Wade Nelson
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Golden Valley
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I recently acquired an excellent copy of the Avalon Hill version of Speed Circuit. I really like the game but my version came with really basic and unattractive plastic cars, not the nice cars that came with earlier versions of the game. I decided to get replacement cars, and also decided to try my hand at painting for the first time. I figured I'd post my experience here, in case anyone's interested.


The Cars
I ordered 1960s style race cars from Shapeways here. The cars are about the perfect size and I like the style. I ordered the cheap "White Detail" cars, which are a type of rigid white acrylic type material.


Cars on the track!

There were eight cars total, two each in four different basic styles.

The Materials
I've never painted before, so I didn't have any materials for painting. I also didn't want to spend a lot. I read a lot of forum posts here on BGG about enamels, acrylics, craft stores, hobby paints, primers, sealing, finishing, washing, and so on. I decided to get the Army Painter Warpaints Starter Set. It came with a really skinny brush, a wider basecoat brush, 8 colored paints, 2 metallic paints, and black primer (white is also available) for about $35. I didn't buy any varnish or sealer or anything to protect the paint, because I didn't know if my paint job would be worth protecting.

My "paint station" was my dining table with a Priority Mail shipping box for a work area and a six-pack carton for my palette area:

My work area with some completed cars.


What I Expected To Happen
I expected to just primer everything, let it dry, do a solid-color basecoat on each car, let it dry, and call it a day. I had an X-acto knife to remove little imperfections and things from the cars, and a needle-nose pliers to hold the cars while painting so I didn't get oils and dirt from my skin on them. I expected all of this to take about an hour.


What Actually Happened
I learned my lessons the hard way.

Prepping, Washing, and Priming
Using the X-acto knife to prep the cars for priming and the actual priming went just fine. In between prepping and priming I washed all the cars in a mild Ivory dish-soap solution and dried them. I spray-primed the cars out on my balcony and brought them back inside to dry for a while.

These were Spinal Tap Black in person after priming.

Basecoat and Handling Woes
The first problem I ran into was that Speed Circuit cars are small. Like 16mm from end to end. This made managing them with the needle-nose difficult. The second problem I ran into was that I couldn't get a red basecoat to save my life. I kept trying to brush the car, and I kept getting really streaky and light strokes that were really doing me no good. I tried to put a bunch of coats on with the basecoat brush, and the result was a layer of paint that was way too thick and quite unattractive. Then, when holding the car with the pliers too tightly a wheel snapped off:

Yellow Flag! Yellow Flag!

The above picture pretty well illustrates how much damn red paint I had used by this point. I decided this was not working. I re-washed the car in Ivory dish soap, scraped about 96% of the paint and primer off, and used E6000 glue to put the wheel back on. I then re-primed and painted the car, again using the basecoat brush. Again my paint got way to thick, but I was getting frustrated at this point and didn't really care. I used the smaller detail brush to put some striping on the car and to paint the driver's helmet. Using the detail brush went so well that I put the basecoat brush away for the rest of my painting exercise.

The formerly broken red car, still with ugly thick paint, but now with a Krylon coat (more on that later).

The Situation Improves
Once I gave up on the basecoat brush and started doing everything with the skinny detail brush painting went much more smoothly. My original plan to solid-color coat each car went right out the window. These bad-boys were gonna get stripes, colored helmet, and engine details! I generally did one color at a time; I would do a car that was mostly green and car that got green stripes at the same time. It only took a couple drops of each color of paint to do all of the cars. I did go back at the end and touch some things up so I probably wasted more paint than I needed to, but overall my starter kit paint bottles are still mostly full.

Once I got done painting I let all the cars dry for about a half-hour, because I'm impatient.

The seven cars that didn't need repairs, with much nicer paint jobs.

Finishing
I then spent about ten minutes debating whether it was worth my trouble to go get Minwax and some matte finish spray before deciding not to. The Speed Circuit boards are fairly glossy, and I had some Krylon on hand, so the cars were soon about to get glossy too. Shiny wax for the cars!

Normally when I use Krylon 1303 Crystal Clear Acrylic I use it on game chits and things I PnP, and I usually do very light coats. Since these were painted cars and I wanted to get a glossier look I sprayed the bejeesus out of them, underside and then topside.

All eight cars, with Krylon 1303, the bejeesus sprayed out of.

Again, I did this out on my balcony and brought them back inside to dry, for about a half-hour, because I'm impatient.

The Results
The cars dried very nicely. They're nice and solid-feeling with no tackiness whatsoever. They're quite glossy, but they look good enough on the Speed Circuit track(s). My actual painting abilities still leave something to be desired, but I found myself improving with each successive car that I painted. The first car I painted, broke, cleaned, and painted again still has paint that is much too thick. Since that car also has a glued wheel I don't expect it'll get any use unless it's absolutely necessary that we have eight cars. The other seven look much better.




The gloss is initially a little bit off-putting, but like I expected they look pretty good on the track:




What I Learned
Originally, due to the rigid nature of the cars, I didn't think I'd need to worry too much about putting a sealing coat of something on the finished paint job. I was wrong. It's just too easy to scrape the paint and primer without a sealing coat. I was surprised how easy it was to clean the paint off the broken red car, which was part of the motivation for deciding to put some kind of sealing coat on. While with these cars I was happy to use Krylon 1303 for a glossy finish, I think on most projects a matte finish using Minwax and a matte spray would be better.

I still can't do a basecoat with the basecoat brush to save my life. I don't know why, but I noticed that some paints in the starter kit were a little bit thicker than others. Maybe red was just too runny, or maybe I haven't developed a good technique yet. If I decide to paint something larger, I'll be practicing my basecoating skill first.

It's really hard to see and paint small details and even lines without a magnifying lens. If I do another paint project that requires any certain amount of detail, I'll be getting one of those free-standing magnifying lenses to better see what I'm doing.

Speed Circuit cars are really small.

I should have probably let the cars dry longer between steps.

It's really easy to break very small things with a needle-nose pliers. It's also really hard to hold small things without them. I think I would have had a easier time with miniatures that have bases so I could stick them to something while I paint them rather than hold them.

Painting those little Speed Circuit cars treads a fine line between frustrating and fun, but with practice I think there'll be a lot less frustration and a good bit more fun.



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Brenden Johnson
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They look great, Wade. Thanks for sharing. I love hearing other people's lessons.
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Jake Staines
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wadenels wrote:

The second problem I ran into was that I couldn't get a red basecoat to save my life.


Reds and Yellows in particular are notoriously hard to get good coverage with.

The first piece of advice is that it's best to work over a white primer coat rather than black (or grey if you don't want a really bright result). You'll still have coverage problems, but not so much.

The second piece is that the paint you use is also really important. Most (especially the cheaper) hobby paints don't have a particularly high pigment density... which is usually fine, because generally people are going to be blending and drybrushing and stuff with them and it doesn't matter so much. You can get high-pigment or liquid-pigment paints, such as the P3 range, or GW/Citadel's 'Foundation' range (soon to be 'base' or something, apparently), and you'll have a lot less trouble covering other colours with them. The first time I used Foundation paints was like a revelation compared to previous Citadel offerings!

The third piece is that whatever kind of coverage you're getting, you need patience; several thin coats is much, much better than one thick one, and you'll get better coverage without clogging up details in the model.

Also: some paints need a hell of a lot of shaking and/or stirring before you use them. I'm reminded of this in particular because while it doesn't seem that you're actually using Vallejo paints, the ones you have come in the same bottle, and Vallejo paints - at least the higher-pigment "Model Colour" range - require a huge amount of shaking before you use them, otherwise they come out watery and... don't cover very well. If you shake them properly (by which I mean more than your average spray can) they're great paints to use.
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Edmund Hon
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Good job. Don't forget the three feet rule: if it looks good at 3 feet away, it's good enough.
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Scott Pizio
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Those cars look great. I do like them with the gloss.

I'm not a big fan of painting, usually don't have the patience. The one time I had to do small models I used a dab of hot glue to put them on the ends of Popsicle sticks. Of course I didn't have to do the bottoms of the models so this worked out great.
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Ed G.
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Good job and post!

A tip for holding rather than using pliers: An empty pill bottle like from prescriptions with the cap on and some of that blue tacky stuff sold for sticking posters up on the top. Press your work piece into the tacky blue stuff and it will be held securely but without residue, and the bottle is a good size to hold at any angle you need.
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Diz Hooper
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Thanks for sharing your experiences. Now I'm one step closer to painting the figures in my own games.
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Sturv Tafvherd
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Bichatse wrote:
wadenels wrote:

The second problem I ran into was that I couldn't get a red basecoat to save my life.


Reds and Yellows in particular are notoriously hard to get good coverage with.

The first piece of advice is that it's best to work over a white primer coat rather than black (or grey if you don't want a really bright result). You'll still have coverage problems, but not so much.


I was about to respond with something similar; Jake covered it and so much more.

But, yeah, Reds and Yellows are usually the "trouble pigments"; and I usually have a white or gray primer coat to help "brighten up".

Jake also mentioned using thin coats. And really, this is doubly important for painting small stuff. Jake mentioned it already ... but it bears repeating: most cheap hobby paint don't have high pigment density. So when you're painting small items, there's only so much pigment floating around in that small drop. You can't really apply too much paint because it would just glob up. One technique is to use multiple layers -- applying one thin coat of paint, letting it dry, then apply another layer ... and so on.

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Steve Duff
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Stormtower wrote:
One technique is to use multiple layers -- applying one thin coat of paint, letting it dry, then apply another layer ... and so on.


This happens automatically.

"Ok, some brown for the belt... Crap, got it all over the shirt."
"Ok, some green to fix up the shirt... Crap, got it all over the belt."
"Ok, some brown to fix up the belt... Crap, got it all over the shirt."
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Scott Pizio
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UnknownParkerBrother wrote:
Stormtower wrote:
One technique is to use multiple layers -- applying one thin coat of paint, letting it dry, then apply another layer ... and so on.


This happens automatically.

"Ok, some brown for the belt... Crap, got it all over the shirt."
"Ok, some green to fix up the shirt... Crap, got it all over the belt."
"Ok, some brown to fix up the belt... Crap, got it all over the shirt."


Sounds like we use the same painting technique.
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Wade Nelson
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Bichatse wrote:
wadenels wrote:

The second problem I ran into was that I couldn't get a red basecoat to save my life.


Reds and Yellows in particular are notoriously hard to get good coverage with.

The first piece of advice is that it's best to work over a white primer coat rather than black (or grey if you don't want a really bright result). You'll still have coverage problems, but not so much.

--snip--

The third piece is that whatever kind of coverage you're getting, you need patience; several thin coats is much, much better than one thick one, and you'll get better coverage without clogging up details in the model.

Also: some paints need a hell of a lot of shaking and/or stirring before you use them. I'm reminded of this in particular because while it doesn't seem that you're actually using Vallejo paints, the ones you have come in the same bottle, and Vallejo paints - at least the higher-pigment "Model Colour" range - require a huge amount of shaking before you use them, otherwise they come out watery and... don't cover very well. If you shake them properly (by which I mean more than your average spray can) they're great paints to use.


Stormtower wrote:

But, yeah, Reds and Yellows are usually the "trouble pigments"; and I usually have a white or gray primer coat to help "brighten up".

Jake also mentioned using thin coats. And really, this is doubly important for painting small stuff. Jake mentioned it already ... but it bears repeating: most cheap hobby paint don't have high pigment density. So when you're painting small items, there's only so much pigment floating around in that small drop. You can't really apply too much paint because it would just glob up. One technique is to use multiple layers -- applying one thin coat of paint, letting it dry, then apply another layer ... and so on.


Funny, because red and yellow were the two colors I tried to basecoat with over the black primer first, and in both attempts I got my paint way too thick. I tried to do thin layers, but the brush seemed to remove as much paint as it applied, and the paint consistency seemed rather watery. Live and learn I guess. The blue and metallic paint colors went on much better, and although I used the small detail brush to apply them they seemed more suitable for basecoating.

It's also possible I didn't shake the paints well enough, especially in the case of the red and yellow. I had read that some people have found they need to water down or thin their paints, but I had the opposite problem: my paints, at least initially, were already pretty watery. I did shake the metallic paints more; it was easier to tell if they were mixed very well just by looking at the paint density through the bottle. They also went on much better. I'll have to make sure to shake them better in the future.

Thanks all for the advice & comments!
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rob cavallo
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pick up a can of testors dullcoat to get rid of that shine.
i think they changed the name of it, but its still dullcoat.

i also find that priming in anything but white makes me lose detail.
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Wade Nelson
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peloquin17 wrote:
pick up a can of testors dullcoat to get rid of that shine.
i think they changed the name of it, but its still dullcoat.

i also find that priming in anything but white makes me lose detail.


I like the shine on these cars, but for most other minis I'd probably go without.

My original line of thinking when doing black primer was that it would be easier to have the tires and underside of the cars in black that way. Once I got painting, I found it was incredibly easy to paint the tires black due to the way they stick out from the car body, so in hindsight I probably should have used a lighter primer color.
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