My opinion of Vallejo’s products changed radically after using their Metal Color aluminum paint. I like their acrylic putty, but I LOVE Metal Color. The stuff is bullet proof. All of the problems I had with it were due to my lack of skill with the new medium. It really is amazing stuff, for painting metallic finishes on plastic models using a a brush. Nothing else comes close, and it’s a low-odor acrylic! It’s like the invention the electric light bulb, from a brushpainter’s point of view.
Unfortunately, I have never been able to completely remove the foul taste left in my mouth from their signature product line, Vallejo Model Color. Of course, I shouldn’t have put the paint in my mouth, but that’s beside the point. That paint is just horrible for painting plastic models using my methods. Brushmark City with the nearby bedroom communities of Low Adhesion and Lousy Packaging Village.
I don’t hate Vallejo, but I do hate Vallejo Model Color. Long may it rot in Hell.
On the other hand, Vallejo makes another “type” of model paint, called Model Air. One of the damnable things about modern culture is the obsessive need to tell you how to use a product. I don’t know if this is due to marketing stupidity combined with liability (salt to taste) or what, but I stopped shopping at a local art supply due to their endless prying into the nature of the project that caused me to want to buy a certain tool. Look, I don’t want to have to explain what I’m doing to get you clowns to sell me a tool. Shuddup and take my money.
“Model Air” tells you what to do right off the bat. You use this in an airbrush, see? You squeeze the sqeezy bottle and put a few drops in the airbrush like so…I’ll take that sister. Do you have any glass bottles so I can decant this paint into a usable package? No? See ya.
It occurred to me, after seeing what a marvel of science Metal Color truly was, that perhaps I should try the Model Air using a brush. There is no evidence, that I can see, that the label comes with a death ray which will kill you if you don’t follow label directions, I mean, sure, it’s a federal crime, but I can live with that. So I bought ONE bottle of Model Air and decided to do a little experiment. The selection of colors with Vallejo is huge. Too bad none of the colors can be identified unless you buy the paint and brush it out.
So here’s the empty bottle.
I immediately put the paint into a proper jar so I can stir it. There’s more paint in there than you might think. If it works, it’s a bargain at 3 dollars and change for a bottle. You get more paint from Vallejo than a four dollar jar of Model Master Acryl.
WHY is it important to be able to stir the paint? It’s important so that you can SEE what you’re doing. I have to be able to see the paint’s texture, flow and opacity as I stir it and see it on the stirring stick. That’s why the plastic bottles are stupid. If you can’t see ALL the paint and determine the color mix, the opacity and the viscosity of the paint by actually reaching in and taking some out with a stirrer, then you’re not going to have a good time.
So I got some “sacrificial” kit parts (from Heller’s old and honorable–but funky–Curtiss P-36 kit) and put on some paint. I’d say that the results were “mixed” but NOT bad. Not bad.
As it comes from the bottle, the paint viscosity is too high and the paint is too sticky. It also dries too fast. Brushmarks will result. It reminded me of untreated Tamiya acrylic paint. By “untreated” I mean without the addition of Windex window cleaner. Windex makes Tamiya into a usable brush paint. It’s not perfect, but it’s usable. Some kind of similar thinner might work on the Vallejo Model Air, but I haven’t tried to do that yet.
After applying three very thin coats I got reasonable results.
Here’s a good image of the wing.
Coverage not great but I spilled some water on it so that accounts for the worst of it.
Now comes the big question. What makes this “airbrush only” paint? It certainly IS NOT airbrush only. Vallejo Model Air has real potential. Why would anybody say this can’t be applied with a brush? First, they are mindless zombie creatures who only know what their god, the electronic deity, tells them to think.
Possible, but unlikely. I hope.
The other possibility is that they really believe that the only way to apply paint with a brush is to smooth it on. I call it “scrubbing” in a clever attempt to discourage it. Paint like Model Master Acryl, Revell Aqua Color or Xtracrylix can be “flowed” onto the surface using a brush. The whole process is different from the “scrubbing” method. If you scrub Model Air onto the surface, you get poor coverage (which makes sense because you are scrubbing it off). I can live with the poor coverage (just apply more coats) but there are other problems with this method. The scrubbing method works okay for Metal Color because I seldom (never?) need to “draw” a fine line using the metal paint. Using other colors, for a camouflage pattern, requires drawing lines.
I can smooth Vallejo Model Air with a brush and “muscle” it into a reasonably brushmark-free finish. But I shouldn’t have to do that. It should flow, easily, out of a full brush, onto the surface being painted without any force or other encouragement. The reason this is important is those fine lines I mentioned. I need to be able to draw straight lines, camouflage patterns and other shapes without lifting the brush. They should flow onto the surface from a small, full brush without my having to “spread” them out.
It’s like the difference between peanut butter and butter. Soft butter applies smoothly. Sticky, thick peanut butter has to be forced to conform to its buttery grave on toast or a bagel or whatever.
Be like butter, not peanut butter.
Those of you in non-peanut-butter eating countries will have to get some peanuts and grind them up into a paste to find out what I mean.