Monday, March 5, 2012

Paints 'n' Stuff

In my Forever-Quest™(great name for an RPG, by-the-by) to find the perfect combination of paint, I've tried many various paint brands. Sitting firmly at the bottom is the Rackham paint line, but the rest I've tried jockey for top spot. Currently I'm enjoying Coat D'Arms' paint range, coupled with a smattering of P3 paints for flavor (their skin colors are particularly awesome), along with Citadel's metallic paint (the best out there), Foundation range, and the magical Washes they produce. Let's delve into the various ranges in some detail, ne?

Citadel Miniatures' paint

This glorious paint range is marred only by its number of different colors (soon to double if rumors can be believed), and their quantity. Their coverage is good, their metallics are the best I've ever used, and their palette is familiar. The size and shape of their pots has been a point of contention ever since the 1990s, and anyone who looks back and thinks the discourse was in any way civil and thought-out they have the rosiest of glasses on. Suffice it to say that their newest pot design is smaller than the 1997 paint pots and possibly the smallest of the water-based acrylics (definitely the smallest pots out of any I've tried), but if it's what's in them that counts, then they're worth getting. The pot forms a seal around the edge, and though the oldest pot of paint I have in this format is a four, or five, year old Foundation paint, I can say that it's not dried out yet. Something I cannot say for their screw-lids that terrorized GW gamers from 1998-2003.

As I said before, their metallics are the best I've used (Reaper comes close, but we'll talk about that later). Boltgun Metal is such a full metallic. Compared to the other metallics I've used it goes on smooth, it covers like a dream, and it's very receptive to dry-brushing and washes/inks.

Another weapon in their arsenal are the Foundation paints, a series of 18 paints that have a high pigment, and are thus designed to cover better than their regular line of paints. In fact, they often cover in one coat. A downside to this is that they often have a pastel-y look about them, and they aren't well integrated into the rest of the Citadel line of paints. I've been using these paints since they came out (2006/2007?) and I've yet to find a seamless transition of mixing to go from a Foundation base, to a Citadel highlight. That being said, yellows and reds are much easier to paint, and if you're doing an orcish or goblinoid army, you'll find their greens to be the hugest time-saver.

Speaking of time-savers, their washes are fantastic. Though they have bred in me a laziness in my painting procedure. Why just before I sat down to write this review I was working on finishing up some Dwarf Thunderers for a Warhammer army I began when the latest incarnation of the Dwarfs came out (2005?) and I got fed up with the skin so I just based it with the Tallarn Flesh Foundation and hit it with an Ogryn Flesh wash. Bam! Done. That being said, it looks fine, and it's painted to a tabletop standard that I'm not ashamed of, but it's not my usual flesh routine. Still, there's something to be said for finishing one part of 10 figures in less than a half-hour. Though they may seem like an "easy button" to painting, when used by cleverer painters, I've seen them work wonders. Don't underestimate these washes (or the people that use them). I'll never use an ink again.

Coat D'Arms

These are the hardest paints to get a hold of in Canada (well, I can really only speak for Vancouver), but I'm currently obsessed with them. I liked the old Citadel white-capped hexagonal paints that I started painting with in '96. It may be nostalgia, but they had a fair amount of paint (17.5ml, which dropped from 20ml in the '80s or so I heard), and they had a smell that is recognizable even to this day (a pleasant one). So, when I found out that the company that produced Citadel's paints in the '90s (HMG paints) still produced the same colors with different names (and an extra half-milliliter) I was pretty excited.

The labels are plain, and the bottles are missing five sides, but the classics are all there. I even tested out this theory and put Goblin Green (still same name) to the test. I found an old goblin from the Warhammer 4th edition boxed set that I painted 16 years ago, and painted some of Coat D'Arms Goblin Green onto the skin of the figure. It matched perfectly.

Now I've heard that the consistency varies from batch to batch, but I don't know about that. I mean, I haven't bought doubles of any paint, but I'm hopping onto Coat D'Arms bandwagon pretty late in the game, and I figure there'd be more variance in that case, not an exact match to a 16 year old paint job.

Their metallics aren't as great as Reaper's (and surely not as great as Citadel's), and the skin colors aren't as good as P3's. They're hard to get, but they have three lines: Fantasy (the old Citadel paints), Military, and World War 2 (which I've used to replace my Vallejo paints).

Vallejo Model/Game Color

Vallejo paints have a bijillion different paints spread out over a quadrillion different paint lines. Alright, I exaggerate, but seriously. I've only tried their Game Color range (a Citadel imitator, complete with all the colors Citadel got rid of, including the ones that they added since the switch from HMG paints), and their Model Color range (a range that has every damned shade of every damned color the human eye can see).

I'm excited, greatly, by the sheer amount of different paints they produce. If it's a color, they make it, and it comes in 20 different shades. This makes picking a color-scheme a dream. It also makes it a one-stop-shop for paint.

My complaints don't seem to be shared by the masses, who go absolutely bananas over these paints. I find them watery. This might make them attractive to pro painters who want some flawless blending, but if I want my paints watery, I'd like to do it myself. Many of the colors I've used had terrible coverage. And while the eye-dropper tops may seem like a good idea, it's just one more thing that can go wrong, such as when three of the paints I bought had split droppers. This led to paint spewing in every direction. Forget about if they ever clog.

Their metallics are nothing special, and they still use inks, which are the poor-man's washes if you ask me.

Privateer Press Paints (P3)

These paints were not only designed by Mike McVey (the genius who designed my favorite Citadel paints), but they're still manufactured by HMG, and so cover, smell, and are put in the same pots as Coat D'Arms.

I really like these paints; in fact, I used to use them exclusively (except for their metallics and inks). The coverage is a little better than Coat D'Arms, but not as good as Foundation, and they have a healthy mix of shades and colors (not as big as Vallejo, but bigger than Citadel). Therefore I smatter my Coat D'Arms pains with shades that don't exist in other ranges. Particularly of note are their browns, greys, and skin colors (all kinds of skin!). Colors to avoid: pink, greens (they don't cover well), and their metallics.

Their metallics are similar to Coat D'Arms now, but when the range was first released, they had quality issues out the wazoo. I chucked all my initial P3 metallics, and have only re-bought Pig Iron and Molten Bronze because I heard that the metallics had a re-do, and those were the only two paints with the new black labels. They're now on par with Coat D'Arms (which isn't anything special, metallic-wise).

Now that Citadel invented these fantastic washes, I don't find the need to use inks anymore, and even if I did, I don't think I'd use the P3 inks. They're in strange shades that I'm not used to, and while their painting articles are some of the best I've seen, they seem to use the inks in rather arcane ways that I'm not used to. I'm not saying they're bad inks (at least as far as inks go), they're just not what I'm looking for.

Oh! Before I move on, I should mention that they've ingeniously organized their paints into bases, and highlights. So the paint titled Khador Red Base, is meant to be mixed and highlighted with the paint Khador Red Highlight. GENIUS!

Reaper Paints

Admittedly I've only tried their Master Series paints, but I like 'em! They have a similar method of organization to P3, but they take it one step further, literally. They have triads of paints which go along the lines of a shade, base, and highlight of any given color. My favorite triad is the drow one, which is the best match to the almost black-y/purple-y drow skin. Their colors cover pretty well, and they have a diverse range of them. As I said in the Vallejo section, I'm somewhat mistified in the attraction to Vallejo, and wonder that if they were better at marketing their paint range, Reaper could take the top spot for a widely-available Citadel substitute. They're not well-known to the general gaming public, though and it's partially because they're not widely available.

Their metallics are second only to Citadel's, in that they don't seem as "full" as Citadel's metallics, but they're better than anyone else's and they have a decent quanity. I've never tried their inks or their HD (high density) line, which is supposed to be a competitor to Citadel's Foundation, so I can't say much about them, but I think these guys are a great company, in general, and their paints are nothing to sneeze at.

They're packaged in dropper bottles, though, which I've griped about in the Vallejo section. What's unique about their bottles is that they have tiny pewter skulls inside them that act as agitators when you shake the paint. Oh man, the genius is too much!

Rackham Paints
They're so terrible, I can't find any pictures on Google...

These are terrible. There's a reason they're no longer produced. If you see them, don't buy them, and surely don't put them to your models. Rackham were the biggest perpatrators of false advertising I've ever seen in gaming. There's no way the Rackham studio used these things.

So there you have it. Those are my many opinions on paint. Right now, I'm using a smattering of Coat D'Arms, P3, and Citadel with a few Reaper paints hanging out on the periphery. Though it may sound like I'm a shill for Citadel Colour, I actually really do like them, and recommend them. As I stated, my only complaints lie in the amount of colors and the quantity they come in (12ml).


1 comment:

Jake Mitchell said...

I know this is a very old article (Two years) but I wanted to post mainly for the information of other people reading. (I came trying to find out what the newer p3 metalics look like)

Anyway onto the information, Vallejo paints. Gamecolour are trash imo and many other painter's opinions. Model colour have fantastic coverage and thin exceptionally well with a great consistency HOWEVER they will need rather large amounts of shaking before use the first couple of times. (after that they seem to stay mixed, I use glass beads inside the bottles anyway)
I am talking 2-4minutes of controlled shaking btw.

Vallejo model air make the best metallics on the market period, it used to be just their silvers but they fixed their gold and bronze lines thankfully.(gold gives one or two thin coats over black it is that good, silver is always one coat with decent brushwork)

As for the dropper bottles for either reaper of vallejo just buy some spare bottles from ebay for $2 50bottles and free shipping, if a split occurs just replace the nozzle, keep the bottles clean and it shouldn't be an issue.
People tend to squeeze them, no need just shake and tip. There will be more control and less wastage.

Vallejo model color metalics are AWFUL though, as in far worse than game colour metalics for the most part.

Vallejo model color aren't the best for glazing and reaper/citadel/p3 do it better.