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"Craft Paints..." Topic

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tbeard1999 Inactive Member13 Dec 2017 6:48 p.m. PST

I've been doing some serious testing of game paints and some craft paints.

The Reds Test is here: link

The Blues Test is here: link

Tomorrow, hopefully, I'll post the results of my white and yellow tests, along with tests of many more craft paints.

I can tell you that the Michaels Craft Smart Matte Paints outperformed more expensive craft paints and did very well in the tests. And at 70 cents a bottle, they are a steal. This tracks reviews of these paints I've read from craft painters.

I think I now understand why there's so much disagreement between gamers about craft paints. Some strongly insist that you can paint miniatures well with craft paints; others just as strongly deny it.

Turns out that both groups are correct.

In my tests, the best craft paints perform just as well covering white as the game paints. And very occasionally better. They are slightly inferior covering black, but can be layered to match the opacity of their game paint counterparts. However, this is in their unthinned, out of the bottle state.

When thinned, the consistency of Vallejo Model Color Paints, the craft paints lose significant opacity. However, their coverage over white isn't affected much at all. CRITICAL POINT – I thin them with Liquitex Airbrush thinner, which contains acrylic medium and is FAR better than water, Water would likely make them perform far poorer.

So, if you use the craft paints unthinned, they will work fine. Game paints will cover black a little better, but they are about equal covering white. You'll work a little harder over black undercoats, but it isn't too bad. You then conclude that the tremendous savings is worth it.

But if you like to use thinned paint, and especially if you thin with water, the craft paints are very inferior to game paints.

So the painting technique is what will determine if craft paints are suitable.

That said, at 70 cents a bottle for the Craft Smart Matte Paint, you pay about 1/12 the cost per ML as Vallejo. Or to put it another way, if you bought, say, 30 bottles of Vallejo Model Color, you'd pay about $100. USD If you bought 30 bottles of Craft Smart paint, you'd spend $21 USD and you'd get 3.5 times the paint.

Or, you could buy this set link and use a 50% off coupon. That would be 16 paints for $4 USD (!). Then buy 14 other colors for $10. USD That's $14 USD for 30 paints. Even crazier cheap.

You would, of course, spend more time painting. But for someone wanting to knock out miniatures for cheap, these paints are worth looking at. And if you strategically supplemented the craft paints with excellent game paints, you could put a very nice paint set together at a fraction of the cost of game paints.

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian13 Dec 2017 6:48 p.m. PST

robert piepenbrink once observed:

…in my experience fantasy authors almost never give you the detail you'd want for a decent scenario&hellip Most of the exceptions are actually stealing historical battles. Of course, this is usually true of medieval chroniclers as well.

So all my fantasy and medieval battles are just interesting battles, not attempts to recreate either Bosworth or the Battle of Five Armies. I don't have the information.


Do you agree?

Rich Bliss13 Dec 2017 6:53 p.m. PST

If you like the Michaels Craft paints , try Delta Ceramcoat. Much better coverage.

tbeard1999 Inactive Member13 Dec 2017 7:02 p.m. PST

Actually, I have spent a fortune on game paints. My tests started out as a way for me to figure out which paints are best in each category. But I've always been intrigued by the craft paints vs game paints debate.

I did use Ceramcoat 7+ years ago. They seemed fine to me.

The Craft Smart Matte Paints are just crazy cheap at 70 cents per bottle. And as noted, with the weekly 50% off coupon and by buying a set, you can get 30 paints for $14 USD(!). And at least in my tests, they have equaled or outperformed other, more expensive craft paints. Plus at 70 cents a bottle, I can afford to indulge my curiousity.

Zephyr113 Dec 2017 10:03 p.m. PST

Instead of thinner or water, I usually add some matte or gloss varnish to craft paint to help it 'bind' together as it dries (like a drop or two to small amounts on a paint pallet.) Some craft paints dry too chalky, so this way I keep the color while reducing the risk of it rubbing off. Works better for figures than large areas… ;-)

tbeard1999 Inactive Member14 Dec 2017 6:11 a.m. PST

Zephyr1 – Agreed that there are better options to thin acrylics than water. As noted, I use Liquitex Airbrush Thinner, which contains flow aid, retarder and acrylic medium. It's pretty thin and works well with game paints (which are thinner than craft paints). Of course, you can make your own by buying acrylic medium (or using future floor wax), flow aid and (optional) retarder and mixing to taste with distilled water.

At the very least, if you're using craft paints, I'd replace the water with future floor wax. It's an acrylic medium and cheap. Your use of varnish is probably the same thing. Your varnish is likely just an acrylic medium, thinned with distilled water.

grahambeyrout14 Dec 2017 7:52 a.m. PST

I have been using craft paints for two years now, and find them suitable for most purposes with my 10mm and 15mm figures.
To be frank the most expensive paints, although offering better flow characterises would be wasted on me. At best I am only an average, some might say, mediocre painter. so I can easily live with their limitations because of their price. The only problem I have is thinning them successfully. Water does not seem to do the job well, and so I am delighted for all the good the advice above about this. My other concern is their durability. Two years is not enough time to gather how well the paint wears or holds its colours. Will they still look the same in 20 years, as they do today.?

tbeard1999 Inactive Member15 Dec 2017 12:41 a.m. PST

Grahamberoit – I wash my figures with a magic wash of Future and black ink. Then I spray with flat clear coat. The Future coating is basically bulletproof; I don't worry much about durability.

billclo15 Dec 2017 5:20 a.m. PST

Normally I use craft paints without difficulty, except that some of them seem to have less wear resistance. I'm talking about not being able to handle minis while I am painting them, having to resort to holding onto the base stem, lest the paint rub off, especially on sharp edges.

Once I get a couple coats of clear coat on them they are "better", but still not as durable as my other game paints.

1968billsfan Supporting Member of TMP15 Dec 2017 5:31 a.m. PST

Thanks for the discussion. I didn't think of using the Future stuff as a thinner.

Legion 415 Dec 2017 7:54 a.m. PST

I use some Craft paints … but for more "realistic" colors I use Vallejo's. I sure miss the old Polly's S Line of paints though … The best inks and washes I have found are Games Workshops …

ced110617 Dec 2017 9:22 p.m. PST

A bottle of hobby paint will last years, so the extra paint you get from a bottle of craft paint doesn't add much value, unless you paint in mass quantities (and I do). Also, at least for 28mm painting, a bottle of hobby paint won't cost you more than four plastic boardgame miniatures, and less than a metal miniature.

I've had some perfectly fine tabletop results with craft paint for terrain, and they're a must-have for painting 50+ game tiles or chests at a time. I also find craft paints much more convenient to use than eye droppers -- just shake, unscrew the cap, and paint from that. However, I'm also using the more expensive Army Painter spray primer when I need the color, and GW pots for the convenience of "painting from the pot" for priming, underpainting, and some basecoating.

If you're having problems with paint coverage, use undercoats and sometimes a brown primer, such as Rustoleum's Camouflage brown spray paint, which is a dark brown. Use light brown as an undercoat. I actually use the expensive Stynylrez light brown primer (flows great off the brush), which is actually half the price per ounce when you buy the larger 2oz bottle vs. 1/2 oz hobby paint. Makes a fine undercoat and catches any areas the spray primer didn't catch. Light brown is much easier to cover than black, and, of course, is a basecoat color for brown areas. Basecoat, then follow with a wash. I still prefer the premade stuff, like Army Painter.

1968billsfan Supporting Member of TMP18 Dec 2017 5:32 a.m. PST

Well, for primer I use black Rustolium flat paint thinned about 1:5 to 1:10 with "paint thinner". The surface tension is such that it easily spreads over the entire metal figure easily and has enough polymer in it to give a good surface for painting over. It will get into "cracks" on the figure to darken them up slightly when painting and is a thin enough coat so that the vertical features do not get smoothed out. Spray paint doesn't get into places like under the legs of horses unless you really pile it on- and then the paint is thick over the easily reached surfaces.

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