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Subject: Spray painting wooden cubes and meeples rss

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A J
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(Posted this elsewhere before I found this forum, sorry for cross-post!)

I'm moderately colorblind (deuton) and often have trouble with board game pieces -- usually with the reds, greens, and purples. Usually I'll mark the pieces up or use substitutes. However, I'm thinking about spray painting some pieces to help me with distinguishing them better. Sometimes just a few shades one way or another make a world of difference while still keeping the same palette originally intended by the designer.

1. Does someone with more knowledge/experience than me have a recommendation on brand and type of spray paint I should use on wooden meeples and cubes?

2. Can I just spray over the existing paint, or do I need some sort of primer if it's just a few shades off? Do I need a sealant, too?

Thanks in advance!
 
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K H
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0. Unlike brush-on model paints, spray paints come in only a very limited selection of colors, normally. The colors vary from brand to brand, and the only way to know for sure what any of them really looks like is to spray a dot on a card and wait for it to dry.

1. As for type or brand, any basic no-frills spray paint should be fine, provided it comes in the colors you need. Premium paints (including automotive paints) may offer additional colors to choose from, but at premium prices.

2. You do not need primer if there is an existing finish. Two light coats should be enough to hide any color of existing finish. Dulling the existing finish with 300 or 400 grit sandpaper before spraying helps the new paint adhere better, but it is not absolutely necessary. You do not need sealant or clear coat either, although the latter can help give all your colors the same luster.
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A J
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Slounger wrote:
0. Unlike brush-on model paints, spray paints come in only a very limited selection of colors, normally. The colors vary from brand to brand, and the only way to know for sure what any of them really looks like is to spray a dot on a card and wait for it to dry.

1. As for type or brand, any basic no-frills spray paint should be fine, provided it comes in the colors you need. Premium paints (including automotive paints) may offer additional colors to choose from, but at premium prices.

2. You do not need primer if there is an existing finish. Two light coats should be enough to hide any color of existing finish. Dulling the existing finish with 300 or 400 grit sandpaper before spraying helps the new paint adhere better, but it is not absolutely necessary. You do not need sealant or clear coat either, although the latter can help give all your colors the same luster.


Nice -- thanks for the tips! Exactly the information I needed.
 
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Jake Staines
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K H's tips are fine for pieces which aren't going to see a lot of handling, but if you're going to be painting pieces that get picked up and moved a lot (or even handled in preparation for a turn) then I'd suggest:

- The type of paint can be important. Enamel paints and lacquer paints (Enamel: high-end modelling paints, stove paint, etc.; lacquer: high-end car paints) tend to be more hard-wearing than acrylic (most craft spray paint, brands like Plastikote). Acrylics are not that resilient at all. Some paints (again, largely cheap acrylics and also most primers) will leave a slightly porous finish which will absorb the natural oils from your skin as you handle pieces a lot.

- Keying the surface by sanding the original finish a bit is really important. If the original paint has a glossy finish, most kinds of paint just won't stick to it well at all, and your finish will be blotchy at best, flaky at worst. There is a very good reason why a car respray place will always 'cut' the original finish before spraying a new colour.

- (In fact, you may need to sand the original paint off entirely. It's thankfully rare, but some kinds of paint react badly to being painted on top of other particular kinds of paint. Unfortunately the best general rule is "try it and see", but if you find that your paint is blistering, never drying or crackling, you may have incompatible paints and be best off sanding away the original finish entirely. Which can be a pain!)

- Absolutely put a gloss lacquer/varnish over the top of your new paint. It will make the finish much more resilient, and if you're spraying with acrylics in particular it's more or less mandatory for anything that's going to get handled at all. Plus it also makes them look spiffier.

- You can usually get away with skipping primer, but if you're painting a colour you want to be bright (e.g. red, orange, yellow, light green) then you will be better off priming the pieces in white first, especially if they're significantly darker. You can usually get away with painting these colours over yellow, but that's about it.

- Goes without saying, follow the instructions on the can. Many light coats are much better (in both colour and durability) than one heavy coat, etc.


I've done this a lot, from painting newly-made pieces to re-painting pre-coloured pieces in new colours (largely for PnP purposes rather than colourblindness, though). I've had successes, partial successes and failures by trying to cut corners.






Another, easier answer may be paint markers. I can recommend Pentel's range in particular - so long as you get relatively new markers and shake them sufficiently, they leave a pretty good finish for minimum effort and mess, even over the top of existing coloured-and-varnished components. The paint in the markers separates over time, though, so old markers may not be so good - and some colours (e.g. orange) just don't ever cover well. This option will never be as good as a well-applied spray finish, but it can certainly work.
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A J
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Bichatse wrote:
K H's tips are fine for pieces which aren't going to see a lot of handling, but if you're going to be painting pieces that get picked up and moved a lot (or even handled in preparation for a turn) then I'd suggest:

- The type of paint can be important. Enamel paints and lacquer paints (Enamel: high-end modelling paints, stove paint, etc.; lacquer: high-end car paints) tend to be more hard-wearing than acrylic (most craft spray paint, brands like Plastikote). Acrylics are not that resilient at all. Some paints (again, largely cheap acrylics and also most primers) will leave a slightly porous finish which will absorb the natural oils from your skin as you handle pieces a lot.

- Keying the surface by sanding the original finish a bit is really important. If the original paint has a glossy finish, most kinds of paint just won't stick to it well at all, and your finish will be blotchy at best, flaky at worst. There is a very good reason why a car respray place will always 'cut' the original finish before spraying a new colour.

- (In fact, you may need to sand the original paint off entirely. It's thankfully rare, but some kinds of paint react badly to being painted on top of other particular kinds of paint. Unfortunately the best general rule is "try it and see", but if you find that your paint is blistering, never drying or crackling, you may have incompatible paints and be best off sanding away the original finish entirely. Which can be a pain!)

- Absolutely put a gloss lacquer/varnish over the top of your new paint. It will make the finish much more resilient, and if you're spraying with acrylics in particular it's more or less mandatory for anything that's going to get handled at all. Plus it also makes them look spiffier.

- You can usually get away with skipping primer, but if you're painting a colour you want to be bright (e.g. red, orange, yellow, light green) then you will be better off priming the pieces in white first, especially if they're significantly darker. You can usually get away with painting these colours over yellow, but that's about it.

- Goes without saying, follow the instructions on the can. Many light coats are much better (in both colour and durability) than one heavy coat, etc.


I've done this a lot, from painting newly-made pieces to re-painting pre-coloured pieces in new colours (largely for PnP purposes rather than colourblindness, though). I've had successes, partial successes and failures by trying to cut corners.






Another, easier answer may be paint markers. I can recommend Pentel's range in particular - so long as you get relatively new markers and shake them sufficiently, they leave a pretty good finish for minimum effort and mess, even over the top of existing coloured-and-varnished components. The paint in the markers separates over time, though, so old markers may not be so good - and some colours (e.g. orange) just don't ever cover well. This option will never be as good as a well-applied spray finish, but it can certainly work.


Hmm, thanks. That's given me a lot to think about. I probably can't be using acrylic paint, then. However it's a lot of pieces to be sanding, so I'll have to try one and see for that part.

I'm probably going to be painting light green on green or orange-red on red, so I'm hoping I can skip a primer layer. As above, the test run should tell me.

I've used permanent markers but not paint pens. I'll check them out. Appreciate the advice!
 
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