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Madog Barfog

Thoughts on flow improver, extender, and Reaper Wash Medium?

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A recent post by @Higlander got me thinking about my painting process. My paints are all RMS with some Vallejo Color thrown in. I thin them slightly, especially the Vallejo which is a bit thicker, with nothing more than the tap water I use to wash my brush. Much of the time I'll add a drop or two of Reaper Wash Medium, but that's it.

 

in the past I had a premixed Visine bottle that held a combination of distilled water, flow improver, and drying retarder, but I'm not sure it made any difference. My minis won't win any awards, but I'm happy with my results and they work well on the table.

 

i have also experimented with Future and liked the results a lot. 

 

So so now that you have some idea what kind of painter I am, does anyone want to suggest improvements?

 

ill start with a comment on the retarder: sine I'm typically not wet blending and don't have problems with overly rapid drying I don't see any need for drying retarder. I tried a wet palette years ago but prefer nylon wells now. Also, Ohio. It's humid here.

 

Thanks in advance!

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I use tap water for thinning my paints.

I do have a Glaze Medium from Vallejo, and the Metal Medium and Chipping Medium for special effects.

Never used a retarder or flow improver.

 

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I use distilled water but just cause I live in a no freshwater Island, tap water her is desalted ocean water and it's really hard.
Wet palette is a must have for me, cause of extremely dry environment  (40% during day, 60/70% during night).
Flow improver really helps when you have to make a wash or when you have to trace lines.

For anything else water is fine.

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I use Reaper flow improver while making washes. General thinning I use a bit of water. If I am thinning a lot I use Vallejo glaze medium and thinning medium. It helps the paint still feel painty and workable I think, and I can smooth the edges of a blend better than just water. Not necessary but I like it more. Only used Reaper drying retardant on occasion when I really wanted to work a blend or if it was extra dry out. 

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9 hours ago, Cicciopiu said:

... extremely dry environment  (40% during day, 60/70% during night)

 

Our definitions of "extremely dry" vary quite a bit. I'd put that at "unpleasantly humid". ::D:

 

10 hours ago, Madog Barfog said:

i have also experimented with Future and liked the results a lot. 

 

Future is (or at least was) pretty much just acrylic gloss medium. If you like that effect, you can get much the same with artists' acrylic media of various sorts, including airbrush medium for really thinned paint.

 

10 hours ago, Madog Barfog said:

I'll start with a comment on the retarder: sine I'm typically not wet blending and don't have problems with overly rapid drying I don't see any need for drying retarder. I tried a wet palette years ago but prefer nylon wells now. Also, Ohio. It's humid here.

 

Yeah, if you're not wet blending or working in the dry, retarder isn't very useful. The one exception is that it can be convenient if you're painting lines, because it can keep the paint on the brush live for longer and allow for longer continuous strokes.

 

Flow improver can be useful for freehand or blending as well as washes. Which is why Reaper includes it in their basic mix.

 

I haven't found any noticeable difference between using distilled water and tap water, but if your local water has a lot of dissolved stuff in it, it might matter.

 

In the case of all additives, watch out for adding too much. Paint will break (fail to polymerize correctly) if the concentration of medium drops too much. If you need to push this, I'd recommend airbrush medium instead of at least some of the water. (Fluid medium works too, but it's more viscous. This can make for nice translucent paints, btw.)

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1 hour ago, Doug Sundseth said:

Our definitions of "extremely dry" vary quite a bit. I'd put that at "unpleasantly humid". 


Ohhh come ooon, it is the same in Colorado :lol:

 

1 hour ago, Doug Sundseth said:

I haven't found any noticeable difference between using distilled water and tap water, but if your local water has a lot of dissolved stuff in it, it might matter.


...like ocean water :wow:

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23 minutes ago, Cicciopiu said:


Ohhh come ooon, it is the same in Colorado :lol:

 

Yeah, this summer has been really soggy. <_<

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4 hours ago, Cicciopiu said:

Ohhh come ooon, it is the same in Colorado :lol:

 

3 hours ago, Doug Sundseth said:

 

Yeah, this summer has been really soggy. <_<

 

For reference, we actually had unwatered green grass in open spaces up until last week, which is about 6 weeks later in the year than is normal.

 

But right now:

 

89F/32C, Dew point of 33F/0.5C (15% humidity).


Which is much more normal for this time of year.

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Flow improver is useful when you're doing something like painting eyes or freehand and you feel like the paint is 'sticking' a bit to the brush and not coming off as smoothly as would be useful for the task. I went through a period of using a ton for general painting, but now only use it for that purpose.

When you do washes or glazes you run the risk of 'breaking the paint' as Anne puts it on her Reaper Toolbox episodes. At ratios above 30% or more water (that's the usual ratio that the art paint companies reference, and I have attended talks with both Golden and Liquitex that talk about this issue), the acrylic molecules may be spread too thin to make a sturdy paint film. This may be an issue with handling, and it is also something that can cause the dreaded rings in a wash. Or you might not notice a problem at all in the applications we use thin paint for on miniatures. A lot of us use super diluted water thinned glazes applied in a thin coat, and as long as you're not pooling the paint, don't find a problem.

If you do get wash rings, or you'd like less watery feeling washes and glazes, or you just want to have a sturdy paint film, the answer is to thin at least partly with an acrylic medium. That's the binder part of paint without the colour in. For years Anne and other painters advised using a 50/50 mix of Reaper brush-on sealer and water. There are plenty of similar art brand mediums, as well. (There it gets confusing cause there's gel and gloss and pouring and all kinds of stuff that may or may not do what a miniature painting is looking for, but there are options. Glaze medium would be a safe one. Vallejo has a glaze medium that is this also.) You can also use just brush on sealer or a higher ratio of brush on sealer depending on the application and painter's taste. 

The Wash Medium is just pre-mixed 50/50 medium water mix. I suspect it doesn't have the matting agent in that brush-on sealer has, but I don't know for sure. It may have some, though it has a slight sheen. Acrylic medium by nature is glossy I believe.


Future is largely acrylic medium but with scents and other non-paint related additives. So if you like that, experimenting with an acrylic medium (in Reaper's line gloss sealer, brush-on sealer, and wash medium) seems like the most promising of the three additives for you. Less toxins, and only things meant to be used in paint!

 

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On 8/25/2019 at 11:49 PM, K2h2m3 said:

I personally like Vallejo thinner medium. I wish Reaper made one.

09300 Wash Medium. Did you mean something else?

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18 hours ago, Madog Barfog said:

09300 Wash Medium. Did you mean something else?

Yeah. Unfortunately, not the same thing. It's actually more like an acrylic base. Closest thing would be Reaper's sealer.

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You can use Reaper's Brush-On Sealer as a general medium, and loads of us do. Do shake it really well each use. If you don't, you can concentrate the matting agent in the bottom third of the bottle and risk some frosting effects.

Wash Medium is the medium of Brush-On Sealer mixed with water so it's ready to go for washes. Should also be a good ratio for most glazes, but the brush-on sealer is there if you want more straight medium.

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By chance, do you know how Reaper's Brush-On Sealer compares to Vallejo's Thinning Medium or Glaze Medium? My go-to on thinning lately has been the thinning medium and glaze medium, with the ratio skewed towards glaze medium if I want the paint more "painty" and thinning medium if I want it more fluid, but not lining or sinking into crevices (then I go for the flow improver). Not sure what it is in those bottles specifically that has me working like that, but it is making pretty results.

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I do not know. There are dozens of subtle variations of mediums possible I suspect. (I think I heard Golden makes like 78, though a variety of those are texture mediums.) It's all at its heart the plastic polymers that are the 'binder' of acrylic paint. The first variation is consistency, which can range from a stiff gel to close to as runny as water. Finish is another variation. I believe the material is glossy by default, so anything matte or semi gloss has matting agents added like Reaper's Brush-On Sealer does.

 

Then a company could choose to add a dash of flow improver, or a smidge of drying retarder (I do know from experience that Golden's air brush medium has more than a smidge of that!) This is where you're going to find the most variation is what you might personally like apart from the consistency question. 

As far as Reaper's products go, I'd say the straight Brush-On Sealer is going to have a thicker consistency close to that of Reaper paint out of the bottle. Wash Medium includes water, so it feels a little more fluid, but still not as runny as thinning with straight water. I'd used the Golden Airbrush Medium on occasion for mixing with metallics and stuff, but because of the extended drying time, tend to now only use it for airbrush purposes. There was a time that I thinned more and used more additives, but lately I mostly use medium to mix super transparent glazes (and I'll do those with just water if that's what I have to hand), so I'm not sure that I have enough personal experience with different products or medium use in general to provide a ton of helpful get this product not that product type recommendations. 

 

The nature of the medium/binder used to mix a paint and the additives a company chooses to add to it is what separates one acrylic paint line from another and creates the properties that make a given person like it over another paint line. This tends to fall under proprietary information. For example, whatever 'magic' is in GW's new contrast paints likely comes down to the medium/binder mix. I don't have enough paint chemistry knowledge to try to reverse engineer the tricks they've used to get the binder/medium to work as it does, but if someone managed to get close and figure out a binder/additive recipe that works in a similar way, I suspect you could mix something comparable to Contrast Paints from regular paints pretty easily.


Any medium will work better than water alone to keep paint in suspension (particularly particulate paint like metallics) and to create a stronger paint film.

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