What to buy? Paints, not printers.

I had a life experience this week. I bought a printer. I’ve been from pillar to post (well, PC World/ Curry’s to…another PC World Curry’s to find staff who could offer more advice than point to equipment on the shop floor and say – that one’s good.)

I found a store that specialises in printers and bought one to create nice photos for my old man. But the printer I bought wasn’t what I needed.

‘How much printing do you do now?’ questions the shopkeep, an expert in his field, lord of printing.

‘None’ says I. Because I don’t own a printer.

‘Buy that one then, lovely little motor’ *slaps bonnet of printer*

I’ve ruminated on this exchange for longer than is healthy. It highlights a complete failure of communication on both our parts (more so mine, the dude isn’t a mind reader after all). It also brings to my attention why people ask me for recommendations on paints, brushes and hobby brick a brak.

Please allow me to take you through my mental process when I’m asked such a thing.

I’m deeply uncomfortable saying “this is the thing, this is the best thing ever.” I’ve had lots of equipment recommended to me that simply hasn’t worked. Take AK interactive’s Ultra Matte Lucky varnish. It always frosts on me, without fail. But I’ve seen other modelers use it to great success and I can’t fathom what cack-handed process I employ to turn this wonder varnish into crap. An earnest recommendation can still lead to disaster, through no fault of the product itself.

With social media and the ‘influencer trend’ slowly pervading our hobby, I always feel like a snake oil salesman whenever I do give a recommendation. What’s the angle? Why are you recommending that? How much of a kickback are you getting?

As a studio, we’re lucky to be sponsored by some inspiring companies. If we weren’t, we’d still be using their products. But as a casual or even serious miniature painter, what recommendations can you trust? Well, this article is to provide you with the perfect printer for your needs.

Let’s dismiss this myth. What paint is the best?

There is no best paint. No paint will magically transform you into a great painter. You will be able to accomplish the same things with Games Workshop paints as Scale 75. What matters is their properties.

What do I look for in a paint range?

Above all else, I look for versatility. I like using paint through the airbrush and on the palette. I don’t buy airbrush exclusive paint as I find matching them with the brush stage a chore.

Games Workshop: Thicker pigmented paint that gives wonderful one coat coverage. Think what you want of them, but they are constantly innovating with products like Contrast paint (I know they’re ink with more acrylic thinner added, but who was pushing it before them?) and offer a great entry point to developing as a painter. It’s easy to buy, give good coverage, but struggle with longevity and producing a reliable white. I’m not a fan of their metallics either when compared to Vallejo or Scale 75.

Scale 75: This range still feels like the new kid on the block. The paint has more suspension medium in the mix, which makes the paint feel gloopy, or thick, but does not give the coverage you make expect from a paint of such density. They have been designed to help with glazing, the connective tissue of any paint job. With a little practice you will get why these are so popular. My preferred paint range.

Scale 75 Artist: Launched at the end of 2018, these came alongside Kimera as a paint range aimed at higher-end miniature painters. The paints feel like smooth toothpaste as you squeeze them from the bottle. You only need a little on your pallette as they go a long way. They balance pigment density with suspension medium beautifully, allowing you to perform techniques like a loaded brush and wet blending with ease. Coverage is excellent and they airbrush well. If you are interested in developing as a painter and want a range to help you mix and match, this is the one to go for.

Vallejo (Model & Game): Ubiquitous, versatile and easy to buy, the Vallejo range is the jack of all trades, and the master of them too. They offer superb pigment density, a wide range of colours for those who do not like mixing their own blends and have a pedigree that is unmatched. The Game Colours have been designed for gaming pieces and so dry slightly satin to protect the paint job from prolonged usage.

Vallejo Air: I don’t buy this. It’s a good paint range, but I found matching them to the brush stage a chore. Buy the normal Vallejo colours and thin them down!

Reaper Master Series: Shipping from America has proven to be prohibitive to buy in bulk, but what I have used I have been impressed with. They seem to be a blend between GW and Scale 75 paints. They offer a fantastic range of colour and have an innovative triad system for easy to develop colour schemes. I wish I could try more of this range as they handle really nicely.

Notable mention Kimera: Launched roughly at the same time as Scale 75 Artist’s paint, the Kimera pure pigments have been designed for professional miniature painters to give box art quality level paint jobs. I haven’t invested in these as they are always sold out! However, from what I understand they dry very matte, so much so in fact that the set comes with a satin medium to help modulate your work. Very promising, a paint range I wish to explore in the future.

That’s nice, but what paint should I buy?

Look at the paints you own and look a the colour wheel. We all tend to cluster around one part of the colour wheel to the exclusion of all others (I don’t own that many green’s for example). Buy paints that fill the hole in your line up. Beyond that look at the structure of your paint range. All artists, no matter the level needs a backbone to their palette. You need black, white and the updated colour primaries (yellow, cyan, magenta).

The backbone of any miniature painters palette. Please note don’t buy all these colours! The hue is in bold and any of the following paints would be an excellent choice. For example, I need Cyan. I will therefore buy Adriatic blue. I won’t buy every colour listed!

  • Cyan/ turquoise: Turquoise Blue Scale 75 Artist, Jorildyn Turquoise Scale 75, Adriatic Blue Scale 75, Lothern Blue, Games Workshop, Light Turquoise Vallejo Model Colour.
  • Magenta: Magenta Scale 75 Artist, Fuschia Scale 75, Emperor’s Children Games Workshop, Magenta Vallejo Model Colour, Murderous Magenta Formula P3.
  • Yellow: Primary Yellow Scale 75 Artist, Sol Yellow Scale 75, Flash Gitz Yellow Games Workshop, Deep Yellow Vallejo Model Colour.
  • White: Art White Scale 75 Artist, Morrow White Formula P3.
  • Black: Art Black Scale 75 Artist, Flat Black Scale 75, Thamar Black Formula P3.
  • Other useful colours: Rhinox Hide Games Workshop, Sunset Purple Scale 75, Purple Scale 75 Artist, Coal Black Formula P3, Incubi Darkness Games Workshop, Deep Red, Scale 75, fluorescent yellow Vallejo Model Colour, fluorescent blue Vallejo Model Colour, fluorescent magenta Vallejo Model Colour, the intensity range (ALL) by Scale 75.

If you’d like to learn how to put these paints into action I’d like to recommend the Cooking with Colours series. This covers how to use the different qualities of paints to create the Marneus Calgar below. This came to be applied to any miniature as it examines the underlying principles of painting, not just the scheme.

Miniature Painting Course Library.
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