Sunday, 6 September 2009

Quick Tip...... Paint Palettes

I've only recently started using Vallejo paints, and thanks to Maelstrom Games' 15% off promotions in July I managed to get a nice collection of drab colours suitable for camo schemes.

Vallejo has several different ranges of paints with subtle differences in shade. To help me choose the paints I wanted from across these collections I saved the paint 'swatches' as jpegs in a folder on my desktop. To make ordering and future identification easy, I gave each of the colour's jpegs were a simple name which described the specific Vallejo range such as Model, Game, Panzer Aces etc and then the colour title.

Once saved, the thumbnails are easy enough to move round in the folder to create a complimentary colour palette. You can use Windows' PrintScreen facility to take a snap of this palette and save as a jpeg in it's own right.

When it comes to choosing colours for camouflage paint schemes, I can now simply compare the camo against the Vallejo palette to see which colours are most likely to work.

Again, a quick PrintScreen will capture the palette and camo scheme side by side and can be saved as a jpeg on your desktop for quick reference throughout the project.

You can also use a simple free graphics utility such as Paint.Net with which you can copy the colours from the palette and drop them into the camo scheme (when you have a clearly defined picture as above it helps) to test out different effects.

Now, this doesn't replace trying out the actual colour paints, and I don't pretend it does, but it does quickly give you the ability to try different camo patterns, effects and determine if you need to buy any new paints before starting the project.



  1. Sounds like a good idea.

    Caution needs to be used here though, since the Vallejo paints frequently don't match their color swatches.

    They can sometimes be considerably off.

  2. Another point about Vallejo is that of the two types Vallejo GAME colour offers a pretty exact copy of Games Workshops paint range. These paints are slightly thinner than the model colour, offer less choice of shades and dry slightly satin, since they are designed to stand up to gaming/being handled better than the Model colour.

    The model colour however is my favourite paint, it dries matt and is fine for gaming once the miniatures ave been varnished. The selection of colour is also amazing, and you should not neglect trying out the mediums in the range (the matt medium is very useful if you want to turn any paint matt). The Panzer Aces and other paint sets are all Vallejo model colour, as are the Flames of War Paint sets by Battlefront.

    The other paint range Vallejo do is Model Air, which is supposedly pre-thinned for airbrushing. I have no luck with it at all in my airbrush and it does not work to well as a brush on paint either so i would stear clear of that.

    Outside of Vallejo the P3 range from Privateer is different in that the colours give a very intense and bright finish due to the liquid pigment. They blend well (if you dabble in such things). The down side i find to this though is that they can make other brands of paints on the same model look abit odd and dull.

    I highly recommed the GW Foundation range (all of it) nice solid colours that apply well when thinned iwth water and the new citadel washes, for quick shading, but would steer clear of their normal paints except of the silver metallics which i personally find to be the best out of any range.

    Coat D'Arms are another range, they where the original GW paints before they switched suppliers, so you get much the same as GW here, the same with Gamecrafts Gamecolour, if you can find anyone selling it these days.

    I have had no contact with Reaper or Testors colours from the states so can't comment on them.

    For Airbrushing i stick with Tamiya XF range (flat finish rather than the gloss X range) and thin that with Isoproponal Alcohol, they are mainly military colours so are abit limited but if you can mix paint its not and issue.

    Anyway sorry to ramble on, Mark i love the swatch camo idea it makes sense to do that, we tend to get a piece of plastic and paint the colours on, but then we have to buy the paint first to do that.


  3. Thanks for the comments guys. I appreciate you sharing your considerable experience as a professional miniatures painter Craig. very helpful.

    I guessed that Citadel was essentially rebadged Vallejo and the palette idea helped me start a collection without duplicating Citadel colours (well mostly).

    There are several unspoken caveats in this and the following post. We've all experienced using a Matchpot or similar tester on the walls at home only to find it looks completely different to the colour on the pot.

    Light, distance (scale) and surface area play a big role in how the paint will actually look. That 'Wittman Underpants Blue' may look great on a 28mm Space Marine but appear much darker on a 15mm Future Grunt.

    You also find that on uniform camouflage, colours merge with distance and this is reflected on smaller scales. The overall 'bulk' of a figure is also important. For instance, painting camo on a 15mm FOW Fallschirmjager is more effective than the more sveldt Peter Pig figures. You have to amend colours and style appropriately.


  4. Very true Mark, model makers recommend going serveral shades lighter on vehicles colour each time you reduce a vehicles scale, i guess it comes down to guessng what you think is right with the scale. Of course at a certain point, particularly with 15mm, scale becomes less important to exaggeration in achieving percieved detail.

    That really is too much thinking after a bottle of wine!