I have heard & read mixed reviews on these acrylics & I welcomed the chance to try Life colour Italian Camouflage set. As my acrylic paints consist mostly of Tamiya (for airbrushing only) & Vallejo / Andrea for brushing & airbrushing, the testing was to try both methods with these paints against my old faithful’s.
The set is presented in a cardboard box with 6 cut outs to hold the six pots of paint. The pots are made of an opaque plastic with black screw top lids. The bottles are wide, sturdy & stand very well lessening the chance of knocking them over.
The box contains 6 x 22ml pots of paint, which are called:UA 413 Khaki North Africa
UA 414 Tela Grigio verde ( green grey)
UA 415 tula carrista (tank crewman blue overall)
UA 416 verde telo mimetico (green camouflage cloth)
UA 417 telo mimetico (Khaki camouflage cloth)
UA418 marrone telo mimetico (brown camouflage cloth)(Thanks to babel fish for the translation!)
On the face side of the packet you’ve got Italian soldiers wearing the colours in the desert / North Africa & gives you a clue to the colour of the paints for UA413,414 & 415. The last 3 colours would lead you to the 3 tone camouflage pattern which seemed to be used predominately by the Germans. (Photos 1 & 2)
How do they brush paint?
As I did not have any Italian Figures to try these paints on, I pulled out my Tamiya Motorcycle orderly set which I have a few spare & put the figures together. The figures were primed with white tamiya primer & now let the painting begin:
On opening the first bottle, I was surprised to see how thin these paints are & after stirring the contents, the paint did not seem to get any thicker? I usually thin my other acrylics to 50% / 50% with the appropriate thinners but I did not have any Life Colour thinners so a quick check on the Armorama forum & confirmed that water could be used. So out came the distilled water and a mix of 80% paint to 20% water for my first attempt to base coat.
Starting with the standing figure, I used UA413 Khaki North Africa paint on his trousers, 2 thin coats & found it covered very well. I then used UA414 green grey for the jacket again using 2 coats. The sitting figure I decided to try the 3 colour camo pattern & base painted the trousers in the UA 417 Khaki paint. But on using this, I thought I had opened UA413 again! What I found was that there is little different in tone colour between the 2 paint colours (UA413 & 417) & I would not advise buying both. (Photos 3, 4 & 5)
The next challenge was to try out the Italian 3 colour camouflage so liked by the German soldier. I began with undercoating with UA417 Khaki in 2 coats & a quick shadow colour wash with the UA418 Brown well thinned. Then marked out the camo pattern with the UA416 (Camo cloth green) & finally the third colour, UA418 (Brown Camo cloth). Once the pattern was marked out, a second coat of paint was applied to each colour & then a brown wash over them to shadow the areas. Photos 6,7,8, & 9
The colour was good & solid & seemed to match my reference pictures from WW2 Uniforms in colour!
Plus points: Good solid pigment base & this gives good covering power; Paint can be diluted with water & dried with a totally matt finish. Minus point: Colour differences in Khaki paint colours UA413 & UA 417 are very slight.
How do they airbrush?
Taking my trusty Aztec Airbrush 4073, I decanted a small amount of UA 414 (Green grey) into a side cup & mixed it with approximately 70% distilled water & a drop of screen wash to break surface tension. As I am painting a figure for a magazine article, I decided UA414 colour would be good for the green grey trousers, so setting the pressure around 25psi; I sprayed the figure over a grey primer base. I was very pleased with the overall coverage of the paint with solid colour & a totally matt finish with no rough finishing. It seemed to dry around the Airbrush tip quite easily, so lowering the pressure to around 15psi & keeping the tip moist with a wet paintbrush, I met with no more problems.
After the initial coat, I then added shadow by mixing the life colour paint with Andrea black green. The mix seemed to be good with no thickening or separating, so I proceeded to airbrush the shadow areas of the trousers & again pleased with the effect.
Now for the high lights! Taking the bottle UA416 that in effect, is a light version of the grey green, I mixed a side cup of approximately 80% distilled water to 20% paint & wound down the pressure to about 10psi. This worked well & again, no drying on the tip of the airbrush occurred. Photos 10, 11 & 11.1 the finish was smooth & very robust with no damage occurring whilst handling the figure
Plus points: A good range of colours & I was very impressed with the pigment properties & coverage of these paints. Mixing was easy & simple with water as I did not have the recommended life colour thinners but see no reason why the thinners should not work well with the paints. Both brush painting & airbrushing was simple & I had no problems with cleaning up as long as it is done immediately after use. The paint adhered well to the primers I used but not sure how they would fare on bare plastic.
Minus points: A limited market for the paint sets as some of the paint colours are very similar in colour as I have mentioned. But a good starting point for someone coming into the hobby as a starter set. They do work out more expensive than some other acrylic brands of paint, but you pay your money & make your choice.