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Anybody mix their own paint from scratch?

Discussion in 'Fish Taxidermy' started by Cecil, Nov 7, 2017.

  1. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    I've considered buying my lacquer paint locally and mixing my own colors from primary colors etc. I'm tired of being gouged for a hazardous fee and the fact that my lacquer paint has to go UPS vs. USPS. Shipping is getting to be a major expense for me so much in fact I am picking up my driftwood and large mannikins in person in a couple of days.

    I've being doing this long enough I instinctively know what colors mixed make other colors.

    Anybody do this? Is it worth the effort?
  2. Sotired

    Sotired Active Member

    I used to Cecil. I got gallon clear from Polytranspar (water based) and bought pigment. It allowed me to make all my colors ad lib, in the amounts that I needed. I could make them as transparent as I wanted. The only thing I didn't like was the black for spots. I never did like spraying spots, so I stopped spraying them and did them in other ways. Now art stores sell pigments, like Dick Blick, or you can use tube paints (oil if you use lacquer).


  3. Pikeonthefly

    Pikeonthefly Active Member

    The guy who taught me taxidermy sent me to the auto paint store to pick up 5 quarts of paint. 1 each of red/yellow/white/silver and black. He painted every species of fish with the five colors and he didn't mix them but he laid them over each other. He painted the five fish I mounted in class. One largemouth bass/rainbow/brown/northern pike and a walleye. All with the same colors and he just shaded them until he got the color he was looking for. Those quart cans lasted for years.
  4. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    Was the quality good he painted?
  5. woakley144

    woakley144 Active Member


    I don't use lacquer paint only water base but yes I do custom mix for colors. I couldn't find a green for some cactus that I molded for a display and had to custom mix.
    I have been using acrylic paints that they use for paint from Hobby Lobby, they are a very thick base and can mix them to get the colors I want.

    Will try and get a picture of the finished cactus to post. I also use the air brush paints from Hobby Lobby for the colors that I can't find in the catalog, they have some really vivid colors, and you have to be very careful NOT to over do them when painting a fish..... Used a payne's gray on a striper and going to have to repaint due to misting too much.... LOL But love the results of mixing my own.
  6. Mudbat

    Mudbat Well-Known Member

    I mix a majority of my own paints
  7. Sotired

    Sotired Active Member

    The pigments I got were yellow, blue, red, alizarin crimson, black, white, burnt sienna, burnt umber, and yellow ochre. I then bought metallic, pearl and shimmer powders from Polytranspar. I liked to mix most of them transparent, like I said, so I could do 'color on color'. I was used to this technique from painting with watercolors. Sure beat when I was a kid and got my my first airbrush. I was painting fish with Testors model enamels, NO transparency!


    P.S. I forgot to add, I used the gold toner too, I liked the way it blended everything together. Then I used the same clear to gloss the whole thing.
  8. rp

    rp Member

    I mix all my own colours. I use red, blue yellow,black,white and chocolate brown. With that I mix all my colours. For metallics I only use powdered pigments that I can either add to a clear or use as is. Here in Africa we make use of what we can find as importing is very expensive.
  9. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    Thank you gentlemen for your gracious feedback!
  10. Go talk to a real auto paint store.
    My local go to store can mix any color in an auto base coat, these dry as faster as lacquers and top coat with almost any 2 part gloss.
    We found some primary colors from the manufacturer simply by asking.

    They can even load spray cans with certain colors for me and even a two part gloss can be loaded with a activator button on bottom.
  11. fishmaster

    fishmaster Well-Known Member

    John is right about the primary colors. An automotive paint store can supply you with the primary colors and you can go from there but I'm scratching my head on why anyone would want to unless they mainly do big saltwater fish where you are using a volume of each color. Using Polytranspar or Lifetone pre-mixed paints, when you figure your "cost per fish" the paint expense for an average 20-25" fish it amounts to nothing, perhaps a dollar or two. You'll spend more than that for the days cup of coffee from a convenience store.
    Cecils original concern was due to hazardous fees from shipping. I use primarily lacquers. I order paint once or twice a year. I purchase qts for the colors I use a lot of, and the others in 8oz bottles. For the colors I can't do without I will have a spare in the paint cabinet. By being a little organized, I limit my excess hazardous fees down to a manageable level. In addition, when I attend the world show or NTA I purchase paints there so there is no shipping or fees.
    I purchase my automotive urethane locally as I'll go thru 4-5 gallons a year but for the rest of it, my time is better spent applying the paint rather than mixing it.
    My 2cents.
  12. Sotired

    Sotired Active Member

    That's the advantage of getting pigments! You can get a gallon of clear lacquer at your local auto paint store. Pigments can be bought from art supply, and are dry, no hazardous shipping. If you have a local art supply, even better! Mix pigment as needed, nothing sits around to dry up, no waste! Dick Blick has a bunch of dry pigments from Gamblin, Schminke, Sennelier, and others in a full range of colors. There are also dyes for candy colors from Createx. With this system, you don't have to come to a stop and order an 8 oz. bottle of a special Liftone color that you may never use again.

    I like water based, just because I can't stand the smell of lacquer, but the same applies. There shouldn't be hazardous shipping on water based if you should choose to go that route.


    Note; As always, I am only speaking about what I have done, and what has worked for me. I always encourage people to seek their own path as to what is in their comfort zone, no need to copy mine. Just sayin'.
  13. JL

    JL Taxidermist for 64 years

    Spend the money you saved by casting your own heads......el cheapo!
  14. Sotired

    Sotired Active Member

    Just re-read your original post Cecil, last line was "Is it worth it?" It's easy, man. Yes! Easier than going down a list and ordering 2 or 3 dozen colors of lacquer that you might need!

    Oh, just a note, if you do try powders, don't try to mix them straight in. Mix the powder into a small amount of clear to make a paste, add some thinner, then add clear to the strength you want.

  15. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    Just trying to be more efficient JL. ;)
  16. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

  17. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    Thanks John.
  18. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    Thanks Don.