Saturday, March 14, 2015

Mr. Retarder Tips and Tricks

I've received a lot of emails, PMs and comments from you guys and gals on the various social media outlets about hand painting. Unfortunately as many of you have found out, I don't know very much about it. But, I'm working on changing that. Today I'm going to talk about Mr. Retarder that I'm learning to use that's making a big difference in how I hand paint.

What is it:

Mr. Retarder Mild or Mr. Retarder is a clear chemical produced by Gunze to work with their line of Mr.Color products. For lack of a better description Mr.Retarder, retards or slows the drying time of the paint. This allows the paint to level out reducing the appearance of brush marks and other imperfections..

Mr. Retarder comes in the same style bottle as Mr. Setter or Mr. Softer, unlike those two products Mr. Retarder does not come with the small brush in the cap.

Mr. Retarder can be used with both a hand brush and an airbrush.

Why Should I use it:

If you can't use spray cans or airbrush for some reason, but you still want to paint, Mr.Retarder provides a way to achieve a smooth even finish. If you do use an airbrush Mr. Retarder can be used to improve the luster of your paint and would be great for a glossy model car finish. 


These are the generic instructions I've seen posted on several sites that sell the product. I have made some small adjustments for readability.

Hand Brushing:
  • Add Mr.Retarder in a 1:10 (10%) ratio to Mr. Color and mix well.
  • Do not add Mr.Retarder directly to the pot of Mr. Color instead mix them in a separate container.
  • When painting all of your brush strokes should be in the same direction.
  • Add Mr.Retarder in a 2:10 (20%) ratio to Mr.Color and mix in well.
  • Don't exceed the 2:10 (20%) ratio, if you need to thin the paint further mix Mr.Thinner in until you achieve the right consistency.
  • Application is the same as normal airbrushing, but multiple thin layers should be applied to avoid runs in the paint.

I'm sure that some of my more experienced readers are looking over this and thinking "Can't I just use thinner and skip using this?" and It's a great question. I decided to perform a test to satisfy my own curiosity and to demonstrate the differences between painting without any additives, with thinner and with retarder.

In the photos below you can see a piece of Polystyrene sheeting on top of a piece of paper with P, T and R marked under each row. P is just paint, T is paint + 2 drops of thinner and R is paint + 2 drops of retarder.

For consistency sake I used the same paint and I applied the different mixtures in 3 layers using the same brush (cleaned with alcohol and dried between mixtures). Mixtures were applied using the same technique, basically I painted one continuous stroke from the top to the bottom of the polystyrene longways. I allowed 15 minutes of drying time between each layer. 

Layer 1

P: clearly has the most pigments on the sheet at the moment which is to expected as it's not thinned at all. As you can see from the angled shot, brush stroke are clearly visible.

T&R: Appear to have similar amounts of pigment, and luster is identical at this point.

Layer 2

P: At this point P column has achieved a consistent color but like in the first layer the brush strokes are evident.

T: On the right half of the  column you may notice a lighter streak. What I noticed is that the Mr.Thinner reacts with the dry layer and re-thins the dry paint.

R: At this point R is very close to achieving a consistent color across the entire column. Again the angled photo shows that T&R have a similar luster,

Layer 3

P Despite already have a consistent color at the end of layer 2 I applied one more layer to fill any areas that might possibly be too light. Again the brush strokes are visible.

T: Much like layer 2 Mr.Thinner affected the previously applied layer.

R: Column R is now uniform in color, I noticed that while looking that the test piece that column R tends to be slightly more lustrous than T, however the difference is very minimal.

What I have concluded from this testing is that using paint alone isn't going to provide a smooth finish, but might be useful if you want to achieve a text like wood grain. Using thinner and paint mixture might work with some tweaking to my technique and mixture, but ultimately I think the Mr.Retarder makes application easier, and it's more forgiving to use.


I'm learn a lot right now by testing things out, and making mistakes. Hopefully some of the tips I have written out below will be of benefit to you.

Measuring and moving Mr. Retarder

I've been a big proponent of using pipettes for moving and mixing paint and thinner, and again they've found a wonderful use here. I use them to add Mr.Retarder to my paint, and to fill my pallets with rubbing alcohol to clean them out. 3ml pipettes are the perfect size for me; if you paint and need a cheap solution to move paint give these a try

Reducing waste

When I'm painting a few minor details like the yellow and grey above I'll add two drops directly to the inside of the top of the paint pot. The manufacturer discourages this, but it hasn't had a negative affect on my paint yet.

Using a Pallet 

Model Grade sells a pack of 10 stainless steel pallets for  $1.55. They're definitely a worthwhile purchase for mixing and controlling paints before applying them.  

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