Acrylic paints, at this point in time, it seems, are the most popular paints to use for customizing toys, how ever in reading forums and so on I have noticed that many people have trouble with them. So I thought I’d look into why that is and also give a brief run down of the pros and con of this ever popular but tricky customizing medium.
Firstly let’s look at what acrylic paints are… as I’m sure you already know acrylic paint is a water based painting medium. What many people don’t know is that acrylic paints come in a range of consistencies, the most commonly used is the same consistency and texture as oil based paint, acrylics also come in a range of densities from an ink-like consistency, thin enough to be used in airbrushes through various degrees of 'flow' up to the consistency of soft cream cheese.
These days there is also a whole bunch of cool additives that you can buy that extend the usability of acrylics, allowing artists to create many kinds of different effects and textures. I won’t go into them in this article but I will endeavor to pull something together for you guys sometime in the near future.
The fact that acrylics come in such a wide range gives artists an uncountable amount of techniques, uses and styles of painting to choose from. To get into this a little deeper lets look into the pros and cons of acrylic paints and you can decide for yourself if it’s your friend or foe.
First up let’s have a look see at the things that make acrylic paint such a great painting medium.
- Watery goodness- As mentioned above acrylic paints are water based, this means that they are easily diluted with water negating the need for special thinners. This also means clean up of tools and brushes can be done easily with water and a little soap. It will also wash off clothes, carpets and other surfaces when wet using soap and water.
- Versatile- wasn’t sure whether to put this in the pros area…because it’s not something I recommend, probably because I have destroyed far more brushes this way than I care to think about… However you can use the bristle brushes you may already have for oil painting with acrylic paints. That said I highly recommend using specific nylon acrylic paint brushes.
- Super Fast-Acrylic paint dries super fast… often in as short a time as a few minutes, where as oil paints can take hours, days, weeks or even months. The speed at which acrylic paint dries means you can get a lot of customizing done in a very short time, which if your anything like me and have zero to no patients for waiting around is an exceptionally good thing. As soon as your paint is dry you can add additional layers without affecting the any of the previous layers you have completed.
- Accessories- Who doesn’t love an accessory… some times buying theses accessories and additives is more fun than buying paint. There are many product additives you can add that will change the texture, and curing qualities of the paint. One of my favorites is a product that makes your paint flow a bit like honey… but I will go into those fun things in another article.
- Face value- What you see is what you get, when working and mixing colours while wet, the paint colour you see is the colour you will get when the paint has dried on your work. However this varies depending on the brand and quality of the paint you use.
- Stickyness- Acrylic paint shares some of the same qualities of PVA glue and so it will stick to just about anything… This is good news for the likes of you and me because as customizers we like to paint on all manner of surfaces. Wood, fabric, vinyl (YAY!), clays and puttys etc, no problem. Also on this note you can add acrylic paint to your PVA glue or vice versa for all number of uses. You can also add things to your paint or the wet painted surface, like sand or glitter of whatever else you might think of and it will stick like poo to ya shoe.
- Non Stinky- as acrylics are not solvent based there is no solventy-stinkyness, unlike with oils and turpentine.
- Safe- once again because there is no solvent, acrylic paints are generally non-toxic and safe to use with your beloved pets around or your kids if you have them. However I wouldn’t recommend eating it or painting your dog and as for painting your kids, well there your kids so that’s up to you.
- Rock Hard- once dry acrylic paint is hard and tough.
- Helpful-Thinned acrylic paint makes an excellent under painting if you're using oils if you want to use oil paints on your vinyl for example you can use a thinned down acrylic for an undercoat and know that it will stick to the toy.
Now that we have built our beloved Acrylic paint up to seem like the best paint ever to walk the earth, lets knock it down a notch by looking at some of the things that make this super paint a difficult son of a bitch. 10 points go to any one that can point out the irony that is hidden in the following list of cons.
Watery goodness- You have to keep all your brushes wet as you are painting. If for what ever reason your brushes should dry out with acrylic paint on the bristles, you’ll end up with hard pointy sticks more suitable to killing vampires than for painting…as mentioned in my article about acrylic paint brushes and vampires. This applies equally to tools, equipment and anything else you might get acrylic paint on, once dry it’s very hard to get off.
- Versatile- While as mentioned above acrylic paint can be used with both natural and synthetic bristles, depending on you the artist's preference. However acrylics, being alkaline in nature, can be very can be hard and abrasive on natural hair brushes very quickly destroying them this is especially true with finer hair brushes and also some fine nylon water paint brushes.
- Super Fast- This is often the most difficult challenge to deal with when using arylics. Drying so quickly makes it difficult to subtly blend paints and also keep tools clean. It is also difficult to keep mixed colours or paints in general for long periods of time if you can not finish your customizing in one sitting.
- Stickiness- Acrylic paint shares some of the same qualities of PVA glue and so it will stick to just about anything, no problem! This is bad news for the likes of me and you because it will stick to all number of materials clothing, shoes, furniture or whatever else you might think of… I promise, It will stick like poo to ya shoe… Boo:(
Rock Hard- If acrylic paint gets inside the ferrule of your paint brush and dries the paint makes the bristles spread and ruins the shape of the brush and it's impossible to get out without damaging the brush further. The brush is effectively ruined unless you intend on doing a lot of scumbling or dry brushing effects on your customs. Note:(this can be useful so don’t throw it out, if you need to release your rage by slamming it in the bin do so but then go back and sheepishly fish it out... while this seems like a sad time, this brush just might end up being your best friend down the road), Another problem here is if you leave the tops off your tubes of acrylic paint, it will go rock hard in no time… and unlike the brushes I don’t think you can even turn them into effective weapons for defense against the creatures of the night… If this happens all you can do is toss them away… sadness then ensues. The fast drying time ca also cause havoc with the lids of your paints clogging up the thread on paint tubes with screw tops… avoid getting screwed keep the threads and caps clean. This is really important because if the lids don’t go back on the paint dries out and you end up with hard tubes… you don’t want hard tubes.
Enjoy, and happy customizing people!!!