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Acrylic Paints Change the Game

Back in the day, I used enamels. In fact, I learned modeling using Testors enamel model paint. At the time, I thought enamels were about the best available. We used it straight from the jar and cleaned our brushes with the thinner Testors sold. It went on thick, but we thought that was good. I guess I just did not know better.

Then I learned about acrylic paint, and for me no going back to enamels. There is a lot to like about them, here are a few thoughts:

  1. Acrylics are safer for your respiratory system. This is particularly true if you are using an airbrush.
  2. They are far easy to clean up (in my opinion).
  3. Because you are not using harsh chemicals, your brushes will generally last longer.
  4. They dry faster than most other paints. This is a real advantage when you are starting out. You can do all your layering and highlighting in a single session without waiting hours (or days) for your miniatures to dry.
  5. They tend to be less expensive. You also save money by using water to clean and thin.
  6. Most people playing Warhammer use acrylics so you will have a lot of support from fellow players.

All these wonderful things about acrylics and I have to admit I do use oil paint for a few things. Primarily, wet blending, weathering and panel lines (I will do posts on these techniques soon). In each of these techniques, the longer drying time of oils make them the only real choice. The good news is water soluble oils are on the market now, so clean up is still very easy and you can still use water to thin the paint. I prefer the Winsor & Newton Artisan brand, but there are a couple others on the market now.

Keep painting.

 

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Talking Paint

Over the years, I played with a lot of paint and I developed some possibly helpful observations. In this post I am talking a lot about using paint in airbrushes, but most of the information is equally true for using a brush as well.

  • GW – The nice thing about these paints is that the colors are called out in all the tutorials, so it is easy for a beginner to choose the correct paint. Generally they are pretty consistent and this makes them easy to reduce for your airbrush because a single rule of thumb works pretty well for all of their standard colors (not the Foundation line). Typically you will use 1:1 paint to whatever you are using to thin (I will talk about reducers below). Also, a lot of people use them, so it is easy to get help regarding their use from other people in the hobby. The disadvantage of the GW paints is that they come in a container that is particularly hard to work with (especially for airbrushing) and they are usually more expensive than the competitors.
  • Vallejo – They actually make three lines of paint: Game Color, Model Color and Model Air. All are good paints and come in a dropper bottle. This makes measuring for reducing and loading your brush much easier than the containers from GW. The container also means you waste a lot less paint. Vallejo also tends to be a little less costly than GW. Game Color is their direct competitor to the GW line. You will find many of the names are the similar to the corresponding GW paint. This makes it easy to select the color. The Model Color comes in a much broader selection of color than the other Vallejo lines. It also has the highest pigment load and will generally cover well. Model Color is also available in Extra Opaque. This paint covers similar to the foundation paints from GW. Finally, Vallejo has the Model Air. This line is formulated to be used directly in an AB. It is thinner and has a finner pigment. This is a good paint for beginners since reducing is generally not required. Many modelers also use the Model Air paints with a brush as well. The Model Air metallics are particularly good. The biggest disadvantage of the Vallejo paints is that they tend to separate pretty quickly. This will happen in your color cup or on you pallet, so it is important to keep this in mind when you load up. Also, they are not as consistent as the GW paints. This means you may need to tweak the reduction ratio slightly more from color to color.
  • Others – There are other paints specifically for the hobby as well. Privateer Press has a P3 line and Reaper has a couple lines. I do not have a lot of experience with the Reaper paint. The P3 paint is excellent paint, but I see it as a better for brush application than it is AB application. It comes in a similar container as the GW paint and the P3 tends to be a lot more finicky to reduce.
  • Reducers – You will find a lot of different opinions about reducers. Some will tell you to only use the specific reducer made by the paint vendor, others will say use water and others will tell you everything in between. Most of these things will work pretty well. Personally, I mostly use distilled water and Liquetex FlowAid. I typically tell beginners to use Windex. The reason being is that it works well, is very forgiving and they already have it in their house. Les from AwesomePaintJob (http://awesomepaintjob.blogspot.com/) uses Windex and overall it has a large following in the scale modeling community.

I started using the GW paints pretty exclusively then added Vallejo to the mix (no pun intended). Over time, a third disadvantage to the GW / Vallejo paint came to mind for me. That is if you simply use the recommended colors from the various tutorials then your Blood Angel. Ork or Eldar armies looks very much like your those of your friends. This led me to realize that I wanted my own color of red and paint scheme for my army. To really accomplish this I needed to mix my own colors and at that point I realized I could simply get decent acrylic paint from an art store and save a lot of money on paint. At that point I switched to Liqutex Basic Matt paints for most of my paint. This allows me to make a custom color that you don’t see on every Blood Angel every weekend and I save money at the same time.