News and random musings from the Sculptdude.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021


Several folks recently asked me about my paint preferences. Currently my collection is quite small and I mix a lot of my colors on a wet palette. I prefer to use Vallejo Model Color for several reasons but primarily it's for the colors available. Although I admire the effect of Non-Metallic Metals (NMM) I prefer to paint with actual metallic colors when needed. In my opinion Privateer Press P3 are the best metallic paints. I re-bottle my P3 paint into dropper bottles. I also have a small assortment of Army Painter washes I use mainly for basing and scenery pieces. I prefer to mix my own wash medium from a combination of Liquitex matte medium, water, flow improver, and assorted purples, blacks, and browns. I mix all of this into an empty dropper bottle and use it in a porcelain watercolor palette (see image above).

This is my list of Vallejo model color paints:

70.951 WHITE
70.950 BLACK
70.926 RED
70.960 VIOLET
70.874 TAN EARTH
70.939 SMOKE (for my custom wash mix)

A Bit of History

I've been building and painting models since around 1974. I started using what was common, Testors and Pactra enamel paints. These were more or less effective depending on your skill and application. In the mid to late 80s when I started painting gaming miniatures I switched to Floquil's Polly-S acrylic paints. I was already using Liquitex artist colors for 2D painting and used them for painting minis as well. I attended Liquitex's artist instructor certification workshop while I was working in the art department at Michael's Arts & Crafts in 1988. I was part of the group that got Liquitex to bottle their artist colors with flip-top caps. For a time after that I taught craft painting, and airbrushed t-shirts & guitars on commission.

After getting into Warhammer in the early 90's I added Games Workshop paint to my collection. It's serviceable and offers a large range of colors. I am not a fan of the bottles.

I painted this with Reaper Master Series Paint

I painted this with Reaper Master Series Paint

Once I started painting competitively and selling my minis on eBay in the early 2000's I switched to Reaper Master Series paint. There was a lot that I liked about the MSP series. The color range is huge AND they come in dropper bottles. However, at the time, their entire range of blue was based on Pthalo pigment. It took a little coaxing to get an Ultramarine mix, but it was still just a simulation.

Once I set up the new studio in 2017 I gave away my paint collection and replaced everything with the current list above. I still have 3 or 4 MSP colors but the majority is what you see in the list. I like the color assortment of the Vallejo paint and the fact that it has real artist pigments like Ultramarine, Burnt Umber, and Yellow Ochre.


Generally the models I paint now are either pewter castings or resin castings. But this would also apply to plastic 3D print filament or 3D printer resin. Typically anything that's cast has some sort of mould release agent on it. Pewter usually has talc powder and cast resin has a silicon spray residue. All of these are used to make the parts easier to come out of the mold with as little damage to either as possible. These release agents are counter to any sort of paint application.

Pewter parts can be rinsed in regular water to remove the talc before applying any surface primer.

For resin parts, I prefer to wash them first in 91% isopropyl alcohol and then rinse with plain water. I have a couple of little Ziploc food containers and an old toothbrush for a bit of scrubbing that does the trick. You have to be really careful not to get alcohol, or IPA, on your skin for prolonged periods as it will dry it out to the point of chemical burns. I use a pair of butyl gloves I got that is resistant to alcohol. Many common gloves like latex or nitrile have micro holes in them that will repel heavy liquid, like water, but alcohol and acetone comes right through them.


A good paint job is only as good as its primer.

I use assorted Krylon and Rustoleum primers for a variety of models. But the BEST primer I've used is Badger's Stynylrez primer for airbrush. It has amazingly smooth surfacing and sticks really well to a variety of materials, even plastic & resin, although it's a water-based acrylic primer. It has a nice matte surface and provides good tooth for subsequent layers of paint.


Any good paint job will need protection. Especially if the model is handled frequently.
The go-to holy grail is Testors Dulcote. Due to shortages and a restructuring of Rust-Oleum's Testors paint brand, it may be a little hard to come by now. I have recently tested both Krylon's Matt Finish and Rust-Oleum's Matt Clear on assorted models. The Krylon spray has the most dull matte finish of the two, the Rust-Oleum is a bit satin-like after drying.

Hopefully this helps gives a little direction and insight into my painting experience. But the best choice will be up to the individual painter to determine what works best for them.