Hobby and Model Paint

Which Enamel thinner should I use?

Which Enamel thinner should I use

Before I started using Enamel paints, I always had this question in my mind. Which Enamel thinner should I use? I have read a lot of content and articles on this subject, consulted the masters, and wanted to share my experiences with you.

Enamel paints are wonderful to paint used frequently in different branches of scale modeling. It is often used to paint a miniature, plastic models, and ship models. Enamel paints have a smooth, professional surface after varnish and drying and often give a very good result with an airbrush. However, most Enamel Paints can be a bit thick to be used with an airbrush immediately, so it needs to be thinned. After reading this article, you will know which thinners to use with Enamel Paints and which should not be used, or how the results will be.

With this Table, we will give a quick overview of all thinners that can and cannot be used to thin Enamel Paints.

Thinner Can be Used For Enamel Paints
Water Yes, but only if Enamel Paint is water-based. Does not work with Oil Based Enamel Paints!
Turpentine is Possible but is definitely not recommended!
Acetone is possible but not recommended. It is not particularly suitable for painting plastics.
White Spirit / Mineral Spirit Yes. This is probably the best choice for thinning Enamel Paints. But our advice is always the thinner of the paints.
Alcohol Is Possible, but results may vary greatly depending on compressor pressure and room temperature. So I wouldn’t recommend it.
Lacquer Thinner Is possible but not recommended. There are many disadvantages when used for Enamel Paints. We will mention these in the content of the article.

The paints that we use in the plastic model making are paints produced for this purpose. Other paints are not generally used in model making. Model paints are collected under two headings:

Enamel Paints   Acrylic Paints
Humbrol Enamel Paints   Tamiya Acrylic Paints
– Petroleum-derived substances are used as solvent/thinner (thinner, turpentine, naphtha)   – Water/alcohol is used as solvent/thinner
– Can be used with a brush and paint gun   – It doesn’t work very well with a brush, but it is very thin and concealer is used with a paint gun.
– Surface drying is fast but it takes a long time to dry completely   – Its smell is less than enamels
– It has a bad smell due to the ingredients it contains, it must be used in a well-ventilated environment.   – Dries faster than enamels
– It adheres well to the plastic surface, it is difficult to remove without using chemicals.   – Adhering to plastic surfaces is not very good, preparing the surface with a primer gives better results
– There may be changes in shades of colors over time   – It can be cleaned with water and soap before it dries completely, but cleaning hardened acrylics is like enamel.
    – Color shades do not change over time


The most widely used and wide range of colors is under the Humbrol brand. It is applied very well with a brush and a paint gun. Matte colors dry quickly. There are color equivalents in accordance with many standards. There are metal paints that can be polished. Due to its enamel, its smell and smoke are bad. Box covers may deteriorate soon if they are not closed properly.


As another enamel paint of the model world, it has the same features as Humbrol in the Revell brand. Revell is mostly available in colors corresponding to RAL (modern German color code). Colors in accordance with other standards generally have to be obtained by mixing. This is a negative aspect of Revell’s painting. However, it is a paint that can be found on the market.


Although it is easy to use in a glass bottle, it is an enamel that can deteriorate very quickly. In recent years, acrylic paints from the same company have been released. It gives good results, especially with a spray gun. Its smell is relatively low. The bottles can be reused. There is also a series of metals that can be polished.


It is acrylic with a large fan base that a user is looking for. The color range produces many standard colors and does not need to be mixed. It is very thin and covers. But it is problematic to use with a brush. Mixture and thinned paints can be stored intact. It is also expensive in price compared to other paints, but this is not a problem if paint efficiency is considered. Special aging paints are available.


Although it produces many colors (especially military colors), it is a brand that does not fully match the standard color equivalents. Therefore, many colors need to be prepared with the mixture. Paint quality is high in both groups (acrylic-enamel). However, its application with a brush is a bit problematic. The bottles can be reused. Its smell is mild. Mixing paints can be stored without spoiling for a long time. Even if you pour the diluted paint back into its bottle, it will not deteriorate.

Humbrol Enamel Thinners

Enamel Thinners and Acrylic Thinners

The best thinners for model paints are the products prepared or recommended by the manufacturers. However, you can use the alternative materials in the table below as Enamel thinner and Acrylic thinner because these products are more expensive than alternative thinners in the market or are not always available.

Paint Thinners

The best thinners for model paints are products prepared or recommended by manufacturers. However, you can also use alternative materials in the table below for reasons such as these products are more expensive or not always available compared to alternative thinners on the market.










only with the spray gun





only with the spray gun





only with the spray gun





only with the spray gun












Now that we have learned about Enamel thinners and Acrylic thinners, it is always useful to keep the following important notes in mind or in front of you:

Don’t Do These:

Do not use the paints without mixing: In the waiting paint box, the pigments forming the paint settle to the bottom, and the varnish part remains on top. The exact color of the paints used without mixing properly does not occur and looks bright. In order for the paint (especially the paint that has waited too long) to mix completely, it is necessary to use a stick and activate the precipitated pigments. Shaking or shaking does not provide enough mix. If the paint you are throwing is transparent or shiny in places, know that your paint is not mixed completely. No matter what type of your paints are, the auxiliary material paint mixer I can recommend you should always be on your workbench.

Do not mix different dyes: It is difficult to find the color we want always ready, sometimes you may need to mix. In such cases, we can mix colors of the same brand and feature among themselves, but otherwise, be open to surprises! Different chemical properties can cause the mixture to deteriorate immediately or crack on the model (which is a worse result). Even if using the same thinner solvents, mixtures of different brands can also cause deterioration (Revell and Humbrol, even though they are enamel, will deteriorate when mixed).

Do not thin the paints in the box: Paints are generally darker than can be used while in the box. It should be thinned especially when used with an airbrush. Transfer the amount of paint you will use with a dropper or brush to a separate container or palette and add thinner here. Thinner or thinned paints added to the box cause the paint to deteriorate in a short time.

Thin your paints with only suitable thinners: Use only recommended thinners to thin your paints to avoid risk (even if you are unsure of their results) even if there are applications on the contrary.

You’d better do these:

Using a clean glass paint bottle in mixtures; It would be nice if you write the mix ratios, numbers, etc. on it.

If you clean the lids of the paint cans by closing them, you will both prevent them from getting air and dry and they will be opened easily next time. Do not force the unopened lids; Turn it over and drip a few drops of cellulosic thinner and let it sit for 4-5 minutes … it opens easily.

In order to keep the opened and used, but unfinished boxes for a long time, you should keep the mouth tightly closed and away from heat and light.

Always try the paint mixtures on a plastic surface (washed yogurt boxes are ideal). Allow this mixture to dry completely so that the consistency and color tone is fully formed so that you do not have models in surprising colors.

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