Monday, April 28, 2014

Paint Line Comparison Results!

In a spectacularly short fashion (for me) I have finished my four test minis in 12 days. I certainly learned a bit about these paints, and what I like or don't about each. I tried to just do my 'normal' painting to get results most helpful to me in deciding what paint I like best. But now to the fun part! Here's what they look like all painted up and based:

Not my most stellar paint job, but more than adequate to the task.

The first and most obvious difference is the bottles, so I'll start there. I don't have any particular love for the Citadel ones, but the P3 bottles are terrible. Half of the lids broke off during this experiment. It was incredibly frustrating and led to a few spills.

Surprisingly, I was not impressed with the dropper bottles either. I really thought they were going to be my all-stars of packaging. But in reality, they were frustrating to mix. Both the Vallejo and Reaper ones had problems; they took an absurd amount of shaking. The Reaper paints also separated the most quickly.

Reaper model.
 But the real problem with the separation is that a whole bunch of what separates to the top gets in the nozzle of the dropper. So even if you shake it like crazy, you're still going to waste those first 2-3 drops every time you pick it up- it's either too thin or not the appropriate color.

Lastly, they also started clogging. I bought almost all of the paint for this experiment brand new just for this, so I was unhappy to find that a few days into the experiment the droppers were already clogging. Overall, I was very disappointed because easily dropping some paint onto my palette or wet palette was a huge plus.

Vallejo model.
The next big difference was consistency. After all, the difference between P3 and GW's consistencies was what got this whole experiment started. P3 is the thickest, then GW, then Vallejo, then Reaper. I usually thin GW's a little bit before using them. P3 I thinned nearly every time. I only occasionally felt that I needed to thin the Vallejo or Reaper paints. Only a few of the Reaper paints did I think were too thin.

Consistency was actually a little hard to gauge at first, because of the separation factor. P3 has had virtually none, which I think is pretty impressive. Go P3. A quick shake'll do for GW. But Vallejo and Reaper were a pain in the butt, and ended up being somewhat wasteful. I can't imagine how much paint I wasted just on these four models. But it wouldn't have been as much of a problem if not for the dropper bottles, as addressed above. Unmixed elements getting stuck in the nozzles was really a huge downer for me.

Citadel model.
Problems with separation didn't end there, though. Once I started trying them out on the wet palette, Reaper and Vallejo didn't do too well. They separated on the palette after a little while. Not the end of the world, but certainly added more time to my painting. I was very pleased with how GW performed on the wet palette. P3 obviously also did well in that regard, as they sell you a wet palette just for that purpose, it wasn't a surprise.

Once I got to the actual painting part (feels like it took a while to get here, doesn't it?) I was very pleased with the smoothness of the P3 paints. They and the Vallejo paints were definitely the smoothest and had the nicest feel on the brush. I'm not exactly sure if that's the best way to described it, but they went on from the brush to the model better. Reaper being thinner I think made it go on well, too, but with less coverage.

P3 model.
It was a different story once I got to the metallics. P3s were probably my favorite in terms of coverage, then GW's. GW has better colors, but P3s are smoother and don't react poorly to being diluted. GW's does act a little weird when you dilute it. Both of the Vallejo ones I used weren't very smooth, which was disappointing, and the coverage wasn't great. Reaper's were just too thin to be very useful. I had to do several coats of both Vallejo and Reaper to get the desired coverage.

I used the Two Brush Blending technique on the back of the cloaks. I am still learning how to use this technique, so it's a bit rough on them. As I experienced before, GW didn't do too well with this. It dries just a might too fast for it. But Vallejo and Reaper did just dandy. Some day I'll be able to do the technique justice, I just need more practice.

The dry brushing went about as well as I expected at this point- thicker paints worked a little easier. But the Reaper paint was more subtle, which actually worked out pretty well I think. A little different from my usual technique but gave me some nice results. I ended up using the dry brushing more sparingly than usual, since I learned better brush control and how much nicer fur, hair, etc. looks when done with specific strokes.

That's about it as far as specifics go. There are a few things not specifically related to the paint that I want to mention. P3 doesn't have a nice light grey. That's a big disappointment to me. I use light greys a heck of a lot and P3 has the least to offer in terms of colors. Vallejo's colors are very vibrant- really liked that about them. Reaper's all seemed a bit more muted but the variety is absurd.

 Reaper, though, had some really disappointing labels. They're pretty terrible, it's hard to tell what color you've got when the name of it is tucked in among a lot of other text. Vallejo's are right on the top of the label- nice choice. Don't even have to pick it up to see it.

The last thing is availability. I have 5 hobby stores (probably more) within an hour drive of me that carry wargaming goodies. I was incredibly disappointed by the selection of paints available to me locally. GW wins the day here, as it is well stocked in all my local stores. I was able to pick up some of the others locally, but most I had to order online. I had a right hard time trying to track down some of the P3 paints, actually.

So, conclusions time. What paint did I like best? It's a bit hard to say. Overall, I'm very impressed with the P3 paints. If they had the variety of colors that GW did, I would probably use them all the time. They're definitely going to have a place on my painting table from now on.

I really liked the richness of the colors from Vallejo but not being able to see them in person before I buy them is a bummer. Same for Reaper. Actually, Reaper were probably my least favorite, which surprised me. I used their skintones for my whole Dwarf army and was pleased. But I couldn't really get used to how thin they are compared to the others and the metallics were the most disappointing. There was nothing wrong with them really, I think it was just a matter of technique.

But truly, which one? P3. But if my house burned down tomorrow and all my paint went with it, what would I buy? Games Workshop. While I do prefer the P3 paint for the tone and smoothness of the paint, their lack of colors really kills it for me. I will absolutely continue to use them but my staple will still be Game's Workshop's Citadel paints.

Between the color choices, the ready-made washes, and local availability, it's really an obvious winner for me. I have also grown very fond of the technical paints. But for painting large armies like I do with many similar figures, I think that is the best choice.

I learned a lot of interesting things about paints and a few things about how I paint, too. I'm glad I tried these different paints. I think it's helped me grow as a painter.

Now I'm going to take a little hobby break for a week or so, finals are coming up. I'll probably end up painting something anyway, what better way to procrastinate from studying?

Experiment Proposal
Part 1: So Much Paint 
Part 2: It Begins!


  1. I use Reaper metallics a lot for my Convergence force, and I experience a lot of the same issues you do. Layering after the basecoat can be especially difficult, but with some patience I have something that's good for a table-top quality force. I'm probably going to go back to using GW paints for my Legion force though.

  2. For a small group of models, under a dozen or so, I think it would be fine. But doing 3-4 layers where 1 will do with other paints on 50 models is definitely not worth it. It gets tedious.


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