Sunday, September 9, 2012

Anyone got some advice about paints?

A little request for help from other wargamers out there: can anybody recommend a good range of paints for modelling miniatures, and specifically a good starter set?  

This has come about from me trying to get back into a regular painting habit after months of house-moving upsetting the system, but now I've made a terrible discovery - most of my paints have settled and separated, or are nearly depleted!  Obviously after the months away I've come back with a fresh pair of eyes, and can see that the paint collection I've used before now (mostly Games Workshop paints, simply because a nearby Hobbycraft stocked them and I could get them easily) is actually greatly diminished, being very old and run-down.  In short, barring a few odd paints here and there as 'refugees' I need to buy myself a starter kit to get up and running.  

Also, sad to report that my brushes are in dire nick - I'll need to get a new range of good modelling brushes at the same time, making the overhaul complete!  So, what do other people out there use?  Is there something you'd recommend, or a 'starter' set you know of that's available somewhere?  Any and all suggestions are most welcome!


  1. Of course it depends upon just what period you are painting . . . some need very specialized colors.

    What I use because of their easy availability and low cost are the inexpensive aacrylic "craft paints" available in most hobby, craft and dollar-type stores.

    These come in 2 oz plastic bottles and last a long time. Mostly I have Ceramcoat but there are other brands in my collection as well.

    One of the things that I do is to paint the top on the lid with the color of the paint inside which allows me to see them easily.

    They may not be as historically accurate as some hobby lines of paint but they serve me well.

    -- Jeff

  2. Hi CWT.
    Afraid there is no quick and easy answer to your question. Citadel (GW), Army Painter and Vallejo all do reasonable starter sets, the problem is that often you end up with paints and brushes that you'll never use which means the sets are then less of a bargain. If possible just buy paints as and when you need then. It's often down to personal preference plus trial and error. Citadel old foundation paint range gave excellent coverage. Vallejo bottles allow you to precisely measure out your paint, very useful if you're regularly mixing paint. The Foundry triad paints system is very easy to use but you can end up with lots (and lots) of paint bottles! Ask on any forum and everyone will have different opinions and different favourites.

    Brushes again are a personal preference, I have probably around two dozen, one set for colours and another for metallics, from Citadel, Army Painter, Tamiya, Winsor Newton etc. and a few dirt cheap ones for dry brushing and base painting. Although you can probably get away with just having two or three brushes. The only things I can advise are:

    1. You're rarely need (or use) a brush smaller than 0 escially if it your brushes have a good tip.
    2. Always check the tip before buying, even if it means licking it (when on-one is looking) to ensure it forms a decent point. Sounds disgusting but ensures you get a decent brush. Or you could ask for a glass of water and use that (licking is quicker and easier).
    3. Keep 'em clean.


  3. More important are brushes than the paint.

    Fine point 0 in sable for close in work - I would suggest get 2 at least - one for most of the work and one for any metallic work (as the metal pigments tend to stain the brush and mess with later work).

    A fine pint 1 or 2 will also be smart as you can use it for 'blocking' in your early layers faster with the larger brush.

    For paint 'sets' I would recommend GOLDEN acrylics, here in Canada you can find them at most artist supply stores - sort of a mid-way between the dollar store craft paints and the specialist mini only paints sets. You can get a small tube set with the primary colors to experiment with for $30. If you want to 'go' with this sort of approach I would recommend a large tube of Black, White and Blue, then smaller tubes of burnt umber, red and yellow. I have also got a set of Iridescent Gold, silver and bronze (the metallic set - work great for swords, hilts, bayonets, brass shako plates etc) these metallic ones I have had for more than 10 years and not used them all up nor have they ever 'gone dry' - like the Polly S set that I had before for only 3 years.

    I have gone to the 'poster paints' (I think they have been called) and I will not look back. I mix all my own colors from the base ones.

    I have only 'bent' this for the skin tones and sometimes dark greens - where I use the craft paints from a local hobby shop - again these have been in use for many years without drying out.

    For great shading I would also recommend getting brown, red and blue inks, though you may want to experiment with the paints first.