Sunday 2 December 2012

The Vallejo Liquid Gold paints

Vallejo Liquid Gold, Old Gold, White Gold, Rich Gold, Gold

Since I posted the first few pictures of my Dark Eldar colour scheme, here and in various other corners of the Internet, I got many questions about the Incubus armour and the paints I've used on it, so many that I've decided to make a blog post about this

Dark Eldar Incubi

The paints I used are from Liquid Gold, a range of metallic paints created by Vallejo initially for decorative arts and restoration works and then added to their modelling offering in the Model Color range

As you can see in the pictures above, this paints are more brilliant then other metallic colours from Games Workshop, Privateer Press or even Vallejo and this is because Liquid Gold contains real metallic particles that gives the paints their colours instead of the silicate ones found in the other paint ranges.

This key difference is what make Liquid Gold a far superior set of metallic paints but it is also what imposes us a different way of utilisation: this paints do not contains water but use alcohol instead to avoid oxidation (rusting)


The Liquid Gold range contains eight metallic paints: silver, copper and six (!) different hues of gold. Like I usually do with all my paints, when I bought this paints I made some little plastic paint swatch (they are very useful when you try to came up with a painting scheme):

Vallejo Liquid Gold Copper, Red Gold, Old Gold, Gold, Rich Gold, Green Gold, White Gold, Silver

From left to right we have Copper, Red Gold, Old Gold, Gold, Rich Gold, Green Gold, White Gold and Silver

Let's just compare them with some other metallic paints:

VGC Hammered Copper, VMA Copper, GW Shining Gold, VMA Gold, GW Burnished Gold, GW Chainmail, VMA Steel, GW Mithril Silver, VMA Silve

Again, from left to right: VGC Hammered Copper, VMA Copper, GW Shining Gold, VMA Gold, GW Burnished Gold, GW Chainmail, VMA Steel, GW Mithril Silver, VMA Silver (VGC = Vallejo Game Color, VMA = Vallejo Model Air, GW = the old Citadel range)

That's quite a difference!


For using this paints correctly you must follow a basic set of rules and recommendations


Never, put a Liquid Gold paint in contact with water when it is still in the pot or it is still drying on your model. You will get rust if this happen and probably have to throw away the paint pot and scrap your model

Please note that when I say "water" I also include the water contained in acrylic based paints like the ones we normally use in our hobby. So you could not mix a Liquid Gold colour with one from another range (be it a normal paint, a wash, a ink or something else). However, you can mix two (or more) Liquid Gold colours together, as I did for the highlights on my Incubus

When the paint is dry, and this happens quite quickly, you could paint over it with any kind of paints, be that water based or not

1.5 Let's repeat it


2. They require dedication and a dedicated brush

In the long run the metallic pigments will damage the bristles of your brush so do not use your finest sable brush with this paints, get a synthetic one and dedicate it to Liquid Gold. Also you must use alcohol to clean this brush and not water

3. 96% is good enough!

Until now I just talked about alcohol, without going into detail, but you must use 96% (or more) pure alcohol to avoid rusting. I found that isopropyl alcohol of the same gradation work without problems.

4. Shake well. Then shake again

Liquid Gold paints comes in paint pots like this ones:

Vallejo Liquid Gold, Green Gold, Red Gold, Copper, Silver

Every one of them contains about 35ml of metallic awesomeness and come with a child-proof caps like the ones you could found on medicine bottles.

Because of the weight of the metallic pigments, you will always have paint clumped on the bottom of the pot:

Vallejo Liquid Gold

The first thing you must do before opening the pot is shake it very well. And then shake it again! Rolling in between your hands also work very well. After a couple of minutes you should end up with something that look like this:

Vallejo Liquid Gold

As you can see a bit more than half of the paint deposit is gone but you have to keep shaking and rolling it until you end up with this:

Vallejo Liquid Gold

Now all the deposits are gone. And look, you could see the metallic pigments in there!

If you have not used a particular colour for a while, you could find it difficult to dissolve that big blob of metal that is watching you from within the plastic bottle. To fix this, add a bit of alcohol in the pot and stir the paint with a stick

5. Do I paint straight from the pot?

No, you could NOT paint directly from the pot because the alcohol in there will evaporate very quickly.

You must transfer a bit of paint from the pot to some sort other container that you will use as a palette and that you can throw away because in the end it will look like this:

Vallejo Liquid Gold

It can be recycled a couple of times but no more than that because you will get dried paint flakes into the fresh paint

Also you should thin the paint in the palette with a bit of alcohol because even after all that shaking and stirring the paint is still to much tick to be used right away. I keep some isopropyl alcohol in a dropper bottle and I keep adding a drop of it until, after mixing the paint well, until I could see the metallic pigments swirl

Because alcohol evaporate more quickly than water you will have to add more alcohol from time to time while you are painting. You could also pick up a bit of pure alcohol with your brush and use it to smooth out a layer of tick paint you just put on your model. Be sure to not do this a lot and to not use too much alcohol in one go because it will eat the underlying paints and/or primer.

6. Then could I use Liquid Gold in my airbrush?

Technically speaking with the proper dilution and air pressure you could shoot almost everything with your airbrush but I would say the you should not do it for the following reasons:

  • the pigments are bigger then the one found in normal metallic paints so your airbrush will clog more easily
  • you must dilute with alcohol and alcohol evaporate quickly, so more clogging and tip dry
  • you cannot use water or water based products to clean your airbrush or you will end up with rust in your gun
  • if you don't clean it well, the next time you use it with your water based acrylics you will be in trouble!
So I would say that if you could not dedicate an airbrush to this colours you must avoid using them with one. 

7. What base coat?

Two or three layers of any Liquid Gold colours will cover well a black primer undercoat but I suggest you start from a layer of colour of similar hue, like a red-brown for Copper / Red Gold or a more yellow one for the other Gold colours. However, a black base coat will work well for Silver

8. Varnish? No, thank you

Vallejo recommend to not put a coat of varnish (any flavor) over Liquid Gold because it will kill it's shine a bit . They also say that there is not need of doing that because Liquid Gold paints are more durable than normal paints

It's really up to you. Just keep in mind that if you apply a coat of varnish you may be need to retouch some of the highlights to bring them back


Yes, give them a go!

They are beautiful colours and quite stunning metallic ones. And I got them for around 5€ a pot, a 35ml pot! Compare them to the 3€ / 12ml paints from Games Workshop or the 2,5€ / 17ml ones from the other Vallejo ranges and you will see that there really no reason to not try them

Yes, they are a bit more complicated to handle correctly but the end result is so much better that any time spent learning to use them will repay itself immediately

Dark Eldar Incubi


  1. Hey man, great blog, really enjoyed some of your articles. I recently got 4 pots of liquid gold but I'm really having problems getting it to the consistency you mention. Shaking does improve thing s a little but I can never get the bottom of the pot to clear like yours does. Tried stirring with a toothpick and I found that there are clumps of paint in the bottom. Any suggestions?

    1. Thank you! Comments are really importart for me (not only the positive ones), they keep me motivated. Keep them coming :D

      Try to add a couple of drops of alchool in the pot and then stirr it again. Keep repeating this until the clumps clear out. If there are clumps on the toothpick when you take it out, drop some alchool directly on the clumps and stirr again
      Hope this help! :)

  2. Excellent guide. Thanks a lot. I'm getting myself a bottle to try!