Acrylic paint is used on miniatures and models because it often leads to the best results. It is a great option because it is one of the least toxic paints and very versatile for many different types of models and figures.
If left sitting over time, this paint’s components can start to separate, which takes away its unique properties.
While shaking the container by hand can help to remix the paint, mixers, and agitators are helpful tools that can do this more effectively and make your life a bit easier. Especially if you work with lots of paint, this can save you time and effort.
We have selected the best acrylic paint mixers and agitators for you to use when working with models and miniatures.
We have come up with our favorite mixers and agitators so you can easily mix your acrylics paints to prevent sediment build-up and pigment separation:
Mixers/Shakers (in order of quality):
- The Vortex Paint Mixer (top of the line product)
- The Robart Paint Shaker (best value product)
- Cordless Mini Mixer (simple and reliable product)
- Nail Polish Shaker Mixer (cheapest product)
Agitators (in order of quality):
Continue reading to learn more about each of these mixers and agitators.
- Best Acrylic Paint Mixers/Shakers for Miniatures and Models
- Best Acrylic Paint Agitators for Miniatures and Models
- When Should You Use a Mixer Versus an Agitator?
- Best Acrylic Paint Mixers and Agitators for Miniatures and Models
Best Acrylic Paint Mixers/Shakers for Miniatures and Models
Mixers and shakers are helpful machines that will move at a fast rate in order to mix acrylic paint effectively within the bottle. These products range in price and effectiveness, making your decision depending on your needs for the mixer and the paints you use. Paints that are thicker and have heavier pigments will require more vigorous mixing abilities.
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The Vortex Paint Mixer is one of the best acrylic paint mixers on the market because it uses unique technology that is different from other mixers in the category. It was designed for test tubes to be mixed in a lab, so its success in mixing is crucial. It works by taking the container of paint and spinning it at around 3,000 rpm, creating a vortex with the liquid.
The sturdy base of the machine allows for a consistent spin to properly mix the paint without making a mess or causing the paint tube to become undone.
You will hold the dropper bottle of paint against the top of the mixer in the center (with pressure), and it will rotate, spinning the bottle and paint inside as you hold. This will effectively mix all the paint’s components.
What We Like
- This is one of the most effective paint mixers on the market as it reaches high enough speeds to remix even the most separated paints.
- The machine is easy to operate with simple one-handed start features and will stop when bottle pressure is released to protect the motor and save energy.
- The device is portable and quiet, making it easy to use in nearly all environments.
What We Don’t
- The Vortex is one of the most expensive solutions on the market compared to other items in this space (which may not be worth it for infrequent users).
- While it is a powerful machine, users have experienced a lack in durability over extended use.
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The Robart Paint Shaker is a small box with an attached belt that you place an acrylic paint dropper in to effectively mix the paint. The box is powered by battery or AC (AC will provide more power) and shakes vigorously in order to reintegrate all of the paint’s components. The shaking occurs in small bursts, so you may need to do it a couple of times for thicker solutions.
We recommend this product if you are not looking to spend a lot of money on a paint mixer and won’t use a paint shaker or mixer all the time (as this is not the stronger or most durable motor).
You should limit the amount of shaking for each bottle as you do not want to overwork the motor too hard for a longer life on the tool.
What We Like
- This paint shaker is one of the best value items as it is nearly half the cost of the premier mixers yet still reaches effective results and far exceeds the performance metrics of cheaper products.
- One of the most popular among hobbyists for its performance and ease of use.
- This is a great tool to keep around for maintaining your paints over time and regularly attaching bottles, so they do not collect sediment.
What We Don’t
- When operating properly, it does a great job of mixing paint, but users have had issues with its durability and consistency over time.
- It can be loud, depending on the surface it is sitting on, and should be held so that it does not move.
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This mini cordless mixer is different from the other mixers we have recommended because you insert this one into the paint. You take off the dropper and insert the thin metal rod into the paint, and it will spin to mix the paint after pressing down on a button. It targets paint in all areas of the bottle so that all of it mixes properly. Remove rod and replace dropper.
This tool is recommended for small bottles of paint that are used for models and miniatures, up to 4 oz. containers (which will apply to almost all acrylic paints for modeling).
This is a cheaper option than many of the shaking mixers that you do not insert into the bottle. This is a great alternative to mixing the bottle yourself and experiencing fatigue from shaking.
What We Like
- The device is small and portable with battery operation, so you can take it anywhere.
- Saves you plenty of time from mixing yourself and provides a more consistent mix than mixing with a stick on your own.
- You can have ready to use paint in around 20-30 seconds compared to minutes of mixing by hand.
What We Don’t
- The mixer can cause tiny air bubbles to arise in your paint, which may impact the quality of your painting when present (let the paint rest a little before application).
- You will need to wash the metal rod before putting it into a new color of paint, which is not as fast as other options that do not require paint opening.
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You can use a Nail Polish Shaker Mixer to accomplish your needed acrylic paint mixing needs. This is one of the smallest mixing machines that require you fasten your paints into a plastic belt that is adjustable depending on the bottle size. It will shake the bottle in a sideways motion to mix the components.
This may be a solution for mixing paint, but it often does not mix paints fast enough for them to be fully incorporated. If you are looking for the cheapest solution, this is your best choice, but it will not have the performance metrics that the others do. Investing in a more expensive product may be more worthwhile.
What We Like
- The tool comes with multiple plastic straps in the event that one of them wears out with extended use.
- Can be used with both AC power and batteries if you want to use it away from a power source.
What We Don’t
- Because it is one of the cheapest options for paint mixing, the quality of the mix is not as high as other products with a slower shaking motion.
- Thicker paints will have greater difficulty mixing with this product as the shaking is not vigorous enough.
Best Acrylic Paint Agitators for Miniatures and Models
Unlike a shaker, an agitator is used by putting the mechanism inside with the paint in order to mix the contents inside. The most popular and effective agitators are small metal balls that you insert into the dropper (around 2-3 balls) in order to mix the paint quickly.
You must consider the material of the balls in order to achieve long-lasting results.
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Army Painter makes its own paints, and these are often made with heavy pigments, making them more difficult to mix upon separation. The Army Painter Mixing Balls are stainless steel balls designed to agitate the paint and reintegrate the components quickly. They are small enough to fit inside the bottles, giving you an easier way to shake the paint.
To use these balls, you will remove the dropper and insert 1-2 balls for good mixing. If there is clear sediment at the bottom of the bottle, you will want to add 2-3 balls.
Put the dropper cap back on and shake for around 30 seconds to properly mix the paint. You should not put too many balls in because the paint mixes quickly with 1-2, and you may clog the system.
What We Like
- These mixing balls are made specifically of rustproof stainless steel so that the metal does not contaminate the paint after it sits in there over time.
- Saves you from wasting paint with larger mixing tools that the paint will stick to and cannot be used.
- Keeps colors properly saturated, so you are getting the greatest pigment hues while painting.
- You can wash and reuse them after use so you will not have to make multiple purchases.
What We Don’t
- This is a more expensive option than traditional ball bearings but is designed to be completely rustproof.
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Classic chrome steel ball bearings can also serve as successful agitators for mixing your acrylic paints. Similar to the Army Painter balls, you will place the balls (1-2 balls) into the bottle of paint and gently shake in order for the balls to properly mix the paint with little effort.
The chrome steel is durable at grade 25 and can be reused once you finish the paint dropper.
They come in a pack of 100, giving you plenty of ball bearings to use in different containers of paint at the same time. We recommend these if you are looking for an inexpensive paint mixing option that is easy to use.
These are best used when you only plan for the balls to sit in the paint for a couple days as they can rust when in contact with water in the paint.
What We Like
- This product is easy to find and purchase because it has a variety of applications.
- Ball bearings are one of the most economical options for agitating paints as you do not have to replace them.
- They are incredibly small, so you do not have to worry about mixers taking up too much space.
- You do not need a power source in order to use these as you would with a paint mixer or shaker.
What We Don’t
- They are not specifically designed to be rustproof or stainless steel, so they may interfere with the paint quality over time (rust can develop with continued contact).
When Should You Use a Mixer Versus an Agitator?
Mixers and agitators are both used to make sure your thicker paints with deeper pigments are fully mixed upon use. Both will get the job done, but the quality and state of the paint will help to determine what you need.
A paint mixer is going to be one of your more expensive options (depending on its quality) because it is a small motor-powered machine that will mix the paint at a fast rate. The larger contraption has more components for this process to work.
When looking at paint mixers and shakers, there are a couple things you should be considering:
- Size: This will dictate the size of the paint container you can mix, and your choice will be impacted by the amount of space available. You want a smaller machine that can be easily accessed or moved if needed.
- Durability: Look for a machine that is long-lasting so that you will only need to make a one-time purchase. You should consider how often you will use the product to see if the higher-end models will be worth it for you.
- Power source: You will need to choose if you want a battery-powered mixer or one that connects to an outlet. If you plan to use the mixer in outdoor locations, battery-powered can be used without a power outlet. Typically, batteries are less powerful for more vigorous mixing.
- Price: You will also want to consider the price based on your needs and how much you are willing to spend on the product. You will be paying for higher levels of quality, which may be worth it if you want to get the job done effectively.
Agitators are put inside of the paint and are typically found in ball form to create friction for mixing. You should use these if you are working with heavy pigments and a lot of sediment in the paint.
These are advantageous because they mix quickly, require little effort, and are inexpensive compared to mixers and shakers. You can also reuse this product over and over!
They are usually reserved for small paint bottles, and metal balls lead to be the best results. The rubbing between the balls in the paint allows for these elements to properly incorporate.
Both mixers and agitators will get help the job done, but price and your individual needs will determine what type of tool you choose to use. They both beat doing it by hand!
Best Acrylic Paint Mixers and Agitators for Miniatures and Models
Whether you use a mixer or an agitator, the ones we have recommended on this list will provide you with a variety of solutions to choose from. All will help to shake your paints and make your life a lot easier than trying to mix every bottle by hand.
They vary in price points and quality so you can choose the best option for your miniatures and model needs.
From the list, our top mixer recommendation is the Vortex Mixer because it delivers on quality and is the longest-lasting product. You may be paying much more than the other options, but you will be satisfied with the mixing quality it delivers.
It is an incredibly easy tool to use and keeps your workspace clean with no bottles needing to be shaken or opened.
If you want to use an agitator, we recommend the Army Painter Mixing Balls because of their superior material and quality. Unlike more generic metal bearings, these mixing balls are made of stainless steel and are designed to prevent rust from accumulating over time.
This means you can keep the mixing balls in the paint until you run out.
If you work with acrylic paints on a regular basis, especially those with thicker and heavier pigments, we recommend spending the extra money on the top of the line mixers and agitators. This initial investment will exceed the risk you take of needing to repurchase a cheaper product. With any of our product choices, you will no longer have to shake by hand!