This article is to give you a look at the different
paint used for scale modeling. Typically for styrene
plastic and resin. Enamels and lacquers perform
much different on plastic and resin.

First enamel. There is acrylic enamel. Not all acrylic
enamel is water based. Some of it is, such as craft
paints. Can be brushed or sprayed. I do not use it for
spraying model cars, although you can, I just do not
like the results. To me it is lacking in lay down
ability, is thick, and I don't like the appearance.
Some use it and like it, I just never got the hang of
it. I do use it for small applications sometimes, on
figurines, and small detail work on cars, it dries fast.

The other acrylic enamel is solvent based.
Automotive enamel to me is much like lacquer.
Smells a lot like it and acts a lot like it. It is thinned
with a reducer, although I just thin it with lacquer
thinner, a non penetrating type. I use this as it has a
faster dry time and there is less chance of wrinkling
or crazing styrene plastic. Automotive enamel will
craze styrene plastic just like lacquer, if not applied
properly. Always prime the surface first. Solvent
based auto enamel usually consists of the base
color which dries flat, and is followed with a clear
coat for the shine. With that said there are also one
step enamels that do not require a clear coat. Auto
enamel dries fast, but not quite as fast as lacquer. It
has a tad more time to lay flat. I find it a bit thicker
than lacquer  so be careful not to get it to heavy and
obscure or cover any script or detail on your model.

Then there is oil based enamel. Thinned with
mineral spirits or paint thinner. This dries slow. Give
your model a week before rubbing it out. Some
pluses are it lays down nice, as it dries so slow. It
provides a nice glossy finish. On the flip side, it is
thick and covers detail much easier. I thin
something like Model Master enamel at the very
least 50%. I do use it for small parts and brushing  
certain things. A trick I have found over the years is
that you can thin this with lacquer thinner. I do this
for airbrushing something small like an engine. It
will dry in a fraction of the time. I do not recommend
this on a whole model however.

Next is lacquer. This is what I use most of the time.
It is thin, dries extremely fast and is nice to rub to a
shine. You can clear coat it for the shine, or you can
rub it out for a shine. It is also the most harmful to
styrene plastic. Prime always!!! Even the primer if
applied to fast will craze the plastic. Use non
penetrating thinner on styrene plastic. It does not
obscure detail and script, unless of course you pile
it on to heavy. Put it on in thin coats, this applies to
any type of paint you are using. I do use a medium
dry lacquer thinner for more dry time only because I
have been doing this a long time and know what to
expect. Starting out , use the non penetrating type,
and be careful as even this is not fool proof. An
excellent source for pre thinned automotive
lacquers in small bottles is MCW or MODEL CAR
WORLD, and another up and coming source is COBRA
COLORS. Search these names and you will find
everything you need, including tape, putty, and
many other supplies.

There are to many brand names to get into here.
This is written as a brief look at what and how it
works. Remember when using resin plastic kits or
figurines, you do not have to worry about any of
these paints attacking or crazing the resin, you do
not even have to prime, but I would as you will get
much better results.

Feel free to ask me any questions you may have you
can contact me here.