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Scale75’s ScaleColor review.

Ooooooook! It has been some time since I have undertaken the task of reviewing Scale 75’s ScaleColor range, but I finally crossed the finish line and have learned a whole-lot along the way. Now, I had already done a review of Scale75’s Fantasy and Games line, and was eager to try my hands at the well recommended ScaleColor Line. Many painters that I’ve communicated with have given me overall positive reviews. So, I was eager to really sink my teeth into it,  and reveal its properties.

I had worked with the paint for quite a long time–prior to beginning review– and had discovered many unique pros and cons–relative to the other “figure painting” lines out there. So, first I will introduce you to the subject that I tested the paint on, then I will dive right into  what I encountered when using paints from the ScaleColor range.

But! Before we begin, I want to get a brush review out of the way. Along with the paint, I had the privilege of testing three brushes from the 502 Abteilung company. They were the #1 and #00 round, along with  #2 flat, of the 830 series.

These are synthetic taklon brushes. They have rather long bristles, are well tapered, and seem to hold a fine point (the rounds). I like the handles–they are comfortable in the hand.

Here they are after a water rinse and the manufacturer glue has worn off. They still hold their form rather well

This is the model that I tested the paint and brushes on. He is a 54mm Dwarf from the Peter Plunk design range–purchased from FeR miniatures. He is absolutely stunning in all aspects: sculpt, cast, etc.

I primed the fella grey, because the scene is going to be in a cold climate, and grey will compliment the cool-blue tones.

…now back to the brushes…I wanted to see how the points held when loaded with paint, so I gave them a swipe and examined

The #1 bifurcated immediately, the #00 held decently enough, and the flat held well…but the color revealed some bumps and ridges at the tip (of the flat). This is likely a burn treatment used to create an even edge. Quality brushes are often made to align perfectly out of the ferrule to form a point/end…yet this brush was likely jammed into the ferrule, cut, then burned to create a level end. That’s not a good sign, because the burned edges are rounded and that wont deposit the paint well.

After the test run, I tried base-coating the cloak, beard, and flesh.

The points disappeared immediately, and there was this scraping-and-scratching sound the bristle made on the model when painting. It’s like sweeping a straw broom on a pane a glass. I’ve never experienced this sensation before, and attribute it to the hard synthetic bristle of this brand.

After that, I immediately stopped using these brushes on this model. I didn’t achieve any satisfaction and I don’t want to risk damaging a model that I care for, and intended to use for display. I find this brush line to be useful for mindless base coating. They held the paint well enough, but it didn’t leave the brush well, and they could not maintain their point for any reasonable amount of time. Again, for synthetics, go for AK Interactive. I’ve had nothing but pleasant experiences with them, and they are very well priced.

Now onto the paint! Here is a quick rundown of the noteworthy attributes.

 

  • Very thick, separates easily, and dries very quickly on the palette
  • Very matte. Easily the most matte finish that I’ve ever encountered.
  • Some un-fixable quality control errors
  • Dilutes well
  • Beautiful finish (color). The pigment is very fine and the colors dry with beautiful richness from minimal layers
  • The best metallics that I’ve ever encountered.
  • Excellent color range that interplays well.
  • Steep learning curve: You’ll have to become used to its properties to get the most out of your applications ( glazing, wet blending, etc.)
    • Must establish a process and really consider your application before beginning.

The color is very thick out of the bottle and requires intensive shaking to mix properly. These paints are notorious for heavy separation when stagnate. Its widely recommended–on the web–to shake these for a 5-6 minutes! I wasn’t having that. To alleviate this I dropped in stainless-steel agitators balls, and decided to pick up a pair of Tamiya Paint Stirrers.

These are an excellent addition to anyone’s hobby arsenal. Great quality, price, and purpose.

Give them a good mix with these, prior to hand shaking, and you’ll have quicker, and better results. Be sure to avoid waste, and scrape the excess paint off into the bottle

After this process, drop some paint and be sure that there is no clear fluid being dispensed, prior to the pigment. If that happens, that means the paint hasn’t fully mixed. You’re looking for a smooth, consistent blend, right out of the bottle’s tip.

Additionally, the paint dries very fast. To my knowledge, that is mostly because of a particular ingredient in their mix, but I’ll get to that shortly. For now, note that this paint will dry on a wet palette in minutes. This, combined with the quick separation, is frustrating. Because it means that during the painting process there will be more moments of heavy re-shaking to refill the palette than what you’re probably used to.

This was shortly after I laid the paint down. You can see the dry areas near the wet.

The reason that it dries so quickly is the same as to why it dries so matte, and that reason is talc. It looks as if the chemists concocting this formula have added talc as a matte enhancer.

Now, many painters (including myself) love this attribute. It provides a very cool, illustrative look to the models. And realizes–typically–dry surfaces really well (cloth, metallics, leathers). It’s not something I want to employ on every figure, but it is very nice to have ready

Unfortunately, these qualities can produce negative side-effects. The paint’s relatively unique formula is very unforgiving when encountering quality-control errors. I believe that if this paint isn’t properly measured and mixed by the manufacturer, then you’ll wind up with a bum bottle that will not behave.

I say this because I have tried everything in my book-of-tricks to alleviate some disturbing issues. Out of the dozen bottles I used for this model… two of them were duds. Iroko, and Walnut Brown would. not. work. Every single time I laid Iroko down, in every consistency, with every additive tried, it would finish with chalky rings and stains. EVERY TIME! The talc would settle into the tip of my brush and deposit in lumps on the model. I couldn’t get around it.

Walnut Brown would separate severely on the palette. I tried it in every consistency, with every additive, as well. No matter how much I mixed Walnut Brown (even with a paint mixer attachment on my Dremel rotary tool!) The color would break up and separate on the palette. Every time.

Notice the separation?

After all my trial-and-error, I just summed it up to manufacturing errors. Too much talc in Iroko, and likely too much binder and talc in Walnut Brown. I searched online for anyone having similar issues, and found a handful of people. My next step is to contact S75 directly to address this. We’ll see what happens.

 

Phew! Rant over. Now onto the positives. When behaving properly, this paint is a dream.

It dilutes very well, and has a large range of consistencies because of its thick, default setting. When heavily diluted, the pigment stays suspended nicely–making it excellent for glazing and layering. Because, the pigment will settle proportionally on the model, providing an even coverage.  Additionally, adding any drying retarder or flow aid doesn’t seem to impact its properties.

The colors wet-blend beautifully. They melt nicely into each other when wet, then meld wonderfully while drying–leaving an excellent gradient, with minimal effort.

All the colors in the range are beautiful and interact well. This is a small range with a purpose. I think the designers did a wonderful job selecting and establishing the colors.. Every color seems to have an application somewhere with every-other in the range. Its excellent.

And here is the best part…the pigment itself dries rich in every application and is identical to its tone in the bottle. What I mean is that often-times, to get the…(saturation inst the right word)…richness you’re looking for, one must lay many thin layers. Yet with ScaleColor, one layer is typically all that is necessary.  The way this color lays and the tone that it produces sets it apart from the other ranges I’ve used…and I’ve used them all.

…Here is how the figure turned out…

Even with a very thin glaze, you still have a nice, fairly rich color. You can get the translucency you want from previous layers, and still build some color. Which gives you a great structure to work from because you can really control your colors.

I then started to lay down heavier coats because I’ve begun to understand the full look of the model. A dark cloak will let his face “pop” more.

I then started to glaze some color in his cheeks and add some highlights, along with basing the metallic areas. The metallic flakes are very fine and the colors spreads even, with almost no separation on the palette. It is such a relief considering how other acrylic metallics can behave. Not to mention, their range of metallics is large and in an excellent choice of colors. I don’t use any other metallics.

I then start pushing the highlights and shadows in thin glazes. Like I said, enriching a color with saturated glazes or inks isn’t as necessary with this line. The colors just seem to pop.

Here is the almost completed model. I still have to work his base and shield

Below is his shield buried in putty to fill out his base. I drew Jormungandr on it.

Aaaand here is the completed model. It was quite a journey with this guy. He is my first model done outside the 28mm range and with ScaleColor. I plan to take more professional, quality pictures in the near future, when I get a new camera. But for now, it has to be my phone.

So! Is ScaleColor from Scale75 worth your dime?…..Yes. I have tried every line of “figure” acrylic paint and this line offers some truly exceptional qualities. Now, there are drawbacks. Shake-time and quality issues (theorized) are the biggest offenders. But, the pros outweigh the cons. ScaleColor has an unmatched richness, matte finish, and application…along with the best metallic line on the market.

To make things a bit easier here is my operational recommendation, before using.

  • To avoid re-shaking paint and refilling the palette, be sure to select your colors, their application, and deposit enough quantity before you begin painting. Be very per-emptive. 

There is a steeper learning curve with this line, than any other I’ve worked with. But once tamed, ScaleColor is very rewarding. I recommend it.

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