Author Topic: Model Paint Color Matching?  (Read 877 times)

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mike_lawyer

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Model Paint Color Matching?
« on: August 15, 2021, 01:46:06 PM »
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I have a project where I am trying to match some paint.  Is there an app or a website where you can take a picture of a model and it will color match it to available paint? 

nickelplate759

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Re: Model Paint Color Matching?
« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2021, 02:05:19 PM »
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Neat idea, but I suspect it wouldn't work very well.  If you read through this forum you'll find lots of discussions about matching various colors, and almost all of them eventually include an observation that photos are a problematic basis for color matching.

There are multiple reasons, but they all come down to inconsistency in rendering of colors.   Lighting changes how colors are captured, whether by analog (film) or digital means.   A black engine photographed on an overcast day may look a little like it's dark blue, for example.

Color films (remember those?) differed in how they rendered colors, and as they age the rendered colors shift.   Digital cameras vary in how they render colors too - my phone, for example, insists on trying to correct colors that I don't want corrected, to make the picture seem "more natural" (I think there's a setting to override that, but I haven't found it).

Then - when you get to paint, you have the same problem! A paint that's a perfect match in real daylight might look terrible in your train room.  There's also the matter of sheen - an otherwise identical flat paint and glossy paint don't look like quite the same color in the same environment.

None of this answers your fundamental question - how can I match paint for my models?     
I look at as many pictures as I can, then look at paints.  I pick a line of paints I like (these days Tru-Color), and work with those.

You have to look at dried paint, not wet paint, and definitely not printed color cards.   In the old days, Floquil used to sell a paint chip card that had real paint samples on it - it was a  terrific tool!  I wish those were available for Tru-Color.
George
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I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that.

Lemosteam

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Re: Model Paint Color Matching?
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2021, 04:28:26 PM »
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Of you an get an accurate lighting on the model you are trying to match, you could they this process:

https://www.therailwire.net/forum/index.php?topic=37774.0

mike_lawyer

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Re: Model Paint Color Matching?
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2021, 06:39:04 PM »
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So where do you get the actual paint samples for the brands online?   A few of the links were dead, but that system you developed to match paint looks awesome!

learmoia

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Re: Model Paint Color Matching?
« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2021, 06:59:34 PM »
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There used to be an web page where you could upload photo or paint sample, and sample the color in the web page (1px, 3x3 avg or 5x5 avg sample) and it will give you all of the closest matches of model paint.

Unfortunately that site is gone.
http://scalemodeldb.com/paint

Here it is in the wayback machine:
https://web.archive.org/web/20160522084908/http://scalemodeldb.com/paint
But the page script seems to forward itself to something that isn't archived.

Another site that I have found that includes model paints is:
http://www.art-paints.com/

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peteski

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Re: Model Paint Color Matching?
« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2021, 10:23:32 PM »
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Using any kind of consumer grade computer-based imaging to match paint color is an exercise in futility.  There is some very specialized professional computer equipment made for publishing trade that can come close to accomplishing this task, but it expensive and not normally in the reach of hobbyists.
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nkalanaga

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Re: Model Paint Color Matching?
« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2021, 12:28:02 AM »
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I have used art-paints.com, but not for matching existing paint.  I have found matches for photo colors, and found the RGB code for paint colors for decal printing.  A nice site, but it doesn't include most model railroad paint, unless it's been updated since I last looked.  It did have Floquil, but that was it.  It would be nice if they added Tru-Color and Scalecoat, at least.
N Kalanaga
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mplsjct

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Re: Model Paint Color Matching?
« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2021, 09:12:40 AM »
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Using any kind of consumer grade computer-based imaging to match paint color is an exercise in futility.  There is some very specialized professional computer equipment made for publishing trade that can come close to accomplishing this task, but it expensive and not normally in the reach of hobbyists.

Agreed, without a densitometer or spectrometer to measure the target color, you're pretty much just guessing.

The links mentioned earlier are kinda neat, though.
I’m not here to argue

w neal

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Re: Model Paint Color Matching?
« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2021, 10:08:00 AM »
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Mike,

Tell us what you're trying to match. Who knows? Somebody out there might have an idea.
Buffering...

randgust

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Re: Model Paint Color Matching?
« Reply #9 on: August 23, 2021, 11:56:11 AM »
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That trips a breaker with me, but on a slightly different issue.

One of the most ANNOYING things that keeps happening is that 'reputable' paint manufacturers (Floquil, Testors, etc.) didn't keep color consistent over time, or color consistent between formulations.

Solvent Floquil SP Daylight Orange was spot on, the Pollyscale Daylight Orange was ....ugh, brownish.   Not even close.

But the most annoying recent discovery was that Pollyscale ATSF Blue is two dramatically different colors depending on when it was made, and apparently WHERE it was made.   I have a wonderful bottle I guard (and seal) with my life that is spot-on correct, and just found a couple more online and got them.   The 'new' old stock I got is much more vivid and blue, both are Polyscale ATSF Blue, but the blue-er stuff is made in Canada and has a gray lid.   Uh....what's that all about?   When did that happen?? 

So, even if you do get a recommendation and a match... it's still infinitely possible that it's not the same.

I had a similar recent paint match issue with Intermountain B&O F-units, where a customer wanted Life-Like FA's painted up to match the blue and gray scheme.    Tru-Color paint was requested....and it wasn't even close.  WAY off.   So I did a bunch of test swatches on scrap primer shells, and discovered that the closest match was SP Lettering Gray (Floquil) and a VERY old jar of "C&O Enchantment Blue".  But yeah, it was a match.  That old Floquil was probably 30 years old and still had held up.   I lovingly reseal every jar with fresh seals, every time I uncap one.

So that's all I can really recommend.  Don't let the labels get you, you're going to have to do some test painting over primer and put it under your lighting to see what works best.   

My favorite 'never mind what it says, just see how it looks' is that the best match to ATSF 'warbonnet red' on F-units that is slightly faded is Testors Chevy Engine Red, not any 'Santa Fe Red' out there - those are all too 'red'.   Good reason though, because ATSF painted the red over the yellow, so as it faded out the yellow undercoat started to make it look more orange, and no amount of weathering simulates that.   And that looks right to me, still does.    Oddly enough, the Alco PA's didn't orange-out that same way, as painted by Alco rather than EMD.   Don't be afraid to study photos and come to your own conclusions, rather than blindly go with what's on a label.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2021, 12:06:08 PM by randgust »