Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Decanting Games Workshop Paints into Dropper Bottles

Plenty of people have made this same post, but i wanted to bring it up to date and show what I have found to recover as much paint from you original pot as possible.

Instructions after the jump

First of all, what are the reasons for doing this?

Well, a lot of people will say, there is no point, you waste paint doing this, and my personal favourite, "Don't buy sucky GW paints in the first place" Buy Vallejo". Sigh, some people like the GW colours, I like the GW colours. but more importantly, before I learned there even were other options I was heavily invested in the GW colours.

Here are just some reasons you would want to do this,

  • The paints will last longer
    • The bottle is more airtight. Also, when opening a GW pot the paint runs into the lid crease, over time this builds up to the point you are unable to close the pot, or you need to messily scrape the excess out of the crease
  • You can easily control how much you put on a palette
    • Sure, you can get some control with your small brushes, but the main thing is you can add paint drop-by-drop
  • You can measure mixes by drops
    • How many times do you see 4:1 ratio of X paint to Y paint, easy now. 4 drops of one and one drop of the other. You can even add water to a bottle to get accurate paint to water ratios.
  • You can save space
    • Ok, so the volume of paint is pretty much the same, but the diameter of the base is much smaller on the bottles. if you have only one flat surface to store paints on you can get many many more bottles than GW pots.
  • You can replace the lid and spout
    • These things aren't perfect and may eventually get clogged, but you can easily pop off a spout and replace the lid if it is getting thick with paint. Or, just try to remember to wipe the excess off the spout before you put the lid back on.
  • It's cheap to do
    • Doing all my paints cost less than £12
  • They look tidier
    • Theres something about the bottles that just make this whole lot tidier looking than he GW Pots.
  • You will save more paint 
    • You loose a bit in the transfer but a lot less than you would loose by it drying out in the pot.
  • Adding an agitator to a bottle is better than the GW pots
    • Sure you can ad an agitator to the GW pots, but because the neck of the pot is a smaller diameter than the base, when you shake the pot your agitator will not get into the corners. With a bottle, the sides are parallel and the bases is a smaller surface area, chances are your agitator will have more chance of striking settled paint and getting it to flow again.

To follow this method, there are a few necessities you will need, there are a few other things you should have to hand (such as water) but the main items are listed below.

  • Dropper Bottles, Spouts and Lids (15ml for normal paints and 30ml for Shades)
    • I bought these Dropper Bottles, some people have reported the poor mould quality of the bottles means they need to trim mould lines from the base so the bottles actually stood up. I've had no issue with these, the only parts that had any extra mould were the necks of the lids. 100x15ml bottles for £9.99, the only downside is that they took over a month to arrive.
  • Funnels
    • Now, you can make your own Funnels out of paper, but I think these ones are sturdier, you can use some water to rinse the final parts of poured paint out of them into the bottle and they're easy to wash. x10 cost £1 and they arrive within 15 days (unlike the bottles themselves which took over 30 days to arrive).
  • An old paintbrush (or two)
  • Agitators - 6mm Stainless Steel Ball Bearings (or hex nuts)
    • Get Stainless Steel or they can rust in the pot, ruining your paint, buts can often work out cheaper and because of the shape, unlike the ball-bearings shouldn't get stuck in the spout as you pour from the bottle.
    • Note: An alternative to Stainless Steel (to avoid a shoddy seller not selling true Stainless Steel and you getting rusty paint) is using Glass Beads. this was pointed put to me buy a guy in the 'Eavier Metal Facebook Group. Not only will these not rust, they are far cheaper than metal Ball Bearings. 100 6mm beads for £1.29. Wish I knew about this before. I don't imagine they are as heavy as Metal Ball Bearings. but worth a shot.
  • Tweezers
    • you're gonna want to move those Agitators out of your pots.
  • Kitchen Roll (aka Paper Towels)
    • At least a couple of rolls.
  • A Knife (or Scissors)
    • You have one anyway no doubt.
  • Blu-Tack (or putty)
    • Something to stop the funnel from sitting too far into the neck of the bottle and stopping airflow.

The Decanting Process

Step 1 - Prepare your work surface by laying down some kitchen roll. You aren't going to accidentally pour paint on your desk anyway, are you? let's hope not, but just in case.

Step 2 - Get all your tools ready

Step 3 - Prepare your bottle and funnel, these Funnels are the perfect size for the bottles, too perfect. When placed in the bottle they pretty much create an airtight seal around the bottle neck, as you pour paint in the funnel, the air in the bottle has nowhere to escape to. This is why a small bead of Blu-Tack is placed on the edge (softly) to create a gap for air to escape.

Step 4 - Shake your paint, well! Depending on the paint, I sometimes put an agitator in now to help mix it. This depends on the age of the paint, how long it has been sat unused and what type it is (Base, Layer, Shade) can have an effect on how thick the paint is and how much of the really thick pigment has settled at the bottom of the pot. Either way, mix the paint as well as you possibly can.

Step 5 - Pour. I'm not sure how much advice I can give you here. Be steady, Shades pour straight in, Some Layer Paints pour very easily, but some are thick and clumpy (Fuck You White Scar!), Base paints like Mephiston Red are very thick. Just pour it nicely into the Funnel until the funnel is about 80% full. If the paint keeps flowing through the funnel, keep pouring. If it slows and you need to stop, stop. Sometimes paints are so thick that they need some encouragement. You can use a paperclip, thin screwdriver or an old brush (paint sticks to the brush though, you want it in the bottle) to get the paint flowing.

Note, if you used an agitator, try not to let this fall into the funnel, it will block the flow and then you need to fish it out blind with some tweezers, get a paperclip down the side of it and swirl the paint round until it all goes through or worse yet, transfer the paint to another funnel.

Step 6 - Add some "drops" of water (I used Liquitex Flow Aid because I use that all the time anyway) to the remaining pot and swirl it around with your paintbrush. It can  be very thick at the bottom if it's been sat a long time, so use your paintbrush to swirl it round and get a nice consistency. Don't add too much water or you could end up thinning your whole paint too much
Note: One interesting thing I noticed, GW pots are advertised as 12ml, and these bottles hold 15ml. I've had some paints where I've added at least 1ml of flow aid, there's almost nothing left in the pot and i still only have what looks like 8ml-10ml in the bottle. And sometimes I've simply poured the paint without any additional flow aid, still had some left in the pot and have got clearly over 12ml. My Khorne red actually overflowed the bottle. I don't know if somehow the paint molecules have expanded/contracted with time. but it's certainly not an even 12 ml in each pot.
Also, do not do what I thought was clever on my first go an pout 12ml of paint and assume 3ml of flow aid (or water) will be a good mix. I killed my brand new Thousand Sons Blue in less than a week after GW released it!
Step 7 - See Step 5 - Pour again, but this time use your brush to encourage every last drop out of the pot, don't forget to scoop paint of the lip of the lid into your watered down mix, this can be a touch (drop of water or two) thinner than the paint you originally poured as you want it "all" out. Then clean the funnel, dip the tip of your brush in some water and rinse round the funnel now getting as much as you can to pour into the bottle.

Take the funnel out and stick it in a bowl of water - you can immediately go wash it out, but this whole process takes a while, I do it in batches of 10 (because I only have 10 Funnels) leave them in water to stop the paint drying and wash them at the end.

I will be rinsing my brush during this process to, but I use my normal water pot for that.

Step 7.5 - If you used your agitator in the pot, use your tweezers to pull it out and drop it into the bottle, if you didn't use one earlier, pop a fresh one into your dropper bottle now

Step 8 - Pop the spout and lid on then marvel at your beautiful work.

The question now is what to do with your old pot? Well, you have a few options.
  • Wash them out. This is what I did and it works much better with washes, one problem with these pots is that the pot itself is quite hard plastic and you can easily scrape the inside (except for under the lip an clear most of the paint off, but the lid is really soft and I think a bit porous. The paint sticks to it and gets pretty embedded. so removing it completely would require you to use something similar to what you would use to strip minis, but I don't know what it will do to this plastic. I know what boiling water does, it shrinks it and makes it brittle.
  • Washed pots can actually be sold on eBay! (some people actually like these things).
  • You could use washed out pots to store mixes.
  • I like to use the washed pots to hold some Airbrush mixes of these colours (basically the paint thinned with car screen wash.
  • You could continue using the pot until the paint fully runs out.
  • You could put other modelling materials in like glue, flock sand or stones.
  • if you have a lot of them, you could throw them in the bin. 
  •  As advised by Paul Morris in the comments, use them as stands for you in-progress models instead of getting your fingers all over them. (Cheers Paul) 

Step 9 - Move the label, I like to peel the whole label off the pot then get it into position on the bottle. by doing this I'm not getting my fingers all over the sticky part of the label i'm keeping and making it less tacky.

Step 10 - Simply trim the edges of the label with your knife or scissors and use your fingers to smooth it out.

Now give it a shake and test a drop.

All done, after your test drop, wipe the spout with your tissue so your lid doesn't get clogged like the GW paint pots used to (Otherwise what was the point in all this).

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