Paint Colour References

We stock an extensive range of  Acrylic, Lacquer and Enamel Hobby Paints, in both Aerosol Spray Cans and traditional 10ml, 14ml & 20ml Jars/Tinlets


Types of Hobby Paint:

Generally speaking, all paint is made up of three components: a pigment, a carrier, and a solvent.
Pigment is the material that gives paint its colour.  Pigments can be organic or chemical, but pigments have nothing to do with how the paint is classified.
A paint "carrier" is material that bonds to pigment and remains on the surface once the paint dries.  The "carrier" is what gives paint its protective properties.
A solvent is any liquid that dissolves the "carrier" to make paint liquid in the bottle or can.  Note that a solvent does not have to be a chemical.  Water is a solvent if it dissolves the "carrier" in a given paint.

How are paints classified?

There are only two general classifications of paint: enamels or lacquers.

Enamel paint is one that both dries and cures once applied to a surface.  As the solvent evaporates, the carrier undergoes a chemical reaction making it harder and less soluble than the liquid paint.  This is why you typically can't remove fully cured enamel with the same solvent as in the original paint.

Lacquer only dries it does not cure.  The solvent evaporates with no chemical reaction.  This is why water-based lacquers can be dissolved with water long after the paint has dried.  This is also why applying multiple layers of lacquer can result in the underlying layers dissolving.

What about Acrylics?

"Acrylic" refers to the carrier used in paint and not with how the paint reacts once it is applied.  The carrier in acrylic paint is a form of plastic/polymer and there are both "acrylic enamels" and "acrylic lacquers".  There are also both petroleum-based and water-based solvents for each of these acrylics, depending on the carrier formulation.

For years, modellers, hobby shop owners, and even "experts", have referred to modelling paints as either enamel/ lacquer (meaning that the paint uses a chemical solvent) or acrylic (meaning that water is the solvent).  This is just plain wrong and only adds to the confusion.  Try adding water to a petroleum-based (Hydrocarbon) acrylic enamel and you quickly realize that not all acrylics are water-based.  Water-based acrylics should be referred to as "aqueous acrylics". (e.g. Gunze Aqueous Hobby Colour)

What are the differences in paints?

Traditionally, enamels have used a relatively mild petroleum-based solvent with an alkyd carrier.  This combination, while generally safe, takes a long time to cure, sometimes weeks to reach maximum hardness.  They are an extremely stable paint and can last for decades without degrading, if properly stored.  There are now enamels that dry nearly as fast as lacquers and nearly as hard.

Lacquers tend to dry quicker and to a harder consistency than enamels typically in 24 to 48 hours.  However, they use harsher solvents to accelerate the drying time.  These solvents can attack plastic parts, brush bristles (and brain cells) with equal vigor.  There are now lacquers available that use much milder solvents (including water) yet maintain their traditional hard finish.

With the advent of aqueous acrylics, many of the differences between traditional paints have merged, but aqueous paint has its own problems.  Some people think aqueous paint doesn't "stick" to styrene parts like chemical paint.  Aqueous paint is more sensitive to humidity and temperature.  Modellers' who choose aqueous acrylic paint generally do so to avoid exposure to chemicals.

So what's the best paint for me?

This is the ultimate question and one that each modeller must answer them self.  There are distinct advantages and disadvantages between paints and manufacturers.  Each modeller must evaluate the good and bad points and make their own choice.

It appears as though aqueous acrylic lacquers and petroleum-based acrylic enamels are two types of paint that are becoming the waves of the future.

Aqueous acrylic lacquers take the best properties of enamels and lacquers and combine them into a nice package.  Although they don't dry as quickly or as hard as "traditional" lacquer, they are getting better.  As environmental concerns grow, these paints may be the only option available a few years.

Petroleum-based acrylic enamels are modified versions of the same enamels modellers have used since the 1960's.  Because they use an acrylic carrier, these paints dry faster and harder, but they use a slightly harsher solvent than older enamels.

I hope that this article clears up the subject of paint (at least a little bit) and helps you decide which paint is right for you. 

Enjoy your modelling...



Click this link for a useful hobby paint conversion chart
Click this link for Colour Reference Charts - Part I
Click this link for Colour Reference Charts - Part II

Click this link for Equivalence Paint Chart

Colour reference chart for:  Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF)
Colour reference chart for:  Royal Air Force (RAF)
Colour reference chart for:  German Air Force (Luftwaffe)
Colour reference chart for:  USAAF/USAF/USN/US Army/USMC


Tamiya™ online paint chart:
Click this link to view the new Tamiya™ online paint catalogue













(Downloadable (.pdf) Tamiya™ Paint Colour Charts):

The charts include:

  • TS (synthetic -lacquer spray paints for plastic models)
  • AS (synthetic -lacquer spray paints for plastic models designed for Aircraft models in mind)
  • PS (spray paint for polycarbonate R/C bodies)
  • X-colors (gloss acrylic bottled paint for plastic models)
  • XF-colors (flat acrylic bottled paint for plastic models)
  • Finishing supplies (glues, primers and putties for various preparation work)

Tamiya X (10ml Gloss) Paint Colour Chart
Tamiya XF (10ml Flat) Paint Colour Chart
Tamiya TS (Aerosol) Colour Paint Chart
Tamiya AS (Aerosol) Paint Colour Chart (Aircraft specific aerosol paint)
Tamiya PS (Aerosol) Paint Colour Chart (Radio Control Car Polycarbonate specific aerosol paint)
Tamiya Finishing Supplies

Humbrol online paint charts
Click this link to view the new Humbrol (Enamel) paint colour chart
Click this link to view the new Humbrol (Acrylic) paint colour chart

Gunze Sangyo "Aqueous" paint chart
Click this link to view the Gunze Aqueous paint colour chart

Italeri Acrylic paint chart
Click this link to view the new Italeri Acrylic paint colour chart

1.  *Click on this Tutorial:  Types of Hobby Paint *(This is a MUST READ)

2.  *Click on this Tutorial:  Thinning Tamiya™ Paint


Tamiya™ Water-Soluable 10ml Acylic Resin and Enamel Hobby Paint (X, XF, TS, AS & PC Colours)

Tamiya Paint Group


Gunze-Sangyo "Mr. Hobby"  10ml Aqueous Hobby Color

Gunze Paint Group

Humbrol 14ml Enamel Hobby Paint

Humbrol Paint Group

Italeri 20ml Acrylic Paint

Italeri paint


The Albury Hobby Centre Gunze, Tamiya & Humbrol paint stands

AHC Paint Stands