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Might help someone else... flow improver and wicked colors...

Discussion in 'General Airbrush Discussion' started by Kim McCann, Sep 1, 2019.


  1. Kim McCann

    Kim McCann Double Actioner

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    A couple years back I started to have trouble with my go to paint, wicked colors by createx, going through my micron. Even thinned down with w500, 4011 or 4012 I was starting to get the WORST tip dry and regular clogs. Something in the formulation changed I think. Older bottles still sprayed fine, but all newer ones I bought, regardless of store were becoming an exercise in frustration.

    I tried a few flow improvers, balancing clear, and more... nothing really worked. Home made flow improver made from glycerin helped a bit, but made the paint dry too slow.

    Recently a friend that does miniatures suggested Liquitex flow improver. I was skeptical to be honest as I never cared much for their paints, and thought that it was probably just repackaged glycerin. Well... there was a bottle on sale at a local craft store, so I figured what harm could it do to try at least.

    I have to say, I am shocked. It worked wonders. You reduce it something like 20 parts water to one part reducer, and just a drop of it in my cup along with reducer and paint, and the change was amazing. I am finding that tip dry is all but completely gone, the paint still dries fast, the crosslinking is delayed so I can erase for up to 15 minutes or more even with the paint dry to the touch, and it still cures hard.

    Wicked now sprays like it did when I first started using it, and I am going 20 to 30 minutes at a time without even having to pinch the needle to remove any dried paint. It's working way, way better than my home-made flow improver. Best of all, no clogs at all. Wicked tends to dry rapidly on the walls of your cup, and I think sometimes that dried paint was making it into the air channel, causing my clogs. The flow improver pretty much has entirely stopped that.

    One small downside tho, was when the paint did dry on the sides of the cup after an hour or so, it was a bit of a PITA to clean. It had a death lock on sides and I had to use my ulrasonic to loosen it before I could clean it out.

    So for anyone struggling with Wicked like I was, maybe pick up a bottle. They are pretty cheap, and considering that you reduce it 20 to 1 and only use a drop at a time, even the small bottle will last me forever.

    I'd be interested in anyone else's recommendations on flow improvers to help with detail brushes like the micron or infinity. and tricky paint. If something like this made such a change for me, I am sure that others have great products or home made recopies that are even better.
  2. JackEb

    JackEb The Dragon Hunter Staff Member Admin

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    Thank you so much for taking the time to post this. I use createx and lately I’ve been suffering THE worst tip dry ever. I was thinking it may be the weather affecting it, or the paints starting to go off, some date back to 2012 so not as old as some around.
    I have some ‘trident’ reducer which is also a concentrate so I will try that. I’ve a lot of things I want to try but it’s winter here and it’s wet and cold out in my shed so I’m putting it off until everything dries out some more
  3. Kim McCann

    Kim McCann Double Actioner

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    Let me know how it goes!

    And yeah, I am pretty sure something changed in the createx formulation over the last few years. Old bottles still spray amazing, but newer ones... not so much. I am suspicious that the formulas for paints changed substantially, and they are now missing something that a good flow improver restores to them. At least the liquitex one. My home brew glycerin worked somewhat, but nowhere near as well. I'd be interested to see if other brands work as well as the liquitex. You can never have too many options!
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  4. SiRoxx

    SiRoxx Party Boy UK Style Very Likeable!

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    Thanks for sharing Kim. I tried the Vallejo flow improver a while back, but that seemed to react badly with Wicked and caused seeding. Then again I had little experience, so it may be worth another test. Either way, knowing the Liquitex version works well will be of use for sure.


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  5. Kim McCann

    Kim McCann Double Actioner

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    Thanks for letting us know how the Vallejo works. Saves me a few bucks trying that one.

    In my mix, I am using the 4012/W500 reducer too, and then adding just a drop of the flow improver to my mixing cup. I did notice that my initial spray seeded just a little bit, so I left it for 5 minutes to mix evenly, as you're really supposed to do with 4012 anyway and that problem cleared up. I wonder if you experienced something similar. Did the Vallejo mix still act funny after a while, or did it sort itself out with time, like the Liquitex did for me?
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  6. SiRoxx

    SiRoxx Party Boy UK Style Very Likeable!

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    I can’t really remember as it was a while ago that I tried it. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have let it sit like I do now. Maybe that’s the trick, I’ll give that a try so that I can answer the question properly.


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  7. Woodpecker

    Woodpecker Double Actioner

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    Yes, for anyone that can purchase these goods locally...it is great. But what if you have nowhere near you that supplies these goods?

    Unfortunately, some of us can only get 1 make of paint/ink, and not in every colour. So we look at buying via the net...to find out that 1 small bottle of paint cost us as much for post as the paint itself. The flow improver costs 13 euro for a tiny bottle in the shop that sells the inks. So we have to try anything that hopefully will work.

    A few years back I looked around for a substitute to the overpriced bottles I could not buy without doubling the cost because of post cost. I was in my local DIY store and just asked out of curiosity if they sold anything to help paint flow, (without mentioning airbrushes!). To my surprise the man directed me to a product, (sold in a 1 litre carton), that was indeed a paint flow improver, (intended for home decorators), but compatible with most paints. So I thought, sod it...it was only a few euros, I'll give it a go.

    Still got it, still using it. 1 drop in the cup and paint flows great. Used it with all the different paints and no bother.

    P.S. bought a set of 5 Vallejo paints from the UK 2 weeks ago as post cost was reasonable...still waiting for them, and I am just across the water in Ireland!

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  8. Kim McCann

    Kim McCann Double Actioner

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    I was using glycerin from the drug store for a while, it's inexpensive and a small bottle diluted lasts for ages, but as I said, it made the paint take forever to dry. I'm glad you found something at a DIY store that works great. Do you mind sharing the name of the product and what paints you are using? Someone else might be in a similar situation to yours, and your experience would help them out a lot. :)
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  9. Nada

    Nada Air-Valve Autobot!

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    Good tips, now as you said it sure is a bugger to get cleaned out, I thought it was maybe me having gotten used to illustration more so, however my last brand new batch was giving me fits too. I’ve also found 4011 is working better than 4012 these days. Not uncommon for some tweaks, however they claim to be tweaking auto air and not the wicked line, However Craig did say auto air is being phased into the wicked line and auto air as exists will be a more urethane based formula like 4030.... which is a whole other debate.
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  10. Kim McCann

    Kim McCann Double Actioner

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    That's interesting. I have some old supply of 4011 and find it works way better than 4012 with newer paint bottles too. Something must have changed in the manufacturing chain somewhere.

    Well, the liqutex flow stuff seems to fix the troubles I was having, so I don't have to throw out my new stuff and move to something else. :)

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  11. Woodpecker

    Woodpecker Double Actioner

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  12. Woodpecker

    Woodpecker Double Actioner

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    The paints I use.....lol

    As I said previously, there is virtually no choice here where I am. I might stand a chance if I lived in Dublin, but if I buy from an Irish supplier chances are the paint is more costly plus post cost......which in Ireland can be expensive.
    Now I know what I am about to say might wrangle in some peoples throats, but let's face it........we are being ripped off on airbrush paint prices. A silly little bottle of water-based paint for ott prices. I read the reasons they give for their extreme prices, but I do not believe them. Just take a look at their profits each year.
    I personally have no objection to paying more for a product that excells......but the majority of the airbrush paints do not excell my expectations. Maybe it's because I spent my working life in the paint refinishing industry.......car spraying. I have used every paint out there, from every manufacturer, some were not so good, some were excellent. The same with the clearcoat, (varnish/lacquer/whatever you wish to call it), there are poor quality clearcoats and there are products like diamondtop which are just brilliant. There are water-based paints as well as solvent-based paints now, so it minimizes health threats, but the clearcoat is still 2k.......isocyanates. Yes, stinky, sticks to everything,.......but the finish is superb. High gloss, no polishing, as tough as nails, and will last a lifetime......if applied correctly.

    Car paints will go through an airbrush, as will the 2k clear. I have just painted a little Egyptian artifact I printed on my 3d printer. I painted it in black pearl, solvent-based, and put 2k clear over it. Looks good.

    I saw the inks for sale in my nearest arty-farty shop in Wexford, so spent 50 euro getting a few. Airbrush compatible. Needed watering down, plus a drop of my flow improver. Ahh....ok I guess, but talk about translucent........ The car paint? 2 coats and covered. Now I can buy a 1/4 litre of car paint for around 11e......compare that to a bottle of 30ml ink for 7e. If I get solvent based I can get a 5litre can of thinners for around 10e, how much do you pay for a little bottle of reducer?.....in the art shop in Wexford 13e. A 1/4 litre can of car paint is quite thick, and would come out as probably 5 litres mixed......or more. They never go off, even if mixed with thinner, I have paints here for years that are still usable.
    There is a massive range of colours available, more so than airbrush paints, plus you can just mix up any colours together.

    Primers?........aerosol cans from the pound shop.

    There is of course a certain amount of setting up needed. A workshop or shed, ventilation, mask, disposable gloves, stainless steel mixing containers, glass jars to put thinners in, etc. a little painting chamber.

    Yep, I tried the airbrush inks..........nahh, not for me. I want good coverage, top-class gloss. Do it once and leave it. No dry tip. Metalflake? Flakes? if you want those effects just buy the flakes that fit through an airbrush and add them to the 2k clear, the car flakes will be too large. But pearls are good to go from car paints.

    Here's the Egyptian artifact....Rhyton...still on my turntable, taken with flash on so you can see the sparkle.
    4.jpg
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