Art Machines: The Opacity Test

When you get the opportunity to go behind the scenes with paint-makers and manufacturers–you take it! Explore Winsor & Newton’s “Art Machines,” which pull back the curtain to reveal the company’s unique investment in craftsmanship, research and development of premium paints.

Opacity Made Clear

As an artist, you care about your materials. But do you know what goes into the making of the very best paints? Winsor & Newton are giving us a first look behind the scenes into how they ensure their Professional Acrylic range performs at the optimum level.

Through a series of videos shot at their London laboratory, you can see a range of extensive quality tests being carried out — all to ensure their paint is working perfectly.

Winsor & Newton are committed to the precision engineering of their products. Drawing on extensive research and development, they use the latest equipment to ensure every aspect of their paint passes the test.

For this post, the focus is on that crucial quality of opacity. With every new batch, Winsor & Newton carries out a careful analysis to ensure the ratio of transparency to opacity is perfectly consistent.

Here’s how the opacity machine test works:

  • First, an opacity card is placed on an automatic drawdown machine.
  • Next, an applicator bar is placed in the machine on top of the card.
  • A measured amount of colour is drawn across the card using the applicator bar.
  • The machine pulls the applicator bar down the full length of the opacity card at a constant speed, applying an even layer of thickness.
  • When the colour has dried, it can be assessed for its opacity.

This meticulous approach is all part of the testing of premium paint. It’s the final stage in a process involving chemists at Winsor & Newton, often referred to as “colour men.” Working at the company’s London headquarters, they develop the bright, vibrant colours that will become paints in the Winsor & Newton Professional Acrylic range.

These colour men also have the benefit of working with an in-house artist in the laboratory. They provide the final layer of expertise, which ensures that the paint is in perfect condition when you get to work.

Making the acrylic paint itself is a four-stage process that has to be precisely gauged. First, pigment is mixed with a wetting agent to make pigment paste. Then the pigment paste is combined with beads and ground down. That ground paste is combined with emulsion and water to form the acrylic; and, finally, any excess air is removed. Winsor & Newton Professional Acrylic Paint tends to have a longer working time due to the binder used in the forming of the paints, making it slower to form a skin on top of the paint.

This is just one of the ways Winsor & Newton guarantee exceptional quality in their Professional Acrylic range. Check out their other test videos and discover more about their pursuit of perfection.

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