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Acrylic on top of oil... oil on top of acrylic?

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Anyone have experience with mixed use of oils and acrylics on minis? 


I've got some larger mini's that I would love to do some base coating with oil paints and then come back to do detail work with regular acrylic afterwards. Anyone know if this is OK or if there are any special considerations you have to keep in mind for this? I understand that oil has an extended drying time (several days) which is fine... Does oil need a special primer to stick to mini's or are the regular brands fine?


What about vice versa... if I've already got a (dried) acrylic base coat down is it OK to do some oil on top for some nice blend effects?

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I'm not an expert, but I'm pretty sure that it's okay to do oils over acrylics, but not vice versa. The golden rule in oil paint is 'fat over lean'. Lean is a water thinned paint like acrylic, or the oil thinned with turps/OMS or similar solvent. Then oil paint from the tube on top of that, then oil paint thinned with oil (for oil painting style glazes) as the top layers. The reason for that is partly the cure times, and partly that the method of curing is completely different. Acrylics cure through evaporation of water. Oil paints cure through oxidation of the oil through contact with air. While they may be touch dry in days, oil paints are not considered to be mostly cured for upwards of months. (Apparently the process never completely stops.) It is recommended to not varnish paintings until six months after painting. 

There are water miscable oil paints on the market that allow you to use water rather than turps to thin the paints and clean brushes. These are made with a modified oil, and is a rare case in art supplies where there really are notable differences between brands because they each do it differently. From what I've read, you'd consider WSO (water soluble oils) to cure in both ways - first the water evaporates, then the oil in the paint oxidizes. So I think the fat over lean rule would still apply - you'd do watery applications first, then full strength and oil thinned ones over. There is one brand, Holbein Aqua Duo, that claims you can intermix acrylic mediums, paint, and even watercolour paint with their WSO paint. I have some, but I haven't played around with them much in that fashion, and not at all with miniatures.

There are painters who use both in the historical miniature painting community. My understanding is they paint skin with oils and other materials with acrylics, so they're not mixing them on the same part of the miniature. It's also fairly common to use some oil washes and such over acrylics for weathering on tanks and things.

The painter James Wappel has been experimenting a lot with using oils on miniature gaming figures lately. He has a Patreon page, and also posts videos and blog posts related to many of his painting and base making adventures. This is his blog, and you can find a number of links here to the videos of oil painting on figures he's posted on FB:



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I can confirm that oils over acrylics works just fine. Most military modelers start with an acrylic base otherwise the overlaying oil washes can eat through your basic paint work. Although care must still be taken when applying them. As Wren says Wappel is an excellent resource but check out AK Interactive and Ammo by MiG, two companies that produce both acrylic and oil products for modeling. They are an excellent resources as well.

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