Thursday, April 9, 2009

On Paint: Part 3 – Liquid Pigment

These next 4 paint lines are grouped together by their common elements – they all use what is known as liquid pigment and they can be pretty hard to find in a local store.

I’m going to be honest here: I don’t know exactly what ‘liquid pigment’ means in a technical sense. I believe this means that the pigment used in the paint is in and of itself a liquid as opposed to a fine grain powder of some sort. What this means in a practical sense is that paints utilizing liquid pigment can be turned into washes more readily as the actual color remains in suspension much better. The paints don’t hardly separate at all so you can often times use nothing but water to make a wash. Don’t worry about the formulation of the paints; the liquid pigment does not cause any issues when mixing with fine grain pigment paints.

As to being hard to find, 2 of them are imports and the other two are from games companies that just don’t have the market share of GW. The standard problems of knowing exactly what color you’re buying is very present if you aren't lucky enough to see them in a local store.

There are 4 lines that I know of the liquid pigment type - Formula P3, Wargames Foundry, Reaper Master Series and Coat d’Arms. I have to apologize before hand as some of this section will be based on very little personal experience as I’ve only recently come into contact with 2 of these lines and never seen one of them at all.

Formula P3 (Privateer Press)
I’ll star with what I know best – the Warmachine/Hordes in-house brand. P3 is a lot different from what most of you are used to. In addition to the liquid pigment, P3 paints are formulated in such a way that they take longer to dry and are a bit thicker than many other paints. This helps create an interesting set of advantages and disadvantages.

1) The slower drying time (nothing major just a few seconds, really) means that you can make use of blending techniques more easily. The paint stays wetter longer thus making it very possible (maybe even easy?) to do some blending without having to thin the paints.

2) The paint is a bit thicker in consistency. Overall, the paint is ‘tougher’ and can withstand a lot more wear and tear. When wet, P3 paints take additives and thinning much better. When dry, they’re a little more resistant to the kind of wear that a table top model gets. Happily, this does not mean the paint is super detail hiding – it can be, but so can any paint.

3) I’d also like to mention the general awesomeness of the coverage and opacity of the paint. In short – these things are great with P3. You still run into slight problems with standard trouble areas like red, white and yellow, but compared to many other lines, head and shoulders above ‘em.

1) There is a learning curve. These paints behave very differently from most other paints. When I first started using them, for example, I ran into all kinds of troubles with the paint flowing into areas I didn’t want it to be. Just be prepared to practice with the P3 line to get the hand of it.

2) The paints taking a little longer to dry is a bit of a double edged sword. If speed painting is your thing, longer dry times will slow you down.

3) The metallics are absolute shite. Poor coverage, gloppy consistency, crappy color suspension - the works. I see praise for Pig Iron and Brass Balls a lot (two of my own favorites), but even those are kinda lame outside of their value strictly as a color.

Just to get this is the open: I love the SHIT out of the P3 line. If the metallics were better and the range itself bigger, I'd drift away from other lines.

Author’s Note: Everything from here on out will be a little sparse. I haven’t used the following lines much (or even at all). I mention them because they’re out there.

Foundry Paint System
Sold, appropriately enough, by Wargames Foundry. The Foundry Paint System is an import from England. Interestingly enough, they company that actually makes the paint also makes P3 and Coat d/Arms. The even used to make the GW stuff. Neat.

I only just picked some of these up (actually, for this series of articles). They behave much like the P3 paints (as one would expect). I plan to get more of these as they have a ton of very unique colors and I like the way the behave,

Other interesting tidbits:
1) The paints are only sold in triads of base, shade and highlight.
2) The paints come in 20 ml pots (GW is 12 ml)

However, as imports only sold in trios, they tend to be pretty pricey ($14+) and are hard to get (I’ve only seen them in a handful of online shops). I’ve also heard reports that the opacity can be spotty depending on the color you are using.

Reaper Master Series.
This is one of two in-house lines from Reaper Miniatures. Now that I've gained some useful experience with the line, I can share some thoughts (added: 9-20-09).

Before I get into the pros and cons, I'm going to mention some general paint quality stuff and things that aren't clearly a pro or con (in my mind).

1) The paint dries to a very flat/matte finish. This was a bit disconcerting for me. It's not just a smidgen, or even a little bit flat. Its super flat. This can make blending a bit of a pain in the ass since the Reaper paints are often no where near the same finish as most of the other paint brands.

2) The paint is extremely thin. Great for all kinds of things - layering, blending, etc. Thinning your paint is a good idea anyway to avoid visible brush strokes. However, this quality is terrible for base coats. Generally I prefer having the option of thinning, rather than being forced to.

3) Reaper paints dry quickly. Pretty similar to the GW paints in this regard. Great for speed painting, bad for long term work - be sure to add a drying retarder for any kind of mixing. This isn't a con as the paints come in dropper bottles, so Reaper has side stepped the problem if dead pots.

4) The dropper bottles also come with an agitator already in the bottle. This is a pretty cool feature and goes a long way to make shaking easier and helping with consistency of color. I wish the other dropper bottle companies would add this feature to their paint as well.

1) Fewer modification options. As situational good as some of their qualities can be, Reaper paints are locked in to being thinner and flatter than other paints.

1) They are made/distributed by a domestic (US, anyways) company and are fairly easy to find. They're also a bit cheaper than other paints.

2) They come in dropper bottles. This is good for all the same reasons that have been mentioned elsewhere.

3) Good response to being thinned for washes and the like. The paint holds the pigment well and the fact that the paint is already a bit thin, really helps.

4) Really large range. Not as big as Vallejo, but big none the less. Many of the paints are formulated in Triads like the Foundry stuff. Many unique colors as well.

5) Encourages thin, even coats. Though the thinness can be irritating for base coats, it does put one in the habit of doing multiple thin coats, which is best practice anyway.

Coat d’Arms.
I’m just going to mention this one as I have absolutely no experience with them. They are also made by the same people as Foundry and P3. Other than that, I know nothing and probably never will as I haven’t seen them for sale online in anything but pounds sterling. Plus I’ve heard complaints about color consistency from pot to pot of the same color. Not particularly good for an army.

As I get more info on Reaper and Foundry, I may re-visit them. Until then, just be aware that they exist.

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