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Metallic spray comparison - Vallejo vs Alclad 2


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A couple of years ago, after I started airbrushing, I picked up a few Alclad 2 metallic paints. They took a bit of trial and error to get used to, and seemed to need careful surface preparation, but the results looked nice. However, they need good ventilation - I normally use an extractor hood, but advice is to wear a decent facemask as well. I also saw advice to be especially thorough in cleaning your airbrush after use.


Then a few months ago I was at a show and saw Vallejo's Metal Colour acrylic range being demonstrated. They looked good, so I bought a couple and tried them out. Again, a bit of care is needed, but the result seemed good and they were far less smelly and cleaning my airbrush seemed a lot easier afterwards. I've since bought several more from the range but thought I'd do a test to see how they and the Alclad 2 paints compared.


This is, I must emphasise, a rough and ready test. I sprayed four different primers on some gloss while board I had spare, and then sprayed a range of Vallejo Metal Color and Alclad 2 across them. The finish isn't always good - I wasn't taking my time, and I was more interested in getting good coverage than avoiding any blemishes or runs. However, the results were quite illuminating.


Primers, from top to bottom:


1) Tamiya fine white primer, from spray-can.

2) Mr Surfacer 1000, from spray-can.

(none - plain white paint)

3) Vallejo gloss black polyurethane primer

4) Alclad 2 gloss black base coat





(Ignore the splotches to the left, that was a quick test with some AK True Metal paste)


From left to right:


1) Alclad 2 Exhaust Manifold

2) Aclad 2 Magnesium

3) Alclad 2 Stainless Stee

4) Vallejo MC Exhaust Manifold

5) Vallejo MC Gunmetal

6) Vallejo MC Magnesium

7) Vallejo MC Burnt Iron

8) Vallejo MC Steel

9) Vallejo MC Silver

10) Vallejo MC Dark Aluminium

11) Vallejo MC Semi Matte Aluminium


Generally (and not surprisingly) lighter and shinier shades benefit more from a dark background. Most to some extent are affected by the nature of the primer; the least affected were the darker or duller shades such as Magnesium or Exhaust Manifold. Vallejo Silver worked noticeably better on a lighter primer.


Vallejo Polyurethane Black Gloss primer is noticeably much less glossy than the Alclad 2 black gloss. The latter worked perfectly well as a base for the Vallejo acrylics. The real surprise though was the difference between the two primers when Alclad Stainless Steel was sprayed on top; the Alclad 2 base resulted not only in a darker finish but one that was visibly blue-tinted. That's not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you want a hot-metal effect, but it's worth noting.


Alclad Stainless Steel is much brighter than Vallejo Steel (but they are aiming for rather different finishes). Alclad Magnesium is somewhat lighter than its Vallejo counterpart; to my mind the Alclad shade is more representative of real-world magnesium, but the Vallejo shade is not unrealistic and I suppose you could use them both for contrast. Slightly to my surprise, Vallejo's Dark Aluminium came out lighter than its Semi-Matte Aluminium.


Overall, this has reinforced my view that Vallejo Metal Colour acrylics work very well, but it has also prompted me to hang on to my Alclad 2 paints; they may be smellier to use and require more airbrush cleaning, but their Magnesium is a bit better than the Vallejo equivalent, and the variability of the Stainless Steel depending on the base coat gives the option of achieving some interesting effects.

Edited by MajorClanger
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Thanks for the testing @MajorClanger I used some alclad a few years ago when I was first starting with airbrushing, I didn't know anything about them and really just liked the result - I was doing the moebius cylon. I really, really wish I had read a lot more beforehand :doh: Since then the alclad has lived in a box somewhere and I became a fully converted acrylic user! Who knows when I have completed my airbrush station remodelling I may dig them out but my eyes are constantly drawn to the vallejo metal colour range :unsure:

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