How to Use Acrylic Paints for Models and Miniatures


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Can you use acrylic artist's paint on plastic model kits?

Acrylic paints are a favorite among modelers due to their ease of cleaning, affordability, and availability. They are produced in a wide variety of colors and can be combined to create new ones. If you think you want to try using acrylic paint on your next miniature, exploring the characteristics and benefits of the medium will help you make a decision.

Choose your paint

There are two main types of paint to consider when starting a modeling project: acrylic and oil/enamel. When selecting the paint for your next miniature, consider these points before starting your project:

  • Handling of objects: If the model is touched frequently, it should be painted with enamel/oil paint. Acrylic paint will need special sealers to allow for repeated handling.
  • Object Airflow: Since acrylic paint expands and contracts, it works best on porous materials where air passes freely through the object. On plastics or metals, acrylic paint will only work if applied between a waterproofing base coat and a topcoat.
  • Drying Time: Oil paints take longer to dry and allow more time to set the coat. Acrylic paints dry quickly, so once you start, you have about an hour until they are completely dry.

Acrylic paint cleaning

Wet acrylic paint can be removed from brushes and other surfaces with soap and water. If you're only mixing small amounts of paint at a time, you can use a flower palette with a blanket so that you can keep the paint unused when you leave your job. Paint stored under a lid will last up to 24 hours before drying. Don't worry if you wait too long before using your paint; it is possible to remove the dried paint from the palette and you can start the process again.

Acrylic paint for miniatures

Acrylic paints come in a wide variety of forms. You can learn to mix your own colors by using artistic quality (also called professional quality) acrylic tube paints. Artist paints have a more saturated pigment and contain much less filler than student or craft paints.

The quality of the students is generally higher than the standard of handmade paintings. Craft paints are generally more opaque and include fillers. Unlike artist acrylics, craft paints are not always rated by their pigment content or lightfastness (how long a color lasts with exposure to light).

Acrylic paint effects

Learning how to add acrylic media, thinners, and thinners will help you create many different paint effects. The different media help extend the handling qualities of the paint. Some thin the paint, some add texture (which is useful for creating small-scale versions of particular finishes, such as plaster and stucco), some change the opacity, and some even allow you to use the paint on fabric. Glossy mediums will give your room a glossy look and matte varieties will tone down the finish.

Bases for acrylic paints

Use acrylic paints on materials that breathe and don't trap moisture like paper, wood, terra cotta, bisque. If you are using acrylic paints on non-porous materials such as metal, plastic, or resin, you will need to apply suitable basecoats and topcoats to prevent moisture absorption. Enamel paints are usually a better option, as non-porous materials don't breathe, so anything painted on them should dry perfectly and not swell or shrink.

Acrylic drying time

Acrylic paints dry quickly and can be diluted with water and acrylic medium to apply very thin coats. Use thin layers to accentuate surface details. Thick layers of paint will fill in the small grooves and reduce the chances of adding light washes. Detail washes can be applied to base coats without the risk of mixing or bleeding.

Acrylic paints never dry completely. They are hygroscopic and will swell slightly with moisture. They are not designed for heavy-duty items. If you need a hard, glossy coat for miniatures that will be handled frequently, use oil/enamel paints.

Acrylic painting techniques for miniatures

Acrylic paints are easy to use with brushes or airbrushes:

  • Airbrushes: Dilute the acrylic mixed with acrylic medium and water to obtain the correct consistency to use with your airbrush. After use, run a soap and water mixture through the airbrush to remove all traces of paint.
  • Brushes: Choose the appropriate brush for your paint job and the thickness of the paint. Ask the art store what type of brush to use. With proper care, a well-made brush will last until the bristles are worn out. Always wash your brush with soap and water or soap-based brush cleaner after painting and use your fingers to reshape the brush and let it dry in an upright position.

Even if you have completely dry acrylic paint on a brush, you may be able to restore and store the brush with special cleaners. Winsor Newton Brush Cleaner is a non-hazardous cleaner that cleans even hardened acrylic and oil paints from brushes.

Enjoy The Video Tutorial about How to Thin Your Paints for Painting Miniatures (Beginner Tutorial)

Source: The MiniJunkie

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