Proper paint consistency?
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Thread: Proper paint consistency?

  1. #1

    Default Proper paint consistency?


    I'm returning to miniature painting after 4 years away (yay) and I'm very excited to get going. I've noticed that a lot of painters talk about thining paints, but I'm not sure what the correct consistency of my paint should be. I've been using a home-made wet palette but find that my paints get way too milky and run all over my miniature. I'm now going to try out some retarder on a dry palette but my question remains: what consistency should I be aiming for when it comes to my paints? I'm mainly using citadel paints.

    Last edited by Fuentes; 01-03-2019 at 01:40 PM.

  2. #2


    well they usually say: thin milk consistency , but as someone mildly allergic to milk (I drank it last time about 15 years ago) that one doesn't help me at all...

    So what helps me:

    -if painting for TTQ / fast for games:
    -- basecoat: basically out of pot, on the wet palette it will get diluted enough (the GW base colors may get a bit of water, but very little)
    -- layers: a bit more, around a brushful (maybe 20% water to paint ratio)

    - if painting for better quality:
    -- basecoat: add enough water, so when you drag the brush through it you won't get brushmarks (sometimes it doesn't need any, sometimes about 30-40% water)
    -- layers: I try it on a newspaper, if I can read the text behind the paint it's thin enough for me

    -if painting for display:
    -- basecoat: I usually use a mix of 1:1 (with GW base range maybe 2:1 (water: paint))
    -- layers: about 2:1 to 3:1
    -- glazes: 6:1 (wateraint) is usually enough. you can go higher, but rarely needed (at that point it's easier for me to change the technique or get an intermediary mix of colors)

    As for your "run over my miniature":
    - touch the side of the brush to a paper towel, it'll get enough water out of the brush, so you are able to controll the flow.
    - you could try the thing in GW videos (twisting the brush enough to get out the extra water and get a point) BUT for me it looks like a perfect way to ruin your brush fast (which is good for GW as you're supposed to buy a new one from them)
    Forgot, that it works again.

  3. #3


    Thanks for the insightful pointers!

    How would one apply the water to the paint? Dip brush in water and then into the paint? Hold wet brush over paint until enough water drips into the paint? Sorry if this is a really weird question

    I've been twisting my starter brush like that to get a tip! Maybe I should top then. How would you recommend that one achieves a sharp tip to the brush?

  4. #4


    I usually just dip the brush into the water and then mix it into the paint to thin it out (don't use your good brushes for this though, you can just use a cheap nylon bristle one as the paint can get up in the ferrule).
    You can define the tip by rolling the brush across your palette after you get some paint on it, kind of dip the brush into the paint and just twist it as you bring the brush out of the paint.

    In addition to water, I will also use Vallejo Airbrush Flow Improver sometimes. I will put a few drops on my palette and then just dip the brush into it and mix with my paint/water mixture. You don't need a lot of it though.
    Last edited by ekipage; 01-03-2019 at 08:02 PM.

  5. #5


    different for each brand and purpose. just get to painting and you will learn what is best for each brand and each technique. your climate affects it too so what you see work for on person on youtube may not work for you. have fun with it, even if it seems frustrating at first
    "Remember, you can't spell paint without a little pain."

  6. #6


    Thanks, everybody, this is really golden information for a noob like me! Going to get me some newspaper on my hobby-desk and try to practice getting the proper consistency down.

  7. #7


    Your wet palette may not be right. It shouldn't dilute the paints (much) while painting, just stop them from drying out. You may have the sponge/paper towel too wet.

    Is the retarder to get a specific effect ? You shouldn't have to use it normally

    Good luck


  8. #8


    Quote Originally Posted by JohnLobster View Post
    Is the retarder to get a specific effect ? You shouldn't have to use it normally
    Since I'm struggling with getting my wet palette to have a proper amount of water - I'm going to try to move over to a dry palette. So the retarder is for increasing the lifetime of the paint on the dry palette.

  9. #9


    Quote Originally Posted by MAXXxxx View Post
    As for your "run over my miniature":
    - touch the side of the brush to a paper towel, it'll get enough water out of the brush, so you are able to controll the flow.
    - you could try the thing in GW videos (twisting the brush enough to get out the extra water and get a point) BUT for me it looks like a perfect way to ruin your brush fast (which is good for GW as you're supposed to buy a new one from them)
    Gosh, I'm still getting paints that behave like washes sometimes. I'm also getting brush strokes on my miniature. Could this be caused by my poor brush? I'm using a GW starter brush (upgrades are on their way in the mail).

  10. #10


    I like doing a 1:1 paint to water. I have a cup of clean water with an eyedropper just for thinning. This makes the paints really "inky," like a wash (as you described), but the acrylics I use are opaque enough that they still coat; it's just very subtle, which is how I like it.

    The reason the paint is running all over your piece is probably due to putting too much paint down in one application. Think of these as watercolors, not hard bodied artist paints, which operate best when applying a watercolor technique like if you were painting on watercolor paper. The key I found is to just barely touch the middle of the area you want to paint with the brush to put a small drop down, and then push the small drop around to fill the area until the drop dries out. All the popular acrylics brands for miniatures these days (MSP, Vallejo, Citadel, Coat d'Arms) work best this way, and they all set down wicked fast and super opaque on the surface, even when thinned down. So even if your paints have the consistency of an ink, they don't work like an ink.

    I used to paint straight from the bottle; it gets hard to keep the coats even and smooth, but the main problem I find is that the paints today dry too quickly on the brush; these paints are made to be thinned. This is especially true with whites and light colors, especially your titanium whites (the whitest of the whites...when I used Citadels, this was Skull White). I can't tell you how many times I've wanted to paint an eyeball, got my spotter in the exact place I needed, only to find that my paint dried on my brush on the way from the pot to the model.

  11. #11


    Interesting. I'll try to put down less paint with one layer next time and see if there's a difference. Perhaps I'm just trying to go too fast and as a result, overloading my brush with a lot of paint that then runs all over like a wash.

  12. #12


    that is a wash. you need to unload your brush on a paper towel or cloth before you put it on and then that is a glaze. but that consistency or paint is waaaaay too thin to paint base tones in with. though you can paint a whole mini with washes. you just have to start from white base coat...
    "Remember, you can't spell paint without a little pain."

  13. #13


    Sometimes I apply the paint to the palette and use a bottle with a superfine spray to mist over the top of my paint. Just enough to form a small moat of water around it will do. I then drag the tip of the brush through the edge of the paint until it touches the water. Nine times outs ten it’s just perfect consistency. For my style of painting that is but we are all different. It really is trial and error on a spare mini till what works for you clicks.

  14. #14


    How long is a piece of string? What you're doing and how you're doing it will vary between the paint thickness you want. Some times you will want a slightly thicker paint to add texture to a piece while other times you want translucent paint to build ultra smooth blends. There's no perfect paint thickness and the milk suggestion is often meant to stop people painting right from the pot with super thick paint. Any exact recipes given don't hold up to reality where a pot of paint may have got thick on a shelf and may as well be called rubber now.

    Wet palettes can make thinning correctly difficult. The paper on top isn't a good base for mixing paint and all the water it can draw up can over thin it or cause it to separate. If you have an old plate or a bathroom tile you can use start with that. Put a blob of paint down (dropper bottles) and then thin it, slap it on a spare model or a piece of primed plastic card. Keep trying different amounts until you get something you're comfortable painting with. Once you find a consistence that works for you try it with a few different paint ranges. Coat d arms, Vallejo, GW, Scale 75 all behave differently depending on what you thin them with or how much you thin them. Think of it like cooking a meal, you figure out how to cook each ingredient to the style you like then you put it all together to make a complete package. If you find your style goes towards glazing then try some glaze medium, if you don't then standard tap waters fine. It's easier to figure out what to try when you know your own style, but you only discover that through experimentation and some elbow grease.

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