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Old 02-13-2008, 04:28 PM   #1
Have you ever imagined a world with no hypothetical situations?
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Lightbulb Sticky Request: Painting Tools of the Trade

I keep thinking about trying my hand at painting (Jesse's my role model), but my schedule is always crazy so who knows.

Anyway, I saw Danno's "getting started" tutorial and thought that what might be helpful is to get some lists put together of various tools of the trade--paints, brushes, tools, airbrushes, primers, epoxies, etc. along with pros and cons.

I think what would help me is to have some kind of starter setup (i.e. an assortment of paints in xx colors and xx mixing guides). What kind of paints should I buy? Testors, Freestyle, etc. I don't know.

Same with airbrushes (I don't want to spend several hundred bills on something I may only end up pulling out once or twice).

What else does a good setup need? Sandpapers, thinners, xacto blades, cloths, putties, etc? I can put together one shopping list rather than making multiple trips out to get this or that.

If someone could break down a list for beginner, intermediate, advanced, superstar, that would be great.

I'm sure there's something like this somewhere, I just haven't found it (so feel free to cut and paste as well).

So anyway, I may write up this request and still end up doing nothing, but even so others may benefit.

Thanks in advance
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Old 02-13-2008, 08:05 PM   #2
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I'll take a stab at this.

Here is my beginner's shopping list. Some people might quibble over some items, but this is really all you need to get started (you probably don't even need all this, but I wanted to cover all the bases).


Suggested project: simple bust

Cleanup, prep and assembly

Old toothbrush
Bar or liquid soap
X-Acto or other hobby knife
Various grits of sandpaper (also emery boards)
Needle files
Brass rod for pinning.
White spackling compound (from hardware store)
Plumbers’ 2-part epoxy putty (hardware store)
Drill + drill bits
Fine-tipped tweezers
Super glue
2-part quick-set epoxy glue

Painting and masking

Primer: gray or white sandable lacquer-based primer (Krylon or Duplicolor)
Paint: 3 oz bottles of acrylic craft store paints (Apple Barrel, etc.)
Thinner: Windex glass cleaner
Special: Liquitex acrylic retarder (get in tube from art supply store)
Toothpicks and popsicle-type craft sticks for mixing
6-8 small widemouth jars/lids from craft store (for mixing colors)
Small plastic cups for spot-mixing
Brushes (a few flats, rounds, and fine brushes for detail work)
Plastic palette for mixing colors (I use old coffee can lids)
3M Blue Masking tape
Plastic food wrap (Saran wrap)


Testor’s Dullcote (spray cans)
Future Acrylic Floor finish (for gloss-coating eyes, etc).

Special beginner technique: acrylic blending This is a low-cost alternative to airbrushing. Put some of your colors (like a medium tone, a highlight and a shadow color) on your palette. Squeeze out a blob of Liquitex Acrylic Retarder gel onto the palette (this stuff basically slows the usually quick drying time of acrylics). Dip your brush into the retarder to coat it, then into a color. Blend your colors on the model, taking advantage of the slower drying time. It takes a little practice, but you can get very good blending results with this method.
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Old 02-13-2008, 08:16 PM   #3
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Thanks Dan,

BTW, got some pieces coming your way, so will PM you on 'em.

Other painters feel free to chime in with recommendations.
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Old 02-13-2008, 08:41 PM   #4
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Suggested intermediate project: complex bust or simple full figure with base.

Everything on beginner’s list above, plus:

Cleanup, prep and assembly

Any of various high-impact cleaning/stripping solutions (see notes)
Sanding sponges from beauty supply store
Hemostats from alternative smoking shop (head shop)
Magic Sculp or Apoxie Sculpt 2-part epoxy putty
A few simple sculpting-type tools
Dremel rotary motor tool with various bits, steel engraving burrs and cut-off wheels
Dental picks

Painting and masking

Double-action airbrush (see if you can get a bargain on ebay or something used—both my airbrushes were purchased used and they have given me years of service)
Small compressor with air tank attachment

Paint: expand with various Golden Transparent colors, Liquitex interference colors and Tamiya clear gloss paints
Expand your brush selection and get some very fine (triple- or quadruple-ought) brushes for extremely fine work.
Airbrush thinner: stick with Windex or use my recipe (see below)
Latex or vinyl gloves
Dust mask
Box fan fitted with square AC filter to pull paint particles out of air
Silly putty (original bubble-gum color) and hand-cranked pasta roller (to roll the putty out into thin sheets)

Notes: A noiseless compressor is vastly preferable if you are working inside, but more expensive. An airbrush is a fairly big investment, but it will also give great results when you learn how to use it and it will also speed up your painting. Some people like to use Castrol, Easy-Off or other products to soak a kit in overnight to remove any mold-release residue. I don’t. The only time I use a product like this is for stripping existing paint off a piece (and then I use Bix Stripper from Wal-Mart)—otherwise I just scrub it with soap and water (and sometimes maybe isopropyl alcohol).

My airbrush thinner recipe: 1 part Liquitex Flo-Aid (get at craft or art supply store), 18 parts water, 2 parts 90% isopropyl alcohol. I get those squeeze bottles with the fine tips from the beauty supply store and use those for my thinner.

Intermediate sanding trick: Using a sharp craft knife, cut a small chunk from a sanding sponge and grip it in the jaws of a hemostat. Now you have a tiny piece of sanding sponge that can get into tight spaces for sanding.
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Old 02-13-2008, 08:57 PM   #5
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I'm not a professional like Danno, Saul or John but I build & paint alot of kits. I only started doing this last year so I went through a lot of trials & errors. I'm faced with the same conditions as most people in this hobby: I have a daily job that pays the bills & I have a wife & family that also gets a slice of my free time. So here's my opinion of the cheapest way to get into building & painting kits. If you have money great but if you're on a budget read on...


1) Dremmel with misc attachments. I got mine on ebay for $25 and bought a 200 piece bit set for $15 also on ebay. A new one in the store is usually $75 & comes with about 20 bits. This tool is essential in pinning, sanding & shaping a kit. You will still need to use manual sandpaper alot but this tool will greatly reduce your work time.

2) An airbrush. You can get a great airbrush for about $70 brand new. Badger 100 series will take care of most hobby painters needs. It can shoot a line of paint around the thickness of angel haired pasta. It actually says it can do it to as fine a strand of hair but that takes ALOT of practice. Paasche also makes models that are equivilant in their VR & VSR line.

3) A good compressor. Lots of brands & models out there but for ocassional painters like me I need one with these 2 features: A moisture trap & a air regulator. The moisture trap prevents water or paint that might get in you hose from getting into the compressor. The air regulator is a knob or dial that allows you to manipulate the amount of air coming to your brush thus more brush control. To me, the compressor is as important as the brush so you'll spend $$$ here. Decent ones can be had for as little as $100 on sale to $250.

4) Aves Apox Sculpt. This stuff is magic. Let's say you get an unbuilt kit that is in 3 pieces, 2 arms & the main bust body. You'll take your Dremmel tool & drill an 1/8th hole in the center of both pieces connecting. To connect them you'll need some 1/8th metal rod cut up in 1 or 2 inch pieces to add strength & support to the connecting points. Even if you line it up perfectly there will still be a gap or visible seam. Aves is a 2 part putty mix that will fill these seams & gaps. It's self hardening which means it will dry overnight. Once dry, you simple sand the connected areas until it is undetectable by finger touch or sight. Aves comes in lots of colors & sizes but 1 pound of this stuff will run you only around $12.

4) Visit a Dollar Store and stock up on these items:
a) dust masks - sanding resin is like kicking up dirt. When you do it you will understand.
b) Masking tape - useful in blocking off areas you do not want to paint
c) Sandpaper - preferably assorted. You will use medium & fine grit often
d) Goggles - see "a"
e) Plastic Wrap - also good for masking
f) Silly putty or Play-Doh - great for masking small areas
g) Napkins. You will be using ALOT of napkins.

5) Paint. I primarily use Cermacoat which about $2.00 a bottle. These are great to start with and you'll be satisfied with the results. There are better paints out there by various companies but cost goes up with the quality. Sometimes you can get a good paint cheap online but not being able to really see the colors in person makes it hard to committ to at $3 a pop.

6) Hand held paint brushes. You'll need to get some really fine brushes to do the eyes & finer points on a kit. I use a 0/20. Brands don't matter to me but I've never paid more than $6 for a brush. You'll also need a flat brush to drybrush hair/textures.

Ok enough for now.....
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Old 02-13-2008, 09:22 PM   #6
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This so needs to be a sticky!!!
Please MOD's!

And a big thank you to all who have given their advice on this subject.
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Old 03-15-2008, 03:38 PM   #7
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For beginners, I would buy only the materials that I need for the project to minimize the cost, then expand as needed from project to project.
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Old 05-22-2008, 09:56 AM   #8
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I didn't post an advanced version because by the time you are an advanced painter you will have most of the tools and materials you will need already, and if you buy something else, it will be because you know you need it.

Most of the materials I use on a daily basis are on the intermediate list anyway.

Remember, the most important thing is to have fun and practice a lot. Even if you screw up badly, you can just strip the kit and start over again (worst case) or just paint over the mistake.
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Old 02-20-2009, 08:36 AM   #9
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Does any one have any good paint stripping products?
I need to strip a badly painted bust, so I can repaint it
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Old 03-01-2009, 12:36 PM   #10
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Easy-Off oven cleaner in a baggie with the bust. Put the bust in the baggie, coat it everywhere with the spray. Seal the bag. Check it in 30 minutes to 1 hour.
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