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What is Vallejo metal medium?

Vallejo metal medium is a painting medium designed specifically for use with metallic paints. It is manufactured by Vallejo, a Spanish company known for their high-quality acrylic paints for miniatures and models. Metal medium allows painters to extend the usability of metallic paints and achieve a range of different metallic finishes.

Introduction to Vallejo Metal Medium

Vallejo metal medium is an acrylic polyurethane medium that is designed to be mixed with Vallejo’s Model Color and Game Color metallic paint ranges. It comes in a 60ml dropper bottle and has a consistency similar to that of matte medium or glaze medium.

Here are some key features of Vallejo metal medium:

  • Extends the workability of metallic paints
  • Allows metallic paints to be thinned without losing their metallic properties
  • Helps metallic paints flow smoothly and retain their metallic finish
  • Dries to a uniform finish without dulling metallic sheen
  • Adds transparency and glazing ability to metallic paints
  • Water-based and non-toxic

This versatile medium opens up a whole range of painting techniques when used with metallic paints. It can be used to create smooth blends, transparent filters, glazes, oil-like effects, and more.

Advantages of Using Vallejo Metal Medium

Here are some of the key advantages of using Vallejo metal medium compared to just using water to thin metallic paints:

  • Preserves metallic finish – When metallic paints are thinned with water, they have a tendency to lose their shiny metallic look and become dull. Metal medium thins the paint without disrupting the metallic particles, allowing the paint to retain its metallic finish.
  • Increases flow and smoothness – Metal medium improves the flow and surface tension of metallic paints, making them easier to apply smoothly. This is useful when doing blending, glazing, or wet-blending techniques.
  • Extends working time – Metallic paints tend to dry quickly on the palette. Metal medium slows the drying time so you have more time to work with the paint.
  • Allows translucent effects – Adding medium promotes transparency in metallic paints, making it possible to create glazes, filters, and translucent effects.
  • Leaner consistency – Mixing with metal medium creates a smoother, leaner consistency compared to just adding water.

How to Use Vallejo Metal Medium

Here are some tips on using Vallejo metal medium effectively:

Thinning Metallic Paints

  • Add a small amount of metal medium to dropper bottle and mix thoroughly to thin metallic paint to desired consistency.
  • Start with a mix ratio of around 1 part medium to 2 parts paint. Adjust as needed.
  • Thin coats will smooth out brush strokes while retaining metallic sheen.

Increasing Flow

  • For airbrushing, thin metallic paints with 30-50% metal medium to improve flow.
  • Helps prevent tip dry and spattering.

Blending and Glazing

  • Add up to 50% metal medium to paint when blending metallic colors.
  • For glazing over primer or basecoat, thin metallic paint with lots of medium for translucent effect.

Wet Blending

  • Use plenty of medium to extend drying time and allow paints to blend smoothly.
  • Load a wet, pointed brush with thinned metallic paint and glide over area to blend.

Oil Painting Techniques

  • Layer thinned metallic paints with medium to mimic oil painting.
  • Allows time to blend colors before previous layer dries.

Cleaning Brushes

  • As an acrylic product, metal medium can be cleaned out of brushes with water.
  • Ensure paint is thoroughly rinsed from brushes to prevent drying.

Metallic Finishes Achievable with Metal Medium

Here are some examples of the range of metallic finishes that can be created using Vallejo metal medium:

Finish Description
Smooth metallic Thin layers create a smooth, mirror-like metallic finish.
Brushed metal Thicker application with visible brush strokes has a real brushed metal look.
Weathered metal Layers of thinned paints create worn, oxidized metal effects.
Candy metallic Transparent layers over a dark undercoat give a candy-like finish.
Metallic blending Soft metallic gradients are achieved by smoothly blending colors.
Metallic glazing Glazing over a basecoat tints the underlying color with a metallic sheen.

The properties of metal medium allow painters to get creative with metallic paints. By using different techniques, a whole spectrum of realistic metallic finishes can be achieved, from shiny chrome to rusted iron and everything in between.

Best Practices for Using Metal Medium

Here are some top tips for getting the best results when working with Vallejo metal medium:

  • Always add medium to paint – not the other way around.
  • Shake the bottle well before each use to mix properly.
  • Use stainless steel or glass palette for mixing to prevent contamination.
  • Allow sufficient drying time between layers – metals take longer to fully cure.
  • Thin multiple thin layers produce better results than single thick coats.
  • Too much medium can make paint runny and transparent – add gradually.
  • Metallic paint on wet surface will lose reflective properties.
  • Wash brushes well to prevent dried flecks of metallic paint ruining finish.

Metallic Painting Techniques Using Metal Medium

Here are some more advanced metallic painting techniques that metal medium makes possible:

Loaded Brush Technique

  • Load brush with thinned metallic paint and glide over area leaving paint on raised surfaces.
  • Creates contrast between metallic highlights and dark shadows.
  • Great for adding convincing metal textures.

Blending and Layering

  • Create color gradients by progressively blending mid-tones between dark and light metallic tones.
  • Layer colors wet-on-wet for smooth transitions.

filters and Washes

  • Glaze over silver with thinned transparent paints to tint metal blue, gold etc.
  • Use as filter over top of metallic paint or basecoat.

Chipping and Wear

  • Use thickened acrylic paint or enamel paint to create worn edges and paint chips over metal.
  • Scratch away paint with cocktail stick or stiff brush.

Rust Textures

  • Dab on rust textures with sponge or stiff brush.
  • Stipple on paint with brush or airbrush to create irregular rust formations.
  • Add watered down paint to create staining rust effects.

Oil Stains

  • Use oil paints thinned with mineral spirits to create oily drips and stains.
  • Let gravity do the work as thinner drips down vertical surfaces.

With the properties of metal medium, realistically weathered and worn metallic finishes can be created using these techniques.

Troubleshooting Metallic Paint Issues

Here are solutions to some common metallic paint problems that can occur when painting without medium:

Issue Cause Solution
Metallic paint dries dull and matte Too much water diluting metallic particles Thin with metal medium instead of water
Paint cracking or flaking off Applied too thickly without enough thinning Thin paint properly with medium
Poor coverage and transparency Insufficient paint thickness Use medium to get consistency right
Brush strokes visible in finish Paint too thick, not flowing smoothly Thin with medium to improve flow
Airbrushing sputtering or spitting Paint too thick causing tip dry Thin paint with medium to correct consistency

Many common metallic paint frustrations can be solved by mixing with the right ratio of metal medium thinner.


In summary, Vallejo metal medium is an indispensable tool when working with metallic paints. It allows painters to thin metallic colors without losing their reflective properties, while also extending workability and adding a range of new effects. By using metal medium, modelers can achieve smooth, blended, and translucent metallic finishes that would not be possible by just adding water.

Understanding the best practices of mixing ratios, layering techniques, and special effects will help leverage the full potential of metal medium. Troubleshooting issues like cracking, flaking, and loss of metallic sheen can be easily avoided by proper thinning with medium. With a bottle of Vallejo metal medium on the workbench, there is no limit to the realistic metallic finishes that can be created on miniatures and models.