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Madog Barfog

Thoughts on DecoArt Americana medium acrylic extender?

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I need to update some materials after having some stolen (long story involving a heroin addict) and just bought some acrylic extender at Micheal's. They only had one type, a small tube of DecoArt American (or maybe Americana DecoArt) medium extender. It's a somewhat thick, clear substance. I'm guessing I'm going to have to cut it with something, like gasoline or whiskey, maybe. I'm joking, but while water seems a natural answer, I'm concerned about breaking my paint. Maybe I need extender extender?

 

Anyway, any thoughts or tips on this type of product are welcome.

 

Bonus: it was cheap - about $1.80 after my Micheal's monthly discount.

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Which brand paint are you using?

 

I use vallejo mediums and thinners, mostly, as they're liquids and come in dropper bottles. 

(I use mostly REaper paints, but are also experimenting with Scale75 metallics and some specials)

 

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A combination of Vallejo Model Color and Reaper Master Series.  I'll be moving mostly to RMS except for a couple of my favorite Vallejo colors.

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Well, the extender you picked up is probably meant to be used with tube paint, so it probably won't work too well with your paints.

I guess it can be used for special effects such as ripples on water or as filler.

I think I'd rather use a drop or two of distilled water to thin my paints. 

 

 

 

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I have found little need for extender when mini painting with a wet palette. 

 

Are you using a welled or flat palette?  Is your humidity really low?  Do you like to do wet blending?  These are reasons I can think of why you might want an extender.  I've never used a gel extender with miniature paints, but the liquid ones work all right, IIRC.

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Gadgetman! is right, I've used that stuff before, not very useful for minis but if you are painting wings or larger "minis" and need to blend it'll work ok. I found some Folkart liquid extender that worked pretty good for washes and blending.

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7 hours ago, Serenity said:

I have found little need for extender when mini painting with a wet palette. 

 

Are you using a welled or flat palette?  Is your humidity really low?  Do you like to do wet blending?  These are reasons I can think of why you might want an extender.  I've never used a gel extender with miniature paints, but the liquid ones work all right, IIRC.

 

Welled Teflon dry palette.

Humidity is absurdly high (Ohio weather).

I've never tried wet blending. Maybe I'm too slow.

 

Is extender the same as retarder? That's not what I want. I'm looking for something to thin my paint more than water can, not increase drying time. Did I get the terminology wrong?

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31 minutes ago, Madog Barfog said:

 

Welled Teflon dry palette.

Humidity is absurdly high (Ohio weather).

I've never tried wet blending. Maybe I'm too slow.

 

Is extender the same as retarder? That's not what I want. I'm looking for something to thin my paint more than water can, not increase drying time. Did I get the terminology wrong?

 

Yes, the extender you have is a retarder. If you bought the one in the upside down tube, it's a medium body paint medium used to extend or prolong dry time as well as make the paint more transparent. That one is meant to be used with thicker paints than we use for minis. DecoArt Americana also makes an extender in a craft paint bottle that's for thinner liquid paints.

 

You might want to try Matte Medium. It's widely used for thinning the opacity of paint while keeping the pigments in suspension. They don't always make paint feel much thinner, so many painters add a drop of flow aid, or more commonly, plain old water (because flow aid can dry shiny). I used to mix matte medium with water and a tiny bit of flow aid (aka Flow Release) to make ink washes, but I have so many premade washes now that I don't do it any more. The best thing about matte medium is that it helps shiny paints or ink dry more matte. You can make nice thin glazes with paint + Matte Medium and water.

 

Reaper makes a Wash Medium, that acts a lot like a matte medium with a touch of flow improver (but I don't really know). It's the only thing I use to thin my metallics. It's said to be the same clear binder Reaper uses as the base for their paints, only with zero pigments. Because it has almost the same viscosity as many Reaper paints, the paint may not feel much thinner than it was out of the bottle. That makes it nice when you want almost transparent paint. I sometimes use it for glazes, but it isn't usually that much better than water except when a specific paint is giving me trouble (making rings rings or going on all splotchy). If I'm heavily thinning a color and it isn't acting right, I almost always thin down a fresh blob of the color with MSP Wash Medium + some water. 

 

Vallejo has a specific Paint Thinner (70.524). That stuff is great for straight up thinning thick paints. It seems to be a mix of mediums that works beautifully with thick Vallejo paints. I've also used it with Reaper paints from time to time without issue. I usually keep a couple of drops of it on my palette and add it to paint as needed.

 

Vallejo also has a Glaze Medium (73.596) that is excellent for glazing. It doesn't seem to have any flow aid in it so the paint won't nosedive into the cracks as much if you use this. That makes it ideal for glazing, but useless for making washes. I've been using it off and on for years. It comes in a normal or a double sized bottle. 

 

With all of this said it's probably worth mentioning that I thin about 80+% of all my paints with plain filtered water. I only generally use any kind of medium if I need to thin metallics or a color is breaking or going on chalky. Also sometimes if I'm using a teeny tiny brush on a detail, and the tip is drying out before it hits the model, I'll dip a it in flow aid or retarder/extender. 

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Oh. Damn. I've been painting for a while, but it's been years since I bought any thinning agent. I assumed the words extender and retarder meant different things. I guess not. 

 

I usually use tap water for most of my thinning, sometimes with an old bottle of Future I managed to find, but that isn't the best and will eventually run out. Plus, we all know about paint breaking, so sometimes water isn't the only additive I can use.

 

I'm not worried about shininess, as I use Golden Archival flattening spray, which I *highly* recommend, even above the common Testor's product, as it's cheaper and works better.

 

Looks like I'll have to pick up some Reaper wash with my next order, unless I happen to go to Dick Blick's, which isn't that close. 

 

Thanks for for the advice, everyone.

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In addition to the products @CorallineAlgae wrote about, Reaper's brush-on sealer also works as an acrylic additive, much like matte medium.  It is thicker than the wash medium Reaper sells, so you need to cut it with more water.  I also use brush-on sealer or matte medium to go over rough areas on minis that are hard or impossible to clean up with files, etc.  

 

If you need it, Reaper also sells Flow Improver.  Unlike Liquitex Flow-Aid and other artist brands, it comes ready to use rather than concentrated. 

 

Some acrylic additives provide some additional open time (what extender/retarder is designed to do), more than water anyway.  I've never timed my paint drying to see how much difference it makes, though.  

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Interesting. Based on the name, flow improver sounds like a somewhat better match than wash medium, since my goal is to thin paint but not necessarily make washes, which I seldom use.

 

Anyone have any thoughts on this? I really like RMS paints, but have no experience or familiarity with their additives.

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I think you most likely want a medium product. Matte medium and glazing medium are general art terms that you might find products for. Medium is mostly the clear acrylic binder part of paint. So adding it to paint will dilute the pigment but not the integrity of the paint film. If you look for art/craft store products, you want something that is fairly thin, definitely avoid terms like gel and heavy body. Those are meant to dilute pigment but create impasto effects on canvas paintings. Also if it doesn't say matte, it's as likely as not to be gloss or semi-gloss since most fine art products are not designed to be flat matte unless they say they are.

Reaper's Brush-On Sealer is, I suspect, largely medium with some matting agents added. Enough people were using it off-label that Reaper's paint maven saw fit to create the Wash Medium, which is specifically intended for the purpose you seek - to make paint more transparent without making it as watery. Many people use the sealer/medium in combination with water. Used alone it has a more viscous feel like paint straight from the bottle. If you want a little more flow for a wash, use water as well. I often use it to make a glaze that is less watery in consistency and so a bit easier to control. It is definitely very nice for thinning metallics as it keeps the pigments in suspension much better than water.

 

Flow improver pretty much does what it says on the box. ;-> If you have moments where the paint feels a little 'sticky' and like it's reluctant to come off of the brush? That's a moment to add a touch of flow improver. I find that most likely when painting details like freehand or eyes, though back in the day I used  some flow improver for most general painting. Using it in quantities that might be necessary to create the level of transparency you seek might have unintended and undesirable side effects. Reaper paints are formulated with a small amount of flow improver in the mix, so you might not find you need any at all with this brand.

I have been repeatedly told (by representatives of fine art acrylics) that it is unwise to thin paint with more than 20-25% of water since it might damage the integrity of the acrylic film. And the explanations and arguments for that make sense, as do the warnings of a canvas painter who thinned tube paints down to our kinds of washes and eventually found her paint wiping off when she dusted her canvases. At the same time, I very often use no dilutant other than water and have mixed many a glaze at a ratio of one part paint to five or six parts water and have not noticed any ill effect from that. Though it is probably worth noting that my glazes generally sit on top of layers of much less diluted paint. While my figures do get handled (and I often don't seal them), they are display figures not game figures subjected to extensive handling.

So my personal conclusion is that it's best to do extensive thinning like for washes and glazes with at least some medium to be on the safe side, but adding a drop of water to a couple of drops of paint is probably fine both in terms of keeping paint in suspension (at least for Reaper paints) and the integrity of the paint film. Reaper's paint mixer has repeatedly said that the paints are designed to be thinned with water alone, and further are designed to thin down well into layer and glaze consistencies. While there are a few colours that may separate after a time on the palette when mixed with water, the vast majority don't. So if you don't use washes much, you may need nothing at all.

She has also repeatedly said that her paint is not formulated to work with floor wax, so I'd advise against the use of Future. ;-> It's been used successfully with Reaper paints, but there are also instances of people finding it to not work well with Reaper paints. I advise an approach of using products in paint that are designed to be used in paint.

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On 6/6/2018 at 11:33 PM, Wren said:

She has also repeatedly said that her paint is not formulated to work with floor wax, so I'd advise against the use of Future. ;-> It's been used successfully with Reaper paints, but there are also instances of people finding it to not work well with Reaper paints. I advise an approach of using products in paint that are designed to be used in paint.

 

As far as this goes I think the important thing is only add it to the paint as you use it. It's not going to hurt anything if you add a drop of future to a drop of paint of your pallete. Reaper likes to word the warning extra strongly after that time someone added windex directly to hundreds of bottles of reaper paints and then demanding a refund after the paints ended up ruined.

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Note that original Future, which hasn't been available new for a while, is acrylic gloss medium plus a couple of additives. It's not a wax. The current replacement formula, which is some form of Pledge, is more complex.

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