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Ranger Distress Crackle Paint Review

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Crackle effect on dolls house and railway building paint details in 1:48 or O scale.

Quarter scale door and newel post finished with Distress Crackle Paint showing the small scale crackle effects possible with thin coats of this paint. The crackle effect behind the quarter is suitable for 1:12 scale.

Photo ©2008 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

The Bottom Line

Ranger creates a wide range of products primarily for scrapbook applications. Their Tim Holtz Distress Paint range is intended to create weathered effects and fabric effects on paper. The nature of the medium they mix with their paint, creates very small crackle effects when applied in thin coats. Thicker coats will crack with larger sections, although still in scale for 1:12 to 1:48 applications. The paints come in a range of twenty five colors, including black and white and three metallics.


  • Creates very small scale crackle suitable for miniature weathering effects.
  • Can be used on a wide range of surfaces, paper, card, wood, plastic.
  • Acrylic, cleans up with water.
  • Colors can be mixed or blended with other acrylics, or watercolors.
  • One part product, paint and let it crack.


  • Color range may not match with your projects.
  • Included applicator is awful for miniatures, use a paint brush.
  • Names of colors aren't helpful to determine what the color actually is.


  • Thin layers produce smaller crackles, so adjust your paint coat to your scale.
  • Ranger have a list of tips for using this paint.
  • Distress Crackle Paint works best with materials with tooth. Sand or preferably undercoat plastics before applying.
  • Great for smaller scale miniatures made from card or paper, gives them the look of aged paint in minutes.
  • Little shows through the crackle paint, weather the crackle finish after it is dry for a number of different ageing effects.
  • Wonderful product for creating the effect of aged paint on paper, chipboard and card. Also works on raw wood.

Guide Review - Ranger Distress Crackle Paint Review

Scale Crackle Finish in One Coat

If you've been looking for a scale crackle effect to weather dolls house paint, furniture or trim in scales from 1:12 to 1:48, you will love this range from Ranger Industries . Available in 25 colors (all with a tinge of grey white) the paints when dry have the appearance of weathered lead paint colors.

This is the first crackle effect paint I have seen that creates an effect small enough to be realistic in miniature. An added benefit of the paint is that it is a one coat product. The paint contains the crackle, it does not have to be painted on top of a crackle coating in order to work.

How Fine is the Effect?

If applied in thin coats, the crackle is suitable for HO and O scale (1:48) models and buildings. If a thicker coat is applied a very useful crackle effect for 1:24 or 1:12 scale can be made. Before applying this paint, do a few test runs on scrap material similar to those you want to paint to see how thick a layer you need to apply to get the right scale effect.

Adjusting the Colors

The paint comes in 25 colors plus three metallics, which is a great range. For dark paint colors you are limited to the ones available in the Distress Crackle Paint line. If the paint isn't in a shade you prefer, you can add tube watercolors or artist quality acrylics to it and still get a crackle effect. You may not be able to mix the color you want, all the Distress Paints except for black, contain a fair amount of white pigment.

The paints are acrylic, and thin easily with water (test any thinned batches to see how thinning affects the crackle). The paints themselves are unusually thick, probably to make sure the crackle effect works on paper without distorting the paper. For miniatures, thin the paint to the consistency of acrylic you would normally use. Test it on a sample before applying to your miniature.

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