Sunday, 13 May 2012

Army Painter testing range....stand well back!

First of all, hello Carl! Welcome to my blog.

As promised in my last post I am now going to give you the results of my Army Painter new products test....with pictures! That said, the pics are not all that I would have wanted but they suffice; stupid camera. Here is a pic of how the figures used in the test come out using the tins of dip (Dark Tone as I think it works better with the lighter base colours than the brown Strong Tone) and the anti shine spray; my traditional method of choice. These are 28mm Wargames Factory plastic Marlburians (French) painted using Coat d'arm Light Grey for the coats.

Being tested are two of the new Warpaints range, the Dark Tone acrylic dip, actually labelled as an ink, and the Anti-Shine matt varnish in a bottle. Dip/ink first I think.

This is what the light grey looks like prior to any treatment.

Once completed, they were then coated with the dip/ink using a brush rather than being dipped; the bottle has one of those nipples that make it easy to dispense from drop at a time but not much use if you want to dip. Anyway, after a liberal coating and careful lifting off the excess with a brush they look like this....

The figure on the far right is from the traditionally painted group in the first picture. Note how much darker the new batch of figures are. I think these are a little too dark, the dip/ink is clearly not an exact match for the tin versions and the acrylic medium works quite differently to the oil based one. It could be watered down of course but then I find the stuff acts very differently again and the pigment tends to pool leaving a very patchy finish. Possibly, the dip/ink will lift a little when a paint on varnish is used leaving a lighter looking figure but, for me there are just a few too many 'if's' and 'possibly's' for my liking. The oil based dip leaves a better overall result and has not overly discoloured the base coat. For me it looks more like a dirtied white, as I feel French coats of the period should, rather than a definite grey that the dip/ink provides.

To be honest, I would much rather buy the Vallejo black acrylic dip. It is a Vallejo quality product, much better value and can actually be used as a dip. If the warpaint bottle was an exact colour match for the oil based tin I would be very happy, for me and my colour blindness issues colour consistency is everything. Sadly this is far from an exact match and therefore not so useful...a missed opportunity perhaps? Black Ink would have been a better name and description, Dark Tone is quite misleading. And who needs an ink if you are dipping the finished figures anyway?????

So what about the Anti-Shine matt varnish? The sprays were originally hailed as pure gold, a varnish that did what it said and gave a flat finish...and it did. Most of the time...almost most of the time....when it didn't do something stupid like blister the dip finish or 'frost over' leaving discoloured patches on the figures. The spray cannot be used indoors without causing hallucinations but outside the conditions must be 'Goldilocks' perfect, not too cold, not too hot...or damp...or if there is an 'R' in the month.... the list is every growing. And even if you did get perfect conditions the results could still be varied. The trouble was that if you used the oil based dips you needed the anti shine varnish; it was the key to everything. Ordinary matt varnishes could be used but were always variable in quality and finish anyway. None worked effectively over the oil dip.

When I saw that Army Painter had brought out a paint on version of the Anti Shine spray product I was quite excited, a product that would give the required finish and not rely upon fairy tale atmospheric conditions! But would it? Really?

Yep... it bloody well does too!

The figure on the right used the spray varnish...that actually worked for once...and on the left the one I used the battle varnish on. Almost no difference and both have a perfect flat finish. The sprayed on varnish has left a slight frosting on the black areas, only really noticeable once the painted version is placed next to it but even then only just. It is a little tricky to apply given that it is very shiny when wet and you are painting it on to a very shiny oil dipped figure, but it does actually work. After some minutes the finish was clearly flatter and as the varnish dried the flatter the finish looked. No hallucinations, no watching the weather channel to find a good day, no anxiety over risking your nicely painted figures to a random varnish event....just matt finished figures that were actually matt finished!

Big happy smiley face! :)

I then tried it out on some other figures I had been working on. These were coated in the oil based Dark Tone dip in the morning, left to become touch dry (about five hours or so on a hot day) and then varnished with the bottled stuff with a liberal but careful brush.

I have found that large areas of black do well with a highlight of  German Field Grey prior to dipping/applying Dark Tone. I think these Perry Napoleonic Brits have come out quite well, although I have to say that i really, really dislike the figures...although that particular dislike is for another day I think!


  1. Well I'll definitely try out the paint on varnish, I usually gives two coats anyway, one by hand, then a spay and pray one!!! Nice figures by the way, what regt are they going to be??

    1. Hi Ray, I was very pleased with the varnish result, I certainly recomend it. My friend Mark tried spraying over painted on varnish, which was over dip. It all went very wrong and the painted on varnish started to break up. I find that the oil based dip provides a layer in itself and good protection, then one coat of good varnish does the job.

      Thanks for the nice comment about my figures but as too which regiment...I have been looking at a site that gives names, uniform colour and flag for each regiment at Blenheim. i intend to pick out a few brigades and follow that but I think I have made a mistake already but not looking at that sooner. I need to put some time in and look at the site carefully before proceeding too far.

      I now have some warbases bases (??) 60x40 for the two infantry side bases and a 60x60 for the central infantry command bases. I got them oversized so I could add regiment name tags and protect the large flags, keep them inside the base. Ii hope to have the first unit done soon. do you know if all the battalions in a french regiment carried both flags or just the first one. I have read it somewhere, just need to find it again!

  2. It was usually the 1st company that had the Kings colour for the French then all the other companies would all carry the unit colour, so as your not painting company level I'd go for both Kings and unit colour per regt.....if that makes any sense?????
    The colours you've used for the infantry are the most common white with red cuffs/linings, so it would probably fit around 50 different regts!!!

    1. Cool info, many thanks Ray. I noticed that warflag has some nice free flags, might try those out.

  3. Having some Credit at Maelstrom I can see being use up very quickly now.

    1. Hi Clint, a wise investment my friend. I intend to buy a couple of extra bottles myself. You just know it will sell out when people get to know about it; I think we should keep quiet about it and not tell any........bugger!

  4. quick question please.

    normally i'm using spray version anti-shine army painter but i noticed that you should wait for more than 48h (3 days it's better) or all the dipped miniature would create cracks everywhere....
    today i sprayed after 46h, thinking it was enough....but cracks everywhere!

    i was reading that review and i noticed that you used the bottle one just after 5-6 hours...didn't you get any crack on the model with the bottle one? so you don't need to wait more than 48h???? if it's true it's veeeery good :D

    also i would like to ask you if peraps you thinned down the bottle version anti-shine or it was PURE from the bottle.......and also HOW MUCH anti-shine did you put on the miniature.....a lot like the oil quickshade or a light amount on the brush?

    tnx a lot

    1. hello Maurizio,

      I am glad you found my blog of use! I too have had disasters with the spray varnish. The problem seems to be that the spray is used too close to the models and too much spray is used. This then reacts badly with the dip and can cause terrible damage. Always spray very lightly from 30cm/40cm away. Even then you can get strange results like frosting if the weather is not right.

      As for the bottled varnish, I use it pure and straight from the bottle. You do need to shake it well though. I find that once the dip is touch dry you can paint on the varnish with no problems at all, you may still want to wait 24 hours to be safe. So far I have had no cracks or frosting at all, I am sure it is the propellant in the spray can causing the problems we have bothe experienced. I generally give the models a good coat of the bottled varnish, not so much that it drips off but enough to cover the figure well. Use the brush to work it around the figure evenly. I also only pour out enough for a few figures at a time, four at most. I then shake the bottle well again and pour out enough for the next four and so on.

      I paint all of the figure in the varnish including all the metal parts, but that is a personal choice. Try not varnishing the metal and see how it looks, you can always go back and varnish those parts later if you are not happy of course.

      One trick is to remember that the oil dip does not hide the base colours but shades them. This means that you can still add a little highlighting to areas such as black boots of metal armour. I sometimes use two different silvers on metals to give the highlight and then paint the dip on, you can get some great effects this way.

      I really hope this has been of help my friend, let me know how you get on. :)

  5. tnx a lot for all those good infos :D
    then bottle anti-shine for me :D

    so about highlighting i suppose that you painted all little highlightings here and there BEFORE dipping it?

    also can i ask you how much dipping did you put on your models? i'm doing some tests with scrap bits and i'm getting good results but i noticed that some colours darkened too much in flat areas....maybe i should use a light amount...but in my tests i had fear that using a light amount wouldn't shade it enough (and also all armypainters guides tell me that there should be a lot of quickshade on miniatures or the shading wouldn't work)....???


    1. Hello again, pleased to help.

      yes, highlight before dipping.

      I used to actually dip the models into the dip and then shake off the excess...that hurts your shoulder!!! I now paint it on with a brush. Army painter do say to use a lot but this can make the figures look dirty rather than shaded, it can pool up badly and even be a cause of the cracking problem in certain areas! I start with a full brush on the head and then spread the dip down the figure. Add dip as you need to fully cover the figure but do not let it well up, use the brush to spread the dip about evenly but take care to let it fill creases properly. You will get to know what looks good with experience, a few practice figures will be a great help.

      Thde biggest help I have found is choosing the right shade of paint before you start. Pick a colour about a shade lighter than you would normally use as dark colours will only get darker. Although even they do get to look more alive than normal. use the right shade dip too, I use the black Dark Tone dip on whites and greys and the brown Strong Tone on darker colours like red. Again it is a personal choice but the choice of dip does make a difference.

    2. Tnx a lot for all tips :D i will surely follow them :D
      infact i just tried bottle version of anti-shine (i buyed 1 to try)'s wonderful!....i will try to sell my 2 spray cans...they are useless if you can use the bottle one!
      also i didn't need to wait 48h....i used on spare bits after 24hrs and no cracking at all!

      about the shade i have both darktone and strongtone...i play Ogre Kingdoms on warhammer fantasy and i would like to use strongtone for the skin (armypainter barbarian flesh) but it would not look very good on purple pants (armypainter alien purple).....i know that darktone is better on alien purple but i fear that when i will put strongtone on the body (skin) it will drip on the purple pants :(
      do you think that it's possible to use 2 different dip tones on different parts of a miniature with success?

      tnx for your patience and help :D

    3. Brilliant, well done!

      i think it is possible to use two dips on one figure, just go carefully with the amounts you put on. its all trial and error so give it a try and let me know how you get on.

  6. Hi Leofwine how are you? do you remember me?
    sorry to disturb you again but i'm having problems in using quickshade for black/dark grey parts....i tried darktone over GW's old Adeptus Battlegrey and GW's new Eshin Grey but the result is still too much grey, not really black...
    tried over Vallejo's Model Color German Grey (very dark grey) but after darktone it's too's cool but you can't really see any shadow or light...

    but i noticed that your soldires have a cool black hats expecially those napoleonic i would like to ask you what black is and how did you accomplish that cool black....grey highlighnings before dipping?


    1. Hello Maurizio!

      Of course I remember you mate :)

      I understand your problem completely, those dark solid colours are tricky to deal with. With the Napoleonic figures you mention, I dry brushed some Vallejo German Field Grey over the black before painting on the black (Dark Tone) dip. Any black will do but the more matt the better. Also, it is important to remember to leave the figures for 24 hours before adding the dip. This allows the paint to fully harden so the dip washed over it and doesn't soak in; this makes a big difference!
      With any solid dark colour a hint of drybrushed highlight can really help, just pick the right one. Things like steel ww2 helmets are a similar problem but here you can add a small 'graze' of silver, as if the paint has been scrapped off in battle, of add a general highlight in one direction as if the sun has caught it.
      In another post I have added picture of some cowboys that were highlighted before adding a Strong Tone dip; take a look at that picture too.
      Hope this has been of some help?

  7. Thanks for the review. I've found some brush on acrylic varnishes can pool into cracks and crevices if you apply them too thickly. When they dry these pooled areas go a white-ish color rather than being clear.

    Have you noticed this with the army painter brush on varnish at all?

    1. Hi Jonathan,

      Sorry for late reply :(

      I do know what you mean, the spray on varnish can certainly get like this but I have not really noticed it with the Army Painter brush on stuff. That said, I am very cautious with all varnishing following some disasters so I am very careful to avoid over varnishing. Not much help, sorry :(