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"Acrylic Inks -- substitute for paint?... Maybe." Topic

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1,282 hits since 23 Jul 2021
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Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP23 Jul 2021 7:46 a.m. PST

So for my world map making project, I tried acrylic inks: extremely high pigment content, extremely watery consistency. I don't think they will work properly for the map-making effect I want to achieve (the pigment load is extremely high, even though they are classified as being "transparent" -- they are actually rather opaque).

So, with three colors of ink, I am faced with finding a use for them… I bought some plastic aquarium plants off of, a year ago. I pulled them apart to mount them on 20mm wooden squares, as bases, to denote swamp lands on my gaming table. Think, Lizardmen armies.

I decided to try to 'paint' the bases with the ink, to see how it would look, beneath the plastic plant fronds. Not bad! It covers rather well, it is super-easy, and quick, to apply. I use $0.04 USD, throw-away, school paint brushes, from Wal-Mart. I wore nitrile glove, of course, to keep the ink off my fingers. The plastic plant fronds were Hot Glue'd to the wooden bases, after the ink had a chance to dry -- no more than 15 minutes needed, similar to acrylic paints. I made more than enough to last several gamer's lifetimes… I think I have 200+.

I place these on top of some fabric roundels I made using a swamp print, from a fabric store. I used my wife's serger sewing machine to finish the edges, as well as to cut the fabric into roundels. I place the plastic plants on top, to give it some dimension, and to dress it up nicely. I've used these in the past, with great success. However, for the previous plants, I painted PVA Glue on the wooden base, then I swirled them in a green sand mixture. I won't bother with the sand on these -- no need, as they have a nice green base already. They will blend into the fabric well enough, as is.

I need to do some experiments with the inks (green, dark navy blue, and yellow), to see if I can employ them either as paint on mini's, or as (heavy pigment) washes. They can, of course, be watered down, but that, too, requires experimentation.

Anyone have experience using acrylic inks for crafting and/or miniature painting? Cheers!

JimDuncanUK23 Jul 2021 8:00 a.m. PST

I used to use Winsor & Newton inks for shading figures.

It pools badly and often lifts when varnished over.

They take longer to dry than most acrylics.

I don't use them anymore.

John Leahy Supporting Member of TMP23 Jul 2021 9:36 a.m. PST

Yes I do. I watched Goobertown Hobbies on YouTube. He made a video about using inks as washes and contrast paints. Equal parts ink and matte medium fluid. Then a few drops of flow aid to make the contrast paint. I bought bags of Vallejo style Army painter bottles off of Amazon. I created the contrast paints per Goobertown. I use Amsterdam acrylic inks (Hobby Lobby) and Daler Rowney (Dick Blick). I have made around 30 paints so far. The matte medium gives the ink some body. I use Future floor wash with ink to make washes. I have around 40+ different inks. Drying time seems about the same as paint.



Chimpy23 Jul 2021 1:45 p.m. PST

I also used to use Windsor and Newton inks. They fade really badly over time so you will eventually have to repaint.

I used them for an Early Ancient German army which I am not going to repaint owing to the number of figures :(

jwebster Supporting Member of TMP23 Jul 2021 2:48 p.m. PST

I use Rowney FW inks and some Liquitex. I find them to be extremely transparent which is perfect for washes or glazing. I don't have every ink in the FW range, so perhaps the opacity is specific to the ones you have

There is a chart at
PDF link
That gives transparency for each colour. Emerald green is "semi-opaque". However, I have indigo, which is marked "opaque" on the chart, but I think that is pretty transparent. Mind you, blue pigments tend to be transparent anyway. Note that the black ink has a massive amount of pigment, and needs to be diluted a lot for use as a wash. This makes sense, as some artists use these in pens, and would expect black to be really dense for writing

For washes, diluting with a 50/50 matt medium/water mix (+ flow improver if you wish) gives much better results than water alone. For glazes, if you want a thicker consistency than out of the bottle, add matt medium gradually until you get the consistency you want.

Windsor and Newton are shellac based inks, developed a long time ago and have very poor light fastness. Even Windsor and Newton describes them as "transitory". Cannot recommend for miniature painting. The only time I tried one out it faded within two years on a miniature that wasn't kept on display

Best of luck


BTCTerrainman Supporting Member of TMP23 Jul 2021 4:56 p.m. PST

Alcohol inks can be awesome when used on terrain such as buildings. Works as a great base color (always over dry brushed white or lighter color), or as a wash. My source of colors vanished when a line was discontinued, but I have found some others recently. Still working to figure out he newer brands that cover differently.

Playerone26 Jul 2021 5:05 a.m. PST

Certainly, mix with a bit of Citadel Technical Contrast Medium.

John Leahy Supporting Member of TMP26 Jul 2021 12:19 p.m. PST

That's Matte Medium.

Heisler28 Jul 2021 8:37 a.m. PST

There is a pdf from antimatter games called "Painting Scaly Beasts" that shows how to use a combination of acrylic paints and inks as well just inks that would be worth looking into as well. You can find it on their website as well as Wargames vault.

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP03 Aug 2021 7:58 a.m. PST

Thank you, Heisler. Cheers!

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