Question about adding water to paints to thin them out consistently
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Thread: Question about adding water to paints to thin them out consistently

  1. #1

    Default Question about adding water to paints to thin them out consistently

    Hello all, I have a general question about thinning down paints to get a good consistency for painting. I just recently got back into painting and have mostly been using GW, Reaper and Vallejo paints (what's readily available in my area). I am having a hard time finding a consistency I like, for example if I use Reaper say three drops of paint and then put in a drop of water it seems to thin it down too much for what I like. Whereas if I use three drops of Vallejo paints and ad a drop of water it isn't quite thin enough. If there kind of a general guideline some of you have figured out (I am not at the level of a lot of you all) but is it more just trial and error until you find what you like or have any of you figured out a magic ratio for some of the different types of paints? I do realize that even within the same brands, there are differences between how much water I need to use to thin them out, but I must say this has been the most frustrating part so far about returning to painting. I would like to eventually get to a better level, but realize that this is one of the things that is vexing me about this. Just in case, I am not talking about getting them to glaze levels or shades, but just basic thinning to initially apply to the figures to get a good coating.

  2. #2


    I can't help you with the Reaper paints as I have never used them. My main go to paints are the Vallejo ranges, P3 and AK Interactive ranges. However advice is similar from one to the other. If you don't use one already get yourself a small eye dropper while you are learning how much water to add. You can pick up a pack of plastic pipettes from your local mini painting supplies place for next to nothing. Then you know for sure how much you are adding.
    Try adding a drop of flow improver and a smaller amount of water instead of all water. Sometimes it can give you extra dilution without your paint separating. However you've pretty much solved your own question in that it takes practice.
    Personally I found my painting ability stagnated until I stuck with thinning my paints. At times paint separating is just the nature of the beast. Even within the same range some colours seperate easier than others. Or at least that's what I've found.
    Even though you don't want to dilute your paints too much at this stage just remember, two or three coats of your base colour to get full coverage is a good thing. It won't fill in and soften fine details like thicker paint will. Get used to applying that base colour finely then progress to highlights and shades.

  3. #3


    like you noticed it comes down to practice and knowing your paints and colors. There is no set-in-stone ratios, just guidelines.

    I follow these guidelines (wateraint):
    - basecoat: about 1:1
    - highlighting: about 2:1
    - glazes and filters: about 4-6:1

    of course adjusted for paint lines (like Vallejo Air is thin enough, so basecoat is either unthinned or 1:2 or 1:3 (very little water).

    And of course there are personal preferences too. Staying with basecoats most players like if it covers in 1-2 coats, most of us in 2-4 and there are some who like to thin it so much, that a base color needs 6-8 coats to cover.


    Sometimes they say that it needs to have a consistency of milk. Which I find quite funny as I'm lactose intolerant and haven't seen milk in like... 20 years or more.
    So as a fall-back for new paints I use a method I first read in a reaper book.
    - basecoat: it's good if you drag the brush through it and it leaves no brushmark, but still looks opaque on the surface.
    - layers/glazes: paint a thin layer on a newspaper. If it leaves no brush mark AND you can still read the articles despite the color on them it'll be good enough.
    Forgot, that it works again.

  4. #4
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  5. #5


    Unfortunately there are no perfect formulas for thinning. Thickness of paint vary between manufacturers. They even vary between colors from the same manufacturer. Red, for example, is usually way thinner then white. It therefore requires less thinning to achieve the same consistency. It all has to do with the various pigments and binders that they have to use to achieve each color. Rather then focus on a formula, I suggest focusing on the end result. Watch the video in the previous entry. And try to get your paint to those end points. Some paints may require 3 drops of water,.. others may require 5 drops to achieve the same effect. Hope that makes sense.
    It's only a flesh wound!!!

  6. #6


    Bullfrog, thanks for the pipette suggestion, I didn't even think of that.

    And a big thanks to all the others for their replies. It seems that the best thing I can do then is really start keeping a record of amount of water to paint for the various brands/colors until I can get the feel for it better. I also think it is my kind of being impatient with the process and need to just let it happen, I sometimes feel like I have painted two or three coats and it is still showing the primer and that maybe I have thinned it way too much, but then am afraid to mess with it because I feel that I just want to use it straight from the bottle, which I know will mess up what I want. I bought a few metals recently so I guess I can start practicing on them and stripping them if I am not getting the end state I am looking to achieve. I think it is a little difficult seeing the great paint jobs you all are doing (yeah, I know you all have a bit more experience) and wanting to get close to that level, but I just don't have the practice/time in yet. It is amazing what you forget after not painting for like 20 years, not to mention all the new techniques/ideas that have come about since then. I think after I can get the base coats down, I want to start working on blending, but so far that has eluded me but I will watch some more videos on it and see if they have any classes at the upcoming NOVA Open that might help with that technique.

  7. #7


    I sometimes feel like I have painted two or three coats and it is still showing the primer and that maybe I have thinned it way too much
    you probably feel it correctly. Altough worst case you work more for the same result.
    I'd rather have a 4th-5th coat to cover, than goint 1st and noticing details disappearing.

    and see if they have any classes at the upcoming NOVA Open that might help with that technique.
    If I remember right the guys from massivevoodoo attend and hold workshops/demos at NOVA. I have no idea if you need to reserve a place or you can just go in, but if you can do.
    Seeing Jarhead/Picster paint (and learning from them) is awesome. Even better Jarhead has a degree in teaching, so he can really teach (unlike quite a lot of artists, who can simply can't explain what they do/how they do it (I'm looking at you AlexyZ video from CMON, or even some MiniatureMentor vids.))
    Forgot, that it works again.

  8. #8


    MAXX, yes Roman is giving a few classes and I think I signed up for two of them (his classes fill up quickly though), if I remember it is his Blending School class and Intro to Display painting, I also signed up for some classes given by Matt DiPietro and James Wappel (I think a two brush blending class and building bases class). I may look to see what others are still available to sign up for though. You do have to register for the classes as they limit the size of them at the Nova Open, usually under 20 people. I have watched a few videos, but sometimes they go over something and I just don't quite understand their method, but there is no way to ask them, and they often just go over it quickly as it is something they know by experience. I did order a few videos though, such as Hot Lead and I think one by Jessica Rich, so hopefully I will get something good out of those. I figured it couldn't hurt.

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