Friday, July 27, 2012

Paint By Numbers Series - Additives


by Gabriel Diaz

You’ve figured out what you want to paint. You’ve figured out what brush to use. Now I’m going to share with you some things that will make your life easier. Please understand that these are things that I’ve gleaned from professional artists, painters and casual painters as well. I’m basically giving you three years worth of cliff notes with these little columns in the hopes that your desire to paint will be fanned and the flame of artistic fun will grow ever brighter. I will not say “You MUST go get this!” Because in that sense we are all kids, we don’t want to be told what to do. I’m going to point things out and you can determine if it’s something that you feel will help you along the way or not.
Nothing I write in these columns should be taken as ‘gospel’ that must never be altered or some such nonsense. As The Apostle said in Dogma, “Having a Belief leads people to do very stupid things; an idea however can be altered as you change.” (Paraphrased but you get it)
Preamble done, so let’s move on; last week I focused on brushes and pros and cons I found in my usage. This time I’m going to talk about things that are of good use to you as you grow in painting.

Brush Cleaner

First let me make sure that you know one more thing about brushes. The Master Brush cleaner is the best product to use when cleaning a brush, especially if you’re using the Kolinsky Series brushes. You’d be amazed at how much stuff ends up building up into your brushes. The instructions are basic, run water over brush, lather soap on brush, rinse repeat until brush is clean. Master Brush cleaner can also help keeping that tip on the brush that’s so important. A worthy investment if you’re serious about your brushes.

On to the other accessories that may help you become a better painter/modeler with your figures.

Micro Sol/Micro Set

Most miniatures have some kind of decal. Heck, most models have some kind of decal. If you’re doing World War II airplanes, you know you have some decals. Same thing if you’ve got cars and what not. Games Workshop is notorious for putting decals in with all their figures. Dust Tactics and some other newer games also come with them. The problem with most decals is that they don’t lay flat or they bubble horribly after they get onto the figure. These two products together stop them from doing that. This stuff should be found in stores like Hobby Lobby or places of that nature. Miniature stores that carry wargaming models will not have this only because it’s not a well-known product.
This stuff works in two steps.
  1. After your miniature is painted and sealed and the whole nine yards, then you use this. Obviously you first get your decal ready and figure out where you want to place it. You use Micro Sol on the area that you’re going to apply the decal. Just brush it on in an even amount. After that put the decal onto the spot that you’ve just prepared, making sure that it’s in the proper place and set up the way you want it to be.
  2. Once that’s done, you put on Micro Set. This second product will help the decal lay properly. Those sharp corners that you sometimes see on round decals? Gone. This stuff will make those decals literally look painted on and give you that organic feel that you see so much on those award winning miniatures.

Flow Aide

Have you noticed that your paint sometimes doesn’t really go on smooth on the project you’re putting together? It clumps or perhaps it’s just real thick and obscures the detail that you’re trying hard to give attention to? Yea, it happens to everyone. Flow Aide will help with that. It’s a product that basically makes the pigment in paint stick better to what it’s being applied to and give it that rich and covered look that’s so important.
Flow Aide will also thin out your paint a bit; this is something that you want to happen. Many people believe that you should be able to cover the figure with paint in one pass. This is wrong. VERY WRONG. If you are able to paint your entire miniature in one coat, then you’ve obscured the details to it and made your life harder. Paint should be the consistency of milk. You should be able to see through it as you paint. It should be two coats at least to get it fully covered. With Flow Aide, paint thickness will decrease allowing you to get the layers that you need. However this is not the only thing you should use…


If you’re painting straight out of the pot of paint…STOP! For God’s sake! STOP!
No seriously, knock it off. You aren’t doing yourself justice. Go to Michael’s or Joann’s or whatever hobby place near you and buy a 99 cent plastic paint circle. Using an all purpose brush dip into the pot, get one or two drops of paint and put it onto the palette. You’re missing something now aren’t you? Aside from the Flow Aide you are going to need a Retarder. As funny as the name is, it actually helps your paint take longer to dry out which gives you more time to work with that paint from the pot that’s now on the palette.
Best way to use the Flow Aide/Retarder mix? Get yourself an empty dropper bottle and mix it half and half with Flow Aide/Retarder and for every one drop of paint you add one drop of this mixture. Use your all purpose brush and mix them together. When you’re done, you should have that milk consistency that I was talking about earlier. You’ll get twice as long as usual with your paint.
However one warning. This is for you Warmachine players, do NOT use the Flow Aide with the P3 paint products, at all. Why? Privateer Press puts a HUGE amount of Flow Aide into their paint already when it’s put together. So if you add more Flow Aide on top of that your paint would basically just break down and you’d have less than nothing to work with. So P3 users, you have been warned.
This mixture will make your life easier, it will make your paint last longer and it will help the consistency of your painting.


Super Glue, Wood Paint, and all of those other glue by-products are all fine and dandy, however Zap-A-Gap is THE pinnacle of glue technology for your miniature. This stuff is strong, it’s reliable and it makes your miniatures sturdy. However, the downfall it that if you’ve had a bottle for too long and you don’t use it, there is a possibility that will plug up on you. So buy a small bottle of this stuff as it will last you for a long time anyway.
Okay that’s it for now. Next week we tackle paints!


  1. The flow aid and retarder mixture, should it be used in place of water to thin paints?

  2. Ellis

    Yes this mixture is in place of the water. Water does dilute but this mixture will also help with the overall performance of your paint.

  3. Can you use flow aid to thin the paint for an airbrush? I use mine for basecoating

    1. You probably could. But, I'd use stuff specifically made for airburshes, though. You can't be too sure how the chemistry changes when these things are mixed and you wouldn't want to damage/clog your airbrush because the retarder makes the acrylic dry super-hard or something.

    2. Thank you Rich that is an excellent answer. Like I said I wish I had more experience with an Airbrush but time and money have made that impossible at this time

  4. Ellis

    You have finally found and question that I don't have an answer to. I've never worked with Airbrushes so I don't have that answer for you unfortunately :( Sorry man

  5. I did some research online, gotta love Google!! You can use flow aid but not retarder, but most sites I found actually recommend windex without ammonia??? Who'd a thunk!! Mostly it was a cost issue with flow aid in an airbrush

  6. I picked up some flow aid and retarder, as I was intrigued by this. Do i mix 1 to 1 of both into a dropper bottle and use in place of water?

    1. Ellis

      that is accurate. Half full with Flow Aide, Half full with Retarder. Shake well. Done. No water added!

  7. Help, I had the weirdest thing happen, and don't know why!!! I made a bottle of Flow aid and retarder and added it to Ceramite white and it went from being a Paint to a GEL!!!!! but only this paint color all the others I did it to are fine?? why??

    1. Wow, that is odd. Could you maybe have mixed in a dirty container... residue from an earlier job? Mixed up retarder or flow aid with something else?

      Try mixing them again in an absolutely clean container. You probably only need to test a couple of drops of each. If it happens again with only the ceramite, I'd blame the ceramite.

    2. I'm going to agree with Rich here. If you've already used it with other colors and this hasn't happened then whatever blend of chemicals they have used with that specific white is having a reaction with the flow aide/retarder mixture. If it does it again even after everything Rich said, then I suggest using a different white or using that ceramite without the solution. Sorry it's happening though. It sounds like one of the new GW colors, is that right?

  8. For many other compounds for which the effects on cancer risk are not clear, there may be other good reasons to limit exposure. But at the levels that these are found in the food supply, lowering cancer risk is unlikely to be a major reason to justify this.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...