Army Painter – A Review from Lard Island

With In the Buff looming large on the horizon I have set about amassing figures in order to kick off this project, and keeping a weather eye on EBay paid off with the purchase of a nice medium sized army for a very reasonable price, indeed I am sure that I paid less for the painted army than the cost of the bare metal, which is always nice.
As usual with EBay the photos always leave some room for doubt; I could see what the army was comprised off, but I really couldn’t tell what the paint job was like, so I was very pleasantly surprised when what turned up was absolutely ideal for my needs.  In a perfect world I like to paint all of my own figures and do usually achieve that, this may sound daft but I only really feel a unit is “mine” if I have painted it, so buying something ready painted might be a short cut, but if it can lead to my not really caring whether a unit wins or loses, lives or dies, and all that twaddle.  Daft, but there it is.  So, the perfect purchased painted army for me would be painted in pretty flat colours that I can then use as a base to spend a bit of time adding highlights and personalising the army so that through this process I do really feel like it is my unit.  That said, I don’t want to spend too much time wielding a paint brush; I do not paint for the love of it, it is nothing more than a painful necessity in order to get toys on the table.
In this instance I was very pleasantly surprised to discover that the army I had bough was painted in exactly this manner, with what appeared to be a simple ink wash to give some depth.  This is pretty much the perfect canvass for me to work up from, as you can see in the photos below.
Paint 1
To be perfectly honest I wasn’t mad on the colour of the horse of the bloke with the map, and I wasn’t too keen on the very green map either, so both of these got a quick flat coat of paint.  To try to cut my time at the painting table as much as possible I had bought a tin of Army Painter.  Somehow I ordered the “Strong” tone, I had intended to get the soft one, but now I had it I wasn’t going to waste it.  I had heard rather mixed reports regarding this stuff.  Some people loved it, some were less keen.  What just about everybody had said was not to dip the figure in the tin as the instructions advised, but to slap it on with a brush.  Apparently this avoids the worst “pooling” effects, so that is precisely what I did.
The results of this were pretty predictable.  Army Painter bares a strong resemblance to wood varnish, even the tin looks like the stuff I did some doors with a few years ago.  You give the tin a good shake, then slap it on with an old brush, ideally quite a large one.  Once that is done you are left with your figures looking like this.
Paint 2
All wet and sticky.  Let them dry properly, I went to the pub and left mine overnight.  In the morning the figure was very glossy and the gloop had gathered nicely in the nooks and crannies on the figures.  The only bit I wasn’t convinced by was the white horse which looked like it had been rolling in mud, or worse, however I was not too bothered as I could just paint over that.  All of the other colours, even the metals, looked fine, indeed a perfect point from which to highlight up.
I shan’t tell you how to highlight your figures.  For a start I am no great shakes as a painter of 28mm figures and no great photographer either, but what the photos below hopefully serve to illustrate is how the Army Painter provides a quick and easy option for taking a good basic block colour paint job and then with a little bit of work, allow you to give them a bit of depth and personality.  I reckon that I spent on average about 15 minutes per figure which is MUCH less than I would have spent on painting it up from bare metal.  I left the figures on the bases that they came with, but once I rebase these on command bases, maybe with some battlefield bric-a-brac and a Sergeant of Arms or ADC, I reckon they will be perfectly passable on the table.
Paint 3
Paint 4For me Army Painter is an excellent tool for this particular job, namely doing a quick highlight up on figures with a basic paint job.  Would I just dip the figures and leave it at that?  No, it wouldn’t give the depth of tone that I like; it does need a highlight applied after the dip to get the best results.  Would I use it on new figures that I was painting up from the undercoat?  No, I would prefer to build up the layers of paint in various shades and then complement that with either ink or the Citadel Washes.  For this particular job, however, it is perfect.  I reckon that you could apply this to some pretty dreadfully painted figures and get a decent result with very little effort.  Maybe perfect for breathing life into stuff you painted as a youngster that now never sees the light of day.
My tin cost me about fifteen quid on EBay including postage and packaging.  It was despatched very rapidly and was very well packaged by this crowd:
I would certainly reccomend them if you are after a tin of this stuff.


2 thoughts on “Army Painter – A Review from Lard Island”

  1. Rich, you don’t necessarily need to apply a highlight to get a highlight… Allow me to explain… Once you’ve ‘dipped’ the figure, wait a few minutes, until the ‘dip’ is quite tacky (use the time to slap ‘dip’ on another couple of figures), and then, with a brush ‘damped’ in white spirit ‘drybrush’ the ‘dip’ off the raised areas – that takes you back to the original basecoat in those areas, so you get quite a nice effect – pure dip in the shadows, dipped basecoat on most of the rest, and ‘undipped’ basecoat on the raised areas.

  2. I agree with your assessment. I initially purchased some last year, and was less than impressed with the results.
    After reading up on it a bit more, I gave it another go, and found that with the controlled “splashing” technique, you can get some pretty nice results.
    Mind you, it still can’t compare to the tried and true methods we all usually follow, but for a quick paint job – especially on 20th century types – it does the job well.

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