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"Craft Paints" Topic

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1,443 hits since 13 Dec 2017
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tbeard1999 Inactive Member13 Dec 2017 6:57 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.

Gonsalvo13 Dec 2017 9:07 p.m. PST

Thanks for all the time and effort you have put into this!

I have used craft paints almost exclusively for many years (usually unthinned, but not always, and over white primer).

I think the coverage of the Craft smart paints by Michaels is terrible compared with most other brands, say especially Delta Ceramcoat, which has been my brand of choice (some of their paints are specified as semi opaque or translucent, which of course decreases coverage.)

Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP13 Dec 2017 9:11 p.m. PST

Wow. I'm going to have to bookmark this topic.


Rich Bliss13 Dec 2017 9:36 p.m. PST

Agree with Gonsalvo. I've tried most of the major brands of craft paint and Ceramcoat has the best coverage ability.

Cyrus the Great13 Dec 2017 9:57 p.m. PST

I have watched all these topics with a lot of interest. A vote of thanks to tbeard1999!

oldjarhead1 Inactive Member13 Dec 2017 10:08 p.m. PST

I use craft paint almost exclusively and agree ceramcoat is best.

zardoz1957 Supporting Member of TMP13 Dec 2017 10:13 p.m. PST

I use about 90% craft paint and I agree Ceramcoat is the best by a good margin. It's the most expensive of the craft paints but still a small fraction of gamer paints cost.

Personal logo Doctor X Supporting Member of TMP13 Dec 2017 11:44 p.m. PST

I'm in the same boat as Gonsalvo.

I've used Ceramcoat about 90% of the time except for metallics and for >25 years it has served me well on thousands of figures.

tbeard – thanks for your work on this. Having just used some craft yellows and oranges tonight (a rare occurrence for me) I'm looking forward to your findings.

Personal logo Wolfshanza Supporting Member of TMP13 Dec 2017 11:50 p.m. PST

I've gone to mostly craft paints, Still have some pots of Partha and IWM that are used. Since my painting is over white primer it works really well. Hate the little droplet bottles and like painting from the cap.

ZULUPAUL Supporting Member of TMP14 Dec 2017 4:34 a.m. PST

+1 Wolfshanza, I also hate dropper bottles! I use craft paints mostly & yes there is differences in brands but I use what I have & I also prime in white.

bobspruster14 Dec 2017 5:02 a.m. PST

Ceramcoat for about 90% of my painting and I think it's better than other brands of craft paint. But I do intend to give Valejo a try sometime soon.

OneHuaiTicket14 Dec 2017 6:09 a.m. PST

Almost exclusively craft paints now for me. I'm no master painter, but they give the results I'm after, and they draw no raised eyebrows from the Minister of Finance when I go buy a few more bottles. Win/Win…

bobm195914 Dec 2017 6:17 a.m. PST

As an alternative you could buy your Vallejo basic colours in the larger bottles (arte deco 60ml instead of 17ml) that are pretty cheap…..

Big Red Supporting Member of TMP14 Dec 2017 6:37 a.m. PST

I've used 90% plus craft paint over white primer for years (decades). I tried these after Testers killed the old Poly S range and Ral Partha discontinued theirs.

I've found that for me, in descending order:

Original Ceramcoat (the best craft paint for most colors. Company sold and no longer made).

Americana (usually adequate substitute for no longer made Ceramcoat range with some good colors of their own).

New Ceramcoat (inferior version of original with less pigment and more filler but some of the original colors are available. Can be used in a pinch if thinned carefully with matte medium or airbrush thinner or flow aid).

Generic or store brands that I've tried (there are many I haven't tried) all had less pigment and more filler than either Original Ceramcoat or Americana.

I would love to use some of the excellent paints in the dropper bottles but the amount of shaking required gave me Vallejo elbow.

I also like Privateer Press P3 paints but by the time I pry off the top, I've spilled half the bottle on myself and anything unlucky enough to be on the painting table.

Edit. Thanks bobm1959. I will definitely give these a try.

Marcus Brutus14 Dec 2017 6:46 a.m. PST

Can someone let me know where in the US can one buy Ceramcoat? In Canada there no longer any supplier or retailer of Ceramcoat paints. I am visiting my brother in Chicago over the holidays and would like to stock up.

Marcus Brutus14 Dec 2017 6:49 a.m. PST

Where is Americana and Ceramcoat in the testing? Excellent craft paints in my experience. I too find the Vallejo paints drop bottles frustrating to work with. They are my primary go to for metallics.

Dynaman878914 Dec 2017 6:49 a.m. PST

The local AC Moore carries them – at least the last time I was there and that was a while ago.

Mister Tibbles14 Dec 2017 6:53 a.m. PST

I 100% agree with the OP that one's painting style will determine success or failure using craft paints.

I used to use craft paints exclusively, but as I learned how to wet blend and glaze (using very thin layers of paints to build highlights) I realized craft paints performed poorly. Reaper tends to work well for glazing, in most cases. Craft paints just didn't want to thin as well as something like Reaper or P3.

But I still use craft paints! It just depends on what I want to do.

mwindsorfw Supporting Member of TMP14 Dec 2017 7:30 a.m. PST

One downside to craft paints is that you often need to mix colors. The nice thing about all those droppers of Vallejo and Reaper paints is that they will be exactly the same color every time. If I mix paints, I get a good color at the time, but often have a hell of a time trying to match it if I have to come back later.

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP14 Dec 2017 7:37 a.m. PST

"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 did not see the Michaels Craft Smart paint in either the red's, or the blue's. I do not consider Testors Model Master paints to be "craft" paints, but rather model paints. The only true craft paint I saw is the Outdoor Gloss Indoor craft paint, which I assume is the Appel Barrel red, listed on the test page, with the black test mark, which was covered with the paint; on the blue testing page, I did not see any craft paints, they all appeared to be high-end model paints: Reaper, Citadel, Vallejo, and Coat d' Arms.

Liquitex is an artist's paint, not a craft paint. It is not in the same category, but rather a category of its own.

Sorry, your post here does not seem to be based on the blog posts, from what I can tell. I only see one "craft paint"
(Apple Barrel Red) between the blue and the red tests… Cheers!

Big Red Supporting Member of TMP14 Dec 2017 8:13 a.m. PST

Hopefully soon, Sgt Slag:

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

Cement Head Inactive Member14 Dec 2017 8:26 a.m. PST

Marcus Brutus you can get that brand of paint at a Hobby Lobby store. There has to be at least one in metro Chicago.

Tin hat14 Dec 2017 9:54 a.m. PST

I too use craft paint for 90% of my work, even thinned through an airbrush they work well. Although in the UK I've never seen the 'Michaels' or 'Americana' brands we have similar things.

Andy Skinner Supporting Member of TMP14 Dec 2017 9:58 a.m. PST

Have you looked at Folk Art craft paints?


nevinsrip Sponsoring Member of TMP14 Dec 2017 10:43 a.m. PST

How about Aileens?

rmaker14 Dec 2017 10:48 a.m. PST

JoAnn's is another source for Ceramcoat.

Also note that some colors of the craft paints are not intended to be opaque.

DeRuyter14 Dec 2017 11:57 a.m. PST

I used to primarily use Ceramcoat along with Liquitex for all my painted for cost reasons. For Liquitex I also use their painting mediums for mixing and based (sand resin). At AC Moore and MIchael's in the US you can always get a 50% off coupon for the more expensive stuff.

Now I use a mixture of Vallejo, Army Painter (is that made by Vallejo?) and Ceramcoat. Spice Tan is a favorite and Sandstone works well as a dry brush for highlights or weathering. Mind I usually black prime and the Reds are problematic. I also have been color priming these days.

Barenakedleadies Inactive Member14 Dec 2017 2:18 p.m. PST

Thanks Tbeard!

I use both Ceramcoat & Americana craft paints equally along Vallejo, Foundry, Reaper etc.

For basic block painting they are great. Not as effective if you are trying to blend though.

tbeard1999 Inactive Member14 Dec 2017 3:23 p.m. PST

Sgt Slag I think I said that the craft paints were to be added later. Anyhow, they've been added now. And I reject your category complaints. Acrylics are acrylics and I'll use whatever works best without regard to category. Indeed, the Liquitex Cadmium Red Medium was the best in the Bright Reds category.

White Comparison: link

Yellow Comparison: link

Red Comparisons: link

Blue Comparisons: link

tbeard1999 Inactive Member14 Dec 2017 3:25 p.m. PST

Andy Skinner -- Folk Art Titanium White is in the Whites comparison. It did well, but Craft Smart Matte White was just as good and only 70 cents per bottle.

Folk Art Cardinal Red did very poorly. It's like a transparent Khorne Red…

tbeard1999 Inactive Member14 Dec 2017 3:30 p.m. PST

Rich Bliss – Interestingly, I've read a number of reviews of the Craft Smart Matte line that say "almost as good as Ceramcoat" or "as good as". Of course Ceramcoat has a MUCH larger line.

tbeard1999 Inactive Member14 Dec 2017 3:35 p.m. PST

Big Red Ah, the classic Ceramcoat. I worked in the hobby business in the mid-1980s and introduced a whole generation of gamers in East Texas to the old Ceramcoat in the jars. At that time, it was equivalent to the game paints, or so it seemed to me.

dantheman Supporting Member of TMP14 Dec 2017 4:08 p.m. PST

Thanks. Great articles. My two cents from experience:

I use craft paints, mainly Americana. Some colors such as red or blue are harder to use due to lack of opacity.

I am considering Liquitex liquid as an alternative. I do have Liquitex tubes that I dilute using acrylic floor polish or a mix of polish and water. A pain though.

Vallejo is very expensive, but I still find it covers bettter and is easier to use as is. Good balance of liquidity and coverage. May use more of in the future, depending on amount needed and color.

If priming white, the paint used is not a problem. However, black primer brings out the challenges noted above.

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP14 Dec 2017 6:02 p.m. PST

I have always believed that craft paints are just as good as the fancy figurine paints. Hobby Lobby has the best selection of paints and Michaels has the best selection of brushes.

Major Bloodnok15 Dec 2017 8:39 a.m. PST

I've been using craft paints for decades. Ceramcoat, Americana, Folkart etc. Whatever I find at Michaels, Walmart, Ocean State, on sale. Some colours don't cover well, most are fine. I first started with PolyS when it first came out in the late '60s.

foxweasel15 Dec 2017 10:22 a.m. PST

Thanks again tbeard

tbeard1999 Inactive Member15 Dec 2017 8:23 p.m. PST

Major Bloodnock – were Polly S paints acrylic paints in the 60s?

Dantheman – FYI, I just tested Craft Smart Matte Dark Blue, thinned with water, Liquitex matte medium and Future. I couldn't see any opacity or coverage difference between Liquitex medium and Future. A noticeable difference with water though. I agree with you re: Vallejo, at least Vallejo Model Colors. In most of my tests, Vallejo wins. If I were gonna start fresh with game paints, I'd go with VMC.

Rallynow – My tests indicate that there is a noticeable difference in opacity. When thinned, the difference is significant. I think that the game paints are generally superior to the craft paints. The question is whether that superiority matters much with your painting technique and whether the higher cost is worth it.

Foxweasel – You're welcome.

Major Bloodnok16 Dec 2017 5:39 a.m. PST

Yes. My dad and I built models etc. and the fumes from the enamels would mess up his breathing. Mum put her foot down about it. Just at that time PollyS started to appear in the local hobby shops (when we use to have local hobby shops), so dad started to use PollyS. This would be the late 1960's. For some unknown reason I remember a dark brown and a pot labled "jungle green".

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