Reaper User Vaitalla Posted June 24, 2008 Reaper User Share Posted June 24, 2008 Heya all! Reaper paint questions that come via email usually get forwarded to me, and yesterday I got a very good one about acrylic paints and fading. The customer was very into Pro Paints but his friends were telling him to switch to enamels because "acrylic paints fade". Well, like everyone else I'd heard that acrylics fade but that enamels yellow...I did a bit of research and thought I would post my responses to him here, just as an educational aid for anyone who wants to learn some stuff about how your paint ages. My first response: "Hmmm. The very short answer to this is that yes, acrylic latex paints are vulnerable to fading. The good news: unless you're leaving 'em in direct sunlight or a lot of indirect sunlight, chances are you won't notice a fading effect for a long, long time--years, if not decades (I give an example of one of my own minis, below). The flip side which your friends aren't telling you is that enamels have their own issues--if they are using water-based enamels, they can fade just like acrylics. If they are using oil-based enamels, those are prone to their own aging curse: yellowing. Now for the longer explanation... First off, enamels are merely paints which dry to a hard, usually shiny surface. The ones used in model-painting are usually oil-based resin instead of water-based resin, but these days there are plenty of acrylic enamels (Reaper even uses one in its Brush-On Sealer and its inks), so the distinctions are a lot muddier. The pigments for both are generally based on the same chemicals and both can be vulnerable to deterioration, though in different ways as outlined above. In water-based acrylics the presence of UV (direct or indirect sunlight) will put a model at risk for the fading effect (so if you display your miniatures, doing so in a room without a lot of sunlight coming in they'll be a lot safer). It's worth mentioning that it's *prolonged* exposure to UV rays that does it, so leaving a miniature on a windowsill or in your car on a sunny day isn't going to cause discernible fading (I know because I just did that over the weekend!). Fading is usually actually caused by the deterioration or crystallization of the base (the polymer, be it resin, acrylic, latex, or vinyl) as it absorbs UV. It can also be caused by the absorption of moisture or pollutants (acrylic latex is porous). An excellent site which outlines this is the Mural Conservancy of L.A. website. They also state that color can be restored via a light application of certain solvents, but as I've never had a mini fade I've never put this to the test! Oil-based enamels aren't prone to the foggy effect perceived as fading, but all of them yellow over time, so really it's a choice of evils. I have read on some paint companies' sites that enamels will yellow with age even without exposure to UV (one site which says that is one of the companies which works with Home Depot, Glidden). This can be vouched for on pretty much any miniature-painting forum; many artists have stopped using spray sealers such as Testor's Dullcote, citing yellowing issues over time. Mostly my lack of concern re: fading and acrylics comes from my own experience. I have a miniature I painted six years ago for a painting competition which I still own; it's been sitting on my desk a few feet from one window or another for about a third of that time and the rest it's been in a storage box, away from light. It looks exactly the same as the day I painted it (I have pics from six years back to compare) and I would expect it will still look that way ten or twenty years from now as long as I don't leave it where it can get a lot of direct light! The risk of fading is, in my mind, more than balanced by the ease of use, cleanup, and the lack of toxicity of Reaper paints and many other hobby acrylics lines. :) A little more info: 1. Red and yellow are usually the most vulnerable pigments to UV exposure. 2. Dyes and tints are much more sensitive to UV than normal pigments, so inks (which are dyes) are very vulnerable to the fading effect (unless they are of archival quality, of which I only know of one--so-called "India Ink"). If you have any other questions I would be glad to put my knowledge base to work to answer them. :) Really it is every artist's own choice whether the possibility of fading is really a concern and most world-class painters I know use acrylics these days. If fading was really a problem with acrylics I seriously doubt that those artists would be doing so--they'd be shelling out the big bucks for color fast UV tolerant archival quality oil paints, or something! :D Let me know if this answered your question or if you would like more information. :) --Anne Foerster Reaper Miniatures, Inc. Lead Staff Painter, Paint Line Designer" Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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