Presented below is a range of hero products I use to model the core components found in my dioramas, including all my kits. I feel it is important to share these here so there is a central, updated hub of what these products are and where they can be found as some of them may be very different from what you’ve tried before.
With that said, don’t be afraid of them! Trying new products is an important step to improving and creating variation in your modeling. While my kit instructions will always go into specific detail about their usage, I feel it’s important to say this here: I do not use these products just to be different (although that’s a nice consequence), I use these products because they are in line with my fundamental principles that drive all my kit designs: unique results, versatile process, and easy to use.
Using these products, along with my simple instructions on how to use them (found in the kits themselves), will yield fantastic, distinctive results that will elevate your modeling. That I can promise.
Links to all stores can be found at the bottom of this page under “Suppliers”
- Abteilung 502’s
Without a doubt, these are the most important ingredients on this list. These oil paints have been specially formulated for scale modelers and are key to my stripwood staining process. Besides the Abteilungs, I only use a small amount of soft pastels to finish each piece of stripwood, creating a scale finish that is natural, rich, and great to look at.
The three main colors I use are Sepia (ABT002), Industrial Earth (ABT090), and Bitume (ABT004).
UK: Scale Model Shed.
- Oil Stains
In addition to the oil paints themselves, I sometimes also use a pre-thinned stain by Mr Hobby, called Mr Weathering Color. This specific product I use for many aging effects when painting details. I use something I dub the “subtraction method” — whereby a liberal amount is first applied, and then “subtracted” by using a thinner and a brush to wick any excess. This is a powerful and easy method to use and this product is the one to get.
UK: eBay (for now)
- Acrylic Paint
Another key ingredient is quality acrylic paint. Cheap hobby paint (like those found at Hobby Lobby or Hobbycraft) has its place. They are great for thin, low-pigmented coverage. I use cheap hobby paint for walls and ground cover only. For everything else, especially when painting details or figures, high-quality paint is a must.
Brands like Vallejo, AK, Mig Ammo, Tamiya, and Pro Acryl are excellent choices. These can be found in almost all hobby stores, so I recommend your local store to purchase these.
UK: Scale Model Shed
- Lacquer Paints
Sometimes acrylic paints aren’t suitable for the task at hand. Case in point, a method I have developed to create a peeled paint effect can only be achieved using lacquer paints as the solvent penetrates into the layers. Naturally, I always recommend using a respirator when working with any solvents. Tamiya has an excellent line-up of solvent-based paint, but I recommend Mr Hobby’s Mr Color range.
USA: Spraygunner, HobbyWorldUSA
UK: Scale Model Shed
I use a rattle spray can for only a few purposes. Larger pieces mainly, like groundwork stuff or walls etc. For everything else, especially for small details, I use a lacquer primer with an airbrush. These go on very thin (thanks to the Levelling Thinner) so there is a minimal risk of clogging and marring all that wonderful, superfine detail in the piece. Below are the products I use. Rattle cans can be purchased anywhere and the Mr Hobby Primers (as well as their Leveling Thinner) can be purchased:
UK: Scale Model Shed
This leads me neatly onto the airbrush itself. I am a very big proponent of using an airbrush and I encourage you to be, too. This is a tool that opens doors like very few can. Despite what you may already think, using an airbrush is easy and liberating. While it’s outside of the scope of this page to go into how to use an airbrush or, indeed, what airbrush to buy and how to set it up… here’s the most important thing to know when starting out: buy the best airbrush you can afford. And buy a compressor with a tank. I will go into more detail about airbrushes soon.
Finally, paintbrushes themselves. There are no two ways about this: buying the best will help you paint better. This cannot be overstated when it comes to painting things like detail pieces. Kolinsky Sable are excellent, but as an animal rights supporter, I recommend buying good quality synthetic brushes. In fact, if you’re using oil and lacquers, synthetic brushes are the only way to go anyway. Windsor & Newton Series 7 brushes are excellent natural hair brushes, but for synthetics, I recommend Monument Hobbies. They are top-drawer.
USA: Monument Hobbies direct
UK: Element Games