Tuesday, 31 January 2012


Vallejo produce three ranges of acrylic paints each of which has been specifically designed for military modeling, fantasy miniatures and the use with an airbrush. The Vallejo range is huge; model colour boasts a range of 220 colours, the model game colour range has 119 and the model air range has 110 (including mediums, varnishes and primers). This is a vast and vibrant range that is continually expanding and developing. With the proliferation of airbrushes throughout the painting community, coupled with the wide availability of these paints, Vallejo is often the next range of paints people try after Games Workshop; so lets have a look at what's out there. 

Model Colour

Price: £1.50 for a 17ml eye dropper pot

This is the largest of the lines with 220 different shades of paint available. These are advertised as acrylic vinyl colour; which means they offer excellent coverage and can be diluted very thinly for the use of layering. Looking over the paint range and comparing them with Citadel's, we can see that there quite a few dull, unsaturated colours (lots of mud and grey in the label descriptions) as these were designed to be used with historical military modeling kits. The nice people at Vallejo have also put together special colour sets (such as WWII German Cam) that makes re-creating historical colour palettes very easy.

These paints are excellent when you wish to create a more realistic colour palette for your miniatures and can offer a level of authenticity that may escape other ranges.

Game Colour

Price: £1.50 for a 17ml eye dropper pot

Whereas Model Colour has been designed to re-create historical colour palettes, the Game colour range offer a range of highly saturated colours for fantasy miniatures. These paints are highly pigmented and are a little thicker than its Model Colour equivalent. These paints feel like they have been designed for one-coat-coverage (although they cannot be used like Games Workshop's foundation range) and layer highlighting when you do not wish to blend the colours. These paints are slightly thicker because the pigment is acrylic resin rather than vinyl. This means that the colours will adhere to plastic and metal a little better, and will be more resistant to the wear and tear of wargaming.

Kabalite warrior from the Dark Heart. Instead of smooth transitional highlight on the armour, the 'eavy metal team have edge highlighted the armour plates to emphasize the sculpted lines of the miniature. 

If you were to purchase these paints I would highly recommend you create some gunk to help you with transitional blends dilute and help blend colours together more smoothly. 

Model Air

Price: £1.50 for a 17ml eye dropper pot

This range has been designed to the use with an airbrush but can just as easily be used to paint miniatures like normal paint. These paints are very thin, the pigment has been ground much finer than other acrylic paints to stop paint particles obstructing the nozzle. The formula of this paint contains acrylic resin, giving all the protective qualities of game colour but without the drawback of thick paint. These are easy to mix and can be diluted further with other additives. This range also supplies metallic and varnishes to be used with an airbrush.   

Advantages of Vallejo.

These paints are very easy to get hold of online and should be available in most model railway, craft or model shops. The range is huge and offers an excellent array of supporting additives to be explored. The paint is inexpensive, of good quality, and you get a lot for what you buy.

One of the strongest advantages this range has over its competitors is the eye dropper style paint pots. When the paints are used only a minimum amount of paint comes into contact with the air and so extends the working life of the paint. For those who use an airbrush using the eyedropper is much easier to keep track of quantities and is much easier to squeeze into the receptacle.

When shaken properly, this paint can be thinned down to a good degree for layering using just water. It is also very responsive to the range of additives and mediums that Vallejo sell.

For me, the metallic air range is the real highlight of the entire range. The metal pigment has been ground very finely and offers excellent coverage with outrageously thin coats. I would however, advise against the Model Colour range of metallic as they are quite thick and hard to thin evenly. 

Disadvantages of Vallejo

Bottles are well designed but not perfect. Paint will dry in the nozzle and this will lead you to just apply more pressure on the bottle, thus causing a mini-explosion of paint on your palette; very annoying. However, these clogs are easy to clean out with a straightened out paper clip.

There is no agitator for a paint that has a reputation for separating into medium and pigment in bottle. I would recommend buying agitators for the Model Colour and Game Colour ranges, but this would bump the price up. Taking the cost of agitators into account, each paint would cost about 4p more (but these can be re-used over successive generations of paint that you buy).

Game colour really needs more than water to thin it. It's incredibly thick and is best suited for layering without too many transitional stages (look at the dark eldar range painted by 'eavy metal for an example of extreme edge highlighting). This line does not lend itself well to subtle tonal changes and will be frustrating to use for many people. The separation in the bottle, and clogging in the nozzle are also pronounced in the Game Colour range.

The Model air range suffers from the same problem as the rest of the vallejo range; the colours easily sperate and need plenty of shaking. However, because of the thin consistency of the paint, these problems aren't a big deal (two or three shakes will normally be enough to mix the paint). It could be argued that another disadvantage of the range is that you're paying for diluted paint; something that you can learn to do yourself with regular acrylic paint. For the way I paint (thin layering) these paints are ideal to use straight out of the bottle, but some may not like the consistency of this and would prefer to thin the paint themselves.

Other products in the Vallejo paint range:

Liquid Gold

Price: £3.20 for a 35 ml. plastic pot with a childproof cap.

This is an alcohol based paint that uses metallic pigment mixed with resin to produce a much more vibrant finish. This next bit is important if you wish to use these paints:

"The colours can be mixed with one another and dry almost instantly. They can be overpainted or varnished almost immediately. The specific weight of the pigment causes the formation of sediment at the base of the container, and paint should be thoroughly shaken or stirred before use. If it were necessary to dilute the colours further, only 96% pure alcohol should be added to avoid oxidation."

In my opinion, these paints are unparalleled in their finish of true metallic metals. They require a little more effort to use, and ideally, you would need a more robust style of paint brush (those used for oil painting and are designed for the rigors of cleaning with turpentine or spirits). For the tiny amount of extra effort you put into the preparation of these paints you get an incredibly vibrant and strong metallic finish. These paints work excellently with citadel's range of washes.

The alcohol used to dilute this paint is isopropanol, or rubbing alcohol. It can be bought quite cheaply from your local chemist or online. Please beware that this alcohol is extremely flammable and so are the Liquid gold paints themselves. Be careful in their use and storage.


Price: £2.00 for a 17ml eye dropper pot

I have not used these, so I cannot pass on an honest opinion about them. I've read that they handle very much like much like Games Workshop's range of washes.

Vallejo Extra Opaque

Price: £1.79 for a 17ml eye dropper pot

I have not used these, so I cannot pass on an honest opinion about them. I've read that they handle very much like much like Games Workshop's range of Foundation paints.


Vallejo also produce aerosols, varnishes, brush cleaners, drying retarder etc. There is a lot to play with here for the miniature painter. These offer good value for money and are an excellent resource for people who are just starting to explore wider world of fine art with acrylic paints.

The full line of auxiliaries can be found here:



These pigments help produce very realistic mud and rust effects. They can be sealed with matt or glaze medium. The full range can be found here.


Vallejo offer an unbelievably diverse range of good quality paints, at a cheap price. If you are only used to Games Workshop's range of paints, pick up a couple of pots of Vallejo paint to try them out. I have not tired the range of washes or extra pigmented paints but I have read that they are quite similar to Games Workshop's wash and foundation ranges. This is not the finest example of acrylic paints on the market, but in terms of price, availability, range and quality, the Vallejo range offers an excellent resource for the miniature painter.

Links related to this article.

For a discussion on paint agitators

Home made paint agitators

Generalsplatton's review of Vallejo and Reaper Master Series acrylic paints 12

Vallejo to Games Workshop Citadel paint comparison chart

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

This is my latest completed W.I.P; Morathi, Queen of the Dark Elves. Of all the Druchii special characters, Morathi is my favourite. I've even written an article on how I use her on the table top: 

I wanted something closer to the artwork found in the Dark Elf rule book. I'm a big fan of the original sculpt, except I don't like the pegasus (in my opinion, it is a little sub par and unbalances the dynamic of the miniature greatly). I took harpies from the Warmaster range and I converted some sprites from the Wood Elf plastic kits to create the malevolent spirits haunting the Witch Queen. The crackling magical energy was created with off cuts of metal that are created when you drill into a metal model. I wanted Morathi's hair to look like it was writing with magical currents, so I created a press mould and sculpted more locks to give the model extra movement and dynamism.

I plan on using a cool, moody palette of colours inspired by  Malekith85's Golden Daemon winning entry


Friday, 6 January 2012

"Gunk" is a self made solution to aid the thinning and lengthening of the working life of acrylic paint.  If prefer to use a palette, this stuff will become your next best friend. Do you have a problem keeping your paints from drying out before you've finished using them? Do you have a problem with your paint separating when you thin it with water? This is the solution for you.


Filtered or boiled water.

The quantities of the above vary from person to person, but a good rule of thumb is: 5 parts water, 4 parts flow improver and 1 part drying retarder (Anne Foerster's recipe).  I prefer to have my solution slightly stronger; I like to think of it like squash syrup which can be diluted, so I tend to use more 6 parts drying retarder and 2/3 parts drying retarder.

How to use?

Once this solution has been made, simply add a drop or two or it to your paint and away you go. Hopefully, you should find the transitions between shades will be smoother and that the paint on the palette will be useable for longer.