through dry brushing and following a useful thread on RMWeb. Like you my interests lie with BR in the 1950s, but I've always used Phoenix enamel paints for my rolling stock (all locos are Halfords black!).

DT

Winander
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Re: Spraying Lifecolor

Postby Winander » Wed Jun 03, 2020 7:56 pm

David Thorpe wrote: following a useful thread on RMWeb.


Can you post a link please?

best wishes,
Richard
Richard Hodgson

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David Thorpe
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Re: Spraying Lifecolor

Postby David Thorpe » Wed Jun 03, 2020 9:04 pm


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ChrisMitchell
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Re: Spraying Lifecolor

Postby ChrisMitchell » Wed Jun 03, 2020 9:59 pm

Hi David

I’ve recently been using Lifecolour BR Blue with my airbrush. I found dilution with water worked fine. I also have a recollection of reading somewhere that some makes of thinners don’t work so well with Lifecolour paints.

I think any problems I have had in the past have been with my technique rather than an issue with using acrylic paints.

Regards, Chris

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Alastairr
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Re: Spraying Lifecolor

Postby Alastairr » Thu Jun 04, 2020 7:40 am

Hi,

I've used Lifecolor acrylics through the airbrush fairly often, their rust/dirt weathering shades are very good. I've also used some of their rail colour range for a few wagons. I've tried thinning with ordinary tap water and it was fine, I've also used their own brand thinners and it was also fine - I didn't notice much of a difference if I am honest!

The main thing I found with Lifecolor was it was easy to over-thin the mix, from memory 50/50 worked fine for me.

There were a couple of MRJ articles from Martyn Welch fairly recently (Issues 262 and 267) where he made extensive use of the range to paint and weather some 7mm wagons.

As others have said, acrylics can be great - no horrid thinners so no horrid smell, can spray indoors, quick drying, easy clean-up and tap-water is cheap. Weathering can be challenging with the rapid drying but that's potentially a discussion for another day. On the other hand stripping dried acrylic (or any) paint isn't much fun so be sure to clean the airbrush out with something harsher than water afterwards. Beware of paint drying on the tip of the airbrush too, it can easily happen.

As with any airbrushing, experimentation is key (and good fun).

Thanks,
Alastair

martin goodall
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Re: Spraying Lifecolor

Postby martin goodall » Thu Jun 04, 2020 10:58 am

I have used artists’ acrylics for painting models of buildings on my layout (see my Burford Branch thread), but all my rolling stock is painted with enamels (mainly Humbrol, but also Precision, Revell or Railmatch in some cases).

My understanding is that, whereas you can paint enamels over acrylics, the converse (acrylic on top of enamel) is not possible. I am wondering whether this might apply to the Lifecolor weathering washes, whether applied by brush or by spraying. Will they adhere to a model that has been painted with enamels?

I am under the impression that the discussion above has been based on applying these acrylic weathering washes to a model whose base colour was painted with modellers’ acrylics (such as Vallejo). I would be interested in any comments based on experience of applying these acrylic washes to a model painted with enamels. Does this work, or not?.

The positive remarks by several contributors about the application of modellers’ acrylics generally, especially the ease of airbrushing them, makes me think that I should perhaps consider using them in future for painting rolling stock models.

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Guy Rixon
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Re: Spraying Lifecolor

Postby Guy Rixon » Thu Jun 04, 2020 1:18 pm

Acrylic varnish over enamel has worked for me in the past, so I don't see why acrylic paint over enamel should go wrong, especially water-thinned acrylics. I suspect that acrylic washes and dry-brushing work less well on glossy surfaces, independent of the paint chemistry. I know that water-based acrylic does not work well when brushed over bare, shiny plastic.

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David B
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Re: Spraying Lifecolor

Postby David B » Thu Jun 04, 2020 1:52 pm

Acrylic can be put on to enamel paint but over gloss enamel, it does not work well. You need at least a satin, but preferably a matt finish to the enamel layer for the acrylic to adhere more successfully.

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David Thorpe
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Re: Spraying Lifecolor

Postby David Thorpe » Thu Jun 04, 2020 2:19 pm

martin goodall wrote:My understanding is that, whereas you can paint enamels over acrylics, the converse (acrylic on top of enamel) is not possible.


I've just tried googling that. It's a minefield and I've come away more confused than when I started. General view is that it should be OK, but watch out for nasty solvent thinners in the enamels that could cause problems. It also seems to be the consensus that if you're painting enamels over acrylics, make sure that the acrylics are very well dried first. It seems that there are now so manty different makes of paint, all with their own individual chracteristics and formulations, that there is no general rule of thumb for all and the only safe way is to try out the combination first on a test piece. As far as I'm concerned, I shall continue to use Phoenix enamels over Upol primer for my locos and coaches as I know that works well and don't want to risk anything.

I rather share Alastair's concerns about weathering with acrylics as they dry so quickly. Use an enamel wash and you can remove it fairly easily if you don't like it. An acrylic, however, may have dried hard before you've come to a decision and once they've dried they're not easy to remove. For dry brushing, on the other hand, they're excellent.

I should perhaps add that the only real problem I've had in recent years with combining paints was when I sprayed some Halfords Satin Lacquer only a loco which had been painted with a Halfords rattle can black. Halfords on Halfords - surely all would be fine. It wasn't, it was a disaster, and I had to strip all the paint off the loco and start again. I've since learned that lacquers can contain a particularly aggressive solvent and should be used with caution. I've also read that Halfords rattle cans, although acrylic based, use a formulation very different from most acrylic paints made for modelling and some people have had problems overcoating them though I've always found them fine.

DT

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Allan Goodwillie
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Re: Spraying Lifecolor

Postby Allan Goodwillie » Thu Jun 04, 2020 2:48 pm

Hi, :)

A couple of things just for the moment, you will find that the flow formula helps acrylic to adhere to even a gloss surface, but I tend to follow up with a varnish afterwards to get the final finish as varnish has better adhesive qualities than paint. I used to teach airbrushing and introduced it to other Art Departments during the 1970's When using airbrushes in schools it was important to get systems set up where the equipment could be set up for ease of maintenance. Children just do not like cleaning up and teachers did not have spare time to be forever cleaning up airbrushes. It was mainly acrylic paint that was used and side cups rather than bottles.

Just concentrating on the airbrush -

Each airbrush had a jar of warm water with a little flow improver set up in such a way that the side cup could be taken off for cleaning and the end of the airbrush dipped in the water and air/water mix blown through to clean it out. (This could be done at any stage of working where the airbrush might need laid aside for more than a few minutes, much the same way as you would give an air blast with the tin upside down if using spray paint to clean the nozzle.) Giving the brush a final blow against a piece of towelling would show whether there was any residue of paint left and expel any water. The airbrush head could also be left in fresh water at the end of the session once cleaned and stay there waiting for the next session later on the day.

I will be weathering my locomotives later on in the year on my engine building thread and hope to go into detail there. Although there is a very interesting video available via this thread which has a lot of techniques and should be of interest, if you have not found it yet it is here-

https://youtu.be/Ne0fBH6zNkQ

Allan :)

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barrowroad
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Re: Spraying Lifecolor

Postby barrowroad » Thu Jun 04, 2020 3:55 pm

"I've used Lifecolor acrylics through the airbrush fairly often, their rust/dirt weathering shades are very good."
Alastairr, I am looking to give some of my locos a light weathering. Do you have the colours/reference numbers for the appropriate Lifecolor range?

Regards,
Robin

Philip Hall
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Re: Spraying Lifecolor

Postby Philip Hall » Thu Jun 04, 2020 4:29 pm

For as long as I can remember I have weathered models with Humbrol acrylics, thinned with water but all this has been done with brushes. The only spraying I do is with various spray cans for underframes or roofs and this is done outside. All this because of an accident I had about 20 years ago with airbrush cleaner, truly vicious stuff as it turned out (I think formulations are still the same, be warned). It was a stupid mistake on my part which left me with a recurring problem, so I avoid enamels for the most part. Although with low odour white spirit now available I do dabble occasionally but with plenty of ventilation.

The acrylic paint goes on in medium washes and is immediately vigorously scrubbed off again with a fair sized flattie brush. I don't normally use retarder or flow improver but have learnt to work quickly, doing smallish panels at a time. It is possible to achieve a weathered 'film' over a model this way with almost no brush marks, and in many cases has been taken for an airbrushed finish, but without the mucking about of cleaning the thing afterwards. It is true that once the paint is on it's very difficult to shift, even after about fifteen or twenty seconds, so a degree of confidence is required, but usually the paint sticks reasonably well to most surfaces, although. as has been said, satin or matt paint takes acrylic colour better. I think a water based paint is unikely to do harm to any other surface.

Having said all this, the comments made about Vallejo ready to use airbrush colours might make me experiment again, if it really does mean that all the messing about cleaning the thing and the time that takes is a thing of the past. And of course no thinners/cleaners therefore no accidents...

Philip

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Alastairr
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Re: Spraying Lifecolor

Postby Alastairr » Thu Jun 04, 2020 7:52 pm

"I am looking to give some of my locos a light weathering. Do you have the colours/reference numbers for the appropriate Lifecolor range?"

Hi Robin,

The set Rail Weathering is a good start (Code CS21). This contains the following:

UA 719 Frame Dirt
UA 720 Track Dirt
UA 721 Sleeper Grime
UA 722 Roof Dirt
UA 723 Weathered Black
UA 724 Brake Dust

If you didn't want to go for a full set I would say Frame Dirt and Roof Dirt are the main essentials. I also have UA 736 Burned Black which is good too.

I know Eileens used to stock most of the Lifecolor range.

Hope that helps.

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David Thorpe
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Re: Spraying Lifecolor

Postby David Thorpe » Sun Jun 07, 2020 10:12 am

Just as an addition to this, I've at last bitten the bullet and started weathering some of my freight stock. The biggest revelation has been the use of weathering powders which I hadn't tried before. I hadn't realised, for example, just how well they stick, and the subtleties of shading that can be achieved through their use rather than paint and so far on basically painted stock (grey and black) I've really just been using a track colour wash and then the powders - no need as yet for an airbrush! I can perhaps single out the Abteilung502 range as being particularly satisfactory when it comes to adhesion. Also, powders will only stick satisfactoriy to matt surfaces - they're not much good on out-of-the-box RTR stuff.

DT

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CDGFife
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Re: Spraying Lifecolor

Postby CDGFife » Sun Jun 07, 2020 10:35 am

Just found this thread.

I have been using the Lifecolour rail weathering set for ages all across Cadhay and it's all been fine, thinned either with water or acrylic thinner. Horror of horrors I actually let some dry completely in my (best!!) airbrush at one point. Thinking back someone had rung the doorbell just as I'd finished spraying and I completely forgot to go back and clean it. Came back to the airbrush about a week later and there was a pool of dried acrylic paint in the cup! Assuming the worst, I soaked it over night in airbrush reamer (which is quite nasty stuff) and in the morning was able to take the airbrush apart. I was anticipating at least a replacement needle and nozzle, but after another nights soak in reamer and then a good clean up everything came nicely clean. I'm still using that airbrush/needle/nozzle. It is a 0.5 so I may not have been so lucky with a finer needle/nozzle and I don't intend on finding out.

Point being even in that extreme circumstance I've never had an insurmountable problem with acrylics and the airbrush.

I'm also another fan of the Vallejo Model Air range and also regularly use the Com Art ready to airbrush opaque colours which have similar properties.

Cheers

CDG

Winander
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Re: Spraying Lifecolor

Postby Winander » Sun Jun 07, 2020 10:39 am

David Thorpe wrote:JI can perhaps single out the Abteilung502 range as being particularly satisfactory when it comes to adhesion.


Hello David,

I am confused. I've looked on Abteilung502's site and they don't do powders. They do effects and weathering sets, but these appear to be oils, although it hints they are of a 'different' composition.

Are you using something you obtained a while ago and is discontinued?

thanks,
Richard
Richard Hodgson

nberrington
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Re: Spraying Lifecolor

Postby nberrington » Sun Jun 07, 2020 11:58 am

Small tip my son taught me: after spraying acrylics, fire some Windsor and Newton “Brush Restorer” through it. It cleans the gunk out really well.

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David Thorpe
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Re: Spraying Lifecolor

Postby David Thorpe » Sun Jun 07, 2020 12:33 pm

Winander wrote:I am confused. I've looked on Abteilung502's site and they don't do powders. They do effects and weathering sets, but these appear to be oils, although it hints they are of a 'different' composition.


Sorry, my misdescription. Technically they're not powders, they're pigments - see https://abteilung502.com/product-category/pigments/
These are readily available from a number of shops if you don't want to buy direct. For what it's worth I've got 023 Black smoke and 414 Track Rust. I might get a couple more, possibly a lighter rust and a light grey.

DT

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Steve Carter
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Re: Spraying Lifecolor

Postby Steve Carter » Sun Jun 07, 2020 1:53 pm

David Thorpe wrote:Also, powders will only stick satisfactoriy to matt surfaces - they're not much good on out-of-the-box RTR stuff.

DT


Thanks David.

Do you spray (rattle can?) a Matt varnish on R-T-R stuff before applying powders/pigments?

Steve
Steve Carter

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Guy Rixon
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Re: Spraying Lifecolor

Postby Guy Rixon » Sun Jun 07, 2020 2:11 pm

CDGFife wrote:Just found this thread.

I have been using the Lifecolour rail weathering set for ages all across Cadhay and it's all been fine, thinned either with water or acrylic thinner. Horror of horrors I actually let some dry completely in my (best!!) airbrush at one point. Thinking back someone had rung the doorbell just as I'd finished spraying and I completely forgot to go back and clean it. Came back to the airbrush about a week later and there was a pool of dried acrylic paint in the cup! Assuming the worst, I soaked it over night in airbrush reamer (which is quite nasty stuff) and in the morning was able to take the airbrush apart. I was anticipating at least a replacement needle and nozzle, but after another nights soak in reamer and then a good clean up everything came nicely clean. I'm still using that airbrush/needle/nozzle. It is a 0.5 so I may not have been so lucky with a finer needle/nozzle and I don't intend on finding out.

Point being even in that extreme circumstance I've never had an insurmountable problem with acrylics and the airbrush.

I'm also another fan of the Vallejo Model Air range and also regularly use the Com Art ready to airbrush opaque colours which have similar properties.

Cheers

CDG


I used to have horrible clogging problems with acrylics in my airbrush. Now, I put the critical parts (body, needle, needle cap, paint cup) though the ultrasound tank after each use and I don't have those particular problems any more. My brush has an 0.3mm nozzle. This does not work so well with enamels.

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David Thorpe
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Re: Spraying Lifecolor

Postby David Thorpe » Sun Jun 07, 2020 4:06 pm

Steve Carter wrote:Do you spray (rattle can?) a Matt varnish on R-T-R stuff before applying powders/pigments?


I don't know, Steve - I haven't yet applied any to RTR stuff but from what I've read a coat of matt varnish should do the trick. The pigments don't like a smooth gloss finsh as their microscopic particles have to lodge in the bumps and troughs of a matt surface.

DT


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