by: Nathan Ram [ ]
As modelers, we use pigments to replicate and obtain all types of effects. We use them to create life-like rust, mud, ash and what not. They have become (at least, that's how I feel) a major player in the weathering league, if you please. We may not all use them with the same skill, some modelers being better than others, and others getting there with experience, but still, the use of pigments is wide and they have become one of the major consumables to use in order to increase the life-like appearance of our models. Be it a simple dust, or some more hard-to-achieve affects, pigments add a lot of life to a model.
Vallejo Acrylics, a manufacturer of great acrylic model colors, has now entered the pigments market with its own range, made from the pigments they use for their paints. And everyone who uses those will tell you how great they are.
Now, I will divide my review into two parts. The first, dealing with the pigments, the second with the set itself.
The pigments come in a nice large bottle containing 30 ml (or approx. 1 US fluid ounce) which provides good value for your money. A nice feature of the bottle is that they come with child proof caps, which may be important to those with children roaming at large near the workbench.
The pigments are very well ground and are very fine. I wanted to put them through tests, representing the techniques that I'm familiar with, including a wash, application with carrier and application with artists' spirit. The first step was to see how the pigments mix. I normally mix my pigments with some water, and Vallejo pigments have mixed well with that medium. I also wanted to see whether the pigments mix with themselves when dry (as to see if different shades and colors of dust can be achieved), so I mixed 2 colors together, and using my hobby knife started to mix them. This takes a bit of time, because you'd want to get a constant mix.
Next, I simply dusted the pigments on the model with a dry brush. You can dust the pigments on for a light dust look, or build the layers up – it'll perform well both ways. Using them with a carrier was also very easy with good results. I mixed some water with matte varnish, and then added some pigments and the result was very satisfactory. The same good results were achieved when first brushing some carrier onto the model, and then applying the pigments. Agreeable results were also achieved while applying some pigments to the model, and then fixing them with artists' spirit. The last test was a wash, mixing some pigments with water (they did not mix well with an acrylic varnish and water mix), and again, same good results.
The set itself is limited somewhat. You get 4 colors which are:
•Light Yellow Ochre
•Brown Iron Oxide
•Light Slate Grey
Now, these colors are just fine on their own, but the set itself could so with some improvements. While you will be able to mix various shades of earth tones with the given colors, I think that a simple white color, to lighten things up is needed. Especially when the pigments aren't of the "ready mix" kind (you don't have a "Russian earth" color, for an example). While you can play a bit with the light gray, there is only so much you can do with it in terms of lightening the already dark natural umber.
Moreover, the addition of the Brown Iron Oxide is a bit puzzling, as it is not a color that can stand by its own ( the slate gray could be used as concrete dust and the light ochre as sand) but must be mixed with something else. Mixing it, for an example, with the natural umber will yield a very nice terracotta color, but there is only so much you can get out of it. I think that another brownish color (like burnt umber, or a simple white) could have been a better choice.
Vallejo pigments performed very well on all methods of application that I tried. They are a comparable product to other pigments on the market, and they give a very good value for the money; a 30ml bottle sells for about $3.70US (price taken from Luckymodel website). What's more, the safety cap is a nice addition to those with small children.
Not coming in specific colors and tones is not necessarily a weak spot of these pigments, as it gives the modeler a more open approach to mixing his or hers specific colors. A highly recommended product (although some work needs to be done on the included colors in the sets).
I would like to thank Darren Baker (CMOT), Sean Langley (pigsty) and Alan McNeilly (AlanL) for helping me with this one.