Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I've lost my body!

What does"Body of the Paint" mean?

If you spend much time on sites with advanced techniques on painting these little plastic army guys you'll hear a lot of terms that might be a little hard to grasp when it comes to techniques, paints, concepts, ect. For me, the idea of the "Body of the Paint" was never very concrete for me. That is until you come across losing your body.

The body of the paint means it being in balance between the medium, the water, and the pigments. Once you tip the scales too far, the wheels come off and the reason losing your body is a problem is that it means you'll never get an even coat of color or texture. I love adding things to my paint so most the time my wheels come off from adding too much medium or too much water/flowaid/slowdri and the body just falls apart. This recently happen to me while I was transfering my paints to dropper bottles and I tipped the scales of my Codex Grey. Here's a few pictures to try and show you what I mean. Its hard to make out from the pictures but I'll try to explain along with it.

I the picture above is my codex grey. The reason I can tell the body has come apart is that it's granulated. This means all the pigments are all clumped up and there is way too much water. When the paint gets spread its one; too thin and two; chalky looking. Here I have spread it over my palette and against the white background it can't cover the white color and its blotchy and uneven. Also, I spread it over some black that was dried on my palette to show you how over thinned this paint really is. The surface tension is good because despite being spread on plastic it's not beading up, however I went too far with the addition of flow aid and made the body fall apart.

I try to show you guys in the next picture what I mean about it being granulated. When I droppered it out I made a little air bubble which makes the paint paper thing to see the pigments in the water of the paint. It might not be very visible in the picture but if you suspect it try to get an air bubble in there and see what the paint looks like. A lot of times, even in the GW paints when you open them there is a membrane of wet paint over the very top of the pot, take a look at it; is it a smooth color or does it look like its dust and water mixed together?

Its pretty easy to add too much water if you're trying to thin your paints. I know some people just open up their pot of GW paint and if its a little thick, just throw some water it in. Its fine to do that but your body will eventually come apart. This is why so many of the really talented mini painters push the Liquitex and other additive brands. These products do a wide variety of things all with preserving the integrity/body of your paint.
In the end I'll be throwing this grey out. There really isn't much saving to be done to this and its a relatively old pot thats seen a lot of open time since its the base color of my Imp guard army. I bought a new bottle and am starting from scratch with the flowaid/slowdri/matte medium mix I do to all my paints before doing anything else with them. If I want to do anything else like glazing or layering I'll add to this already additive-enhanced mix. GW has a lot of paint in their pots, they can really be stretched out but you just have to use the right products or they get stretched too thin and lose their body!


  1. Interesting read and thankyou for sharing your experience with us. Many paint pots will be saved.


  2. This was a really helpful article for me, as I've recently been struggling a bit with some older paint jars, and with thinner paints. Thank you.

  3. Very interesting read!!

    In your opinion, what's the best medium or additive to preserve acrylic paints?
    Have you a special mix for THAT purpouse?

    Thanks in advice for your help!

  4. I find that a ratio of 5parts paint to 4parts flow medium (i use jo sonja's) is a good ratio, as the bottle recommends 1:1 with the addition of some water for airbrushing.
    As the airbrush requires a much thinner paint, the 5:4 ratio works well for brush work.

    Failing having the flow medium on hand, i find that 1:1 with windex (just your standard windex) works wonders.
    It flows well, evenly, and if its too thin you just apply another coat. AND because its windex, it drys out relatively quickly, so works well for layering.
    Also works well for airbrushing in that ratio, enabling you to airbrush a heap real quick and then jump straight into any brush work, and continue airbrushing your next colour after a quick blow through with straight windex :)

    @Nesbet- the flow medium adds to the life of the paint as more moisture is put into it. Anything that adds flow to the paint will increase its shelf life, as will acrylic retarders/blend medium, as the retarder is designed to increase dry time and increase the time you have for wet blending

  5. Nesbet- I have several additives that I keep in squeeze ketchup bottles I picked up. The two I use most are Liqutex Matte Medium and a 1:10 mix of flowaid/water. I usually do a 1:1 paint to medium mix in my pot right when I get it. I had in the past used the Liquitex slowdri in the pot but now that I use the palette a lot more I'll just add the slowdri if I'm wet blending.

    With that said, the best thing to preserve your shelf life beyond just additives is a wet palette. The Painting Corps has a nice quick tip on making your own (Which is what I use). Use of a palette will allow you to dip out some paint and then close the lid to prevent it from drying out while you dip from the pot.

    Mephist- Everything you've mentioned is pretty spot on for my own techniques too. The only thing I do differently is that I don't add just water because the paint can only stretch so far with use of additive products that if you add just water you're wasting the opportunity to add something that will thin your paints like water but also help your paints work with you. This is of course unless you mean that you only add plain water when airbrushing, which I agree with (except I use windex exclusively to thin for airbrushing).

    B.- I wish I had some way to help you save your older paints but in my experience, once this happens there isn't much that can be done. At best you might be able to mix the older paint in with newer paint, but I wouldn't think it'd be worth risking ruining your new paint just to get a little more volume.

  6. Do you find the dropper style paints like the Vallejo's last longer, or hold up better?

    The reason I ask is I'm forever leaving my GWS pots open and these seemed like a good alternative to dried up pots.


  7. Yes. And there is less waste when mixing colors. I actually transferred all of my GW paints to 1oz dropper bottles.

    I did it because it's easier to put in the airbrush that way and when mixing colors you can more accurately repeat your mix recipes.

  8. @ CVinton- I mean i add the water in addition to the flow additive, if using the flow additive for airbrushing. Its a recommendation on the bottle.
    As a general rule though i save my airbrush for windex paint mixes, or Automotive paint from dupont or ppg that i nick from work :P

  9. I find it funny that the new GW paint is not as good as it use to be. Or I should say the pots. I have GW paint from the mid 90's that is still good . I have newer ones that have gone bad in a year.

    I will have to try the additives.

  10. @SeerKarandras- I found the old pots harder to close properly to be honest, so my paints dried out as quick as the new pots do. A big portion of this is the seel on the paint pot.
    Like CVinton, i have been starting the transfer of my paint pots into dripper bottles. I find i can fit in 2 pots of paint into the bottles i use, and it leaves enough room for a generous helping of Fluid Medium.

  11. I've always hated the GW pots. I bought a bunch of dropper bottles from Joan Ann Fabric (east side one) for 6/3$ and just moved them all over. The old old screw on tops were terrible, the newish flip tops were better, but the newest foundation paints style (that they're now doing with the whole line) are just terrible. I bought up the last few colors I was missing from the whole GW line and from now on, unless its their foundation paints (which are bitchin) I'm done with GW until they can put them in dropper bottles. Why buy GW for the same price as Vallejo and then have to buy a dropper bottle?