From last time...I am experimenting with airbrushing enamel paints, something I have done very little of since returning to this hobby.
To date I have been using mostly acrylic and lacquer for color coats; Acrylic, at least Jacquard's, is water soluble and binds well to plastic; it won't attack styrene, and it won't stink up the house. Airbrushing enamels on the other hand have bad memories for me. Growing up I recall that enamels clogged my airbrush (my brother and I mowed a lot of lawns to buy the thing), literally to the point of tears! Enamel seemed impossibly hard to thin correctly, stunk up the house like no one's business, and was very difficult to clean up, especially when spilled all over the basement floor!
Fast forward 4 decades, and enamels are back! Everything changed after I bought a series of How-To DVD's by master modeler DonYost. Turns out, Yost is an unabashed proponent of enamels as the best paint formula for modeling. It would be unfair for me to give away his technique--you need to buy his video to learn his secrets--but as advertised, he lays out his system for airbrushing enamels that's easy to follow and, from my tests to date, and done in the Yost style, gives professional results every time.
OK! Last month I had been building a 53 Vette and had been kicking around the "Yost Style" but was wondering how enamel stacks up against acrylic for primary color....So as a "control" I airbrushed a body in acrylic alongside the enamel covered Vette. This was old Monogram Badman Chevy kit I bought online; this was a kit I built like 3 times when I was 10 years old....40 years later my eyesight isn't as good but I'm still doing the same damn thing!
The Badman paint job used no primer, just color coat and clear. I used Jacquard Airbrush ready to spray metallic opaque yellow with a large dose of Jacquard PearlEX Gold, the result is a nice golden metal flake that took about 10 minutes to mix and 5 minutes to apply.
Clearcoat was KustomShop.com 2 part automotive clear, which was rubbed out (quickly!) with 2000/3200/12000 grit pads and Tamiya polish, followed by some Bare Metal foil for the trim. I used a Iwata SAR airbrush for the color coat and a Badger 350 airbrush for the clear.
This technique is nothing new for me. The yellow looks good, but I have always had issues with acrylic laying down correctly; to me it always looks a bit blotchy and uneven.
The '53 Vette body used Testors flat white over a base coat of Testors German silver, all done purely in the Yost style. In general Mr. Yost's method yields a much "thicker" color coat; as he says in his video, Testor's enamel has a self-healing property, so a small pit will get nicely filled in with paint and dry smooth--good luck doing that with lacquer!
So the question is. which formula is "better"?
As far as I can tell, both paint formulas can give great results. The Yost/Testors/Enamel system seemed more forgiving, but the enamel color coat took longer to dry and stunk up the house (the paint uber-stink part hasn't changed in 40 years!) I saw no orange peel with the enamel; the acrylic needed a bit more sanding and finishing, but, after this first enamel build anyway, and as quickly as the Jacquard paint went down, I felt I could get good results with either.
It's hard to say where I will go next. Enamels are back in my paint locker with a vengeance and for bodies, as well as engines, chassis, interior, the Yost method is great--it dries tough, looks good, and is an extremely easy and forgiving airbrush method. As I said last time: I recommend Mr. Yost's DVDs, and as I see it, these vids are must-views for anyone who wants to learn to professionally apply enamels to plastic.