Differences between Acrylic, Enamel and Lacquer paint.

Confused about which paint is best for your Gunpla project?

In this article, we are going to go over the types of paint in modeling kits and the differences.

In general, there are three major types of paints that are commonly used in model kits painting, Acrylic, Enamel and Lacquer. So, lets us have a quick review about these different type of paints.


Acrylic paints are the most common of all paint types. Acrylic paints are easy to handle as it is water-based, meaning that it can be thinned with water and clean up with water. However, it’s recommended that you use an appropriate acrylic thinner for the best result. Acrylic paints tend to be the thinnest of the three, which is great for keeping details but poor for durability. These paints are very susceptible to scratches, hence the importance of top coating your Gunpla once you are done. Acrylic paint dries in about 20 minutes and cures in 24 hours. For airbrushing, you can try alcohol-based thinner that is lighter and dries faster than water.

Example of common Acrylic paints is Tamiya. Note that Tamiya is not a real full, water based acrylic. It’s still solvent based or some such, and should be thinned with Tamiya’s brand acrylic thinner at a minimum.



Enamel paints usually dries to a hard, glossy finish, It takes around 2-3 hours to dry, with a 24-48 hour curing time. Due to the fact that Enamel paint dries harder, so it’s more resistant to scratches which can be vital when posing a kit. Enamel paints are more toxic than acrylic paints, but aren’t as bad as lacquer paints. It’s recommended for hand painting (slower drying allows for additional time for the paint to self level and hide brush strokes). Enamel paints also often recommended for panel washes.

Example of Enamel paints are Tamiya Enamel and Gundam Marker.



Lacquer paints are the least commonly used due to their difficulty and risk of use.  Lacquer paints are hardest of the three main types and also dry the fastest. Once dry it’s extremely hard to remove without damaging the plastic as well. Of the three it’s also the most toxic, so make sure that you are in a well-ventilated area as well as using a mask when handling lacquer. Lacquer paint requires a special kind of paint thinner aptly named lacquer thinner to make it even.

Example of Lacquer paint are Mr.Color and Modo paint.



Comparison table for Acrylic, Enamel and Lacquer

Result for Acrylic, Enamel and Lacquer








Hope this article was helpful to you and happy painting! 🙂


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  1. NKW

    Sorry to trouble you.
    After I done my lining (Oil based) and decals, I will use Mr Super Clear (Gloss) as top coat before I go ahead with weathering using Real Touch Marker and drybrush (Enamel Paint). And to finish off, I will apply another coat using Mr Super Clear (Flat/Matt).
    Does this sound right to you?

    Thank you

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