February 15, 2014

Vallejo Premium Airbrush Paint

After recently being struck in a positive way by the excellent characteristics of Com-Art paint I stumbled across Vallejo Premium Paint during a visit to Almere Airbrush Services. Shop owner Eric explained that this paint would adhere to any surface even without applying primer, as long as it would have been degreased. In addition it would be rugged yet flexible after curing. This all sounded almost too good to be true, so I decided to give it a try, not having too much expectations to be honest. Vallejo is best known from providing paints for the model hobby industry, but can be used in a much wider range of applications; the paint is excellently suited to be used in airbrush guns for more delicate operations (i.e. airbrushes with smaller nozzle sizes).


After returning home I decided to try the Vallejo paint. During the usual fiddling about with the airbrush when testing a new type of paint, I found that the paint was best controlled by adjusting the needle rocker (or needle chuck) of my trusted Iwata HP-BH as far back as possible, while using an air pressure that would just push the paint out of the gun. I mixed the paint : water 1 : 5 and was able to spray ultra fine lines.

That is possible with most paints, provided all proper airbrush-, paint- and compressor-settings are found. But what separates the good from the crappy is the stability of the paint - how long would it be possible to continue to spray fine lines without clogging and how long would it leave the nozzle in a subtly controllable way? Vallejo Premium was capable of both extremely well! No sudden release of too much paint when starting to spray lines and no reluctance to shut down at the end of a line. After I found that out, I started to spray a small portrait on a piece of Xerox paper which had a black and white portrait of American writer Charles Bukowski printed in the top left corner. The image below shows the actual size of the reference and small sprayed portrait (which you can see by clicking on it).

Miniature test size compared to USB stick

The black rectangular object in the bottom of the above image is a USB-stick for size reference. As the small portrait progressed I became increasingly impressed by Vallejo Premium's properties. Besides handling excellent, the paint's coverage was extremely good, in spite of diluting it 5 to 1. It probably handles even better when mixing it with the original Vallejo reducer, which I hadn't bought. To give a better idea of the size of the mini portrait, I shot the entire A4 sheet that I previously used for starting up airbrush sessions in the photograph below.

And with a Marmite bottle...

As soon as my vehicle malfunction is over I will rush to the dealer again and get some more Vallejo Premium to do some more testing. So far, the paint has far exceeded my expectations and I look forward to finding its limits, which are beyond those of other water-based paints I've used up to now. The handling of the paint reminds me of the good old days when uros were still used everywhere by everyone. But I must admit, without all those toxic fumes. Stay tuned, there will be more about this a next time.

For the time being, here's an interview with Alex Vallejo by James Bella, which lightly touches upon the various types of paints Vallejo produces, their composition and purpose, all of which are intended for use with different tools and different surfaces.

Vallejo is taking its business serious

Not too long ago I bought a bottle sepia from a newer batch that I had done previously. The colour from the new batch differed from the old one. I shot some pictures and created a file to send to  the Vallejo lab - including opaque, transparent and semi-transparent on white and on top of other colours. Vallejo was quick to withdraw the erroneous batch and replace it with a correct one. Mind you, discarding a batch is a very expensive measure to take for a paint producer and the fact that they decided to get rid of the faulty batch anyway, shows that they take their business very serious. This can not have been an easy step for the manufacturers, but it is clear that they cherish their brand's good reputation.