I randomly stumbled upon this video https://youtu.be/TuEBKV6T5aU?t=31s

Where a user modded his Nintendo 64 and gave it a "custom paint job."

He mentions that he used 2 types of paint that were NOT compatible with each other in order to form this paint-job. He said the paints themselves try to separate which causes the cracking effect.

Personally, I really like this, and would like to do something similar with a project I'm working on.

My questions are,

  1. Is there anything wrong with mixing paints that are NOT compatible? From what he mentions it's just that the paints don't mix and separate from each other, but is there any danger in doing this by mixing things that shouldn't be mixed?

  2. Are there specific paints that would cause this effect, or would any 2 incompatible paints do this no matter the paint used? I'm essentially interested in other cool effects that could come about by mixing paints like this, but don't want to encounter any dangers.

note: I'm not sure if this is the right place for this type of question, or if this is more suited for the Chemistry-Stack?


  • I don't know the answer to your question, but I wanted to reassure you that this is a perfectly on-topic place for it. However, you may want to clarify what sort of dangers you're afraid of.
    – Martha
    Sep 26, 2016 at 13:49
  • Thanks. I just am not sure what reactions could happen by mixing things that shouldn't be mixed. A lot of paints seem to be non-toxic(or low toxic), but mixing 2 together could yield something bad, which we all want to avoid.
    – XaolingBao
    Sep 26, 2016 at 13:54
  • It would be more useful if you mentioned the specific paints that were used. I can't imagine there would be a safety issue. More a desired effect from the use of two different paints that bond in different ways. Have the exact products would help us know for sure though.
    – Matt
    Sep 26, 2016 at 14:23
  • 1
    Well, in the local paint store they occasionally clean the paint mixer, and during that process, tiny bits of all kinds and colours of paint come out of the machine. They catch it all together in the same tin/bucket. Indoors. They probably would not do that if there is any chance of creating something toxic that way. (And indeed, you can get some really cool effects in the tin/bucket.)
    – Ji Ugug
    Sep 26, 2016 at 14:32
  • matt I'm not sure, I linked the video that gives all the information I know about what he did. @JiUgug thanks for the information, interesting stuff paint can do. Would love to find out what will happen with each kind of paint that reacts with another.
    – XaolingBao
    Sep 28, 2016 at 0:35

2 Answers 2


So, from my experience...

  1. Wrong? No. Basically, looking at the major art paint options I can't see any that, when combined, would result in a dangerous mix. Some, however, will mix a bit better together than others.

  2. Yes and no. The key to the cracking effect is difference in drying times, some paints dry faster than others and when you apply a fast drying paint over a slower one, the result can be that the upper layer will crack. The "no" part of this comes from the ability of some mediums to adhere better or worse to each other. For example, acrylics use water and oils, well, oil. When you try to apply acrylics over oils, it will crack and split (your desired effect), but it will also tend to flake, which is less desirable. In any event, some mixes will probably work better than others, but there's likely to be some trial and error involved.

So, my suggestion is that if you're going to give a go, do so on some items you don't care about, but that also has the same surface material and try a few combinations using some student-grade paints (much cheaper).

  • Thanks for the information, much appreciated. So it would work better to use paints that have different drying times, compared to incompatible paints then? I definitely don't want flaking, just a cool effect. I was thinking of sending it off to get professionally done, but not sure if that's worth the effort/money or not.. I'm a bit wary of using spray paint, for fear of inhalation, but it seems that most of the stuff is non-toxic. I've also heard of "Plasti-dip" but I hear that isn't very good. The material I am using is I believe stainless steel, possibly aluminum(not really sure tbh)
    – XaolingBao
    Sep 28, 2016 at 0:39
  • Typically the idea of "incompatible" paints is really tied to drying times. The binder in the paint is what evaporates and ultimately leaves the pigment behind. Having said that, it's not the whole story, there are other things that might make two paints hard to mix, but that's a big one. :)
    – Joanne C
    Sep 28, 2016 at 1:09
  • Thanks a lot, much appreciated. I feel that a better job would be done by someone who knows a lot more about the paints than I do, so hopefully a professional would be able to do what I need. IT doesn't seem to be anything special either.
    – XaolingBao
    Sep 28, 2016 at 3:44

The technical term for the technique he's demonstrating is "craquelure." You might get some mileage out of researching how this technique is typically achieved. Craquelure is commonly done in ceramics, which might not be useful to you, but there are other media that achieve the same thing in ways that might be useful for your application.

One way that I'm familiar with to achieve the "craquelure" effect he demonstrates is to add something to the paint that will shrink as it dries/cures. A common trick in prop-making is to mix water-based glue in with water-based paint. The common basis makes them mix well, but as the glue dries it will shrink and crack. Many glues are specifically formulated to stay the same volume as they dry, so you may need to experiment to find a glue that will actually shrink enough for you.

I wonder if a flour and water paste would work...

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .