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Crackle Paint

Crackle Paint

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What is crackle paint?

Crackle paint is a type of acrylic paint that is specifically formulated to create a crackled or distressed appearance on a surface. When applied over a base coat, the topcoat of this effect paint will crack and split, revealing the color of the underlying layer. This can be used to create a vintage or aged look on furniture, walls, or other decorative items, although it is widely used in miniatures, figures, and other elements in dioramas and scale models. 

There are different types of this sort of special effect paint available depending on the color and the transparency, such as Martian Earth, Badlands, and Mojave Mudcrack with color, and then the transparent version Winterfell Plains. Colored ones could be mixed with weathering pigments to achieve new colors. 

How to achieve a Crackle paint effect

The painting's crackle effect is a technique that creates a cracked, distressed look on a surface. This can be achieved by applying a layer of paint over a base coat of paint. The crackle paint is formulated with a cracking agent that causes the topcoat to crack and split, revealing the color of the underlying layer. The size and pattern of the cracks will vary depending on the amount of product that is applied and the method of application.

To achieve a cracking effect, you will typically need to follow these steps:

  1. Prep the surface: Make sure the surface you're working on is clean, dry, and smooth.
  2. Apply a base coat: Apply a base coat of paint to the surface. This will be the color that will show through the cracks in the topcoat. Allow the base coat to dry completely. Better to base coat with a matt color since a gloss finish will reduce the fixation. 
  3. Apply the paint: Apply a thin, even layer over the base coat. It's important to work quickly as the paint dries quickly.
  4. Allow the paint to dry: Allow the paint to dry completely. This may take several hours, depending on the humidity and temperature.
  5. Apply a topcoat: Once the paint is dry, you can apply a topcoat of acrylic varnish or a dilution of PVA glue with water at 50%, if desired, to seal the cracks.

Where not to use Crackle paint

The cracking effect is a versatile technique that can be used on a variety of surfaces by model makers, painters, and other hobbyists and craft enthusiasts, but it may not work well or at all on certain surfaces. Some examples of surfaces where this distressed paint may not work well include:

  • Non-porous surfaces: The paint effect relies on the paint being able to penetrate and adhere to the surface, which is difficult on non-porous surfaces like metal, plastic, and glass.
  • Smooth surfaces: A smooth and glossy surface may not provide enough surface area for the paint to adhere to, which can result in a less pronounced crackle effect.
  • Flexible surfaces: Applying this type of effect paint to a flexible surface such as fabric or leather may not work well as the cracks will not be visible as the surface moves and flexes.
  • Recently painted surfaces: If the surface has been painted recently, the paint may not be dry enough, making it difficult for the cracking effect paint to adhere.
  • Outdoor surfaces: It is not suitable for exterior use, as it is not UV resistant and will deteriorate quickly with exposure to the elements.

It's important to test the crackle paint on a small, inconspicuous area of the surface before applying it to the entire surface, to ensure that it will work well and achieve the desired effect.