The Waving Flag: Cheap Paint

Friday 8 January 2021

Cheap Paint

If you are a regular reader you'll know that I am a strong proponent of adding talc to paints so that they dry matt during painting and stay flat when varnished.  In what is the blogging equivalent of watching paint dry, I'd like to discuss a range of paints that have never needed talc added: DecoArt Crafter's Acrylic & Americana ranges.

I use these paints for core colours and as a base for mixing shades.  As I paint a lot of ancient and medieval figures I need solid browns, neutral shades and greens.  I seldom need specific uniform colours.  For this, this range is ideal.  Their black and burnt umber have been amongst my stock colours for sometime:

These dry flat, varnish flat and mix well with other paints. The black dilutes really well which is useful for black lining etc.  Plus, like all DecoArt paints, they don't separate unlike Vallejo paints.

Recently, I needed to get more of both these colours and decided to try a couple of new colours at the same time.  This was helped by a 6 for 5 deal which brought the price down to £2.21 for 59 ml; less than a third of the price of Vallejo (see below for an even cheaper deal).  I chose a strong cream and a nice deep green:

I'm pleased to say they also dry flat and varnish flat too.  One bonus is that adding the cream to the green produces a nice light green suitable for highlights etc.  It takes quite a lot of the cream to produce that "electric" light green you get when lightening with white so a wide variety of shades is possible.

Like all DecoArt paints coverage over a black undercoat is no a match for Vallejo.  The latter can cover in one coat but the DecoArt paints usually take two (except the black).

I accept this "deficiency" because I know the paint will behave itself when varnished (unlike quite a few Vallejo paints).  As I normally highlight all my colours, I don't always need a second coat. I can get away with letting the first, slightly dark, coat act as a shade.

I was chatting to Ian Marsh of Fighting15s fame and he suggested I try two of his favourite DecoArt colours:  Country Maple (for basing) and Truly Blue (for uniforms):

These should be ideal for my ACW project.  The Country Maple looks close to Vallejo 70.874 (Tan Earth) which I am using for my ACW basing scheme.  The Truly Blue (or French Blue as the French name has it) should help me with painting ACW Union blue.

So far my attempts at Union blue have been based on Vallejo 70.899 (Dark Prussian Blue) but I've had terrible problems getting a matt finish.  I've wasted a lot of time repainting test figures and I hope the new blue will speed up the process.

Finally, I unearthed another DecoArt colour from the bowels of my paint store:

I bought this years ago hoping to replace one of my main Vallejo colours.  Back then I wasn't highlighting base colours at all so I put it in the cupboard because I didn't want to apply two coats.  

Now, as my style has evolved, this paint has returned to my painting table.  This colour is especially useful when mixed with a touch of cream, buff, or pale flesh.   The light colours seem to add body to the paint and coverage improves markedly.

According to the main DecoArt web site the Americana range is their premium product range.  They are designed to cover in one coat. I suspect they may contain more pigment hence the higher price.  Even so the "one coat" claim isn't borne out by my (limited) experience.

Preferred UK Supplier
My first batch of six bottles came from an eBay seller but they didn't have the colours that Ian suggested.  Luckily I found a UK supplier that offers the full DecoArt range and is cheaper than the eBay seller.

Laser Craft Shapes has low prices and reasonable delivery charges. The Crafter's Acrylics are currently £1.59 each.  The Americana range is currently £2.79.



Philip_Mackie said...

I love these paints for the reasons you state. I’m still using some that I bought almost 20 years ago. The black is excellent but the reds really hold the colour. Phil in Wiltshire

Vexillia said...

Which reds are you using? I'm always on the lookout for decent reds.

Vexillia said...

Deleted all references to the post free offer from Laser Craft Arts as the offer is no longer available.

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