Anyone used artist's acrylics?


Scarab Sages

Has anyone attempted to use water based artist's acrylics, watered down of course, to paint minis as opposed to using the usual mini paints available from a local gaming shop?

I only ask due to the fact that UK prices are....well....pricey for mini paints. A certain UK based wargames company charges £18 for a specific setting starter set i.e. fantasy, sci fi or that tolkien based film wargaming thing ;) up to £30 for a 'hobby starter set'.

I don't paint loads of minis, in fact, i've painted two in the last 6 months!! so i want to save as much as possible.

Another local shop has a 20 tube set on special offer at the moment and i'd appreciate some of the pro's and con's for artist's acrylics....

One thing to remember is that traditional acrylics (usually sold in tubes) have a different ratio of pigments and aren't manufactured for this purpose. It's usually prone to chipping when applied to a metal surface, so priming will be necessary (I recommend sticking with the primer sold for minis) as well as using a sealant. Also, watering down the acrylic paint may produce some undesirable results. Remember that acrylics are water soluble, and thinning them out may result in longer dry time or less even coverage.

My recommendation: if price is your determining factor, try it out with one color of the acrylics and see if you like working with it and the results you get. I personally stick with mini paints because I found they were easier to work with (thus justifying the cost).


You can get additives that will thin the paint out to a mini-paint consistency and I am totally blanking on what the one I'm thinking of is called. :|

I use acrylics I've purchased at Hobby Lobby or even Walmart. I water them down with a mix of Minwax future and water.


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I have used the Apple barrel (75 cents each at craft stores) paints for large areas. I usually switch to minis paint for the small details. as stated above, these make longer drying times, but I've made use of that sometimes... I've been experimenting with using a strip of an old tee shirt and pressing it into the paint when it is semi dry to create a texture on various pieces of clothes. It sometimes works, and sometimes doesn't.

I've used them, and they work fine.

A while back someone did an experiment on coolminiornot where they painted a mini twice. They painted it with expensive specialized paints, then the same mini with cheap paints from a hobby store. They had people vote on which mini was better. The cheap paints won.

The conclusion was, at the end of the day they will look the same, and both get the job done. The specialized paints were easier to work with though.

Shadow Lodge

I've never used mini paints. I've always used acrylics for my minis, and I'm quite happy with them. I've only just started thinning them out. I use Pledge with Future Shine as SKR suggested, and I've been quite happy with the results, both for thinning and for finishing them. I also use it after I prime it for extra protection.

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You will want to use acrylic paint thinner. If you buy your paints at a craft store, there should be thinner right there with it.

There is also of course "magic wash" as mentioned by Eric Clingenpeel (a homemade thinner made from Future floor wax and other stuff, Google it).

And Chris Lambertz mentions primer; if you don't want to buy the appropriate type of spray paint, the same craft store will have acrylic gesso which is basically primer. It takes a little getting used to because it's goopy (but thins tremendously as it tries) but is good and cheap. I use it for my models.

For some advanced techniques like blending, it will take more work/mixing to get regular craft acrylic to be the consistency (as opposed to say, using Reaper Master Series, which you can mix with water and/or maybe a little thinner or other additive). Part of this is some mini paints have additives pre-mixed in; part of this is because mini paint pigments are ground more finely (this is also why they're more expensive).

Scarab Sages

It helps to have a supply of figures you're not too attached to.
Even better, if they're identical members of the same unit, to test the different paints against each other.

Scarab Sages

Cheers for all advice - I plan on starting tomorrow as I'll be getting some thinner as posted...

Sovereign Court

I would advise against it. They contain far less pigment than miniature paints meaning the coverage isn't as good, especially if you thin them to the propery consistency.

If you're concerned about the price, sure, the big jars of Apple Barrel crap are 1/3 the price of the paint, but you'll probably never completely run out of a bottle of miniature paint if you apply it properly. I've been painting my minis for about 10 years now and still have some of my original paints.

For terrain and scenery, sure, buy the cheap stuff and slather it away.

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I suppose you could argue it depends on how many miniatures you intend to paint and how professional you believe your miniatures will need to look.

I personally would never pay the inflated prices for the dedicated miniature paints. I've been using standard hobby lobby paint for years and I've painted literally hundreds of miniatures.

Of course I paint to play, not to win contests.

Nobody has ever even made the remotest suggestion that my paints were not perfectly fine in terms of consistency, coverage, durability or any other measure.

Of course I'm all about doing minis on the cheap. So consider that in reading my comments. I'm a hobbyist, not a fine artist. Other people take the opposite view, and have different priorities.

So figure out what your priorities for your mini painting are and buy the paints that work best for your personal goals.

Grand Lodge

I have used acrylics for years, watering down to make washes and such, and have had great results.

The miniature industry paints have a higher ratio of pigments and give a more saturated color quicker. But for daily gaming use you certainly don't need them. The ONLY reason I would even bother to buy those paints is if I wanted to enter competitions, which I don't.

So absolutely, yes you can do so.

You absolutely should apply a primer first. And you almost HAVE to apply a sealant afterwards if you ever plan on handling the miniature.

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