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Miniatures - Painting miniatures - Acrylic paints

These are the most important things you need to know if you use acrylic paints for painting your models.

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Acrylic paints

Acrylic paints are made of an acrylic medium, with coloured pigments mixed in it. You can actually create your own acrylic paint if you get a transparent acrylic medium, and add some pigment - these could be any kind of pigments that are small enough to be used for paiting.

Before you start painting, shake your paint vigorously so the pigmens will get mixed with the medium evenly.

After drying: Acrylic paint becomes a layer of plastic when it dries. The event is called "curing". The cured acrylic paint is water resistant, so you can wash it.



Diluting: Acrylic paints are diluted by water - preferably distilled water, so it won't have any additional material in it. You can also use alcohol if you need faster drying acrylics. If the paint is getting creamy, you can add some distilled water to save the paint before it dries up.

Correcting: After the previous layer is dry, you can remove the latest wet part by a wet brush, or the whole layer by washing it in water. Do not scrub it, try to be gentle.

Stripping: There are several methods you can use to remove acrylic paint from your models: Miniatures - Removing paint from miniatures



Cold (below 9 Celsius): Below 9 Celsius, the curing process of the acrylic paint can be hampered. The acrylic medium could separate, creating cracks in the drying paint.

Exteme cold (below 0 Celsius): As acrylic paints are water based, the paint could freeze. After a couple of freezing and thawing, this could damage your paint, creating a rubbery consistency.

Extreme heat: As acrylic paint are water based, so take care while painting, that the water could evaporate thus drying up your paint. You could use a wet palette or an ice palette to avoid this.


Acrylic paints - Resources

Julie Caves (for Jackson Art): Painting in cold weather: Tutorial article about acrylic paints.§

Marion Boddy-Evans (for ThoughtCo): Will Acrylic Paints Be Harmed by Freezing Temperatures?: Tutorial article about acrylic paints.

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Safety of acrylic paint use

Acrylic paints are mostly safe to use, even for kids.

As with any paint, if you use it in a paintbrush or use an acrylic spray, you should wear a mask and ventillate the area, because of the paint droplets that remain in the air. If you don't wear a mask, your sinus cavities will gather most of the paint, that you can clear by blowing your nose, but some of that could get into your lungs, that could cause irritation.

When the acrylic paint cures, it becomes a solid plastic. Sanding it without a mask can cause irritation of your lungs due to the plastic dust.

Make sure the packaging of the paint includes the following statement: "ASTM D-4236 compliant", "conforms to ASTM D 4236", "conforms to ASTM Practice D-4236". This means that according to the Standard Practice for Labeling Art Materials for Chronic Health Hazards, it has to list every hazardous and poisonous material it contains.

If you have no idea about the contents of the paint, take care:

  • Don't ingest wet paint in large amounts as it could be toxic.
  • Acrylic paints could also contain ammonia as a stabiliser and formaldehyde as a preservative, that could be a risk to health. When the paint dries, these are released into the air, so use the paints in a well ventillated area, and leave the drying models in a place where the fumes won't cause problems. Otherwise ammonia and formaldehyde could cause respiratory irritation or allergies.
  • Those who are allergic to glycol, should take care, as acrylic medium often contain glycol as solvent.
  • Some other solvents (methyl ethyl ketone, toluene, turpentine, and xylene) could also be toxic when inhaled in large amount.
  • The coloured pigments can also contain poisonous material, for example: cadmium, chromium, cobalt, lead and manganese.
  • Try not to get wet acrylic paint in contact with your skin, and wash it quickly if it gets there, just to make sure, in case there's poisonous pigment in it, or if your skin would be irritated by the preservative.

Safety of acrylic paint use - Resources

Quora: What is the risk of exposure to acrylic paint fumes?: Tutorial article about the safety of acrylic paint use.

Leah Carton (for Romper): Is Acrylic Paint Safe For Kids? Consider This Before Your Next Craft Time: Tutorial article about the safety of acrylic paint use.

Thaneeya McArdle (for Art is Fun): Toxicity of Acrylic Paint?: Tutorial article about the safety of acrylic paint use.

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Do you have further thoughts about acrylic paints? Do you have your own methods of using it? Do you have any questions about them? Tell us in the comments!


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