Real Colors Acrylic Lacquer Paints

Published: November 28th, 2017     
Product Image
AK Real Color paint
Reviewed by: 
Bill O’Malley, IPMS# 46473
Company: AK Interactive
Price: $2.70

Real Colors are AK-Interactive's excellent new line of acrylic lacquer paints. These paints are new technically in the paint formula and new artistically with the statement on paint colors. These paint colors have been determined through scientific analysis of actual WWII paint samples to produce colors as accurate as possible. In addition to the paints, AK has published a book, Real Colors of WWII, that documents the historical research and analysis that went into determining the paint colors. The Real Colors paints and Real Colors of WWII book provide a historical benchmark of paint colors that will be a valuable resource for modelers to reproduce accurate vehicle colors. I anticipate lots of discussion about the colors presented.

The Paints

Real Color paints are similar in nature to alcohol-based acrylic paints like Tamiya Acrylics and Mr. Color Acrylics. The paint has a medium thick consistency, about the same as Tamiya Acrylic, and a mild alcohol odor. The paint comes in 10ml bottles, the same size as Tamiya mini bottles. The paint colors currently issued are for German, Russian, British, and US army vehicles before and during World War II. AK has also announced future paints with aircraft colors.

Features of the paint from AK-Interactive web site:

  1. Reduces tip clogging/tip drying, the paint flows and stretches on the surface to a smooth matte surface.
    • Suggests the paint has a retarder to slow drying.
    • The paint does flow and stretch to a smooth flat finish, but I encountered significant issues with clogging and tip drying during extended spraying. AK hasn't provided thinning recommendations, so my paint tests were experiments to find a good thinning ratio. I ended up with a 2:1 thinner to paint ratio, and more thinner could be considered to reduce tip drying. The paints spray thinly so several light coats work best, and the finish colors are very consistent.
  2. Can be thinned with AK specific thinner, other brands of acrylic lacquer thinners, alcohol, and water.
    • A video on AK Interactive's website shows the AK paint is also compatible with Tamiya Lacquer Thinner, Mr. Color Thinner, GAIA Dilutent T-01h, AK 712 Thinner for Acrylics.
    • I also tested the thinner with Mission Models acrylic paint and found it compatible. I also tested the Olivgrun color with Mr. Color Leveling Thinner, Mission Models thinner, and Vallejo acrylic airbrush theater. I did not use them in the airbrush, but they all seemed to blend nicely.
  3. Holds firmly to withstand subsequent weathering.
    • Care is necessary with hairspray chipping to avoid removing too much paint.
  4. Can be mixed with other acrylic lacquer brands.
    • I did not test Real Colors with other paints.

Paint Tests

Many of the Real Colors are sold in 4 bottle packages for a particular color or camouflage scheme. They are also sold individually. For this review I used AK's Set #4, German Army 1943-1945, and Set #6, German Army Dark Yellow 1943-1945.

I did several tests and comparisons of the paints as follows:

Test 1 Dunkelgelb

Real Color Dunkelgelb - Dark Yellow RAL 7028

72 deg. 28% humidity 15 -20 psi

Mixed 50-50 with AK High Compatibility Thinner. There was some spitting of the airbrush so a little more thinner needs to be added. I applied one misted coat, and two light wet coats for a total of three coats. The finish was very smooth, nicely flat, and of uniform color. The wet coats dried over within seconds, and about 10 minutes later there was no odor in the paint so it was mostly dry. It was a short session, but there was no problem with tip drying. The paint flattened out as it dried to a nice smooth flat finish.

I used AK's thinner to clean the airbrush, which cleaned up quickly.

The paint color was compared to Mr. Color C39 Dark Yellow, Vallejo Model Air 71.025 Dark Yellow, and Tamiya XF-60 Dark Yellow. There are some significant differences between the manufacture's colors, so hopefully, AK Interactive's Real Colors of WWII book will start discussions leading to a standard for the correct paint colors.

Test 2 Rotbraun

78 deg. 22% humidity 15 -20 psi

Mixed 6:5 thinner:paint. The paint still sprayed a little coarse so not enough thinner.

Paint color compared to Mr. Color, Vallejo, Tamiya, and Mission Models paints. Again, there are significant differences in colors between the manufacturers, although the Mission Models Rotbraun is based on RAL 8012 rather than the AK RAL 8017. The paint flowed nicely to a uniform, smooth surface.

Test 3 Olivgrun

84 deg. 10% humidity 15 -20 psi

Mixed 7:5 thinner:paint - better paint mix, smooth flow, fine atomization of the paint droplets

Paint color compared to Vallejo, Tamiya, and Mission Models paints. These colors were closer, but the Tamiya was darker than the others.

Test 4 Dunkelgelb Large-scale 

83 deg. 18% humidity 15 -20 psi

AK's Dunkelgelb was sprayed on a large 1/9 scale Kettenkrad kit. The paint was purposefully applied thin to allow for subsequent weathering. Ratio of thinner to paint was initially 7:5. Due to the size of the model this airbrush session took about 20 minutes and reloading the paint cup two additional times. I had significant problems with spitting, and then clogging of the airbrush, requiring disassembly of the airbrush twice to clean it out. I added thinner to get a smooth flow, probably 2:1 thinner to paint. The paint still produced a smooth, uniform color finish.

Test 5 Rotbraun & Olivgrun Camouflage

76 deg. 28% humidity 15 -20 psi

I applied the camouflage stripes on the Kettenkrad with a mix of 2:1 thinner to paint and had no problems with clogging and only minor spitting. The paint spray was smooth and fine.

Test 6 Hairspray Chipping Test

I am first sprayed the Kettenkrad with Mission Model Paints Standard Rust acrylic paint. This was followed by a coat of AK's Worn Effects Acrylic Fluid in the confined toolbox spaces, and hairspray on the overall body surfaces. Real Colors Dunkelgelb was sprayed in a thin coat for the finish coat. The Dunkelgelb was applied purposefully thin on some of the larger panel areas to allow chipping and weathering later. A day later I wet the paint with plain water and found it chipped very easily and with good control. The next day I applied the Rotbraun and Olivgrun camouflage stripes and did some more chipping. The Dunkelgelb had been on two days and the camouflage on for just a couple of hours. Again, the water activated the hairspray quickly and in some cases broke off large chunks of the finished paint. I also tried a mix of 50-50 water and Windex, but this cut through the finish paint too quickly and was not as controllable.

Test 7 Brush Paint

I used a large #6 brush to touch up some large overspray areas behind the Kettenkrad treads. Straight out of the bottle required lots of paint, and brush strokes were evident. I applied 3 coats, but the coverage was still not consistent and brush strokes were evident. AK has a video on their website that demonstrates brush painting more successfully than my test.

I also thinned the paint for another brush test, but the thinner attacked the underlying paint and got too muddy.

Summary

This is an excellent new product from AK-Interactive. The paints work very well, and the colors start to establish a consistent palette for military vehicles. Modelers should do some paint tests of their own to determine a good thinner ratio and to test the color of the paints. Reals Colors are another one of the great paints released recently and will be very helpful for modelers.

Thanks to AK-Interactive for the effort it took to produce these nice paints, and the extensive research to determine accurate colors for modelers to use.

  • AK Real Colors Paint products
    AK Real Colors Paint products
  • AK Real Colors set 4 German Army 43-45
    AK Real Colors set 4 German Army 43-45
  • AK Real Colors 6 German Army Dark Yellow 43-45
    AK Real Colors 6 German Army Dark Yellow 43-45
  • Painted hull
    Painted hull
  • Chipping test 1
    Chipping test 1
  • Chipping test 2
    Chipping test 2
  • Thin layered paint
    Thin layered paint
  • Chipping test 2
    Chipping test 2
  • Paint brand comparisons
    Paint brand comparisons
  • Paint brand comparisons
    Paint brand comparisons
  • Paint brand comparisons
    Paint brand comparisons
  • Paint brand comparisons
    Paint brand comparisons