Sunday, March 10, 2019

Wargames Foundry paint test

I was excited to try out these new Foundry paints this weekend, but I had a bit of a dilemma...

With my lead pile inaccessible in the basement, I had to scrounge around the painting room to find a quick model to paint up. I wanted something unique, and not part of any warband or army, so I went with a random Reaper Bones model that had been sitting on the side of the paint table for a while. I got him all primed up and ready to go, and was planning on using the new Foundry paints exclusively on him and trying out the "Foundry Paint System" (somehow they think they have copyrighted the idea of doing a 3 layer technique over a black undercoat).

First step was to glue him to a base and prime him - I went with my tried and true Liquitex Black Gesso. I love this stuff. It has a nice tooth to it and dries flat, and it shrinks a bit as it dries so rarely covers up any detail on a model even when you put it on pretty thick.

A few of my friends recently have asked me which black primer I use, so here is a pic! I always keep a spare bottle on hand, because it's one of the few paints that I actually go through and have to replenish.

Anyway, back to the experiment. I picked the "Bright Green" triad to work on the skin tone. I layered on the "shade" color over the undercoat...

...and was less than impressed. I'm not sure why I expected anything different - I know from 30 years of painting that bright colors rarely go on well over a black undercoat! But I was hoping for the "Foundry Paint System" to work its magic. And I have seen some paints that actually cover great (GW Foundation, Vallejo Extra Opaque) over black.

I wasn't completely surprised, though, because I had tested a few brush strokes over a swatch of black primer as soon as I got the paints. I thought a real miniature might bring out the magic.... But anyway, I slogged on. Here is Kermit after one coat:

I then did the middle coat, straight up "Bright Green." There was a decent green coat on the model after this, but I had to cover pretty much all of the area I had already painted with the shade coat, so not exactly how it's supposed to be done... Here he is at that point.

Then it all really went to hell after I put on the final highlight, "Bright Green Light." This was a chalky light green, not bright at all but almost like they just added white paint to the mix. Again, anyone who's been painting a while knows not to add white to highlight a bright green paint!!! AAARGGHH!!! But I went on with it anyway to see how it would look. Call it the triumph of hope over experience?

Here is Mr. Chalky:

At this point I was ready to line these paints up and use them for target practice. But I stayed calm. I tried out one of the red triads on a WIP model that was off to the side of my desk (a 15mm skeleton).

Do you like the nice shiny look of the one on the left? That one was painted with Foundry paints... Sheesh...

Man, this has to be the worst paint purchase I have ever made. After letting the frog dry for a while I put on a coat of GW Biel Tan Green shade, which made it look much better but completely negated my Foundry paint experiment. Oh well! The ultimate irony in all this is that I painted the other two Frog warriors (from the Reaper Bones Kickstarter) using the "Foundry Method" way before I owned any Foundry paint, and they came out much better.

I will keep trying these out and looking for good to say! I can't accept the fact that I could have spent this much money on paints that add so little value to my collection. The whole point is supposed to be that you use their triads without having to think about it... but so far I think they haven't done a great job of splitting up the tones into triads (for the ones I've tested, usually two are too close together and one is way off). If you look at the Bright Green triad, the first two are very close - and almost seems like the middle tone could be the shade tone!

Who knows... maybe it's "user error" here? Am I doing something wrong? After looking at the Foundry web site for so many years and seeing their beautifully painted models, and reading Steve Dallimore's painting guides, I can't imagine that this is really the paint they were using.

Well... I can't say that I'm happy with this paint so far. Maybe the WW2 set, or the Napoleonic colors, or the expert fleshtones, will be different... I hope! But for now it seems like I'm going to have to empty out my paint shelf again because these do not deserve top shelf status!

I will probably go back to using either the Reapers or Vallejos... both great paints. Maybe Vallejo since I'm in a layering mood! Here are some of my favorite colors.

The best silver paint! Vallejo Model Air Steel:

One of the best reds to coat over black undercoat! Vallejo Extra Opaque Heavy Red:

(Mechrite red was awesome, but no longer available).

My favorite dark brown! Vallejo Model Color SS Camo Black Brown:

I have been using this bottle for so long and it's almost empty... which is rare because I have so many different paints that I almost never "finish" any of bottles! But the paint gods must have smiled on me and given me some small (tiny) dose of good luck, to make up for the Wargames Foundry disaster: I found that I actually have a fresh bottle in the Panzer Aces set, that I didn't even realize was there ;)

I have to start going by this Chinese Fortune that I got in a cookie a long time ago... I should stick to the paints that I already know I love!

Does anyone want to buy a set of Foundry paints by the way?


  1. From your description I would think that you have not mixed the paint enough before use. I have found that you need to put two ball bearings in each pot and really shake it to get the pigment and the carrier to mix together. I have used Foundry paints for about ten years I try others but they are the most reliable. P3 I love but you have to do a lot more mixing. Vallejo I find are chalky and can lift if I brush on varnish. Citadel are good paints in lousy bottles but they make great washes agrax earth shade I really like.So try giving the Foundry paints a ouple of ball bearings and shake for about 5 minutes and then see what they are like. Some jars take longer than that to mix. I find strirring with a toothpick was not good enough it took the ball bearings.

  2. Dear Sal, We miss you so much. I can't believe you are gone my friend. You are missed beyond words. painting the Lead Pile is my only way to smile when thinking about you my friend. RIP.