General Info about Paints, Thinning, and Brush Control


Paints generally consist of three components: Pigment, Binder, and Solvent. The pigment gives colour, the binder makes sure the pigment stays where you put it and the solvent makes the paint fluid and evaporates when you have applied the paint. To have good coverage, the paint needs to have lots of pigment. Having a lot of pigment in the paint means that the paint needs to be stirred or shaken more before use. More pigment = better coverage. Vallejo Model Colour is an example of a very highly pigmented paint.

Since pigments costs money, many paints also contain filler which makes the paint thicker without giving better coverage.
The particle size of the pigment and filler is quite important. If the pigments are large, it will be almost impossible to get nice smooth blends. That's why painting miniatures with craft paints is so hard.


Using good quality paint is important, but the paint alone won't make you a better painter. No matter what miniature paint you chose there are a few things that need to be takes into consideration. The most important is thinning. Using the paint straight form the pot is not a good idea. Thinning it with water or a blending medium will help you get a smooth coverage. It might take a few layers, but it will be worth it!

For thinning the paint you need a palette where you can mix paint and water until you get a smooth mixture. I usually just use a piece of white plastic.

A lot of people like to use a "wet palette" that keeps the paint fluid for a long time. How you can make one is explained here.

There are different products available for thinning your paints:
- Extender/Retarder makes the paint dry slower. This is ideal for wet blending
- Blending Gel is a kind of exterder in gel form. I haven't tried it yet, but apparently it makes wet blending really easy.
- Flow aid/improver reduces the surface tension of the water. This reduces the ugly rings you can sometimes get when using washes and makes it easier to get a smooth coverage.

For dilluting my paints I use a mix of water, extender and flow aid. When I'm doing wet blending I mix the paint with a little extra extender.

People often ask how much the paint should be dilluted, but the answer depends on a lot of things:
- What paint you are using
- Your painting style
- What you are going to use the paint for (basecoating, blending, a wash, etc.)

For basecoating with GW paints I usually mix one part water with two parts paint. For blending the mix is much thinner, maybe one part paint to 6 parts water. For glazing I dillute even more, something like one part paint and ten parts water isn't unusual.

Brush Control

Having good brush control is extremely important and it takes a little practise. A good brush with a nice tip is essential. I use two different sizes: a 00 for most basecoating and a 0000 for detail work. The 0000 is extremely small and most people don't like working with it .... but I do :)

When you've found a good brush, don't overload it with paint. A little dilluted paint on the tip of the brush is best for minipainting. This allows you to put the paint where you want it without flooding the miniature. Practise a little to find the amount of paint that suits you best.

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