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Bones: The First Coat is the Difference

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#1 Wren

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 02:22 PM

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I put together a few documents related to using Bones. I've submitted these to the Craft section of the website, but as it may be a little while before Reaper has the time available to add them, Bryan suggested that I post them here.

 

Bones - Frequently Asked Questions

Bones - Preparation (mould line removal, glue, putty, etc.)

Bones - The First Coat is the Difference (this document)

 

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Painting Bones Miniatures: The First Coat is the Difference

 

One of the revolutionary features of Bones miniatures is that you can paint them straight out of the package. Because this is such a departure from recommendations for painting metal or resin miniatures, it is understandable that this feature raises questions and concerns for painters unfamiliar with Bones. Painters familiar with other types of miniatures will find that there are some differences in how the first coat of paint behaves, or that there are painting techniques or substances that require a little tweaking to use as a first coat on Bones figures.

 

The Bones material is a little hydrophobic, meaning that it tends to repel water. Paint diluted with water, sometimes even just a little water, may display a tendency to bead up or pull away from crevices or higher raised areas. The more water added to the paint, the greater this effect. The first coat of paint applied to the surface can also take a little longer to dry than usual.

 

bones-coat0-dilute-sm.jpg

 

The image on the left is a Bones figure straight out of the blister, the one on the right is a primed Dark Heaven metal miniature. Each was painted with a brushstroke of Master Series Walnut Brown paint of various dilutions. From right to left: undiluted; 1:1 paint water ratio; heavily diluted. On the Bones figure, the stripes painted with diluted paint display beading and pulling away, but the stripe painted with undiluted paint covers smoothly with clean edges.

 

Once you apply a first coat of paint, primer or other appropriate surface preparation to a Bones miniature, you can freely use paint of any dilution and the full array of painting techniques!

 

Painters who prefer to use thinned base coats, those who like to start with a dark wash over white primer, and those who use black or custom coloured primer need not despair! The following information will help you find ways to tweak your preferred techniques to work with the Bones material. It also includes information about brands of primer, paint and other substances that are known to work or not work well with Bones, and tests of the utility and durability of certain of these products on Bones.

 

 

Slightly Thicker Paint Will Not Obscure All the Sculpted Details

 

For years painters have been reading tips and tutorials that exhort them to thin their paints so as not to obscure the detail sculpted into their figures, and to obtain a better quality paint job. While it’s definitely the case that using excessively thick paint can affect detail and paint quality, I think it is also true that some people are worrying too much about this in regards to painting Bones.

 

Reaper Master Series and Master Series HD are produced with a consistency pretty close to ideal for base coats. Several other miniature paint lines are produced in a similar consistency, or require only a small amount of water to reach the correct consistency. Two or three layers of such paint will not clog up all the detail on your model.

 

Also, remember that when you paint metal or resin miniatures, you normally paint over a coat of primer. One layer of undiluted paint on a Bones miniature is equivalent in thickness (if not thinner) than one or two coats of primer on a metal or resin figure.

 

bones-coat1-sm.jpg

 

The picture above is of four Bones bases. The tiny text relief sculpted into the bottom of these is a perfect way to test whether paint coats obscure small detail. Each of these bases was given four coats of a substance, and then brushed over with a paint wash to bring out the detail. (The bottles of paint and primer used in this test were fairly fresh, no more than a year or two old.)

 

From left to right, the bases were coated with four coats of undiluted Master Series Pure White, four coats of undiluted Master Series White Primer, and four coats of undiluted Master Series Brush-On Sealer. I prepared a second base with the Brush-On Sealer as the wash didn’t quite turn out on the first. The word ‘Miniatures’ has lost a little detail on the base coated with four undiluted coats of paint, but apart from that both it and the primer coated base still have excellent detail. The text is still mostly legible on the bases coated with Brush-On Sealer, but some detail has been obscured.

 

 

Wash Bones Figures Before Painting

 

Many people find that the paint is less likely to bead up if the figure has been washed. Also, if you’ve had your figure out of the blister for a while, or you’ve handled it to remove mould lines or otherwise prepare it, you should clean it before painting, as it probably has dust and skin oils on it that may repel paint or cause paint to chip off after it has dried. All you need to clean it is some dishwashing liquid and an old toothbrush. Give it a scrub, and then rinse it really well to get off all the soap. Let it dry before painting. (You can hurry up the drying with a hairdryer set on low.)

 

 

Black Primer? Custom Colours? Paint One Coat of Paint over the Entire Figure First!

 

Some painters prefer to paint over black or gray primer. Others start with a primer of a particular colour to speed up painting units. For example, you could paint a coat of khaki on a unit of modern army figures and be half way finished painting their uniforms. One way to get the same effect as a dark wash over white primer on Bones is to first apply an all-over coat of white paint, followed by a dark wash. (Keep reading for other ways to do washes directly on Bones.)

 

 

Some Primers Work on Bones

 

Traditional metal or resin miniatures need to be primed before any paint is applied. Paint applied over bare metal does not adhere well, and rubs off with even light handling. Primer etches into the metal on a microscopic level. Paint adheres well to primer, so using it forms a stronger bond. Bones figures do not suffer from this issue! Acrylic paint painted directly onto the Bones surface is as durable, if not more durable, than if you use paint over primer on Bones.

 

If you still prefer to use primer, Reaper’s Brush-On Primer works well on Bones, and is available in black and white.

 

Another product people sometimes ask about is gesso. Fine arts painters use gesso to prepare canvases for painting. Some people have experimented with liquid gesso as a primer for miniatures, Bones and otherwise. People have reported it working in terms of creating a surface that you can paint thinned paint over. Reports vary as to how durable the material is, so it may not be the best choice for miniatures that are going to be handled.

 

For those who prefer to use spray primer, the best option is to use an airbrush to apply a coat of acrylic paint to the Bones figure. Reaper Master Series paint thins well with Golden or Liquitex Airbrush Medium, and maintains its strong adhesion, though I have found that adding airbrush medium does noticeably increase the drying time of the paint.

 

Aerosol spray primers and some spray paints can have some issues with Bones (and with other plastics). The chemicals in some of these primers and paints do not react well with Bones. The main effect seems to be that the primer never completely cures, remaining tacky to the touch. Some will also fail to form a bond with the Bones material.

 

The following is a list of aerosol paints and primers that people on the Reaper forums have reported testing on Bones. Please consider the list just a guide. The best idea is to test your chosen spray by using it on a small Bones figure you don’t care about a lot. After you give the spray time to cure, carefully look over the figure to make sure the chemicals in the spray haven’t reacted with the Bones material to melt or otherwise damage it. If not, test the primer surface by touching it to see if it stays too tacky to paint over. Also, flex parts of the figure to make sure the primer doesn’t crack.

 

Note: Some people have successfully used Krylon primer, and possibly other spray primers that some people have reported as problematic. And other people have reported problems with primers that some felt worked well. One difference seems to be that a light spray rather than a heavy coating is more likely to minimize tackiness. Environmental factors such as temperature and humidity are also always a big variable with any spray product.

 

 

Recommended aerosol spray primers and paints:

Army Painter white and coloured primers

Krylon Dual Paint + Primer

Duplicolor Sandable – slight tackiness possible

Rust-oleam Painter’s Touch Ultra Cover 2x – slight tackiness possible

 

Problem aerosol spray primers and paints:

Krylon white primer – doesn’t bond, stays tacky

Testors Enamel flat black – stays tacky

Walmart Valu flat white – stays tacky

Krylon Primer red-brown – stays tacky

Citadel spray

 

 

Use a Medium to Thin Your Paint or Make a Wash

 

Water is the element in thinned paint that causes it to bead up on the Bones surface. If you try thinning your paint with a dilutant other than water, you may be able to create a mix that is closer to the consistency you like to paint with. Depending on what you use, you can even create something translucent enough to act as a wash or glaze directly on the Bones.

 

 Mediums designed to work with acrylic paints are good products to try. Examples are matte medium, glazing medium, airbrush medium. Reaper’s Brush-On Sealer can be used this way. Note that many of these products are a little less fluid than water, so they may not dramatically change the consistency of the paint (it’ll still feel a little thick rather than watery, but it will look a lot more transparent). You can also test adding just a drop or so of water to your mix of paint and medium to see if you can get closer to the consistency you prefer.

 

bones-coat2-washes-sm.jpg

 

I diluted some Master Series Bone Shadow with various mediums to make washes. From left to right, the products are listed below.

 

Master Series Brush-On Sealer: I added one drop of water to a large drop of paint and several drops of Sealer. Worked well.

 

Liquitex Matte Medium: A thick product. I added a drop of water. Beads up too much to work well for a wash.

 

Liquitex Glazing Medium: Another thick product, I added a drop of water to my mix. Took longer to dry than the others. Did not sit in crevices well enough to work well for a wash. Very shiny finish.

 

Folk Art Glass & Tile Medium: Applied well, dried quickly. Even application of the colour.

 

Delta Ceramcoat All-Purpose Sealer: Worked decently, seems a bit more inclined to pool in the crevices with less colouring on the surfaces. Shiny finish.

 

ADDEDUM (not pictured)

 

Golden Acrylic Flow Release (undiluted): Applied well. Took a little while to dry. Shiny finish.

 

Reaper Flow Improver: Applied well. Took a little while to dry. Finish is shiny in areas where wash pooled.

 

 

Use a Medium as a Primer

 

Because of how well acrylic based products adhere to the Bones material, it is also possible to use mediums as a primer alternative. Once dry, you can paint over them using thinned paint. These are applied by brush, or possibly with an airbrush.

 

I tested a number of different brush-on products on some Bones Cave Trolls. These were straight out of the package and had not been cleaned. After the products dried, I applied a thin coat of paint to see how it behaved over each product.

 

bones-coat3-primer-alts-sm.jpg

 

Reaper Master Series Brush-On Primer: Exhibited slight pulling away from some high or curved surfaces, though generally it just required running the brush over that section again to establish coverage. Dried quickly.

 

Reaper Master Series Brush-On Sealer: No significant beading. Dried quickly. Paint was less durable than with the other products, see the durability testing section for more details and pictures.

 

Golden Airbrush Medium: Bubbled a bit when applied, thin enough to pool a bit in depressions. Took more than 40 minutes to dry. This product works well if you use a drop or three to thin paint down for a base coat, although it does increase the drying time slightly. Due to it drying time, this is not the best choice as a primer alternative or for thinning washes that will be applied directly over Bones.

 

Liquitex Matte Medium: Somewhat thick. Minor beading and pulling away. Significant beading when thinned with water.  Dried quickly. When paint was applied, there were still some mild occurrences of paint pulling away from higher/curved areas.

 

Liquitex Glazing Medium: Pretty thick consistency. Dried fairly quickly. The paint coat still beaded a little.

 

Folk Art Glass & Tile Medium: Dried fairly quickly. Paint went on quite nicely. Also works on metal miniatures.

 

Delta Ceramcoat All-Purpose Sealer: Dried quickly. The paint layer exhibited slightly pulling way.

 

Folk Art Blending Gel: Extremely thick. Beaded up too much to use. Not pictured as it worked too poorly to continue to the testing stage.

 

 

Speed Paint Drying with a Hairdryer

 

Whether on a Bones or metal miniature, if you find that your paint is taking too long to dry, you can speed up the drying by using a hairdryer on the low setting on the paint. If the paint you’re drying is a wash, you should let it dry naturally for a little bit, or you risk blowing the paint out of the crevices and depressions you want to darken.

 

 

Testing the First Coats for Durability

 

Once you get your paint applied, you want to make sure that it stays there. In my experiments, the most durable Bones miniatures are those where the first coat applied to the miniature is undiluted Master Series paint. Several of the other substances I tested were pretty close in durability, but it should be noted that there were a few that performed poorly.

 

bones-coat4-dura1-sm.jpg

 

I painted these ghosts in August 2012. They accompanied me to Gen Con and Pax Prime 2012, stored loose with some unpainted Bones in a plastic container I carried in my backpack. Their travels included a six hour car ride and return plane trip. At the conventions they were handled extensively by dozens upon dozens of people, including being tossed on tables. The paint jobs were stressed pretty much equally through the Gen Con trials. The ghost painted only with Reaper Master Series paint was handled a lot more than the others during the Pax Prime trials.

 

The ghost sculpt has some thin and thus particularly bendy areas, most notably on the hood and where it meets the tombstone. I flexed these parts by hand repeatedly to additionally stress the paint. Unfortunately I chose poor colours to easily be able to see all the damage in the photos.

 

After the first coat I used painting techniques of thinned layers and washes with no difficulty and with the same effect on each of the miniatures. From left to right the first coat on each miniature was as follows.

 

Undiluted Reaper Master Series Paint:  Displayed the least damage during the Gen Con trials. Following Pax, has some chips at the flex point on the hood and near the tombstone. Was handled a lot more than the other figures.

 

Reaper Master Series Brush-On White Primer:  A few very small chips at the flex points, and some paint has scraped off a few sharp protruding areas. (Edge of the hood, finger tips on one hand.)

 

Dupli-Color Sandable White Primer Spray: The unpainted base stayed slightly tacky to the touch for weeks after priming. The figure has several small areas where paint was scraped off, but only one chip on a flex point.

 

Testors Dullcote Spray: This product created a good surface for painting, but performed very poorly in the paint durability tests, and I would not recommend using it as a primer substitute if you plan to use your Bones for gaming. Chips formed on the major flex points early in the Gen Con testing, and the paint has flaked off extensively from there. The figure also has some small areas of scraping damage, but those are no more notable than on the Brush-On Primer or Dupli-Color figures.

 

bones-coat5-dura2-sm.jpg

 

I wanted to perform a similar test with the other surface preparation products I tried. First I painted on an additional coat or two of paint. Then I placed the figures loose in a plastic box with some other Bones, a wooden, MDF and plastic base, and a metal figure. After wrapping the box in a towel secured with rubber bands, I put it in my dryer on the air setting for 10 minutes or so. The green painted areas on each figure are those that were painted over the primer alternatives. The brown painted areas are  Master Series Paint directly on the Bones surface. (These were part of tests for methods to remove mould lines.) The brown areas on each exhibit very little damage. Some have none, some have a few small chips or scrapes. (However it should be noted the brown area of this sculpt has far fewer surface protrusions than where the green was painted.)

 

bones-coat6-dura3-sm.jpg

 

From left to right: Reaper Master Series Brush-On Primer White; Reaper Master Series Brush-On Sealer; Golden Airbrush Medium; Liquitex Matte Medium.

 

Three of the four show pretty similar levels of damage. The figure painted with Brush-On Sealer as a primer displays the most paint damage of all figures tested in this series.

 

bones-coat7-dura4-sm.jpg

 

From left to right: Liquitex Glazing Medium; Folk Art Glass & Tile Medium; Delta Ceramcoat All-Purpose Sealer.

 

Damage levels are pretty similar to the better performers above. The Folk Art Glass & Tile Medium and Liquitex Glazing Medium performed the best of the seven products tested.  (The Folk Art Glass & Tile Medium performed better in terms of acting as a primer, and is inexpensive, so would be my recommendation between those two.)


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#2 buglips*the*goblin

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 12:14 AM

These are fantastic write-ups and demonstrations. 


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#3 redambrosia

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 02:48 AM

Thank you for doing these tests and sharing this information ::):


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#4 DocPiske

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Posted 13 April 2013 - 06:46 AM

Well done. Very informative.

 

I've had primers that remained tacky after spraying, and found that a quick shot of clear coat would cure them. Of course, it's better to not use them in the first place, but if you already have tacky miniatures, it could help.



#5 pocketcthulhu

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Posted 13 April 2013 - 07:27 AM

Good job wren, your going to save the new guys a LOT of trouble.... If they bother reading up on the forums :rock:


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#6 Pierzasty

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Posted 13 April 2013 - 02:08 PM

Have you tried airbrush primers, like Vallejo acrylic-urethane primer? Maybe the problem lies with the spray propellant. I've heard good things about this one, but I have yet to receive my minis.



#7 Snu

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Posted 13 April 2013 - 09:04 PM

Would Future/Pledge floor polish work as a medium for washes?



#8 ShadowRaven

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Posted 13 April 2013 - 09:13 PM

Yes, Future works very well, a drop or two of it with your water breaks down the surface tension of the wash and helps it flow easy, but be careful not to over do it. it has a tendency to become quite shiny if you do.


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#9 smokingwreckage

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Posted 13 April 2013 - 09:24 PM

Snu; do you mean a wash straight on the Bones plastic?


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#10 Wren

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Posted 13 April 2013 - 11:25 PM

Future has an acrylic base, so my guess is that it would work. I forgot to test it, but will try to find some time to do that and report back some time. (Bit busy right now getting ready to go to ReaperCon!) Though there have occasionally been people who find that Future doesn't work well with RMS paints, and in general I lean to the side of recommending that people use art/paint products with paint and reserve my Future for gloss coating.


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#11 Snu

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Posted 14 April 2013 - 03:53 PM

Snu; do you mean a wash straight on the Bones plastic?

Yes, that's what I was thinking -- a quick wash to get those zombies looking properly dead.

 

And Wren -- Thanks for writing up these guides!  They look like a great resource for figuring out how to work with the Bones.



#12 ced1106

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 08:52 PM

Use a Medium to Thin Your Paint or Make a Wash

 

Update: Chris Palmer: Just add a little soap

http://allbonesabout...ut-details.html

 

Wren's thread using Golden Airbrush Medium:

http://www.reapermin...ones-wash-test/

 

Dan Goodchild: "Thin the wash with flow improver or airbrush medium instead of water and it will work fine."
 
ScoutII's comparison of airbrush medium vs. water:
 
iamfanboy recommends 2:1 water to Pledge Future floor wax:
 

Sean's review of a Bones miniature mentions using, as a wash, Reaper's black Brush-On Primer watered down:

 

Mikko used two coats of Games Workshop Badab Black and white drybrush:
purple_worm_washed.jpg?w=360&h=233
 
Nathaniel from TheMiniaturesPage suggested gesso, and 50/50 water and matte medium or glazing medium:
 
Leaning towards Pledge Future Floor Wax and paint for now...
 
 
EDIT: Nowadays, I'm doing that zenithal priming stuff for my miniatures and the Bones version is: 
1. Slop on runny black Apple Barrel craft paint.
2. Drybrush mostly grey in the direction of the light source.
3. Drybrush partially white in the direction of the light source.
4. Optionally wash in black, or paint with black wash anywhere that needs blacklining or shadows.
 
The first coat of black craft paint doesn't completely cover the miniature, but the subsequent drybrushes do.  If you don't have time for actual painting and you need the mini's for a game, you can use this technique to bring out the details of the miniature in black-and-white VERY quickly. You can also just apply the black craft paint. The raised areas of the Bones will not be covered in black, but that's acceptable, since these areas will eventually be highlighted when you do paint.

Edited by ced1106, 19 October 2013 - 06:23 AM.

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#13 shadowstitch

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Posted 28 April 2013 - 01:13 PM

Thanks for this incredibly informative post and discussion!

I've been reading all the user-written faqs here and doing a lot of homework, because I'm used to painting harder plastic (or primed metal) with tamiya products; I'm not really a fan of the rubbery Bones plastic, since it's harder to smooth and paint and fully half of my minis came horrifically warped right out of the box. Personally, I wish they were hard plastic, like ABS minis or model kits, because this rubbery plastic requires a lot of straightening and apparently requires my investing in a whole new paint array.

But it is what it is, so I'm convinced enough to try the folk art glass and tile medium route, (aside from the necessity of occasional black primer base coats, which it appears the only truly viable option is black Reaper primer.) I've been poking around the local craft stores, and all I can seem to find is this:

http://www.plaidonli...035/product.htm

I'm assuming you intended for people to buy this product?

http://www.plaidonli...869/product.htm


I also saw this stuff on the shelves. It's pretty watery, and makes me wonder if if could be used for truly liquid washes:

http://www.plaidonli...060/product.htm

I'm going to miss my flat coat sealant sprays, as I'm pretty sure they won't play nice with these minis even after priming & painting, and I don't know of any acrylic or vinyl friendly flat finishing options. Gloss or Matte, sure. Flat, not so much.



#14 Laoke

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Posted 28 April 2013 - 05:06 PM

Thanks for this incredibly informative post and discussion!

I've been reading all the user-written faqs here and doing a lot of homework, because I'm used to painting harder plastic (or primed metal) with tamiya products; I'm not really a fan of the rubbery Bones plastic, since it's harder to smooth and paint and fully half of my minis came horrifically warped right out of the box. Personally, I wish they were hard plastic, like ABS minis or model kits, because this rubbery plastic requires a lot of straightening and apparently requires my investing in a whole new paint array.

But it is what it is, so I'm convinced enough to try the folk art glass and tile medium route, (aside from the necessity of occasional black primer base coats, which it appears the only truly viable option is black Reaper primer.) I've been poking around the local craft stores, and all I can seem to find is this:

http://www.plaidonli...035/product.htm

I'm assuming you intended for people to buy this product?

http://www.plaidonli...869/product.htm


I also saw this stuff on the shelves. It's pretty watery, and makes me wonder if if could be used for truly liquid washes:

http://www.plaidonli...060/product.htm

I'm going to miss my flat coat sealant sprays, as I'm pretty sure they won't play nice with these minis even after priming & painting, and I don't know of any acrylic or vinyl friendly flat finishing options. Gloss or Matte, sure. Flat, not so much.

 

  Could you let us know what paint you normally use please?  I get the feeling you use enamels, which should work.  The plastic is designed for use with acrylics, but if you prime the Bones you should be able to use any paint you like.  

 

  [Edit]On rereading your post I think you're using Tamiya acrylics.  I've heard of people using the clear red on Bones, but that's usually as an effect over a base coat so may not be representative.  Regardless I'd expect them to work fine, I'd simply recommend that you test it first and make sure it adheres OK. 

 

  The flexiblity takes a bit to get used to but 96% of the Bones I've had to date (the pre-Kickstarter ones) have come right with a simple 'Boil and dunk into ice-water' method.  They're also a lot less prone to damage, to either figure or paint, than metal.

 

  Might pay to have a word to Buglips.  I think he does, or did, a lot of model kit painting and might have some tips for cross-overs between the two disciplines.


Edited by Laoke, 28 April 2013 - 05:41 PM.


#15 buglips*the*goblin

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 05:24 PM

Tamiya paint should work okay on Bones if they've been washed in dish soap and water.  It probably wouldn't be my first choice, though, because my experience with Tamiya is that a second brush-on coat doesn't go on very well or smoothly.  This has been my experience on plastic kits, I haven't tried it on Bones.

 

Tamiya's a strange animal of paint, in my experience.  It does weird things, and is generally a pretty poorly behaved acrylic for miniature work.  Investing in new paint does seem like a hassle, but overall what you'll use of it is far less than you'd go through in Tamiya paint and lasts longer.  So you can build a robust selection over a span of time to help offset front-end costs.  You'll also gain the better ease of use, mixing options, and a range of additives.  Most mini paint is compatible with one another, as well.

 

Dollar per hour, minis is by far the cheaper hobby compared to plastic model kits. 

 

For a matte sealent, Testors Dullcote has so far worked well for everybody. 


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