Category Archives: solvent

Paint review: AK Interactive True Metal range

I really like these paints. They are wax-based, so they behave more like a gel than a paint, and they handle very well. They do look metallic, their coverage is great, any mistakes can be removed with a bush wetted with turpentine, and they can be mixed easily. For large surfaces I found that they should be diluted with turpentine somewhat, and applied in two coats. Interestingly basecoat does not seem to matter – which is an awesome news as basecoats are very important for most metallics.

According to AK you can polish them to a shine, but I found that any gentle polishing will rub some of the paint off; it does not work for me as well as it is shown in their video. If you rub it, some of it does come off.

So back to my colors. I used gold, old bronze, copper, iron, steel and gun metal on my old Panzer IV hull. I did rub a fine cloth on the lower part to show how it polishes up half an hour after applying the paint – the results are not as good – some of the base coat shows off as the paint rubbet off.

I also repeated the exercise a day later – the paint was more resilient (obviously), but there was no dramatic change in shine. (I took some photos using flash as well, as it does bring out the metallic effect better.) Once completely dry, some gloss varnish for metallics does bring the shine out, though.

There is a relatively big range of metallic colors, but I do have some issues with some of the shades. The gun metal should be much darker in my opinion, and the iron is much shinier than the steel color. Plus a bright chrome paint is missing from the palette. More about shades later.

Photos of the paint in diffused lights

 

Polishing the paint after 24hrs of drying

 

I took some photos using the flash as well- it brings the shine out better

(You can see where the paint wore off due to the polishing.)

So what is the paint good for?

(I use these paints for almost all my metallics: engine parts, worn parts like return rollers, figures -literally anywhere where a metal surface is needed. The ease of application and cleanup makes these paints very attractive for me.)

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Well, it is great for drybrushing -it gives off a great metallic effect on tracks and whatnot. It can be used to simulate the worn metal surface on road wheels, idlers and drive wheels; the application is simple, the effect is convincing. If you make a mistake, the excess paint can be removed with a brush slightly wetted with turpentine, and it really saves time and effort when you have countless of roadwheels and return rollers to paint. It is also very useful to paint headlights.

With the Ford Speedster I found that painting thin lines using gold it was indispensable: any mistakes were easily cleaned up with a wet brush (wet with turpentine, that is), so the end results were nice and straight. This how I could paint the lines on the fender and the Ford sign with relative ease.

 

They are also great for painting shells…

I mainly use these paints for figure painting – as I said I goes on very well, and any mistakes can be easily corrected. (I am a better model builder than figure painter, mind, even though this does not say a lot.)

I was using a drybrush method to paint the Custodian and Stormcast Ethernals – they are admittedly not finished; I was just experimenting with the paint. (I will give them some more attention at some point.) But the TS Terminators and Abaddon were also painted with True Metal colors. The different shades (gold and old bronze) can be mixed in different quantities resulting in nice blends.

If you want to cover large areas (for example an airplane) use it with an airbrush; this I have never tried.

All in all they are very, very good paints. (I still do not understand how the paint did not rub off in the AK video…)

Now to something interesting. Do you recall I mentioned the gun metal being too bright for my taste? Well, there is something neat you can do with these paints: you can mix them with regular artists’ oil paints… making it possible to either “metalize” any color with an iron/steel, darken the metal color with black or burned umber, or to create different hues of whatever metal color you wish to use. This really expands the usability of these paints – which makes me pretty proud to have thought of this. (Not a big discovery, but still.)

I took a photo in diffused light and using flash. The paint mixes with oil very well; it is a quite promising way of creating metallic shades. Gold mixed with black yields different shades of bronze; iron mixed with black creates dark, gun metal shades; the red was just a random color I wanted to try. The best part is that you can even polish the true metal-oil paint mixes to a shine.

So there it is. Overall I am quite happy with these paints; especially with the option of making my own hues and colors using oils.

 

How to paint chrome -easy option

Unless you’re prepared to use Alclad II (which IS amazing), there’s not much out there that can simulate a shiny chrome surface. I personally don’t like to use anything that has strong organic solvents (enamels and similar products), and the only other option for acrylic users is Vallejo’s new Metal Chrome. Simliarly to Alclad it’s not easy to achieve good results, especially if you only need to paint small parts.

Well, enter the Molotov- Liquid chrome pens. They are literally markers which dispense a very reflective, very realistic chrome colored paint. There’s also a very good video on their website which is worth watching.

 

 

Unfortunately the pen is not suitable for large surfaces (the paint does not even out completely, so there will be marks left over), but there is a refill available. It might be possible to use the paint in an airbrush; the paint is alcohol based, so isopropanol should be perfectly fine to dilute it for spraying.

In this form- as a pen- it’s perfectly fine for smaller details like headlights and other surfaces.

Experiments with Pigments

 

I’ve decided to do some experiments with pigments and different media used to fix them. I was curious if there was a difference between the different solvents in regards to the effect they have on the look of the pigments, on the color, and on the grip. (Many times we add pigments, then rub/brush off the excess to create a worn, dirty look.) I used a spare piece of fender with Tamiya flat green painted over white enamel base.

Act 1.

I’ve used Mig’s earth colored pigment, and the following solvents (the term is inaccurate, since they do not actually dissolve pigments, but there you go):

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  1. Revell Enamel Thinner
  2. White spirit
  3. Zest It
  4. Water
  5. Mig Ammo pigment fixer applied to pigments
  6. Mig Ammo pigment fixer and pigments pre-mixed, and applied after

I mixed the pigments with the solvents, then brushed the mixture on. It was let to dry for a day.

Closeups

In the case of organic solvents the pigments were simply carried onto the surface by the liquid; in all three cases the pigment particles remained visibly separated from the solvent phase. In case of water a slurry-like suspension was created.

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Slightly darker color; weird whitish byproduct.

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Flat color, no discoloration.

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Same as white spirit.

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A much more uniform effect (the mixture resembled a muddy slurry), with some discoloration. (Apologies for the mismatching font type.)

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On the left-hand side I added the pigments dry, and then used the fixer. On the right hand side I mixed the two together, just like in the previous cases, and applied this mixture to the surface. The effect is similar. The color of the pigment darkened somewhat.

 

Act 2.

It is important to see how well the pigments adhere to the surface with the different solvents, so I used a relatively stiff brush (and my thumb) to rub some of it off.

After some gentle rubbing, here are the results.

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The enamel thinner did leave some of the pigments fixed to the surface. The darker color is still evident.

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White spirit, Zest it and water had similar effects: majority of the pigments were rubbed off, but some remained leaving a nice, realistic dirty look. Most of the pigments stayed between the small details, where they were protected, but some acted as a filter on the flat surface as well.

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The pigment fixer -not surprisingly- fixed the pigments much better. When rubbed, however, it came off in chunks, as you can see on the right side.

In conclusion: if you plan to manipulate pigments, do not use pigment fixers as a carrier medium; apply it only after you are finished. Otherwise the choice of solvent is only dependent on you, and what the underlying paint can tolerate. (Obviously enamels would not be very stable if you used white spirit.)