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Converting from Acrylics to Oils.

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I have been painting minis with acrylics for about 17 years now and I am interested in converting to oils. Is there anyone who uses oil paints to paint minis that can give me a few tips and maybe suggest a paint line to use?

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My understanding is that a good number of historical miniature painters use oils rather than acrylics. I'd check out some sites geared towards painting historicals.

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My memories of Painting Historicals with Oil class:


- they primed with Testors grey enamel

- many used Winsor & Newton Oils over acrylic basecoats

- some used Humbrol enamels over acrylic basecoats

- Plaka acrylics were often used (there's something special about this type that I'll have to look up) but they also borrowed my Vallejo and Reaper

- they sealed with Testors Dullcote

- some used Winsor & Newton steam-distilled turpentine (odor free), but the smelly kind was also used

- Linseed oil


The acrylic basecoat absorbed some of the oil, as did the freezer paper they used as palettes--dry side absorbed, waxy side prevented seeping to table. Oils take a long time to cure and dry so oil absorbtion was mentioned often.


www.mmsichicago.com has a gallery of magnificent figures painted in oil and enamel


I should probably try oils again before proclaiming that I prefer acrylics, as blending is easier, but the cure & drying time was tough to get used to, and cleaning up with water is so easy.


It's all blending and no layering with oils, but they did thin the paint to the milky consistency that you'd use for layering as described in the Craft article.




- You need only 7 tubes of W&N oil paint to start, most except White and Black will last for decades.

Black, Titanium White, Red, Blue, Yellow, Gold Ochre, Burnt Sienna. Naples Yellow looked nice too.


- The oil painters mix their own paint from a handful of tubes and think it's ridiculous that we carry around and spend so much on box-loads of acrylic paint (comes to $768 per gallon).


- They know color theory and recommend color wheels to accelerate learning it. Color theory is baby-stuff to oil painters and mixing from primary colors is second nature to the pros I watched.


- If you base with enamel, let it cure for 3 days or it will reactivate when oil (thinned with turp) is applied. Basing with acrylics eliminates this risk. Most people don't base with enamel.


- Never use same brushes for oils and acrylics


- "Thin your paint" applies to oils too

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Thank you. All this information helps a lot. I have saved your post on my computer and I will look into getting some oil paints. I have a painting background so I already have an understanding of color thoery and things like that so it should not be too hard to mix paints, which I do with acrylics anyway. I will also check out some of the historical mini sites. Thanks very much!

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