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"Acrylic Painting Pens: anyone use them?" Topic

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Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP17 Jul 2020 2:31 p.m. PST

I discovered acrylic paint pens, today. I've seen posts where people are using Sharpie Marking Pens for painting mini's. Wondering if anyone has experience using these? Found this interesting, inexpensive set of 12 acrylic paint pens, on Wal-Mart. Thinking about giving them a go.

The Silver and Gold pens would be quite nice for weapons and armor. I imagine they would be quite fast to use to paint weapons for medieval/fantasy mini's. The black would be quite fast, as well, for modern M16 rifles, and such. Could be fast, easy, and inexpensive. Cheers!

rmaker17 Jul 2020 2:43 p.m. PST

Haven't used these, but with a 0.7mm point, they might be good for kilts and lacing.

Zeelow17 Jul 2020 3:45 p.m. PST
JimDuncanUK17 Jul 2020 3:48 p.m. PST

Limited usefulness, will lift if not 100% dry if over-varnished.

I really only use black and very fine points for blacklining.

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian17 Jul 2020 3:54 p.m. PST

Worth trying.

My experience with another brand of paint pen is that it clogged after only a few uses.

John Leahy Supporting Member of TMP17 Jul 2020 6:14 p.m. PST

I just bought some a couple of weeks ago. Haven't tried them yet.



Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP17 Jul 2020 7:00 p.m. PST

I have some experience with them on vehicles for 25mm miniatures. I have drawn insignia and written ID numbers or ship names. The surfaces have been completely dry flat finish spray paint. I would let the pen work dry for a couple of days before spraying matte finish, but then I'm a little paranoid and rarely in a hurry. They worked out very well, and I might try them again.

Having previously been married to an artist, I have only used the paint pens sold at the artists' supply store. They cost more than Walmart, but, as I said, I'm a little paranoid, and in any event, I'm not buying in bulk.

Thresher0117 Jul 2020 8:24 p.m. PST

I've used them in the past, but was disappointed to see that the paint faded rather quickly.

I painted olive green, thin squiggles on a Vietnam era Mig, that was overall a tan, or greenish-yellow. Sadly, less than a year after I painted them, the squiggles were very hard to see, I suspect due to fading in natural, UV light in a room.

So, if you do use these, you might want to make sure you keep them out of even indirect sunlight, to avoid disappointment.

This was a very expensive paint pen, from an artist's store, but I can't recall the brand. The lines were quite thin, e.g. 1mm, or less, IIRC.

CeruLucifus18 Jul 2020 12:05 a.m. PST

At that price it's hard to go wrong. Certainly useful for greeting cards and general craft projects even if they don't work out for miniatures.

One issue with paint pens is controlling flow. It's common to find yourself scraping with the pen nib, which can take up paint if say, you are painting fast and the layer underneath isn't fully cured.

For terrain I've used the artist-grade pens from Liquitex (which are refillable) plus the empty fillable art pens from Montana. Price is 2-3x as much per pen, plus what you fill them with. But quality is better and you can take them apart if needed and replace the nibs. See this TMP post for more details: TMP link

Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP18 Jul 2020 11:46 a.m. PST

I will have to find the miniatures that I did with paint pens and see if they've faded! It's been a few years, so there may not be any insignia on them at all.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP18 Jul 2020 4:42 p.m. PST

I have used the black ones and they do not seem to fade – mind you, I did Dullcoat the figs

Have just started with some light blue ones for some WarMachine figs for No 3 son – will let you know how they work out!

Dagwood19 Jul 2020 4:57 a.m. PST

I used blue and blue-green for tattoos on some naked Gauls Worked out fine !

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP02 Aug 2020 4:09 p.m. PST

UPDATE: Got them, used the green pen on some GW Lizardmen figures, which were primed gray, years ago… WOWIE-ZOWIE! Talk about fast, and easy! The green color just happens to be precisely the color I used on my other Lizardmen figures. After applying The Dip, they should match almost perfectly.

The tip is very hard. Paint seems to flow nicely, and the sharper tip reaches quite well, into recesses. Did I mention it is fast? I apply the paint as though I were using a Sharpie marker. Since it is acrylic paint, it dries within 15 minutes. Really looking forward to finishing the unit of Lizardmen, so I can move on to other figures/units, to try the other pens. I may look into the refillable pens. No idea how long these will last, but color me, IMPRESSED!

The hard, ceramic tip, runs pretty rough over surface details, skating across them. That takes a little getting used to. It also seems to slow down the process, just a bit. Overall, though, it is still faster than painting with a brush. With the pen, you never need to dip it into a palette. Really a bit different, but quite efficient, and fun. Cheers!

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP02 Aug 2020 5:32 p.m. PST

I should probably clarify some points in using the acrylic pens… I am an army painter. I use the pens to lay down blocks of paint. I doubt they are capable of much finesse, or precision. Finesse painting is not my thing. I paint for speed, followed by The Dip/Magic Wash techniques. They are good at laying down paint, in a quick general manner. I suspect they are not able to lay down paint with precision. Sorry. Cheers!

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP10 Aug 2020 8:51 a.m. PST

Thought I should share some images of a figure painted with the pens. Here is Giganta, a Heroclix figure, roughly 65 mm tall, factory paint job. I am converting her to a Storm Giantess, for my 2e AD&D RPG games, as well as my 2e BattleSystem games. Here she is, in two modes of painting, standing alongside of a Male Storm Giant figure, from Pathfinder. Note that the Giganta on the far right, has been painted with a single coat of GOLDEN paint -- she needs 1-2 more coats, for sufficient coverage. the Giganta figure in the middle, has had one application of purple paint from the paint pen -- she needs some touch-up's, but that is all. The Pathfinder Storm Giant may receive a re-paint from the pen, as well, so they match colors better. The GOLDEN girl will receive a coat + touch-up, from the pen, as well. After that, they should all match the color of my much older, male, Ral Partha Storm Giant figure.

Here is the Pathfinder male Storm Giant, with a ruler, to show his size. Here is the Heroclix Giganta figure, paint pen work, with a ruler. This photo also shows the need for some touch-up's with the pen. As you can see, the purple paint from the pen, gives excellent coverage. The GOLDEN paint is expensive, thin, and it will require multiple coats, to achieve proper coverage. The pens may not be as accurate as a low-number brush, but they have their place in my painting tool box.

As they say, a picture is worth 1,000 words. I hope these images help you decide whether or not to invest in exploring the possibilities these paint pens offer. Cheers!

Acrylic Legions12 Aug 2020 9:15 a.m. PST

Not the acrylic pens as such, but do use a product called Molotow one4all, when airbrushing. Has been popular as a universal paint for nearly every surface with street art.
It is highly pigmented, dilutable with water, high covering, quick drying to a silk matt finish.
The company produces pens & refill 180ml bottles which are very competitively priced against your typical 10ml to 18ml dropper bottles

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP13 Aug 2020 12:19 p.m. PST

More info. discovered on paint pens: 1) they come in various tip sizes, and types, including bristle tips -- brush tips; 2) there are numerous videos about them, on YouTube {including this basic one, which is surprisingly informative}; 3) they come in both oil-based paints, and acrylic paints; 4) they're available in a multitude of colors; 5) the tips can be pulled out, which would also allow you to refill them with the color, and type, of paint desired {see the linked, basic video, above}; 6) it is best to shake them thoroughly, before use {consider using a hand-held Jigsaw}. Cheers!

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP04 Sep 2020 11:50 a.m. PST

Update after using the pens for several weeks

I have found that they work well enough, but they tend to take more time to paint with, on non-flat surfaces. Overall, I think they will be handy, and useful, for quick, get-into-it, paint sessions, where I do not wish to mess with using a brush, and spending the time to clean up the brush, at the end of the session.

They are primarily a convenience means of painting. If I have a short amount of time to paint, I can sit down, grab some pens, shake them on my jig saw, then get down to painting. They require a different set of techniques, and they cannot truly replace a brush and palette. But they allow for quick, short painting sessions, with little preparation, and no real clean-up at the end of the painting session. The paint is decent quality, and per the YouTube videos I found, I should be able to refill them with paint of my choice, when I drain them.

They make another tool to add to the kit for painting. They are not a replacement for brushes, and bottles, but they have their uses, and their place. Cheers!

John Leahy Supporting Member of TMP19 Sep 2020 5:51 a.m. PST

Tell me more about using your job to mix paint please. Thanks for your updates on the paint pens.


Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP19 Sep 2020 12:14 p.m. PST

I bought some standard blades for my Jig Saw, as the inexpensive clamps recommended by others, did not fit into the Saw head. I used blue, painter's tape to attach the paint pens, and bottles, to the blade, wrapping both the paint, and the blade, twice, in the tape.

I then switch it on, at a slower speed: I let them oscillate, back and forth, for over a minute. Then I shut off the saw, and I remove the paint container from the blade, by unwrapping it. I re-use the tape multiple times, before I replace it with fresh, off of the roll.

It mixes the paints, superbly, without tiring. Painting with the saw-mixed paints, is fantastic. Wish I had learned of this method, decades ago… I plan to use this mixing method with spray cans as well: soak the spray can in very warm water, for five minutes, then tape the can the same way, to the saw blade, and mix thoroughly, for a minute. You need to keep a very close eye on it, if not a hand. Works like magic! Cheers!

John Leahy Supporting Member of TMP21 Sep 2020 3:47 p.m. PST

I have seen a few YouTube videos using a Jig saw. One had a clamp inserted where the blade is and worked well. I just can't fit a clamp in mine. I saw another guy attach a pill bottle to a blade and insert the paint in the bootle. That worked somewhat. The blade tended to wobble a lot since it wasn't balanced. Recently, I have bought 6mm glass beads. I added two to each bottle and that seems to be working ok. I think given a choice I'd buy a scientific mixer. But the ren over a 100 dollars.



Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP23 Sep 2020 12:14 p.m. PST

I looked at vortex mixers. Ordered one online, for around $50 USD, but it was a fraud. Got my money back, through PayPal.

I bought my handheld Jig Saw at an estate sale, around 10+ years ago. This is the first time I've actually used it. It is quite old, but it works, and it was inexpensive.

Another poster said he filed the teeth off of a saw blade, then attached his paint to the blade. I didn't bother: the teeth on the new blade, will not cut the painter's tape, which moves with the blade.

It is so simple, and sooo effective… The craft paints I've mixed with my Jig Saw, and painted with, afterwards, were so smooth, with such good pigment suspension, I really wish I had learned of this technique long ago.

Mixing paint bottles by hand, cannot begin to compare with how well my Jig Saw mixes them. It is night and day difference in how the paint looks, and works.

A roll of blue, painter's tape, will run you less than $5 USD at a DIY store. Buy a roll, and give it a try. Save your money, don't get a vortex mixer, or a cheap nail polish mixer. Try your Jig Saw -- you will not be disappointed!

Be careful in applying the throttle on your Jig Saw… They can go waaayyy too fast! You can easily hurl a paint bottle across the room! I don't run it slow and easy, rather I push the speed to 1/4 to 1/3 of maximum. I let it run for 60-90 seconds, to ensure thorough mixing. It is amazingly better than shaking by hand.

I used my new acrylic paint pens, after shaking/mixing them by hand, for several sessions. Then, I tried mixing them on my Jig Saw: the difference in how the paint looked, and flowed, was noticeably better. That Jig Saw will see use every painting session, for every paint bottle, or pen, I use. Cheers!

John Leahy Supporting Member of TMP23 Sep 2020 3:56 p.m. PST

I will try this out. I have a new roll of painters tape.

Thanks, I always appreciate your insights. I'm a tile user too.


CeruLucifus03 Oct 2020 3:11 p.m. PST

Sgt Slag, thanks for those followup posts.

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