Sunday, 9 February 2020

Candy Paint Finishes - A Test On Plastic Spoons

What's candy paint? As I understand it, candy paint refers to a metallic finish which is achieved by applying a clear color over a highly reflective gold or silver base coat and then finished off with an a clear protective overcoat. On this specific test, I had airbrushed clear paint of varying hues onto a silver base coat without applying a final clear protective overcoat. Absence of the final step had a visible consequence in some of the clear paint colors which I'll highlight later. Additionally, I didn't use a gold base coat in order to see the colors as they are without any gold tinting effects.  

Candy paint finishes on plastic spoons, arranged into a color wheel (sans yellow)

Up until now I haven't tried doing candy paint finishes because I couldn't get my hands on the highly acclaimed Alclad II Chrome lacquer paint. And although I still can't source this paint, at least not from local hobby stores, I instead found a great alternative in the Mr Color Super Metallic 2 Chrome Silver lacquer metallic paint. But perhaps I'm getting ahead of myself. Why the need for chrome paint anyway. Well, of all metallic model paints it is chrome or chrome silver which has the most reflective property. And this is key for the metallic shine to retain its visibility through the subsequent layers of clear transparent paint. It gives a smooth shiny look pure metallic paints cannot replicate. 

Mr Color Super Metallic 2 Chrome Silver, diluted in lacquer thinner and airbrushed onto a black primer coat
Chrome Silver was my go-to choice for the metallic base coat solely due to its reflective properties
While there are arguably better brands of chrome paint, the best available to me was the Super Metallic 2 Chrome Silver
Although thinned with Mr Color Leveling Thinner in a 50:50 ratio, the Mr Color Super Metallic 2 Chrome Silver paint actually seems dilute enough to be used straight from the bottle   
Extremely fine pigments in the Chrome Silver allows for a super smooth coat of reflective metallic paint

All in all, you could color me satisfied with the results (pun unintended). In majority of the cases the candy finishes on the plastic spoons look silky smooth and shiny. Combinations that worked particularly well were (in the order of thinner plus clear paint): (a) Mr Color Leveling Thinner with Mr Clear Color GX101 Clear Black, GX102 Deep Clear Red, GX105 Clear Pink, GX106 Clear Orange, GX107 Clear Purple and GX108 Clear Violet; (b) Gaia T-06h Brush Master Thinner with Tamiya X-23 Clear Blue, X-25 Green and a 2:1 mix of X-24 Clear Yellow/X-25 Clear Green.  

Mr Color clear paint hues (from left): red, deep red, orange, pink, purple, violet, deep blue, black
Tamiya clear paint hues: red, blue, a 1:2 mix of green and yellow, green

Unfortunately, some combinations didn't come out perfect. Look closely enough at the list above and the color red, or lack of, stands out. A combination of Mr Color Leveling Thinner and Mr Color 47 Clear Red gave rise to a relatively dull pinkish red while the Gaia T-06h Thinner and Tamiya X-27 Clear Red combo resulted in a shiny yet reddish orange. In short, neither looked anything like the pure candy red I had hoped to replicate. It's entirely plausible the dull surface can be rectified with a layer of gloss clear coat. As to achieving a pure candy red, two possible offhand solutions I can think of is either use the existing clear red paints over a gold base coat, or buy a new clear red paint.  

T-06h lacquer thinner was used on Tamiya and Gaiacolor paints and Leveling Thinner on Mr Color paints

Because off-the-shelf clear paints come in limited colors only, I had to create my own mix to obtain two specific 'clear' colors i.e. lavender and azure (see below) for use in future projects. Results were disappointing because the normal paints, no matter how dilute, tended to mask the metallic layer underneath. Despite some shininess to the paint, it was too muted to be considered as a candy finish.

Use of normal paints diluted with clear paints and thinner did not pan out with the 'candy finish' dull and boring   

There is, of course, a much better (and more correct) way to mix your own clear paints. One way is to use Mr Color Primary Pigments comprising Cyan, Magenta and Yellow in order to mix the specific color required, and then combine them with a clear coat solution and thinner. But I didn't go this route because firstly I didn't know how to mix the lavender and azure colors I needed. Secondly, I thought I could shortcut the process (aka doing it the lazy way) by just diluting a normal paint with a clear coat solution and thinner, although deep down in my heart I knew it wouldn't work.  

Candy paint finishes shot at a slightly less reflective angle in order to showcase the colors more

Even taking into consideration a few less than ideal end results, I would still call this paint test a success. By and large I'll be able to use this method to obtain a reasonable variety of candy color finishes. A great technique to have in my arsenal, I can now breathe new life into previously run-of-the-mill-projects. Most importantly this technique gives me a choice on how to go about a project. As Captain Kirk once said ... Without freedom of choice there is no creativity. The body dies.


  1. They are nice colours. Look good for vehicles.

    1. I agree. They should look for mecha armor too I hope.

  2. Replies
    1. No worries. Hopefully it's informative in some way or another.

  3. Really interesting, great colours.

  4. Interesting article! It'll be interesting to see what you'll use these for.

    1. Thanks Moiterei. These candy paint colors will most likely see use on mecha armor and maybe vehicles.

  5. Great experiment, and thanks for sharing it with us.

    Might you convert the regular paint to a wash, and then spray that on?

    1. Thank you :) Well, I did try it out on regular paints diluted to a wash as in the lavender and azure colors in the post above. And as you can see, the results were pretty dismal :(

  6. Interesting! Just the first pic is art by itself, being a test as it is. Pretty nice. I can't wait to see how you use these colours on actual models!

    1. Thank you very much Suber :) Hopefully I can start applying these candy paint colors on a project soon.


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