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How can I achieve a smooth finish (no brush marks) with Jo Sonja paint

Discussion in 'Acrylics' started by Silverb, Feb 15, 2014.

  1. Silverb New Member

    Hi members of planetFigure,

    Shawn here, new member to the planetFigure forum. Something that has been bugging me since I started painting and seeing the work from all you master painters here is

    How did you get such a smooth textured finish with the Jo Sonja paint????

    The short version of this post is this; I own both 'hobby paint' and Jo Sonja paint. I really like the JS but cannot achieve the smooth textured finish (no brush marks) that I could get with Vallejo paints. If any of you know what I am doing wrong or could do differently, please let me know. The following are details of what I do and the difficulties I face in using JS compared to vallejo.

    Here's a little bit of background about my painting styles and material. I do own some busts and some 54mm+ figures, but most of the figures that I own and paint are smaller scale (25mm-40mm~). I have used several brands of paint; namely, Vallejo, Army painter warpaint, Reaper MSP HD, GW (old series [do own 12 of the new ones but have not tried them yet), some artist grade Winsor & Newton acrylic (which turned out to not work at all), and quite a bit of Jo Sonja paints.

    I had been on a quest to find an artist grade alternative to the 'hobby paint' (Model color, msp, Citadel etc) The closest I'd come to is Jo Sonja. The problem however is I could not achieve the smooth textured finish as easily like I could with the Vallejo paint.

    Firstly, My personal preference, as well as my painting of smaller scale miniatures, I like to have a smooth textured finish (so it doesn't clog up the detail or having the brush marks stand out like a sore thumb on a small figure). Heres how I paint my minis, so you know exactly what I did or didn't do with regards to JS paint.
    1) Prime (Mr. Surfacer/Autoprimer through the airbrush; I could get a smoother coat than throught the can)

    2) Lay in the base coat. Thinned down the paint slightly ( This is what most tutorial videos or youtube videos would call 'like milk'. I never painted with milk so I wouldn't know :p). Go over it until I have an opaque coat, but not too thick that it will obscure the details.

    3)With the same paint consistency (viscosity) I lay in the shadow areas.

    4)Dilute the shadow colour down to a glaze consistency then blend the edge between the mid and shadow tones.

    5)Repeat step 3-4 for highlights and other colors until completed the whole figure.

    My problem comes in step 2). If I tried to dilute Jo Sonja (in this case Titanium white), too little and the paint wouldn't provide even coverage (appeared a bit blotchy and doesn't level out to fill in the brush mark, or too thin and it becomes like a glaze and requires at least 10 coats to provide an opaque coverage that I could achieve with 3 coats of Vallejo or the other miniature colours. Hence, my Jo Sonja paint hasn't seen much use, although I very much like their colour range and vibrancy and the actual name of the pigment used lets me know straight away what kind of pigment and its characterists (whether its more opaque, yellow ocher, or colour bias, e.g. ultramarine blue has a red bias)

    Heres the problem:

    I cannot figure out how the pro painters on here who use Jo Sonja were able to achieve their smooth textured finish.

    If you don't know what I mean, take a look at 'Underground miniature painting' Blog by Alex Long and the other one is kzmodelart blog.

    Mind blown!!!!!:dead:

    I also have tried using JS retarder medium and the 'Brush stroke' medium and liquitex flow-aid at various ratios, but still can't make JS paint behave like Vallejo. I have also tried painting it without diluting with water, but only use brush stroke medium. This resulted in an opaque cover, but the brush mark lingers. (This is detrimental for smaller scale since it is very evident when you view the figure up close... In my opinion anyway)

    I have, however, achieved smooth textured finish with their brown and blacks, using the brush stroke medium and some flowaid, on certain occasions, but these events are quite rare.

    I have been in and out of the hobby for several years (mainly experimenting with the paint, not so much actually painting the figures :wacky: ), so I am still a novice, so much still to be learned.

    Apologies for the long article, but I wanted to make sure that you know exactly what I didn't do.

    Any help or suggestions on what I could have done differently will be very much appreciated. If any of you guys would like me to clarify any part of my questions, please let me know. I will take some pictures or make a close up video demonstrating the problem.

    Thank you for reading and hopefully I could contribute to the planetFigure painting community in the future.
  2. bogusman53 Active Member

    First off check the little symbols next to the series on your label, if it's a white circle it's opaque, half white=semi transparent. light yellows and some reds are likely to be semi transparent. Vallejo, Andrea and others use more filler in their paints to make them opaque. As a rule JoSonja and other artists colours tend to be purer in chroma as they use higher quality pigments for their colours. The rule of thumb here and I think most of the painters on here is to use thin glazes to build up your colour, over a good quality primer. I use Krylon as a matter of personal choice, a little more expensive at around £6.99 a can but I think the cost is worthwhile because of the results I get and it's no use spending up to £50 on a high quality figure or bust and then skimping on cheap primer only to then use artists quality paints on top of it. Look to the old masters as they used colourmen to prepare their canvases and panels and high quality paints for them. The more well off painters had apprentices to clean their brushes prime canvas and prepare paints, look how long their work has lasted.
    I also think one of the keys here is what scale are you painting? And always build up your colour with thin glazes if you go thick it will (a) dry on your brush rapidly (b) build up and cover fine details and in turn show brush strokes. Another tip, almost done, bear with me. Don't overbrush acrylics as they will show brushstrokes and also turn your beautiful matte finish semi-gloss! Check out Sang-eon Lee's site for a masterclass in using acrylics in his SBS to painting faces, he uses exactly the same technique to paint fabrics as well. Link is here SBS at bottom of his product pix. You only get this good by practice practice and more practice. I hope my lengthy diatribe is of some use. All the best and keep your brushes wet :)
  3. bogusman53 Active Member

    Additional, I use vallejo retarder with Jo Sonja and I also use distilled water or water from my dehumidifier to thin my colour rather than tap water and that is I believe another factor to consider. Clean your brushes after each session, I first use Dettol Disinfectant and then pure water and sometimes The Masters brush cleaner followed by a dip in hair conditioner and then pointing up the brush if I am not going to be painting for a while. I have used pure alcohol or IPA Isopropyl Alcohol (not Indian Pale Ale). But although this cleans the stock of the brush I find it dries them out a lot and therefore I find Dettol is kinder to brushes and will dissolve dried on paint. It's also good for stripping figures or busts.
  4. Silverb New Member

    Hi Bogusman53,

    Thank you for your reply!!

    Yep, I checked the opacity (half and full circle label thingies) on the paint and to my knowledge Titanium white was supposed to be the most opaque pigment known to man... (lol I don't know if that's true:p ). Seriously though, that's why I used it as a base of comparison with Vallejo paint, another reason is that I like to use the inorganic pigments like Yellow oxide, cadmium red, titanium white, since they give better opacity than the organic pigment (payne gray, napthol crimson). This is unlike the vallejo where you don't know exactly what pigments were used and how it is likely to behave (in terms of opacity).

    I also used tried the glazing technique, but found it to take much more time than optimal with JS, compared to the same finish that I can achieve with the vallejo paint. This then begs the question; why would the Pros use it, since they'd have lower output of miniatures.

    Don't get me wrong; I really want to use the JS paints because I like the actual pigments that they use (accurate paint names [i.e. Cadmium red, Yellow ocher etc], easily applicable to most colour mixing recipes, and good value for money) But if glazing (takes like 10 coats!!! and in unthinned, tended to dry much thicker than vallejo) is the only technique that can achieve the smooth blended texture, it takes up tooooooo much time (takes me around around 45min to 1hr to lay down a perfectly smooth coat with JS), then it is prolly not worth the time to be used on the smaller scale stuff that I paint

    Thank you for mentioning this; I may have experienced this before, but not too sure. There were times when I used a certain matt paint and afterwards it turned out semi-gloss.... I'll have to be more observant next time. I have only seen matt paint turned glossy when used with retarders though.

    As for the primers

    I have both Gunze Mr.Surfacer 1000 canned and pot versions. I also use Autoprimer, the brand is called 'Leyland' I don't know if you guys have it in your part of the world. To my understanding Gunze is a bit harder to find in Northern America. From various comparisons I have come to a conclusion that shooting the auto primer through the airbrush, thinned down with lacquer thinner yielded the best result (and much more economical than Gunze too). Smooth, but still have enough roughness to let the paint grab on to.

    Yep I totally agree with you there. I used distilled water for my wet pallette and diluting paint. It keeps the paint from going bad for longer. As mentioned above, I also experimented with JS Brush stroke medium, JS Retarder, and JS Flow Improver to no avail...

    This is a very important step that I tried to get done after every session! I use brush cleaning soap from Chroma (Since the Master's brush cleaning soap wax thingomajig is available in my country). It seems to work pretty well.
  5. Silverb New Member

    Ahhh dangit, I didn't know how to work the Quote function. Some of the quotes in my previous posts were from my first post and some of them were from your post. Sorry if it seems confusing, i couldn't figure out how to fix it in the edit function, since that window didn't allow me to take quotes from your post.... LOL total noob at this forum thingy.:notworthy:
  6. Alex A Fixture

    personally I am against thinning too much acrylics.. if it is already liquid like vallejos are, heavy diluting will only result in a weak paint film... what i mean by that, especially if you use a wet palette, just lay down your midtone then next to that your shadow and highlight and blend them together like you would do with oils in order to obtain that rainbow from shadow to highlight... this way, you will be able to paint much faster.
    Silverb likes this.
  7. Silverb New Member

    Thank you very much Alex for the reply!!!

    When you use it as you would with oil, wouldn't the final surface be rough? As in showing brush marks?
  8. Alex A Fixture

    i do not use oils anymore because i think they leave easily a rough surface if you don't stretch the paint enough.. especially on 54mm figures. also when doing freehand work, it is much easier to do it with acrylics like the russians do.
    i use only vallejos these days.. perfect flat surface
  9. Silverb New Member

    Yea that's what I thought as well, that's why I prefer to use Vallejo more. But am still curious though, why pros like Kazufumi Tomori and other people on this forum prefer to use JS?? I mean I can't see any brush marks on their figs (or its there but I can't see it).

    Or perhaps you have to accept its existence and use it only larger scale busts, where it would be less noticeable than on a ,say, 32mm scale that I often like to paint. Or am I just too dang pedantic about the finish on my minis :shifty:.
  10. Steve Well-Known Member

    I have no problem with JS. They come out of the tube very thick, and require thinning. I have used them for 20+ years and never seen nor heard of this problem, so the fix should be simple. If I can do it, a half trained chimp can do it.
    Silverb likes this.
  11. Silverb New Member

    Hi Steve,

    Thank you for your post! Wow 20 years of using JS paint!! You must be doing something I'm not doing !!! :arghh:

    1)Do you mainly use it on larger scale figures (75mm and upwards)? Or smaller scale one?
    2) Have you compared JS (the way you are using it/thinning it down) with the results from Vallejo?
    3)Did you use any medium to thin your paint? or just good old H2O?
    4) Was the end result completely without the brush stroke marks?

    Thank you for your time!
    P.S. At the moment, I believe that I am well below a half trained chimp on the figure painting food chain :notworthy::LOL:
  12. YongA01 Active Member

    Silverb likes this.
  13. Steve Well-Known Member

    My preferred scale is 54mm. I do the odd 75 or 120 but usually 54. I mix Vallejo, JS, and Reaper interchangeably with no problem (that I am aware of; I am unaware of a lot of stuff). I have dabbled with Grumbacher glazing medium but usually it is just tap water to thin. I try not to allow brush marks at all. I think this is more a matter of paint consistency than a problem with paint. Each brand has its own requirements for whomever uses them in terms of the ratio of paint to thinner. I much prefer to put on a couple of thin coats than one that covers well but may also clog detail and/or leave the cursed brush marks. Tube acrylics dry too quickly to spread thinly like oils straight out of the tube, at least in my experience, so two or more coats is more effective than one thick one. It takes a few sessions of fooling around with the paint and water to find what is best for you. Mr. Tan's blog will no doubt show a great technique.
    Silverb likes this.
  14. Silverb New Member

    Thank you Yong! I found the blog to be very interesting and educational. It was a very good find!

    Hello Steve,

    Having gathered all the insights from the posts on here, especially your latest post, I have managed to figure it out! Like you said 'paint consistency' is key. Here is what I had been doing wrong:

    1) My was either too thick (not diluted enough) or too thin (too diluted)

    As a result I would always not get satisfactory results from using the paint. Too viscous paint yields good coverage but leaves hideous brush marks. Too diluted paint gives smoother finish, but takes forever to get a complete coverage (this was often my case, even with Vallejo paint until I figured out the right level of thinning)

    2) Different paints require different amount of time to dry.

    I don't know this for a fact, but it is a hypothesis I formed from my observation. Vallejo, in my experience, tends to dry faster than JS paint. I was used to using Model Colour (VMC), so I treated JS like I did VMC, which was another contributing factor in my failure with JS. So what happened was, I applied the second layer of JS before the first layer was dried and ended up pulling the first layer up (without noticing it). The paint however appeared dried, at least it had the same look of VMC when I go to apply the second layer, without any problem. So this time to be sure, I take the hair drier to each layer before I apply another one. I suspect that it has to do with the type of binding medium and that VMC uses vinyl based where as JS may use a different formulation of acrylic binding medium. The difference is quite stark when you look at the 'JS Flow medium' and VMC 'Thinning medium'; VMC medium is much less viscous and dries much thinner, which leads to my next point.

    3)The type/formulation of the binding medium plays a role in the appearance of brush marks.

    Although nothing substitutes for properly thinning the paint down and applying it in thin layers, a low viscosity binding medium could assist in reducing the brush marks. I did a comparison of both paints on a primered plastic spoon. With the wrong amount of thinning, it was much easier to get away with no evident brush marks using the VMC, but JS will not hid any errors you make in the paint to water ratio.

    In conclusion, the areas I screwed up in were

    1) Not getting the right paint consistency

    If you had experienced the same problem and are reading this, I cannot tell you the exact extent to thin your paint. Like Steve said, you have to play with it for a bit to know where the balance is.

    2) Not letting the initial layer dry before moving on to the next layer

    What you think to be 'dry' by VMC standard will not be the same for JS; it'll probably still be wet. My suggestion; take a hair drier to it or give it a few extra moments to dry.

    The top left patch is VMC white, middle left and bottom left are both JS Titanium white (while I was playing with the consistency, these two patches are too thick). The one on the bottom right is al JS, but at this point, I've figured out the paint consistency.
    Although it isn't shown on these pictures, the coverage are best with the VMC and the JS on the bottom right patch. Here are their pictures.
    Bottom left and middle left.
    Now VMC, also applied a bit hastily and not as thinned out as I normally have it, but still not showing any serious brush marks. Notice the cracks on the right, since I cranked up the hair drier and it was quite thick there.

    Now the properly thinned JS. The number of layers needed was not that much different from those required to get similar coverage/opacity using VMC (though more thorough testing is needed for this statement to be conclusive)

    With regards to the grit, I think it was to do with my not so cleaned airbrush, I haven't done a thorough clean since I last used it, since it takes me ages to paint one figure well I don't have to prime frequently.

    I hope all of this has been helpful for anyone wondering about how to achieve a smooth textured finish with Jo Sonja paint.

    PEACE !!!
  15. Silverb New Member

    Hello again,

    I've got some update on using the JS paint to blend. I feel that the extreme matt medium of the paint causes difficulties when trying to do thinned glazing techniques. Here are my findings.

    1) you need to dilute the paint much more significantly than with VMC to get sufficiently transparent layer so not to show edges.

    2) The dead matt finish of the paint can give some irregularities with the final colour. Then again I'm not too sure if this will be the case every time, because I only tried using JS again today. This might be the persuading factor for me to use VMC since I can achieve a more superior blend much more quickly (I think its mainly to do with my more extensive experience with VMC than JS.

    Here's my result with the JS blending Payne grey into a Payne grey/Titanium white mixture.

    It is not that sharp, but everything came out. I tried to smooth out the blend as possible. I have to admit it was much more difficult than with a VMC, took me a lot more time getting used to how thin the paint had to be. Despite my best effort, notice some irregularities about 1mm from her left arm. I think it was from one of my earlier coats that wasn't thinned enough. You need to take care when using JS if you are familiar with VMC, because it will need to be diluted further than you think it needs.

    Based on my overall experience, I think JS is a great paint, if you know how to manage it and adjust your paradigm to it; that is, if you expect it to behave like VMC, you will be sorely disappointed (like I was). But if you realise that it will require a different approach, you will get great results.

    I think this method, wet on dry blending, is worth mentioning is because small models like the ones I like to paint it is the main method that you use. On very small models like this one and other 25-~32mm there is usually not enough space to do wet blending (really love wet blending, it is chaotic at the start but when you get to the end you feel a strange sense of satisfaction :D)

    So What's the verdict?

    On smaller scale models, I'd probably go back to using model paints. My main arsenal contains mainly VMC and warpaint. Because I find that their formulation is more conducive to painting very small details, since they dry to a much thinner layer than JS (as in the thickness of the layer).

    On larger figures, I'm talking 1:9 or 1:6 scale, Gundam figures, or lower detailed 1:35 military models (say from Tamiya) I will probably use JS, mainly because it is much cheaper than VMC and performs almost identically on a larger scale. I have airbrushed quite successfully with JS, took a bit of figuring out. But if anyone read this and have had the same problem do let me know I can go into some more detail about the thinning and the air pressure of my set up, but don't expect it to spray like Tamiya or Mr.Color,because it wouldn't. I mainly use it for base coating in certain colours.

    Hopefully this will be helpful for those who had similar problems or issues as mine.
  16. Silverb New Member

    Hello fellow painters,

    A year later and I still haven't put up a profile avatar.... I'm back to share some new findings with you guys regarding achieving a smooth coat with JS paint and how it compares to the other paints (Vallejo, Citadel). It is going to be a long one, so you might want to grab a seat ;).

    Here are some of the things that I have discovered.

    How to get JS paint to flow smoothly without brush marks, but still retain its covering ability (i.e. not sacrificing too much of opacity for the elimination of brush marks)

    Use flow-aid!!! My mistakes when I was trying to get it to work for me was not using enough flow-aid (surfactant). Forget what it says on the side of the Flow-aid bottle (1:20 flow-aid:water). This might be enough for canvas painting application where you are not dissolving so many paint particles in the liquid, but it will not be enough for what we want (make JS paint flow, self-level, as well as retaining covering ability). For our application, we are trying to dissolve MANY paint particles, which are hydrophilic (not normally soluble in water), so we need WAY MORE surfactant. So for our purpose, you need 1:2 Flow-aid: Water (one drop of flow-aid to two drops of water). This ratio has been tested with Liquitex flow-aid. For other brands of paint surfactant, you might need to change the ratio a little. The principle here is to use more and then dial it down until you get it just right. the 1:2 ratio is also a guideline, I think I can still tweak it more to get a better result. There are also adverse effects of using flow-aid in excess; but these are very minor disadvantages, in my opinion.

    There are other factors that influences how smooth or uniform the layer of paint goes onto the surface, and these are;
    • The extent of thinning
    • brush load
    • Primer/underlying color
    • The texture of your surface
    • The topography of the area you are trying to paint.
    • The nature of the pigment.
    If anyone is interested in finding out more, please let me know or reply to this thread. Otherwise I'll just leave it here, because there is A LOT of information and it will take me a long time to get it onto here.

    crf likes this.
  17. Silverb New Member

    Whoops, I just re-read my post and found a mistake.
    This is wrong, I was meant to type "hydrophobic", 'phobic' being afriad of, 'hydro' relating to molecules containing O-H bonds. This is the opposite of hydrophilic (easily soluble in water). For some reason the edit button didn't let me edit the post...

    Since I'm already adding another post to this, I might as well just go into a little more detail about this topic to save some of you from the frustration :mad: of trying to work with JS paint and why it would not perform like you are used to (say with vallejo or other miniature model paint). Believe me I know how frustrating it is.

    After some observation, I believe there are two factors affecting the behaviour of the paint; that is, your TECHNICAL ability, and your EXPECTATION of the paint.

    Technical Aspect
    For the technical side, I want to emphasise the importance of the process of paint APPLICATION . This is the stuff listed in dot point forms in my previous post.
    I would rank their importance in the following order:
    1. How much paint is on the brush
    2. The viscosity of the paint (how easily it flows)
    3. Your brush size.
    4. Your brushing direction.
    5. The area upon which you wish to apply with each brush contact.
    How you manipulate each of the above variables will have a significant impact on how smoothly your paint goes on to your model. One characteristic of JS paint that I found to be the most inhibiting factor for its use in small scale (32mm downwards) painting, is how 'thick' or viscous the paint is. I will discuss the above factors in more details belowTo explain this, I will need to give some background about paint.

    There are 4 key components to ANY paint that mankind use. Pigment, Binder, Additives, and Solvent. Our formula of adding flow-aid (additive) and water (solvent) to the paint is essentially the manipulation of its viscosity, to make it flow without leaving any streaks from the brush marks behind. We add the flow-aid, because we need to maintain its constant concentration, otherwise the paint will cease to be suspended and start to "break" (i.e. clump together). We then leave it to dry so the water (solvent) would evaporate, leaving the binder to cure, trapping pigment within it.

    After having experimented with several primed plastic spoons and models, I believed I have taken JS paint to its limits in terms of trying to get it to flow as smoothly as Vallejo or other hobby paint. This obstacle, in my opinion, is the BINDER and SOLVENT combination in the paint. So far, these are the only two unknown variables. Either you find out from Chroma (the company that makes JS paint), or you take the paint to a chemistry lab and possibly use a mass spectrometer to find out. Well, I have neither a chemistry lab or a mass spec laying about my humble abode. So the best I could do is form a plausible hypothesis based on my observation.

    The native viscosity of the binder, solvent, or both are much higher than water, leading to a thicker paint film causing uneven pigment distribution while drying.

    If this was the case, no matter what you do, the thinnest film you can achieve will be more than that of native water. If I recall correctly, the viscosity of the liquid is interelated to the surface tension, which influences the ability of its film to spread out. A simple explanation of this would be to observe the difference when you drop a drop of alcohol (methanol, ethanol, Isopropanol) onto a smooth surface and do the same with a drop of water. What you will see is that the alcohol will be able to spread much thinner and cover a wider area. Water, on the other hand, will form a domed shape miniscus.

    Now if you let both dry, the pigment distribution in the alcohol will be more uniform (what you see when you lay down a thin coat of thinned down Vallejo paint). Water, on the other hand, will be uneven.This phenomenon is explained by the difference in the film thickness when they were both wet. The alcohol's film is thin so there is not much room for the pigment to move as it is drying. Water, having a thicker/taller dome shape, gives more room for the pigment to move, since it starts to dry from its outer ring inwards.

    a) At this point, some of you may be thinking "Hey, why don't you just load the brush less paint, but keep it diluted, so you can use the brush to force a thin paint film while the heavy dilution still also has time to close brush marks?". This is a work-around I have discovered and is a common solution used. A problem with this method is the amount of time it takes to get a complete coverage of the paint. You will be spending 3-4 times longer to achieve a good coverage compared to Vallejo or other model paint. You then need to weigh the cost of extra time vs the benefit of using JS.

    b) Another work-around is as I had proposed in my previous post. That is to use more flow-aid to allow for more pigment to be dissolved while retaining the same surface tension. This works to an extent. You will run into trouble when you try to cover a surface with connected consecutive brush strokes. You will notice that there are areas absent of pigment, where your current brush stroke connects with your previous stroke. The problem here is that the viscosity of the paint is high (because you wanted to have high coverage and not spend as much time applying glazes), resulting in the films inability to 'even' itself out. This uneven coverage will then haunt you, because no matter how many coats you lay on top of it, you will not be able to get a uniform coat seeing that each addition coat has this "pigment void" in them. You might be able to get a complete coverage, but not after you've applied an insane number of coats, thus expending hours of time.

    c) Another workaround that I had found more effective in the prior is to use a mixture of water, flow-aid, and ISOPROPANOL (IPA) to help thin out the paint film. This is the closest you can get to having JS behaving like Vallejo or other model paint. The only drawback to this method is the IPA's tendency to evaporate at room temperature. One minute you have a water-IPA mixture, several minutes later, you are left with just water. You have to constantly add IPA to the mixture.

    d) This is similar to workaround c). You use the paint flowaid mixture, make sure it is not too thin out, just thin enough to not leave brush marks. Apply paint on your area, but the trick is not to let the edge of each stroke touch each other. This way you avoid the occurrence of the "pigment void". You wait for this batch of strokes to dry before you apply the next layer of paint strokes. You do this until you have a desirable coverage. I have not conducted extensive experiment with this method, but I imagine the direction of each stroke matters a lot, so make sure they are appropriate for the area you are trying to paint in case it shows through the final coat. Another thing I suspect is to adjust your brush size with the size of the area you are trying to paint. A larger brush will minimise the number of strokes. This is up to you.

    The next thing to consider is what you would expect as a 'smooth' and 'even' cover.
    1. Your EXPECTATION of what constitutes a 'smooth' and 'evenly covered' coat.
    2. Your tolerance for brush marks.
    One man's smooth and thin coat can be another man's rough and thick coat. The difference lies in the scale of the model that you are trying to paint. On a larger model like a bust, you are able to get away with applying more coats, leading to an overall very thick coat. You can do this because there aren't many details that will be covered. Now if we transfer same coat of paint and put it on a 32mm figure, most of the detail will be covered up, creases in the pants will be almost filled up.

    The same thing with the brush mark. A size 1 brush mark will be much less evident on a 1/6 scale model than that of a 54mm scale.

    All in all; both JS and hobby paints have their own advantages and disadvantages.

    Jo Sonja Advantages
    Much cheaper.
    Uses pure pigments and tell you the name of those pigments (e.g. PBr7)
    More saturated paint
    Artists' grade Lightfastness testing.

    Vallejo/Hobby paint advantages
    Excellent self-leveling and brush mark minimisation
    Wide range of color selection

    Jo Sonja Disadvantages
    Difficult/time consuming to achieve a smooth and even coverage.
    High viscosity, which could lead to clogging of detail.(relates back to difficult to achieve smooth coverage)
    You need to mix your own paint (I actually don't mind this. I like mixing my own paint)
    It takes a much Looooooooooooooooonger time to dry(I forgotten to report on how ridiculously long this is, but by my exaggeration of the aforementioned Loooooong; you get the point)

    Vallejo/Hobby paint disadvantages
    More expensive (For me anyway. I have to order it from America or UK, since there are no sellers in my country [well there is a seller, but he is a damn RECASTER so I refuse to buy sh*t from him, but instead pay the import tax, value added tax and shipping, which brings my price higher than his... but meh I keep my dignity :p])
    Colours are not as vibrant (In order to tailor the paint consistency and characteristics to what it is, Vallejo needed to add 'stuff' in order to overcome shortcomings of pigments e.g. Cerulean blue etc)
    Tendency to separate

    I'm going to go with Vallejo for my painting needs. I might make exceptions for larger scale models, but I don't know because I haven't tried painting any large busts yet.

    Although this is similar to my conclusion I posted a year ago, this time the decision is based on a more structured and thorough research and experimentation. Having seen the advantages and disadvantages of both paints, you have to choose which ones are the most important to you. And for me, the most important is TIME (and also ENJOYMENT). Time is the most important scarce resource that I possess. Vallejo saves time by allowing me to achieve 'smooth' 'even' coat faster, without having to tweak the mixture with constant addition of IPA, or the incessant glazing of thinned-out-to-the-max paint.

    Sure it would be nice to save a few bucks (for me Jo Sonja works out to be about 3-4 times cheaper than Vallejo), but is the saving worth the HOURS of glazing and torturing yourself with Jo Sonja to get a smooth coat, avoiding paint pooling in the cracks, and waiting/blow-drying for the paint to dry. Even taking the saturation of the pure pigment used in each colour of JS paint and the joy it is to mix my own pallette for each figure, the cost of time far outweighs the benefit for me.

    The lightfastness (the ability to tolerate sunlight without fading) of JS is sure nice versus the questionable lightfastness of Vallejo/hobby paint (because hobby paint don't specify pigment used and lightfastness rating). JS's superior lightfastness will ensure that my crappy colour combination will still look just as crappy in the years to come, but this is not enough to outweigh the cost of the hours of nipple twisting torments I had to go through to get a PERFECTLY smooth coat (Owing somewhat to my obsession with paint smoothness).

    There is so much mooooaaaaarrrrrrr stuff I haven't discussed here, but I think I've covered the ones I deemed most important in relieving the anxieties of those struggling to use Jo Sonja on miniatures, because that is the main purpose I had starting this post. Initially, I wanted to know how the pros do it. I was on a quest for the Holy Grail. Now, I've discovered that there are no Holy Grails in life; there are just a bunch of trade-offs. You just have walk the path that best suits you. Unless there are some wise paint sages out that in their man cave that know something that I don't. In which case, I would be very interested to know how it is that you do what you do.

    In the end, isn't this a HOBBY that we should enjoy? If it was your job, I could understand why you could tolerate the lack in the enjoyment department in exchange for other benefits. Who knows; may be for you Jo Sonja may be a soul mate and Vallejo a bride from hell. What I'm trying to say is that, if this is a hobby that you love, shouldn't you choose a tool that will provide you with the most benefit, enjoyment? (taking into account your financial standings of course).

    Talking about financials, I conducted a simple calculations the other day. The money you spend on paint is quite small in comparison to how much you spend on models. So to save money, I would advise you to do the following:
    • Learn colour theory. This way you don't need to buy the whole range of paints; you can mix your own. This way, you will reduce the chance of having your paints dry out due to lack of use. You could paint almost anything you want with 20 colours. Heck, you can even do it with 12 if you choose strategically, but that's a story for another thread ( then again you have to consider the time it takes to mix and whether you use a wet pallette because otherwise your paint will dry out too quickly).
    • Learn to sculpt your own miniatures. This is where most of $$$$ goes into when it comes to miniature painting hobby. Here's a simple comparison. If you want to sculpt for yourself or only want to reproduce it in resin, you have a wide variety of medium available. Say, a block of sculpey costs about $20. You have a one pound block. If you buff the inside of the armature with foil and do your due diligence properly, a block should give you at least 3 1:8 scale bust or 3-4 75mm figures, which would other wise have cost you north of $90.
    • Replace disposable tools with reuseables. E.g. Use ceramic pallette rather than a tin foil covered one. Invest in brush soap so your brush will last longer. Use appropriate tools for the job, such as a file to clean mold lines as opposed to using your hobby knife to scrape them all the time. Use airbrush instead of a spray can. You'll be surprised by how little paint an airbrush consumes. Besides, over the long run a compressor is cheaper.
    Then again, feel free to ignore all these suggestions if they are things you don't enjoy, say, sculpting. To reiterate, this hobby is something you should enjoy; if you don't, what's the point.

    If you are still here, either I am a very captivating writer, or you just have an unusually high attention span. lol


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