Paints!! If you thought Kits were hard to buy, try paints. They are even harder. The questions they pose can make you afraid to do anything. There are acrylics, enamels, and oils. Then there are brands, ModelMaster, Testors, Tamiya, Vallejo (there are too many to mention). Then once you sift through those two bogs of decisions you have to pick a color. Did you ever think there were so many light tans?
is here to try to help.
Lifecolor is a newcomer to the paint world. They bring a welcome line of paints; some of which have been reviewed on the KitMaker network. Lifecolor comes from Astromodel out of Italy. They produce a wide range of paints; their competitive edge is that they produce a ‘box sets’ of paints. They sell a box of six paints that are selectively matched to target a specific subject farea. This will help you decide which paints to buy. You only have to worry about the subject and Lifecolor gets you six colors within the spectrum. This review will cover an Axis oriented set: “Camouflage Set : German WWII Uniforms Set 2”
From the box art you are guided to the alternate German camouflage arena; not your typical plain German Grey. This box contains six 22ml bottles of Acrylic paints:
On face/box value they appear to be very good representations for the camouflage schemes such as “Mottled Oak” or “Army Splinter” or “Luftwaffe Splinter” or “Waffen-SS Plaintree”
Based on the colors and the box art I decided to put these to a full test of their abilities. I choose to paint various figures in various uniforms of various materials. I selected one injected plastic figure, two Verlinden figures, and two Jaguar figures. I wanted the type of base material to be diverse as well as the quality and molding.
With all this in mind it’s on to the product – you get a nice medium weight cardboard box with sample art and color ‘specifications’ in various languages. On the back there is a brief outline of the paint use. Read it and follow it; you’ll see why later. In this review you’ll see that I’ve added three extra bottles, one black, one white and one Lifecolor thinner. This is critical as I explain later.
There is a constant debate over which manufacturer makes the correct version of which light tan or field green for a given camouflage scheme. As long as there are aged samples of faded original gear or examples of various color enhanced period photos there will be debate over which color is ‘right’. I’m not going to touch that debate with this review I’ll show you the paint, straight and mixed and let you decide.
The decision you will have to make is how to mix colors because these six bottles won’t work straight out of the bottle. After shaking the paint and opening it I looked at it and was not very satisfied at how the color looked. The Light Brown
looked more like a flesh tone than brown. The Dark Brown
did not have enough red in it for my liking. Neither of these was going to work Out Of the Bottle (OOTB). There’s a new twist on an old acronym.
As far as how to create a base coat I tried two ways. The first way was to darken the Light Brown with Dark Brown, the second way was to lighten Dark Brown with White. You can see the results in the image. The figure on the left was the first mix: darkened Light Brown. The other two figures are the lightened Dark Brown. I preferred the second version. The first is just to “peachy” (Original Base Mix photo.)
I did not like the Light Brown base at all. Focusing on the Dark Brown I realized it was not green enough for a paratroopers splinter pattern camouflage. I added some Light Green to the lightened shade of Dark Brown and got a more greenish base (Remix Base photo.)
As an OOTB paint this starts off poorly. The OOTB color is way off and mixing is a bit of an experiment. I am very pleased at how easy the colors are to mix and how long they last in a ‘mixing pot’. The end result is quite good and the blending of the colors is smooth and easy. With a bit of research and an eye for a color wheel you can mix and match these six colors to get a huge palette.
The Panzer Uniform color is just that; it’s the black used for Panzer crew uniforms. It did not fit my two engineer figures. Here again I turned to mixing colors. I wanted a true Gray so I mixed the Black and White colors. I mixed a few variants to give me some shading capabilities for worn down and non-uniform shades of material.
I found all the colors to be easy to mix and blended well. Once mixed, they didn’t separate during use. Even over a few days of sitting in storage they didn’t separate; a quick shake of the jar and they we ready to go over and over.
One test of paint is how well it goes through an airbrush and how easy it is to clean out of the airbrush when done.
I sprayed this paint through two types of airbrushes, a Badger Crescendo 175 and an Iwata Eclipse hp-cs. As an OOTB spray medium these are pretty darn good. The paint is thin enough to be pulled through the bottom feed Badger well enough. The Iwata had no problems at all being gravity feed. Coverage is great, consistent and solid.
I did thin these paints the first try was with the Lifecolor thinner. The instructions all said to use it as it was a special blend just for Lifecolor. I did and it worked wonderfully. Thin any of these paints to a milk consistency and they will spray through any airbrush. Don’t over thin or they will definitely spider web on you. With a bit of practice you can easily mix up good batches, go for whole milk not skim milk consistency.
I experimented with other thinning agents to see what might work. I tried denatured alcohol and water. The water was acceptable but not great, the alcohol resulted in blotchy erratic performance.
The quality of this paint allowed me to spray a very fine controlled line without masking. When you thin it well it won’t spatter, spider, blotch, orange peel, or resemble sand paper. Nice paint for an airbrush, thinning was easy to do and easy to duplicate over and over, from paint session to paint session.
Not every paint application is done with an airbrush and not every paint takes to brush applications. I put this to the test.
The entire camouflage pattern was done with a brush. The gear was done with a brush and any touch ups were done using a brush. I used two basic brush types, chiseled and line. All these paints worked very well with a brush. They didn’t dry to fast on the brush. The came off the brush easily and went on smoothly. There were no brush marks to worry about at all.
This section deals with the paint once it’s on your subject.
This is something we all deal with, you spray a coat then you have to hold your piece and paint on details. Careful or you’ll rub away your fresh color with this set of paint. I applied a basecoat of Tamiya Sky Gray on three of my five figures and left two natural. The basecoat was a definite enhancement. The natural figures had paint rub of fairly easily. With a basecoat the durability was better.
After a couple of days of cure time it was much better. So be careful while working with fresh paint or add a base coat.
Oil paints are a popular paint for washes. Lifecolors stood up to a filter type and pin type oil washes. The paint thinner oil wash flowed well over the paint. There were no problems with adding oil washes using paint thinner as your thinning agent. I purposefully applied the wash directly on the Lifecolor and it was fine.
Another popular means of weathering figures is to brush on pastel dust. I used two layers of pastels on all the final figures. I used a dark brown as a base coat of pastels. I used two types of brushes for application. One of the brushes was a soft bristle brush and this worked wonderfully. The other was a stiff bristle brush for stippling on pastels. This worked fine and didn’t cause any problems.
The instructions from Lifecolor recommend you use water as a cleaning agent. I wanted to test them, so I used water, Lifecolor thinner, Paint Thinner, Denatured Alcohol, and a generic “brush cleaner”. Water and Lifecolor thinner were good. I preferred the Lifecolor thinner over everything else as it seem to clean with less rubbing and wiping. Water was good; it just needed a bit of a wipe down with a towel or QTip. The other materials had varying levels of mediocre. I would stick with water or Lifecolor thinner.
In general these are nice solid paints that get a good recommendation. However, they don’t come ready to spray. You will have to work to get these paints to shine. I recommend that you get good solid reference material to help with mixing colors. Add a bit of your own creativity and you’ll get a good paint color.
Good results are just a bit of work away.
“20th Century Military Uniforms” Chris McNab, Barnes & Noble 2002
by the sword
the history bunker
at the front