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Re: Painting plastic figures

I too use Vallejo paints, but model colour rather than game colour. Game colour I found could indeed range from very thick, to so thin it took many coats to get the depth of colour needed.

With Model colour on the whole, I havent had as many issues. I did find my previous bottles of leather brown & ivory to thicken a bit over the time it took to use the bottles up. The last bottle of vermillion I bought is a little bit on the thin side, but apart from those 3 bottles, the quality has generally been fine.
Sometimes I have branched into other paints. The Army Painter range can be hit and miss depending on the colour. They tend to be more on the thinner side, requiring a few coats. Humbrol acrylics are ok, but have only used a couple of colours.
For metallics I have tried the Green Stuff World range, (silver & gunmetal), which come with a mixing ball inside the bottle as standard & while a slight bit pricey, once shaken up properly, have given a nice metallic finish. I have been pleased enough to decide to get a gold shade from them, once I use up the gold I have left.

But as I mention, I havent had too much trouble with Vallejo model colour paints, in fact they are 95% of what I have.
What I tend to do everytime before using them, I will give the bottle a really good shake, sometimes I have removed the dropper part at the top of the bottle (if you look theres a seam that with a finger nail is possible to prise the dropper part out). This allows me to be able to stir the contents, which is sometimes needed where the pigment has collected & gone "stodgy" at the base of the bottle. This happens from time to time if the bottle hasn't been used in a while, or has been in a warehouse somewhere in storage for a fair bit. Once stirred I push the dropper part back in the bottle top & shake again. I have also bought glass mixing balls specifically for these type of paints and put some in as well to help when shaking the bottle.

Another tip to help thin the paint if its thick, is add a little bit of washing up liquid to it when you squeeze some on your palette. Not too much, just a drop or two & then mix in. This will help thin it down enough that it is better in use, but it also stops it drying out too fast on the palette, especially useful in hot temperatures of the summer.
Doing these things has meant the majority of my Vallejo paint has been much more user friendly for longer.

Another point is be careful with certain primers. Some if applied too thick will indeed hide detail, as it will form such a thick layer. A quick spray or brush over to simply cover the bare plastic is all thats needed.

As for enamel paints, I wont ever use them again, since seeing some of my nicely painted Napoleonic French crumble at the slightest touch!!! It was when HaT were using that quite soft plastic. I painted as normal using my Humbrol enamels & was very pleased with the end result. However after about a month or so, the figures were becoming increasingly brittle, to the point it eventually became possible to crush a whole figure in the palm of my hand.....I was not a happy bunny!!!
Roughly 300-400 French infantry, 200 Wurttemberg infantry, around 90 cavalrymen/horses & a good many cannons, caissons, limbers & wagons etc were affected......none of which survive today. Even the horses of the limber and wagon teams would just crumble. The legs just breaking into pieces.
It was something that also effected others who had these sort of figures & used enamel. In the end people found out that a chemical in the enamel paint was reacting with something in the soft HaT plastic, causing it to slowly break down.

So since then, I never risk using them. Besides, acrylics are much nicer to use, brushes can be washed out with water, rather than needing smelly brush cleaner for oil paints.

Re: Painting plastic figures

It worth experimenting, and it dry's quicker this time of year here in the UK and that can and does effect finish.

Re: Painting plastic figures

Thank you Alan. I think you are correct. I need to try with them, but it’s so depressing when you paint something and the detail is obscured by a thick coating when you THOUGHT you had thinned it down.

By the way, I recall your contributions to the HaT website. I have always been a great admirer of your work and have been inspired by it. Unfortunately I have never come within a mile of emulating it!

Best wishes


Re: Painting plastic figures

Roger W:
Thanks for this - it’s taken a lot of time and trouble and care to write and I appreciate it. I have looked at my Vallejo range and they are indeed ‘model color’ paints. I shall search out game colour. I shall also look at thinning the paints out, although I have tried this and not really found it very helpful in the past.

That is a real shame re Humbrol but now you mention it, when I used those years ago on my Waterloo figures I had a similar outcome.

Thanks again for helping me.


Re: Painting plastic figures

Graham A Price
Hello again;

Looking for more advice from the cognoscenti here please?

I have painted figures so far with Acrylics from usual firms (Vallejo; Citadel). Lovely ranges and I have lots of them.

However -and this is likely my admittedly poor painting skills - it seems that the paints are somewhat thick and tend to obscure details on the superb figures I own.

Like I said, this is likely my own fault but I was given to wondering if spirit based paints such as Humbrol give naturally thinner coats. Set that against the smaller range with a lack of extras like contrast, base, and layers as are produced by say, Citadel, or the greater number of shades in the Vallejo range, does anyone have a view on these matters please?

‘Let a thousand flowers bloom, and a thousand schools of thought prevail…’ Mao (he was lying!)
In addition to all of the above replies,

I used Vallejo mostly with no problem at all.

I would recommend to use an electric shaker like this:

It really shake well the paint.
I also added a small metal ball in every bottle I have.
Finally I do a yearly review off all my bottles to assess and sometimes add a bit of thinner in it to keep it going.
I hope this helps.

Re: Painting plastic figures

Thanks for your time and trouble writing that.

I think you have nailed part of the problem in that I keep paints too long. I shall also look at getting that shaker device!

Best wishes and much appreciated


Re: Painting plastic figures

For me, it's acrylic paints only. I use a variety but mainly Vallejo.
The trick is thinning the paint. Mostly, two thin coats are better than one thick one.

You mix in water to the blob of paint dropped onto your palette. How much? It varies depending upon the paint & what you are using the colour for. And then there's the Wet Palette.

Suggest you watch this:

Good luck!


Re: Painting plastic figures

Dear Donald,

Thanks for that and for the link too. I appreciate the input to help me.

I haven’t had much success thinning the paint in the past. I probably overthin it and it ends up running into crevices (a bit like the inks produced by Citadel used to) also as I use black primer (preferred because it doesn’t show the gaps in my awful painting efforts like white does 😂) it never really seems to properly cover. However, if it has worked then it should work for me… I just have to practice it a bit.

Many thanks and happy modelling!


Re: Painting plastic figures

Hi Graham.

If thinning acrylics with water has not worked for you, try like I said previously, use washing up liquid instead. It tends to prevent the acrylic from drying too quickly, but also helps the paint's viscosity (I think thats the word?!), so that it is more "spreadable" without turning the paint too watery, which sounds like your issue when thinning.

Put your paint on the palette first then squeeze a couple of drops of washing up liquid on the top of the paint, (for around a small coin worth of paint deposit, I generally use 2-3 drops of washing liquid). But have an experiment with the amount until you get it how you like.
Mix the washing up liquid and paint together on your palette so its all fully absorbed into the paint. I just use the handle end of an old paint brush.

If you have an empty Vallejo acrylic bottle spare, wash it out thoroughly (including the nozzle and cap), remove the nozzle as mentioned before (either by getting under the seam and lifting or using pliers/forceps to pull it out) & put fill that up with the washing up liquid. That way due to the dropper function of the bottle you have better control of how many drops you want to put in the paint.

Also it was Game Colour I found that was more hit & miss on consistency, not Model Colour. Model Colour I have been pretty happy with. Both the product & the choice of colours available.

If you still have issues with the Vallejo range despite trying all what me and others have mentioned, my advice is try the Army Painter range. When I have had to use them, due to my prefered being out of stock, I have found them to be a thinner consistency in general compared to Vallejo. You will probably find that at least 2 coats will be needed. Maybe some of their colours will be better than others on that front. But some browns and pale colours of theirs I have found to be indeed thin.
If there are Vallejo colours you are happy with, I think somewhere online I seen a conversion chart between Vallejo, Army Painter & Citadel etc. So you can find the nearest match to the colour when switching over.

Re: Painting plastic figures

Roger W
try the Army Painter range. When I have had to use them, due to my preferred being out of stock, I have found them to be a thinner consistency in general compared to Vallejo..

Roger is correct on this. I do like & use the Army Painter range as well but they need "extra" shaking - note, they now come with a ball bearing added to the dropper bottle to help with this.

I must admit I'm intrigued by Roger's fairy liquid hack. I don't really need it but I'm going to give it a go out of interest. You are never to old to learn new tricks!