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Thinning Paint and Fine Details?



  • I just started getting into painting and love it. I’m not a paint/art/handiwork kind of person so I learn as I go (mostly using screwed up or cheap units as practice). I use Vallejo paints since I really like their colors.

    I just read that Vallejo paints should be thinned before being used. I never thought about thinning but I was having consistent trouble ESPECIALLY with their goshdarn faces and other fine details like straps, guns, etc.

    Would thinning the paints help with this?

    Bonus question, I also have some unopened enamel paint sets, have you used those on pieces before?



  • These are my un-thinned finished, how do they look?

    Russian tank

    Russian Infantry


  • 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 Customizer

    Ok. Keep workin on it ! 😀


  • 2019 Sponsor 2018 2017 2016 '12

    Thinning your paints will allow you to make multiple very thin coats (with sufficient drying time between coats) instead of 1 or 2 quick thick coats. What this does is provides a smoother, more detailed paint job instead of the typical globs of paint that thick paints will provide on small surfaces.

    Definitely thin them. Regular water works fine for acrylics. Distilled water is preferred (no contaminants).

    Regarding enamel, people have used them to good effect, but I personally hate them. I find enamels too difficult to work with, take too long to dry compared to acrylics and they smell bad.



  • Thanks to both of you. Another question, is it worth buying the proprietary thinners/retarders/flow aids or does distilled work the same, better, worse?


  • 2019 Sponsor 2018 2017 2016 '12

    @cavestone said in Thinning Paint and Fine Details?:

    Thanks to both of you. Another question, is it worth buying the proprietary thinners/retarders/flow aids or does distilled work the same, better, worse?

    Distilled or tap water will reduce the pigmentation of your paint, which in such small scale (and if you use only a little to just thin it a bit … not too much, and always on a palette, not in the bottle) is not a big deal.

    If using water, definitely go easy on it. Never more than 50/50, but I wouldn’t even go that thin personally. I’d go more with something like 80/20 (Paint/Water).

    I REALLY like using Acrylic Matte Medium. It’s a thinner but it maintains the pigmentation of your paint, and it adds a matte finish to it at the same time. YOu can also get Gloss medium if you like the gloss look, but in either case I personally use a Matte varnish on top of all my minis anyway, so matte medium works for me. (Techincal: Acrylic Medium is an Acrylic Polymer Emulsion that is used as the binding agent for acrylic paints, just without any color pigmentation added).

    Another decent tip is to make sure each successive coat is just a little THICKER than the previous coat (so you’re starting with very thin and working your way up to that 80/20 mix) and you’ll likely at this scale only want to do a max of 3 coats for your base colors and 1-2 for details and line work.


  • SFO Founder TripleA Admin

    @cavestone What happened to the images?



  • @djensen I see them, but here are some new (better) ones. Focus isn’t so good for tiny things but they look decent in person. Still working on not being sloppy but shaky hands make shaky lines. Feedback welcomed

    https://i.imgur.com/3VVe88A.jpg

    https://i.imgur.com/bYIzacR.jpg

    https://i.imgur.com/o6TWTje.jpg

    https://i.imgur.com/QxB6OMj.jpg



  • Finished some more dudes, really enjoying this so far and holy smokes is it hard to paint SS camo so I really winged it with that machine gunner

    https://imgur.com/a/YKYqKFN



  • Here are some winter infantry!
    https://imgur.com/a/0rigII0


  • 2019 Sponsor 2018 2017 2016 '12

    @cavestone Looking great! Painting this scale is challenging but certainly can be fun!


  • 2018 Customizer

    Fantastic infantry!


  • Customizer

    @cavestone
    Great job.
    Yeah that autumn pea pattern is rough even at 35th scale.



  • Tried doing an SS guy with the plane tree spring camo
    https://imgur.com/a/Zv7K746


  • 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 Customizer

    You trying to paint me ? Lol.


  • 2018 2017

    @cavestone I also use vallejo paints. The key question here is are you brush painting, or using an airbrush, or both?

    The Vallejo paints have a “Model Air” line that comes pre-thinned. You can buy a thinning product (from them) to add to the “Model Color” series paints, which are the exact same thing, just more concentrated and thicker.

    If you’ve never used an airbrush, its a bit finicky–it requires regular cleaning and a without a good brush and compressor the paint will flow very inconsistently. The process will be very frustrating unless you use the pre-thinned paints because the brush can only blow paint that is within a certain set of thickness parameters that are difficult to achieve, especially if you are trying to mix the air in the brush’s reserve or in small quantities. That’s why having copies of both Model Air and Model Color is fine by me–unlike Warhammer 40K I’m using primarily earthy colors, greens, dunkelgelb and dunkelgrau… other AFV and camoflage colors and so i don’t need a collection of primary or bright colors.

    But I recommend it. The airbrush creates a sublime, beautiful layer and slight mix variations can be used to create shadows, grades, etc. Then you go back over with your brush, adding highlights, lines, details. Then, back over again with a drybrushing…then back to the airbrush to blast Flory Wash all over it.

    Can’t see your photos, you can’t post photos until you have a certain post count. I wouldn’t use water to thin paints, they are water soluble but the mix and viscosity is all wrong (though water is obv. cheap and easy to clean up)

    As for oil-based paints, these require thinner to clean up, they are much more difficult to drybrush with and are not used for airbrushing. The days of the old testors paints is long behind us–even apple barrel paints are easier to work with and cheaper. The early painting methods were much more about glomming thick layers of paint onto lead miniatures and the modern approach with water based paint and a series of different techniques creates much better results.


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