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I hate Acrylic paint!!!

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  • Member since
    November, 2004
I hate Acrylic paint!!!
Posted by jhawk on Thursday, September 29, 2016 11:00 PM

I think I vented on this very subject last year...but I still can't get acrylic paint to work and it's pissing me off!

I'm building a Jagdtiger.  Since acrylic paints seem to be the future, I decided to use them on this model.  I usually use enamels and have had no problems with them at all.  I bought Vallejo primers, paints, thinners, and airbrush cleaners.  I use a Iwata HP-B airbrush.  My compressor has a moisture trap.

My problems:  The paint dries very, very quickly on the airbrush tip, even when I use retarder.  I can spray only 2-3 seconds before the tip clogs.  I thin the paint before spraying too.  After I clean the tip, I get a splat of paint when I start spraying again.  So, then, I clean the tip, start spraying off the model to clear off any residual cleaner, then try to spray the model.  But, the paint then dries and clogs the tip again almost instantly and I have to repeat the process again.  I end up spraying more paint off the model to clear the tip than I actually spray on the model itself.

Because the paint dries so quickly, I have to do a complete tear-down of my airbrush to get it clean.  If I don't, dried and clogged paint gums up the needle action and it wont move back and forth like it should.

I've watched many videos about using acrylic paints and Vallejo paints in particular.  They all say that I'll have to clear the tip every now and then, but never as often as I have too.

Varying the air pressure doesn't seem to do much to keep the tip from clogging.

So, what do you guys suggest?  Also, how do you strip off all the acrylic paint off of a model?  If it were enamel paint I'd just use oven cleaner.  I'm thinking of starting over again on this model.  I just may switch back to enamels, but I spent a lot of money on this acrylic crap...and I'd like to figure out how to use it.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks for letting me vent.

  • Member since
    July, 2013
Posted by modelmaker66 on Friday, September 30, 2016 12:01 AM

I think you should stay with enamels. Why change if you are happy with it? Using acrylics needs time to master just like it did with enamels "way back when" for you when you started. You need to be willing to give time and effort to learning how to use acrylics. Starting off with it on a kit you *** is not a very good idea and trying to get it together while angry is a recipe for didaster.

Simple green will take acrylic paint off. Spray it on and let it set like the oven cleaner. It may take a couple goes but it will work. Use in a ventilated area since simple green has a mild irritation effect.

  • Member since
    April, 2004
Posted by Jon_a_its on Friday, September 30, 2016 3:18 AM

Simple Green or US version of Windowlene (still has 5% Ammonia in it) should shift Vallejo.

As above, it takes time to get the hang of Acrylics, my thoghts so far:

VJ POLYEURETHANE Primers behave differently, need a higher pressure & shouldn't be thinned, though I do.... Surprise

I thin with a few drops of Original FUTURE, (1-3 drops future to 8-10 VJ) makes it more workable, 'hardens' it to handling & allows a little bit of re-work sanding/corrections.

VJ do a decent range of primers in armour colours, my faves are the OD & British Bronze green, saves a painting step or to.

VJ often/always needs a decent primer undercoat.

Mix VJ very well, I add a few 3-5mm stainless steel nuts (waay cheaper than stainless bearings)

Thin slightly with the new VJ or Ultimate thinners (test outside the airbrush in a disposable cup, NEVER IPA, Tamiya X20 or Lacquer... Tongue Tied) if you have the old thick white gloopy VJ thinner bin it, not much use for airbrushing.

Use a little Airbrush Flow Improver 72.262

Vary your headset. After I dropped my Iwata CS on the floor & had it serviced, (!)

I switched to a 0.3mm headset from the fitted 0.5mm & found it a lot easier.

Finally your environment matters, get your air clean, pref using tank supplied air & moisture traps and Local humidity will make a difference,  100% dry Arizona will be different to 100% humid Alaskan...

Good luck



East Mids Model Club 28th Annual Show 20th MAY 2018

Don't feed the CM!


  • Member since
    January, 2013
Posted by BlackSheepTwoOneFour on Friday, September 30, 2016 8:25 AM

Hmmm... I've used Model Master acrylics with no issues. Vallejo is a whole different animal though.

  • Member since
    July, 2014
Posted by Bakster on Friday, September 30, 2016 9:44 AM


I feel your pain. It shouldn't be this difficult, but it often is. 

I have not tried Vallejo either but I have read elsewhere that their paint is harder to AB with. I have worked with both Model Master and Tamiya. Of the two, Tamiya sprays like a dream as long as you use the Tamiya thinner. I mix it at 50/50. My experience with Model Master is that I have to add a little bit of flow improver, or I start to see some of the issues that you mention with Vallejo. You might consider going with Tamiya. If you want to give Vallejo another could try using a little bit of acrylic flow improver and maybe a little acrylic paint retarder. It can be a real balancing act with these paints. I try to use Tamiya whenever possible only because it is so dang easy to use.



  • Member since
    July, 2014
Posted by Bakster on Friday, September 30, 2016 10:04 AM

One other thing. I use Super Clean to strip acylics from my models. You can buy the stuff in automotive stores. It's cheap, and it works really, really, well. It does not seem to attack the plastic at all. It does not work as well on enamel or lacquer though. For those I use something stronger.

For acrylic I soak the parts in the SC and within a few hours you can begin scrubbing with a toothbrush. Don't let the scrubbing scare you. The paint comes off easy. I then pour the SC back into the jug for reuse. Then wash the parts in dish soap and water to make sure you have removed any remaining SC.

Important: use gloves when working with SC. The stuff can really attack your skin if any residual is left on it.


  • Member since
    May, 2013
  • From: Indiana, USA
Posted by Greg on Friday, September 30, 2016 10:32 AM

First, I too wonder why you want to switch from enamels if you are happy with them. I'd like to be civilized and polite and credit the person who mentioned this first by name, but due to the bad reply format here I can't see who it was.

I use Vallejo as my main paint, have been since '13. This makes me no expert, but I think I can reasonably say if you are having this much trouble, you are either:

a) Mixing Vallejo with products it is not meant to be mixed with (Vallejo is the absolute wrong line of products to play Mr Wizard with, best to stick with thier own everything***)

b) Using a too-small needle/nozzle (jon mentioned this too). IMO, .35mm is min, .4 or .5 probably better.

c) Using too low PSI. Contrary to all common sense, Vallejo seems to like to be sprayed at 20-25 psi.

*** except Vallejo's primers, no comment on those.

I think Jon made a bunch of very good and helpful comments about Vallejo that are spot on.

He mentioned the new Vallejo retarder or whatever they call it, it changes the whole ballgame when it comes to drytip, I also highly recommend it. Don't even bother with other brands (Liquitex, etc). Fine products, all, I'm sure but I never found one that played nice with Vallejo.

BTW, if you want an acrylic that just sprays great and doesn't cause a premature cardiac event, you might try Tamiya. I'd have gone that direction, but was swayed by Vallejo's range of colours. (I'd rather chew glass than try to brush paint Tamiya , though....Vallejo wins there hands-down)

Good luck!!!


  • Member since
    December, 2002
  • From: Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, England
Posted by Bish on Friday, September 30, 2016 11:46 AM

Ye, why swicth. And who says Enamels are the future.

Are you useing vallejo Model Air or Model Colour. I have not tried spraying the later, but have used the former. I am not keen, its to thin for me, but if you really must use Acylics, that might sut you. I have never had the issues you have on the odd occasions i do spray Acrylics, usually tamiya, so no idea what the issue is.

''I am a Norfolk man, and i glory in being so''

On the bench: AFV Club 1/35th Sd.Kfz 251/4 AusfC

  • Member since
    November, 2004
Posted by jhawk on Friday, September 30, 2016 1:22 PM

Thank you for all the suggestions and tips. To answer a few questions: I'm trying acrylics because I want to expand my modelling skill set and learn something new. Clearly, I have NOT learned how to use acrylic just yet! Lol. I am using all Vallejo products and am not mixing different products from different companies. I am using Vallejo Model Air paints.  I have checked my airbrush equipment, but will look it over again to make sure it's in proper shape and that I'm using the proper needle set. As for what's next, I think I'll try stripping the model then repainting using Tamiya paint and thinner. It seems that several of you like that paint and have good luck with it. I wont try Vallejo paints again as I just can't figure out how to use them correctly. I might buy the camo paint in enamels too just in case I chicken out and don't try acrylics again. Thanks again for the help, and thanks for listening to the rant. I'll report back on what progress I've made (if any, lol).

  • Member since
    May, 2013
  • From: Indiana, USA
Posted by Greg on Friday, September 30, 2016 2:30 PM

That's a solid reason to try acrylics, IMO. Good for you.

Just two more quick should be able to spray Vallejo Model Air straight out of the bottle. Dry tip? Yes, eventually, but not in seconds.

And assuming you are using a double action a/b, if your air pressure from regulator is set below 18 PSI and you are only 'pulling back' on the a/b trigger a little bit, that's a recipe for dry tip.

Hope you don't mind the additional thoughts...



  • Member since
    March, 2013
Posted by patrick206 on Friday, September 30, 2016 5:06 PM

I've been using acrylics for several years now, tried many of the different brands, had fairly good results with most, great from a couple, terrible, horrible awful, bad and nasty from one.

I think that one was either Vallejo Model Air, or was it Vallejo Model Air, might even have been Vallejo Model Air. Used only their branded products for additives, and yes, I did follow the directions closely. Airbrushes used were Iwata, Badger and Paasche, Vallejo results consistent, within the range of airbrush brands.

Gave it all away, when I dropped the box at USPS the angels sang and the clouds parted.

At present I find Tamiya the best, (just my personal input,) nearly zero tip dry, super quick and easy wipe with thinner and Q-tip when it does rarely occur. I use only their X-20A to thin, sometimes I will add just a drop of Liquitex slo-dri, if the anbient temp is a bit high.

Some swear by Vallejo, good for them if it works, I swear at it. I will say, however, that when it did lay down in the rare good session it left a nice, smooth finish. Loved the little bottles, wish others did the same, very handy.

Back to the paint booth now, dozens of Tamiya bottles calling my name. Over and out.


  • Member since
    May, 2013
  • From: Indiana, USA
Posted by Greg on Friday, September 30, 2016 5:49 PM


Gave it all away, when I dropped the box at USPS the angels sang and the clouds parted.

Now THAT is funny. Smile


  • Member since
    April, 2006
  • From: ON, Canada
Posted by jgeratic on Friday, September 30, 2016 5:52 PM

I've been using Vallejo for a few years now, but will admit they are never trouble free.  Have had decent success thinning with a few drops of future and just tap water on their regular bottles.  Recently,  had same decent results just thinning with distilled water.

A couple things I do is remove the protective crown on the nozzle end, as the interior can have paint build up quickly, risking paint spitting - but this method does put the needle in an exposed position.  Air pressure is about 25 psi, and also preset the trigger so it can't be pulled all the way back.  If I do find blockage is happening, a couple squirts at full pin usually clears it up.

Residing in Canada, I suppose the lack of humidity (except July/August) does help during most of the year.



  • Member since
    September, 2013
  • From: San Antonio, Texas
Posted by Marcus McBean on Friday, September 30, 2016 8:28 PM

I live in San Antonio and even with the house being air conditioned I experience dried paint on the tip of the AB while using Vallejo, MIG or Tamiya.  I thin the paint down (even with Vallejo Air) and use a flow improver and 20 psi on conpressor.  Most times everything goes ok and when it doesn't I just put the old finger on the tip and back flow air into the AB and it will clear the blockage most of the time ( I wear a surgical glove on my left hand). Then do a test spray to make sure there are no spatters or spitting.  When its a 103 outside and AC is working hard to keep the house at 80 I am forced to use the old finger clearing method a lot. 

I learned that once the paint is mixed get painting before it starts to dry in the AB cup and don't forget to put the lid on the AB paint cup. 

I also use enamel paints as I like how they cover and look after drying.  Only when I am not in a hurry.

  • Member since
    April, 2006
  • From: ON, Canada
Posted by jgeratic on Saturday, October 01, 2016 11:17 AM

Was just reading up on humidity and airbrushing, and it actually is more detrimental when dealing with enamels and oil based paints.  For acrylics, the worst it does is create moisture in the compressor, causing the paint gun to spit water - but a moisture trap should take care of that.

Perhaps the problem is the room is too dry, or carpeting in the paint booth area?  I do have a patio carpet in the room I spray in, but the problem I find here is dust particles building up when spraying constantly at high pressure.




  • Member since
    November, 2004
Posted by jhawk on Thursday, February 02, 2017 7:03 PM



Well, it's been awhile since I've come back to this thread I started.  Here's my update as promised:  The pics shows the Jagdtiger as it turned out.  I switched to Tamiya acrylic paints and had no trouble at all.  I will use them in the future and not Vallejo.  I tried some other new techniques on this model:  various chipping techniques, rust streaks, using pigments, preshading, etc.  Overall I'm pleased with how this turned out.  Mistakes:  spare tracks on backwards, no tow cable...the model didn't come with one and I didn't want to mess with making one, the model sits on the terrain vs. in the terrain.  But, given that I started this model last winter and just now finished it this winter, I'm glad it's done.  I learned some new stuff and I have a cool model to display.  Thanks for you suggestions and tips.

  • Member since
    May, 2015
Posted by Griffin25 on Thursday, February 02, 2017 7:56 PM

Wow that looks great. Way to percivere! I use Vallejo acrylics almost exclusively. I have figured out to get around their shortcomings. I used to use Humbrol and MM enamels and they work better in many ways I admit. The problem I have with those enamel paints or Tamiya acrylic is you have to buy them separately, one at a time. I wish they had paint and wash sets  like Vallejo. Its so much more convenient and less expensive. 



  • Member since
    November, 2004
Posted by jhawk on Friday, February 03, 2017 6:51 PM
Thanks! I tried Vallejo first because of all the choices and the wide range of colours. I was really looking forward to working with them. But, I haven't figured out the secret of using them yet! So, until I try again, I'll stick with Tamiya. But, I still like enamels the best.
  • Member since
    September, 2016
  • From: Albany, New York
Posted by ManCityFan on Saturday, February 04, 2017 2:07 PM
I am a newbie, but have sprayed a few different products, and have found Tamiya acrylics to spray wonderfully, even for someone like me who is just starting out. Glad you gave it a try.

Dwayne or Dman or just D.  All comments are welcome on my builds. 



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