Are you looking for a better way to mix your miniature paints? Do you hate Vallejo or Scale 75 paint separation in your bottles? A lot of miniature paints tend to separate from their liquid binders if allowed to settle, and require a bit of shaking to get them to mix properly again.
Proper paint viscosity is so important for enjoyable painting!
There are a lot of Do-It-Yourself (DIY) ways of mixing paint, including clamping acrylic bottles to power tools, e.g., a jig-saw. The fact DIY options exist just shows how regularly (and badly) hobby acrylic paint separates in their bottles.
I have a lot of paint colors (i.e., Vallejo, Games Workshop, Reaper, Scale 75, Badger, and Privateer Press), and almost every bottle needs to be shaken or mixed before use.
There is a need for miniature paint mixing products!
Shaking multiple paints on a daily basis has actually caused a few wrist and joint issues for me. Automated shaking/mixing systems have always been a product I keep an eye out for making my life painting miniatures more comfortable and convenient.
This article reviews 5 paint mixers that are useful for your miniature painting hobby!
- Robart Hobby Paint Shaker
- Siusio Nail Polish Shaker Mixer
- LabGenius Mini Vortex Mixer
- Electric Tattoo Ink Mixer
- Badger Paint Mixer
I’ve tried each of these systems. My final recommendation is at the end of the article.
1. Robart Hobby Paint Shaker
The Robart Hobby Paint Shaker sells for $42.99. At first glance, this seems to be expensive, but it is my absolute first choice if I had to just choose one (which would have saved me money in the long run). As a commissioned painter I have a lot of paints in my collection. Some of the paint colors sit around for a long time and the pigments end up settling at the bottom of the bottle.
Note that I’ve only tried the AC-powered version of this shaker. There is a battery-powered version of this shaker. But I can assume that because of its regular use the extra resources of replacing/charging batteries would be an unnecessary drain for something that isn’t mean to be portable anyway.
The Robart Hobby Paint Shaker is simple. It has a motor that drives a reciprocating platform where you place the paint bottle. The rubber band straps the bottle in places securely.
When you press the button the motor turns on and shakes the platform with the paint bottle. After 30-60 seconds, all of my paints, even the thicker brands, are homogenous liquids again.
My only concern is the durability of the motor, which is not heavy duty. So, don’t leave the motor running on this shaker for longer than 5 minutes at a time. It’ll burn it out (which I thankfully have not done yet). Also, the rubber band that holds the paint bottle will need to be replaced eventually. These are sold on Amazon. Note that even after a full year of using this shaker, I have not had any trouble with this shaker.
2. Nail Polish Shaker Mixer
The Siusio Nail Polish Shaker Mixer is about $26. I purchased this off Amazon a few years ago, thinking this would also work for miniature paints. In many respects, it functions similarly to the Robart Hobby Paint Shaker.
Here’s what I think.
The Nail Polish Shaker and Mixer has a much smaller footprint than the Robart Hobby Paint Shaker. For miniature painters like myself who have limited desk space to work, saving space is great. The Nail Polish Shaker Mixer works through either an AC power cord or AA batteries. In either mode, the motor drives the same kind of platform as the Robart Hobby Shaker, although I found the rubber bands to be less versatile around some of the bigger bottles of paint I had.
It broke. The motor stopped working after a few weeks. If it wasn’t almost half the cost of the Robart Hobby Paint Shaker, I might have tried to have gotten a refund. But, then again, I was tasking it for mixing much heavier and larger bottles of acrylic miniature paint. Either way, the nail polish shaking mixer systems all seem to have less powerful motors and therefore required longer “on” duty times. This might have contributed to this product’s quick demise.
When this shaker did work, it tended to bounce around on the table. It doesn’t have the weight to counter-balance the vibration of shaking acrylic miniature paint bottles.
If you do consider purchasing these nail polish shakers, just realize they aren’t designed for mixing the heavier pigments and mediums we used in miniature painting.
3. LabGenius Mini Vortex Mixer
The LabGenius Mini Vortex Mixer sells for about $115. It is the most expensive of the mixer products I’ve tried (I actually borrowed this one). This system is actually used in laboratories to mix reagents in small plastic tubes quickly and without the need for using a switch. Just press a bottle or tube down on the top of the device and the motor will engage and “vortex” or spin the liquid contents at high-speed.
If it weren’t for its ridiculous price, I would totally get this over the Robart Hobby Paint Mixer. Here’s why:
This thing packs a punch. It’ll take the most stubborn paint you have and mix the crap out of those pigments. In a few seconds, it’ll spin all the fluid inside any shaped bottle into a colorful smoothie that is every painter’s dream. The motor is powerful and torquey and inspires confidence that in a few seconds all of the paint will be mixed properly.
All you have to do to operate the LabGenius Mixer is place the paint bottle on the top of the device, press down firmly on the bottle, and the motor will “vortex” the liquid inside automatically. Although the system uses an AC power system, the whole device takes up very little space. The footprint is barely the diameter of my water mug/pot that I use to rinse brushes.
This Mixer is expensive. It also tends to harder to operate with the Citadel bottles, which have friction caps. When the “vortex” motor engages, the torque of the spinning has shaken loose some of the covers of these paint bottles, if I’m not prepared for it. So I generally have to be careful otherwise all the inside stuff…well, goes outside. I have had no problems shaking other types of bottles with screw caps, but I would just forewarn anyone who have a lot of Citadel paint bottles that need mixing (especially the taller, double-sized ones).
4. Electric Tattoo Ink Mixer Agitator Machine
The Electric Tattoo Ink Mixer is sold for around $12. I found this mixer before any of the shakers. It is inexpensive and works well. If you’re on a tight budget, I would recommend
Inexpensive and functional. You merely attach the disposable tips into the mixer, insert into your paint bottle or pot, press a button, and the agitating tips mixes your paint. The neat part is that the tips don’t necessarily need to be cleaned. You can toss them out or use a single tip for each color you’re mixing. Interestingly, this Mixer worked best for mixing paint or washes that were already in the wells of a palette (not in the bottle).
The disposable tips are an ongoing cost due to the need to replace them, unless you plan to clean the tips for re-use. Also, I found the mixing/agitating tips a bit short for the taller bottles of paint. After inserting them into the bottle, they only work well if they can reach the settled pigments on the bottom. To reach the bottom of the taller Badger paint bottles, for example, I had to tilt the bottles sideways, which wasn’t a very effective approach anyway.
Additionally, because of the need to insert the tips into paint bottles, there was the 1) the risk of spillage and 2) wasted paint (due to residual paint stuck to the mixing tips).
5. Badger Air-Brush Co. 121 Paint Mixer
The Badger Paint Mixer is sold for about $12. This was my first “mixer” purchase since I began my miniature painting hobby. It reminded me of an electric hand blender, and I’m sure I’m not too far from that concept. It operates by inserting a rotating metal rod with a mixing-tip into the paint-of-choice. A button starts the motor that spins the mixing rod, which effectively “blends” the paint.
I’m sure there are cheaper off-brand products that have a similar function. I went with Badger, because of the company’s reputation of excellent quality control. This mixer never failed to operate in the 3 years I had it. It uses two AA batteries, so it is a very portable device and is about the same size as an electric toothbrush. The mixing rod is thin enough to fit into any bottle of acrylic miniature paint. The tip actually spins at a high speed, but the shape of the “blending blades” (as I call it) keeps the paint mixing without making bubbles or splashing.
The stirring rod needs to be inserted into paint bottles, which can end up wasting a lot of paint as it is removed. Additionally, because of the shape of the stirring tip, shallow pools of paints won’t mix well. It works best in deeper liquid when the tip can be fully submerged.
The rod needs to be cleaned after each use, which can be another time sink (we want products to save us time). Because the mixer doesn’t have a variable speed, the blending tip can only spin fast. If a bottle is shallow, it can cause a bit of splashing if you’re not careful. It also tends to torque up quickly and kick up a lot of material quickly. In the rare occasion, I have actually lost control of the entire bottle with the tip stuck in the thicker viscous pigment that had settled into a goo-substance at the bottom. Overall, this mixer might be a bit too much power for your typical separated bottle of paint. It is better suited for the most stubborn separated paints you might have left unused for too long.
Conclusion: Final Recommendation
If you didn’t read everything above, the Robart Hobby Paint Shaker is the system that I use on a regular basis. It increases my miniature painting efficiency, saving me time and frustration with separated paint.
Plain and simple.
The Robart Hobby Paint Shaker can handle any sized-bottle, mixes even the most stubborn paints (looking at you Scale 75!) within a minute. I have had no issues with a motor failure, and the whole shaker takes up only a few square inches on my desk (~6×6 inches).
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