Friday, June 22, 2012

How I survived the GW Paintocalypse of 2012

 To hell with the status quo!

Although the more talented of us "gaming hobbyists" can mix and create new colors, highlights, and shades with not so much of a thought or even courtesy glance given to the vaunted color wheel, most of us are very much creatures of habit.  Like most gamers, I find a combo of paints that work for a certain color or effect and then stick with it through thick and thin adding a few drops of water along the way for good effect.

Despite the fact that my paint collection has been slowly getting more and more Vallejo pots in it as I move towards more historical projects, I still use many Games Workshop/Citiadel paints for my reds, browns/leather, and flesh to name a few.  In recent years GW has added the very useful Foundation paint line (My fav, Charadon Granite), and new Washes (Especially Devlan Mud and Badab Black) that became favorites of many miniature gamers once they discovered the magic those pots held.

 "Sir, request more Graveyard Earth and Desert Yellow ASAP!!!"

I admit I am firmly in the "If it ain't broke don't fix it" crowd, so when GW announced back in March that they were launching a whole new paint line April 7th and eying my half finished Imperial Guard Mordian army sitting there, I reacted as any half sane hobbyist would.  I drove over to the nearest game shop and spent like $60+ on discontinued paints.

Unfortunately the three things I wasn't able to pick up that night was the three paints and washes mentioned above.  I'm still looking for a replacement for Charadon Granite, but partial salvation came in the form a short e-mail from a friend:

"The Army Painter washes are a pretty exact/damned close match to the old GW washes:

Dark Tone = Badab Black

Strong Tone = Devlan Mud
Soft Tone = Gryphonne Sepia


Like any gaming hobbyist worth his/her salt I can manage to evolve and learn new things.  Just like when GW switched paint companies in the '90s (Privateer Press now uses the old one.) and I lost my beloved Chestnut, Flesh, and Armour Washes.  I'm sure GW's greatly expanded paint range has tons of potential and many improvements, but I mostly lament the loss of many iconic names such as Boltgun Metal, Goblin Green, and Snakebite Leather whose naming rights were lost in this latest switch.  At least the old names gave even the casual gamer a clue what color was inside, but many of the new ones have me totally confused.  I'll remain open to using the new range as my friends and other bloggers try out stuff and report back, but I think I'll personally continue my push into the Vallejo line.

It's easy to hate on Games Workshop, and although I'm not a fan of everything they do, I try to keep that type of stuff off my blog and focus on enjoying the hobby in a positive light.  I saw the writing on the wall 3+ years ago when I read about various paint companies submitting bids to produce new paint line that included 145 products for GW.  That has now come true, and like any business in a niche market like miniature gaming you have to evolve and improve in order to succeed much less survive, and GW has done both.  I will say while change can be frustrating, like going through 8 editions of Warhammer or 6 of 40k, I can also understand that change drives much the business for companies like GW whose target market does not include 40+ year olds like me.

Not many local gamers do the blog thing, but many do share their hobby projects and thoughts on Google+.  So I'd like to pass along a quick and dirty series of reviews of the Army Painter washes from my friend Eric that I thought was really helpful.

The Replacement Killers

Inks & Washes - From my experience so far, Dark Tone is closer to Badab black than Nuln Oil. Rumours I heard was that Nuln Oil does not cut in water- not true.  It cuts just fine.

Nuln Oil is actually blacker than Badab and Dark tone.

Nuln Oil slides very well into recesses and lines.  Dark tone needs a little water in that department.

I think Dark tone covers large areas like vehicle plates the way Badab black does.  This is were Nuln Oil gets a little splotchy and needs some help from water.

I'm going to miss Badab Black as it covers the smoothest but I think Nuln Oil and Dark tone will do just fine to picking up the reins.

Dark Tone, Nuln Oil, and Badab Black.

So My next step with my ork metals is the Devlan Mud.  I also tried Agrax Earthshade and Strong Tone from Army painter.

The good news I have is that Strong tone is just about the same as Devlan Mud.  The only difference is that Mud spreads easier.  The Strong Tone needs just a teeney bit of water to loosen it up.

Agrax Earhshade is not the same.  It's very watery and just like Nuln Oil it slides easily in recesses but is splotchy over large flat areas.  The colour is not close either. It has a greater bit of a red-orange tint to it.  So although not close to Devlan Mud, it still will have its place with paints for it's own colour.

Agrax Earthshade, Strong Tone, and Devlan Mud.

Gryphonne Sepia.  The third of my favorite washes.  It's yellow brown just makes everything real.  The others I tried were Seraphim Sepia and Soft Tone from Army Painter.

Here I found differences in all three.  Seraphim has the same consistency which is good as it spreads like Gryphonne.  Seraphim however is more red than yellow.  Not a big deal at all- like Agrax Earthshade, it has it's own flavour.

Soft tone is no where near the same as Gryphonne and Seraphim.  The colour is a darker brown with less yellow- kind of a weaker version of Strong Tone.  It's spreads just fine.  It will have a place in my washes.

Soft Tone, Gryphonne Sepia, and Seraphim Sepia.

Overall the GW washes seem to have their place.  They don't replace what we used to love but they will make new armies come to life with their own style.  The Army Painter tones are your best bet for the Badab and Devlan replacements.

Obviously my thoughts are only opinion, have a good weekend everyone.

Thanks again Eric for the run down and letting me pass it along on my blog.  I finally got the chance to pick up Army Painter Strong Tone and Dark Tone from the shop last night, so I'm excited to try them out myself.  I also wanted to pass along that the Army Painter washes are $3.29 for 0.6 fl oz compared to the current GW washes that are $3.70 for 0.4 fl oz.


  1. I take these washes are different than what the have for sale in the tin cans?/

    1. I believe so. What I can firmly say is these AP washes are very similar to the old GW ones. I've never used the AP canned dip, but I use thinned down Minwax for my IG tanks. If Minwax is similar to the AP tin can stuff, then the washes are definitely different.


  2. I use mostly Vallejo paints myself but prefer GW's flesh tones and their wonderful washes. I almost took bereavement leave from work when I heard Devlan Mud was going away. It's good to hear that the Army Painter washes are close to what the old GW washes were.

    Which shop did you hit? I'll have to make a trip to the Source or Tower Games soon I think. I'm down to my last two pots of Devlan Mud.

    As far as the Army Painter dip goes, it's similar to Minwax but from reviews I've read it has a different makeup to it so the capillary action and coverage is probably more suited to minis. Whether the difference is enough to make you want to pay the extra $$$ for the Army Painter stuff is an open question. Most of the gamers I know around here think the AP stuff is a rip off but it's very popular in the UK FWIW.

    For now I personally am happy just using the GW washes. Badab Black for metal/dark, Devlan Mud for most of the rest and Ogryn Flesh for the flesh tones.

    1. After trying Village Games and The Source a number of times I finally found the washes at Tower. I've heard the Fantasy Flight Event Center has a full line of Army painter stuff. Now I just need some grass tuffs and for my Litko bases to finally get here!


    2. Heh. I try to order Litko a month out. That way I usually get them in time. What size bases are you using for your 28mm Napoleonics? I'm mounting my Russians 2x2 so they will work with a number of different rules sets. I have 1.5" square bases for them right now since that's what the other local group I know of is using. Not wedded to that size though. I prefer a packed-tight look for Napoleonic infantry since that's how they marched & fought usually.

    3. A couple of us put in a order through Tower Games on May 15th. I knew it wouldn't be quick, but now that it's over a month I'm starting to wonder...

      I'll planned to cover my further basing details/journey in a later post, but I'll just say for now after giving it a great deal of thought and countless Google image searches and blog visits :) I'm going with 50mm bases. 6 figs per base for infantry, 2 for cav, and 100 x 50 for arty. This goes for my Napoleonics and future SYW and ACW projects as well.

    4. Sounds like a good plan. Look forward to your blog post on this!

  3. Nice work; the troops and tank are especially nice. Love that Duelists banner too! Best, Dean

  4. Thnaks for a good comparisson of the wasches

    I use dewland mud for all,ost all my minis... realy missing it.

    Best regards Michael

  5. Really nice fine detail! The tank looks awesome bre!

  6. thanks for testing those for us, and the Mordians look great.

  7. Thanks for the tip re Army Painter, will need to try those!

    Cheers, Simon

  8. This is the most useful review of Vallejo washes that I've been able to find. I've used them all now and they're not as good as GW, but can be made to work.

    But it's time for a trip to the Army Painter shop by the sound of it.

    1. Thanks for the link. I haven't tried the Vallejo washes, but so far so good with the AP ones.


  9. Apologies my friend, you fell off my blogroll, good work as of the best blogs out here!

    1. No worries Fran, and thanks for the kind words. High praise considering all the blogs you visit.

  10. Very useful, as you know I am a great fan of the AP dip. It certainly does contract nicely as it dries and does not stain like some dips.

    I do use the GW washes a lot though, so your info on the AP washes is very helpful, will have to get some.


  11. Just found this blog after searching for Dev Mud replacement, and will certainly be getting army painter now - thanks for a very useful article! Also, as a Mordian collector I think those ones you have are incredible, some of the nicest conversions/paint jobs out there! Great stuff.

    1. You're very welcome and also welcome to the blog! Hopefully you'll start seeing more of my Mordian army on here very soon. I'm on the way over to check out your stuff. :)



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