Golden High Flow Acrylic Review
Normally I don’t like to give reviews on this site. I’m much happier to talk about what I like about a product and leave the negativity out of it. Generally you could say that any product I am using is endorsed by me.
The problem is that I’m starting to wonder if I would be happy with other people using the paints I’ve been using. I’ve talked about what I like about Golden High Flow Acrylics in the past. However this was only after using one colour in my airbrush. To my subsequent dismay I have found that some of the colours in the set have a quality that makes painting a pain.
Glossy Paints Are The Worst
When I finish painting my miniatures I like to give them a coat of matte sealer. It protects the paint against wear but also gives the surface a nice matte appearance so that the depth of shading and blending is visible. Some paints dry matte and some have a slightly sheen. Some washes will also add a glossy effect.
All of this pales in comparison to the super-gloss of Golden High Flow Acrylics, especially their Carbon Black but also Ultramarine Blue and Napthol Red, but especially their Carbon Black. I’ve used Future Floor Wax (which is actually an acrylic) to give surfaces a glossy sheen but Golden Carbon Black outshines Future in the gloss department.
Let’s look at some of the pros and cons to using Golden High Flow Acrylics. First is their coverage. Most of their paints cover as good as or better then Vallejo Model Colour, a paint line well regarded for its coverage. It does this straight from the bottle, which is my next pro.
I have always been a supporter of the “thin your paints” school of painting. I have an empty Vallejo bottle filled with my preferred mix of of water and flow improver which lets me easily and consistently thin my paint. Golden High Flow Acrylics are designed to be used as an ink or in an airbrush and come in a low viscosity formula. This means I don’t need to thin my paints at all which improves the consistency I mentioned before.
Before I switched to Golden I was a big fan of Vallejo paints. At roughly ~$4 for 17ml they were not terribly expensive paints. They were also consistently priced at that $4. Golden, on the other hand, can vary in price from $5 to $8 an ounce, depending on the colour. At roughly 1.7x the volume of paint Golden paints are much cheaper per ml.
The reason I discovered these paints in the beginning was that I was looking for a colour to airbrush with that I could also use with a paint brush. I wanted to have the same paints for both so that I wouldn’t have to buy each colour twice. With Golden High Flow Acrylics I can shoot the paint unthinned through the airbrush to paint a base coat, then take the exact same paint and use my brush to add detail.
Con: The Bottles
Golden High Flow Acrylics come in dropped bottles with twist to open tops. Early into my experiences I found I hated these tops. Not only was it hard to measure out a few drops of colour at a time but whenever I closed the top excess paint would be pushed up and onto my fingers. I’ve developed the habit of leaving the paint open while I’m working and then closing them at the end using a scrap of paper towel. This has led to bottles being left open for days. Fortunately the paint dries slowly in these bottles.
I could fix this issue by decanting the paints, something I’ve been considering since recently purchasing 4oz of white paint. Still, it’s an extra step and thus a con.
I have been working with a limited palette of colours lately and consequentially have to constantly mix the colour I need. Being an artists paint the pigments are very pure. Some pigments are naturally stronger than others and sometimes I find I need to be careful how I mix or I’ll need to add a lot of white to lighten things up. This problem is exasperated by the amount of paint that flows out of the bottle.
Con: The Gloss
Every other con I can deal with as a particularity of my paint. The gloss of the Golden High Flow Acrylics is making me seriously consider switching back to Vallejo. I liked the clean break switching to Golden gave me when I started experimenting with a limited palette. Many of my Vallejo paints are old and in such poor condition where the pigment has settled so far out of solution that it’s nearly impossible to restore the paint, and the idea of replacing colours that I wasn’t using enough to keep actively mixed bothered me. It’s one thing to replace a colour because I’ve used it all. In miniature painting that’s a little victory telling you that you’ve painted a lot. It’s quite another to re-buy a colour you barely used.
However the glossiness of these paints are too much for me. When I try to paint to a high standard the glare from the glossy paint makes it impossible for me to judge my blending and highlights. This is especially problematic with black paint which is notoriously hard to highlight. I have recently purchased some Super Loaded Matte Medium which is supposed to cut the gloss. I am still working out how much I need to add to the paint and how to do so efficiently when I am constantly making new mixes as I paint. Even if it did work I’m not sure I want to have to add medium to every colour mix I make when I can just switch brands.
As much as I love this paint, at the end of the day I cannot recommend other people try it. It has a lot going for it but the gloss is too much of a barrier to my painting that I may have to switch. I’m trying to get in touch with Golden. Perhaps I’ve received a bad batch of paint that was mixed with a gloss medium. I have my fingers crossed, but until I hear back I just have to deal with the gloss.
This article has been sitting in my drafts folder waiting for images. In the meantime I have purchased the Super Loaded Matte Medium and found it either barely cuts the gloss or renders the paint translucent, depending on how much I add. I have also noticed that the paints behave nicely on a matte surface but tend to slide around and get gummy on a gloss surface. Not only am I not recommending these paints I’ve made the decision to stop using them altogether. When they behaved I loved them. When they didn’t they were a nightmare. I’m going to resume my limited palette experiment using my old favorite, Vallejo Model Colours.
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Thanks for the update Tyler! I like the pros you mentioned (particularly as I am starting to be more interested in airbrushing), but the gloss is scary…
In the end the gloss was too much for me. I switched back to Vallejo and was reminded how much nicer it is for everything short of base coating. I will still had the Golden for air brushes
Hi Tyler — I’ve had great luck with using Army Painter: Anti-Shine Matte Varnish on top of the Golden High Flow Acrylics. You can get either an aerosol (http://www.thewarstore.com/product39108.html) or a smaller paint-on bottle (the one I used). It really worked well.
Head people also swear by Testers Dullcote.
Thanks for the advice. I wish army painter had been around when I used to use spray cans. It was actually the gloss during the painting process that bugged me. I enjoyed judge my highlights or tell when the paint was dry.
I love these paints & I like the bottles & don’t find it so hard to close the lids. If some paint dries on the top it’s easy to flick off the small blob next time. Much easier than other similar paints that need pliers, hot water, banging etc if the lid dries stuck.
On canvas undiluted they dry matte. U probably need to prime your models 1st with something toothy and absorbant so you have the right surface. Ask golden as they give excellent technical support. Don’t dilute with water, use proper medium to avoid weakening the dry paint film
It’s not so much the paint drying on the top as the drop of paint which sometimes spurts out as it closes. I’ve taken to using a rag when closing them.
Thanks for the advice on contacting Golden, I had tried that, as well as their Ultra Matte medium. Even if I were to start with an absorbent surface the multiple coats of colour I apply as my painting technique leaves any paint glossy. It’s just the level of gloss on these paints was so much that I couldn’t differentiate small changes in hue and value during the painting process.
As for dilution, I always make sure to add additional medium when diluting to keep my paint film strong. One sign of an acrylic paint which has been over-diluted with water is a matte, chalky appearance. Certainly not the case with these paints.
Hi! I’m a painter and I mainly use Golden paints for my acrylics.
Your issue with gloss is primarily because of your color choice, specifically the natural qualities of the pigment of that color. In other words, the glossiness is not because of the paint, but because of the pigment. Golden High Flow can still work for you if you just choose colors with naturally matte pigments.
I know this because as a painter, I study my paints for color mixing. For example, you mentioned your problems with gloss in naphthol red (PR112 pigment). I have that color from Golden, as well as pyrrole red (PR254). I’ve made a comparison study of both colors before. They’re both very similar in color and shade. But all my pyrrole red swatches are matte and all my naphthol red swatches are glossy. Maybe you can try pyrrole red next time, it also has a better lightfast rating than naphtol red.
You can tell which paints are matte from the swatch on the paint tube/bottle. Golden hand paints a swatch on each individual paint tube/bottle that they sell. Golden also does not add mattifiers or fillers on their paints (except maybe their SoFlat line) and they prefer showing the natural properties (gloss/matte, opacity/transparency, etc.) of each pigment to shine through.
If you want all matte all the time, Golden has a SoFlat line of matte acrylics. The consistency is similar to fluid acrylics so you might need high flow medium for spray painting.