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"Warspite painting tip No1 - ball bearings" Topic

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1,230 hits since 21 Mar 2017
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Warspite121 Mar 2017 4:52 a.m. PST

I watched a link on YouTube a few months ago where the young lady suggested putting short pieces of plastic sprue into paint pots to help them agitate and stir when shaken. I, however, already use 5mm stainless steel ball bearings. If you shake an aerosol can of car paint you can hear a ball bearing rattling around inside I just apply the same principle to my acrylics. It works!

These ball bearings must be STAINLESS steel as acrylic paint is water-based and normal steel would rapidly rust. When shaken the ball rattles around inside the pot or jar and helps to disturb the pigment and stir it. Think mini liquidiser! The result is that I no longer have to stir paints, just give them a good shake before use.

I have also discovered the joys of acrylic thinners rather than just plain water. Thinners are (in my mind) superior and I always apply a few spots to a jar or pot before I close it again, to keep the stored paint thin and workable. You cannot shake the ball bearing if the paint has the consistency of tar. I also use a spot of acrylic thinner on my palette when I use the paint, the result is smoother and creamier than water plus the BB shake treatment ensures the pigment is denser. Even white and yellow now goes over a darker base coat easier.

I obtained my first 50 BBs from a specialist dealer in Norwich after an internet search, my second (I have a lot of paint pots) came from the internet. Expect to pay about £5.00 GBP to £6.00 GBP for 50 and save a lot of money on throwing paint pots away.

5mm is the ideal size but 6mm or even 7mm would work. If smaller, try two x 4mm per jar instead. And the great things is that when the paint runs out the BB can be recovered from the jar, washed under running water and re-used in another jar.


Colonel Bogey21 Mar 2017 5:10 a.m. PST

Re. thinners, I have recently discovered the joys of Citadel's Lahmian Medium.

There is a lot on YouTube regarding its use, but basically you can not only thin paint for normal use but also produce a wash from any acrylic that is much less "staining" than other washes (saves doing a coat of gloss varnish first).

I got a cheap pipette from a craft store to control its use: just squirt the rest back into the pot.

It's great for an initial thin base wash if you want the (light) undercoat to show through for highlights.

Warspite121 Mar 2017 5:12 a.m. PST


Thank you!

skipper John Supporting Member of TMP21 Mar 2017 5:22 a.m. PST

Warspite1… I just had a "why didn't I ever think of that" moment! Brilliant! Thank you!!

45thdiv Supporting Member of TMP21 Mar 2017 5:36 a.m. PST

Do you ever get the bb stuck in the dropper part of the paint as you squeeze out some paint?


Warspite121 Mar 2017 5:37 a.m. PST

@skipper john

Merely a bit of 'lateral thinking'.
5mm BBs and some acrylic thinner are a winning combo in my book!


Warspite121 Mar 2017 5:39 a.m. PST

I don't use droppers, I use jars and pots such as Tamiya, Revell, Humbrol, and Citadel, etc.

I am not sure they would work with narrow bottles.


Fat Wally21 Mar 2017 7:21 a.m. PST

I used to use BB but now I use old spare figures from my bits box, cut to fit in pots or bottles.

Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP21 Mar 2017 12:18 p.m. PST

Been using copper BB shot at the suggestion
of Don Featherstone for about 50 years…

Tacitus21 Mar 2017 2:56 p.m. PST

Someone suggested stainless steel hex nuts for dropper bottles. They work the same, but wont block the tip.

IanKHemm21 Mar 2017 7:31 p.m. PST

I use small lead fishing sinkers. $2 USD for a bag of 20. You can get them in Kmart.

Warspite122 Mar 2017 3:00 p.m. PST

Stainless steel hex nuts sound useful, but make sure they are stainless.

Not sure about the lead or white metal figure bits.


Warcolours Painting Studio Fezian23 Apr 2017 1:32 a.m. PST

Thinners really change the way you paint. I use both the Thinner Medium and the Glaze Medium from Vallejo, and they allow such a great variety of effects

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