First up, picking your paints. Don't go for cheap student paints or craft paints (Jo Sonja)- you want the maximum star permanency rated paint... which means its tested to not fade over time and the pigment is dense. To test, give the tube a little squeeze. It will feel firm, not runny. Check the opacity rating. Like citadel foundation paints, heavy density paint does not let much light through- its pigment rich- though not as rich as foundation paint. Lower graded paints are unavoidably translucent- colours such as lemon yellow are commonly so. It does not matter which you get, but be aware that translucent paints do not need as much medium added later on.
Your going to need some more ingredients. Liquitex flow aid (aka flow improver), de-mineralised water (from your laundry section of the supermarket), Liquitex Matte Medium and industrial talc (not perfumed bathroom talc!) That last item can be found at casting and moulding suppliers- I grabbed my from Barnes in Sydney.
You will also need something to put the paint in once your done. I prefer reaper dropper bottles, but do my mixing in larger squeezy bottles, as you need room to modify and tune the mix.
|Oh... and eye of newt. Fillet of a Fenny Snake optional.|
First, you need to get your mix right. On a palette, take a small squeeze of paint and call this ten units.
What you will have is a thick, stiff lump of paint. We need to get this to a thick fluid. To do this, we need to add flow aid / de-mineralised water mix (1:20 ratio) until it just starts to break down into a gooey fluid. Count your drops whilst you stir and note this down. Once it is about where citadel paints are, your gold.
Next you want to extend and add body to the paint, giving the paint more levelling, so when it is brushed on it does not leave brush marks and spreads out evenly across the surface. Matte medium is required. This is also where the talc comes in. Talc is the matting agent for pulling out shine. Even liquitex matte medium still is a bit glossy, too much for mini work, so you need to get the consistency right- then check the gloss by adding a little talc at a time.
Here's a quote from a white paper on talc
"Another important application is in paint and coatings. Talc improves exterior durability, controls viscosity, brushing, and gloss properties. It also reduces paint formulation costs, by extending or replacing more expensive resins and solvents."
There you have it. Viscosity, gloss, brushing and durability. Rockin' stuff.
Remember to use INDUSTRIAL TALC- perfumed talc may have acids in it.
Start with about 1 or 2 units of matte medium to your 10 units of paint, and stir this in. Finally, once your happy with the flow, try the mix out on a crappy mini. Put some mini paint side by side and compare feel, flow and coverage. Add more de-mineralized water and medium until it feels right. If its too gluggy, use flow aid mix. If you add too much flow aid into the paint, it will behave like REAPER paints- famous for having too much flow aid in them for base coats (great for tints and blending though) and you get rough, cracked surface that looks fuzzy.
If your into wet blending, you will like having more flow aid in your mix, and perhaps add a little drying retarder according to instructions on the bottle. Personally I find its better to add this post mix whilst painting, so the paint can be used as a base.
Once your paint is behaving nicely on your miniature, you have your ratios right on paper.
Its time to make up a batch.
Mark a half way point on your mixing bottle, then half this again and again. This gives you a good measuring indicator. Start by squeezing paint into the bottle. Leave it for a while with the lid on and it will settle, giving you a good measurement to apply your ratios. Always leave a good amount of room in your bottle so you can adjust medium and water later on. Shake well between tests, and remember to discharge what is in the nozzle before testing, as this is unlikely to have changed between adjustments.
Finally, once your happy with the mix, port it over to your dropper bottles. Pop in the bead, snap on the cap and screw on the lid. Lastly, apply a label that notes the colour, manufacturer and ratios for later mixes. You may find wrapping tape around it stops the label falling off later.
Now every paint mix ratio will be different. Some work well, some not so. I found liquitex reds are really vibrant. Windsor and Newton make good stuff, and some one Derwents paints can be handy... I used the Matisse antique blue to give a more realistic, toned down Crimson Fist space marine base colour.
If you want custom mixed colours to hold you over for a whole army, I suggest first mixing the medium/water/flow aid/talc mix for each colour seperately, then once they behave well, working out a mix ratio of these. Syringes can then be used to get exact ratios. Make up a big bottle of this and refill your small dropper bottles or cleaned out citadel pots when you need them. That way you guarantee the right color for your whole army for years.
Anyway, hope that helps. if anyone has discovered other great formulas for this mix, or any vital ingredients I am missing (I have been looking at rubbing alcohol as an ingredient in washes for example, and PVA as a medium for inks) then post a comment below!