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Baldur8762

Matte Medium

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Hello all,

 

I have a question about matte medium and how it works with metallic paints.  I have seen many posts discuss this substance, but I still am not sure how it works.  If I understand correctly, the medium helps suspend the metallic flakes but thins the paint a bit. Is this correct?  I have tried thinning metallic paint with water and the result is terrible.  I have seen Liquitex matte medium at the local craft store, would that be a proper medium?  Finally, if I am using the medium to thin metallic paints, should I use a gloss medium instead?  I am really struggling with Metallic paints, they either are too sticky or too water-like.

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Medium does not "thin" the paint to watery level, because it is not water, saying it simple. 

 

Imagine something you can dissolve in water, like... IDK, any ready-made mix (pancakes comes to mind in the US). The more water you add, the more "watery" it feels because the purely liquid element is more relevant. 

With paint it is the same. The medium is already there and it is more fluid than the actual paint pigments in suspention. If you add more medium, you reduce the proportion of pigments so you approach the fluid state of the medium. Not quite water, but that depends on the medium used (there are gel-like mate mediums, for example, and I would not call Liquitex fluid matte medium particularly "watery").

 

The advantage to water is that medium contains the acrylic resin that forms the film, so it is essentially similar to the paint you are dilluting. So you are making it more... transparent, and more fluid IF the medium is more fluid than your paint. You can also thin down the medium a bit, the acrylic resin can take quite a bit of water before it breaks consistency, that is why we usually just use some water to thin down paints.

 

Metallic pigments are so much denser than the usual paint pigments that the "fall" off suspension much easier. I am not really sure you want to fight "stickness" with pure medium, because you will suffer on the coverage side (remember, you are making it more transparent since the amount of pigment per stroke will be less, you added more transparent stuff!). If you don't mind buying stuff, I would go with Gloss Medium, but to try it out matte medium would not hurt one bit.

 

If you are looking to make it flow better you need to try a flow improver, something that would break down surface tension. There are specific products for that kind of thing; if you are into testing "new" stuff you can do that too with plain rubbing alcohol (just mix a 50:50 alcohol-water batch and add a few drops to test). This will make the paint level off once applied on the surface. Future Floor polish is another household test to make, this one will help retain the gloss too.

 

The above is not strictly technical or accurate, I reckon, I am just trying to get a few ideas out in a simple way. If you want the actual science stuff behind my suggestions, I can do it but I think this post is long enough already :lol:

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First, some background that might help you understand what's going on: Gloss medium is essentially just acrylic paint without pigment. It's one of the major components in every acrylic paint. It's also what binds the pigment to the surface you're painting. Matte medium is gloss medium plus a dulling agent (I think that talc is usually used.) The metallic part of metallic paint is very small mica flakes.

 

When you add water to paint, you reduce the amount of acrylic resin (binder) in the mix; at some point, there's not enough left to suspend the pigment and bind it to the surface. Since gloss medium is clear, you can add it instead of (or in addition to) water to get less pigment on the figure when you apply your brush without the paint failing. But the medium doesn't actually make the paint thinner, it just reduces the amount of pigment (which, to be fair, is one of the effects you're usually going for when you thin paint.)

 

Matte medium works the same, except you have the addition of talc to keep it from being so shiny. But the talc also reduces the saturation of the color and reduces the durability of the surface, which is why some people like to just paint in gloss. (You can add dulling later, which will still reduce the saturation, but won't affect the durability as much.)

 

As to which brand? I'm sure there are differences, but there's not much room to play when you're talking untinted acrylic medium.

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Posted (edited)

15 minutes ago, Willen said:

The advantage to water is that medium contains the acrylic resin that forms the film, so it is essentially similar to the paint you are dilluting. So you are making it more... transparent, and more fluid IF the medium is more fluid than your paint.

Thats a thin line tho, Each paint is different in the suspension of the pigment , so what may be good for this paint may not be for that, this will even vary from color to color in same brand. If you take and mix some medium and paint a flat surface  and you try the same with the water youll see how the water has effected the consistancy. I have noticed with this recent flow improver Im using by reaper it does have a slight shine. Where as the Lahmian medium will settle into the cracks and not leave a tide effect also It seems to be curing with a matte finish which is better for my projects. I have found that the mixture listed in one of the craft threads here works very well for metallics 

http://www.reapermini.com/TheCraft/15

Edited by Tjrez
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Posted (edited)

13 minutes ago, Doug Sundseth said:

Matte medium works the same, except you have the addition of talc to keep it from being so shiny. But the talc also reduces the saturation of the color and reduces the durability of the surface, which is why some people like to just paint in gloss. (You can add dulling later, which will still reduce the saturation, but won't affect the durability as much.)

 

As to which brand? I'm sure there are differences, but there's not much room to play when you're talking untinted acrylic medium.

matte medium im thinking is the same as glaze medium , like you said there is a slight cloudy sustance when it settles... you said talc?

But it does seem that different brands must be a lil different from one to anouther cause they vary slightly

Edited by Tjrez
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Ah, I think I understand what you are saying.  I was under the impression that it would help make the metallic paints flow better.  I really don't understand metallic paints. Compared to regular paint, it seems to turn out less realistic and I want to have the metal look, but without it looking comical.

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Someone around here said they had success using airbrush medium to thin metallic paints.

 

Airbrush medium is very thin by its nature, but seems to hold the mica flakes in suspension better.

 

Or so they said.  I haven't tried it, myself.

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2 hours ago, Tjrez said:

Thats a thin line tho, Each paint is different in the suspension of the pigment , so what may be good for this paint may not be for that, this will even vary from color to color in same brand. If you take and mix some medium and paint a flat surface  and you try the same with the water youll see how the water has effected the consistancy. I have noticed with this recent flow improver Im using by reaper it does have a slight shine. Where as the Lahmian medium will settle into the cracks and not leave a tide effect also It seems to be curing with a matte finish which is better for my projects. I have found that the mixture listed in one of the craft threads here works very well for metallics 

http://www.reapermini.com/TheCraft/15

 

Your observations are right but you are confusing propierties of different "chemicals" and how they react. Of course a film of water, or a heavily dilluted paint, will settle on a surface different than an acrylic medium film! They are just different things. Also each pigment is different and, brace for this... there are quite a few different acrylic mediums out there! That is why, for example, mixing alcohol with Vallejo Model Color is a big no-no for airbrushing, but it is perfectly fine for Tamiya acrylics or Reapers!

 

Anything you add to paint (except the same paint) will affect consistency, viscosity and flow. The trick is finding something that you are comfortable with, and that you can integrate into your painting methods. I am not even talking about shine , gloss or matte propierties which are merely an effect of the surface termination of the paint film (as Doug said, particles in the matte films disrupt the surface and scatter light, versus gloss films bouncing light back at the viewer. This is why you polish stuff to make it bright and not "dull"). So finish is an enterily different property of different mediums.

 

Rule of thumb: 

- Paint separating, usually you have dilluted it with water too much and an acrylic medium would be better than water, because it can keep it more "cohesive". It will also make it more transparent.

- Paint not seeping into recesses and you want it to? It needs something to lower its surface tension. Flow improvers or alcohol are good in good doses.

- Paint not flowing off the brush? Usually it is too thick. Water is the best first thing to try. If you reach the paint where it flows but "breaks" (I test this on my fingernail, this is when it flows well but the stroke leaves like little clumps behind), then I go back to the first bullet. If you need to increase flow BUT preserve opacity, then try a bit of the second bullet.

 

There is not a lot more than that TBH. I have dozens of paint additives and most of them, 99% of the time, are not required. 

1 hour ago, Pingo said:

Someone around here said they had success using airbrush medium to thin metallic paints.

 

Airbrush medium is very thin by its nature, but seems to hold the mica flakes in suspension better.

 

Or so they said.  I haven't tried it, myself.

 

Most airbrush mediums are watered down alcohols, some acrylic medium (if it was designed for acrylics) and flow improver. Tamiya Airbrush medium is water + IPA, plainly, and it was even labeled as such. I did research on the Vallejo airbrush thinner and it is acrylic medium, an organic alcohol used in foodstuff (I don't recall the name now) and water. 

 

That is why you should always wear a mask when spraying (looks like I am finding an excuse to push safety in every thread lately!).

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2 hours ago, Tjrez said:

... Each paint is different in the suspension of the pigment , so what may be good for this paint may not be for that, this will even vary from color to color in same brand. ...

 

That's because of the chemical nature of pigments.  Paint colors aren't just color; they are substances with unique properties.  Each pigment has a different molecular composition which affects how it acts within the medium.  For example, red iron oxide (Fe2O3) is very dense, opaque, and heavy and tends to settle into a glossy finish even in matte paints, whereas phthalocyanine blue (C32H16N8Cu) is an intense, lightweight, transparent color that stains synthetic brushes and smooths out into the most delicate films.

 

What works for one pigment may not work for another. 

 

1 hour ago, Baldur8762 said:

Ah, I think I understand what you are saying.  I was under the impression that it would help make the metallic paints flow better.  I really don't understand metallic paints. Compared to regular paint, it seems to turn out less realistic and I want to have the metal look, but without it looking comical.

 

Metallic paints today are made from microscopic flakes of mica, usually with other pigments added for color, which dry as flat overlapping plates giving the characteristic sheen.

 

The mica particles are tiny, but still much larger than most pigments.  That is why they thin so poorly.

 

 

 

 

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16 minutes ago, Willen said:

... I did research on the Vallejo airbrush thinner and it is acrylic medium, an organic alcohol used in foodstuff (I don't recall the name now) and water. 

 

Propylene glycol is common in paints. (When you add dye, you have pet-safe antifreeze.) Don't know whether it's what Vallejo uses, though.

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I'm not sure whether this approach is useful or makes sense to anyone else, but I frequently don't thin metallic paint.  What I do is rinse my brush every time I need to pick up paint, leave my brush fairly wet (but not dripping) and then just pull a tiny amount of paint into the tip of the brush.  Alternately, you can thin your metallic paint and just stir it before you dip your brush in, but that becomes tedious.  

 

I've also noticed that different lines of metallic paint behave very differently.  The Bones line of metallic paints are much nicer than the standard MSP ones, in my experience.  I'm planning on testing out the Scale 75 metallic paints everyone keeps raving about, too.  

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2 hours ago, LittleBluberry said:

I've also noticed that different lines of metallic paint behave very differently.  The Bones line of metallic paints are much nicer than the standard MSP ones, in my experience.

When you (and others) say the MSP Bones metallic paints are nicer than the MSP Core metallics, what does that mean?  I have some of the Core metallics, but not the Bones ones.

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23 minutes ago, Serenity said:

When you (and others) say the MSP Bones metallic paints are nicer than the MSP Core metallics, what does that mean?  I have some of the Core metallics, but not the Bones ones.

 

It goes on smoother, thinner and with less clumping than the standard MSP metallic.

It has more sparkle and sheen than MSP metallic, more like P3 metallic paints.

It thins well, with particles staying in suspension longer, much better than P3 paints which separate 30 seconds after thinning.  (Standard MSP might thin well, but the lack of metallic sparkle kept me from using them.)

 

I think there was a thread about the Bones line of paints that might have more opinions from other people as well.  

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I've had fewer problems with P3 metallics breaking down than with Scale 75 metallics. (I like both quite a lot.)

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Another trick is to "thin" your metallic paints with a non-metallic flake paint of similar color for the first or base coat. You can use a medium grey for silver or steel and ochre yellow for gold. Then after that dries you apply a highlight with straight metallic flake paint. This method is sometimes called demi-metallic and helps overcome some of the issues with coverage and flow.

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