Two Thin Coats

A few months ago, I was lucky enough to receive some free samples of Duncan Rhodes Painting Academy Two Thin Coats paint range, which was developed in partnership with Trans Atlantis Games. I’ve been putting the paints to good use over the holiday period, and whilst there have been many pro and expert painter reviews of these, here’s my thoughts as a reasonable amateur.

A thoughtful little package

Before we get to the actual paint there are a few things that should be mentioned, namely the thought that’s gone into the product as a whole.

The paints have been developed from the ground up to be useful to any level of painter, and it shows.

First up, the paints come in 15ml dropper bottles that feature a conical dropper. This dropper is different to those seen on the likes Vellejo, Scalecolor, AK, etc., and it allowed me to deposit the smallest of drops onto my palette. It also kept a lot cleaner than others, and when it did get paint covered, it was easier to clean due to its shape. A word of warning though, make sure the lid is on good and tight before shaking, otherwise you’ll find a whole load of paint in the lid!😉

Yes, I did it. I thought the lid was on tight, as it stiffens up, but I now know that you can get another quarter of a turn on them – but it’s only something you’ll do once!

Talking of shaking… They’ve been thoughtful enough to include a ball bearing agitator inside to ensure the paint gets mixed up nicely. I thought this was an insightful addition. I, for one, always add an agitator to my paints, no matter what size or shape they come in, and it can be a right messy pain with some of them, so I was pleased to find one already included.

I do have one minor gripe, though, and that’s the bottles not being fully transparent, which makes it difficult to tell exactly what colour the paint is without dispensing it – it’s also difficult to tell a metallic paint just by looking at it.

The range

The paint range consists of 48 standard paint colours, 6 washes, and 6 metallics. These are arranged in triads of shade, midtone, and highlight. This is starting to become the industry standard in paint development, with Vallejo also jumping on the bandwagon with their recent revamp of their Game Colour Range. I like it, it’s great for beginners, being able to immediately select a shade and highlight for any midtone colour you wish to paint.

The colour names are very fantasy orientated, ‘Berserker Red’, ‘Sorcerer’s Cloak’, and ‘Cold Corpse Blue’, are typical examples. These all have an approximate equivalent to GW Citadel, and Army Painter colours, such as Sorcerer’s Cloak resembles Word Bearers Red (GW) and Chaotic Red (AP), but as I use very little GW and no AP paints, I can’t comment on how close the match is.

There is a handy chart available for download Here, which I’ve reproduced below. This shows the triads, as well as the GW and AP Equivalents.

Two Thin Coats

There’s certainly enough scope here for a beginner to make headway without resorting to mixing things up, especially if they’re painting fantasy miniatures. As you can see, the range covers the most popular colours used in fantasy painting, though it is lacking in some areas. There are a lot of brown and grey tones but I would have liked to see more variance of greens, reds and blues. I’m sure the range will expand over time.

The 6 washes again relate to those most commonly used, whilst the 6 metallics are broken down into a shade, midtone, and highlight, for both gold and silver, hopefully this will expand to cover the likes of bronze and copper.

Putting them to use

First off, in the samples I received I didn’t get more than a single colour from a triad, so I can’t say how well they do work together in that shade, midtone, highlight format.

I first used a few colours on my wet palette. No extra water or medium was necessary to thin them here, for me, the consistency was just right. The paints kept really well on a wet palette, even after a week, separation of pigment from the medium was minimal, needing just a quick mix and a dab of water to get painting again.

In a dry palette, the paints needed just the tiniest amount of water, to bring to the right consistency.

All the paints I used were creamy and smooth, and, they were consistent out of the bottle – one paint behaving the same as the next. The paints are highly pigmented, giving excellent coverage, yes ‘Two Thin Coats’ definitely applies here, and they dry smooth and matt. They do take a little longer to dry than Vallejo and depending upon how or what you paint, this can be a good or bad thing. For wet blending, I found this lengthier drying time a boon.

I was impressed with how smooth they do dry and how rich the colours appear, under both fluorescent and incandescent lighting.

As I didn’t have all the colours of a triad I had to use other methods to paint things up, and this involved mixing. I often use flesh tones to lighten my paint and so I gave that a go. I already had a few Waking Dead characters in paint and so they became my test bed. I basecoated Rick’s flesh with Dwarven Skin and then washed over with Vallejo’s flesh wash, the result of which could easily have satisfied speed painting lots of soldiers or such like. From here, I restored the Dwarven skin to give me my midtone before mixing it with Elfic Flesh (Vallejo Game Color) to give a final highlight – I’d usually go further than that but I thought this would better display the TTC paint for pictures.

The paints mixed effortlessly together on my wet palette and the produced colours were as I expected.

Next, I basecoated his Shirt with Marine Blue. This was brighter than I expected when compared to what it shows on the chart, and I found this to be true of most of the colours I used. To be honest, this is the same with other brands I use, what’s on their colour chart and what actually comes out of the bottle are never quite the same to the eye. Once again, I mixed in a little Elfic Flesh to highlight, increasing the amount as I went.

I used all the samples I had, mixing some with other types of paint, and again, I was impressed by their consistency – every paint behaved the same on the brush, both in how it was applied and how it dried.

I was particularly impressed by the Skulker Yellow. A couple of coats over a brown basecoat provided a solid, vibrant Yellow. Having used several yellows from Vallejo’s Game Color range, I know how difficult it can be to get a nice, solid result.

The Doom Death Black and White Star both hold their own against other brands Blacks and Whites, however, I prefer the final look of Vallejo’s Model Color Black over the TTC’s one (for me, it’s a more solid and matt looking black), but the White Star was really good, especially in coverage.

Wash next?

Battle Mud Wash was the one wash in the samples and is the equivalent of GWs Agrax Earthshade. I like GWs washes and use them extensively over my Vallejo ones, which tend to be on the thin end of the spectrum. Battle Mud is quite the opposite and I found it to be a thicker wash than the GW ones, tinting whatever I used it over by some margin. This could split the crowd but personally I like to have options.

I first used this on Ricks hair, over a basecoat of Heavy Sienna highlighted with Parasite Brown (both Vallejo). As soon as I applied it, I was like, ‘Whoops! What have I done!’ as the top of his head was coloured dark brown. I had the courage to leave it and when dry the result proved very satisfactory. Yes it does tint things more than the Agrax would, but you can use this in a positive way, as long as you’re expecting it – I would give the washes a trial run before using them on your prized miniatures so you know what to expect.

Two Thin Coats
The wash has blended the colours together nicely.

I can certainly see me completing the set of these washes.

Metal finish

The two metallics I used – Sir Coates Silver and Dragon’s Gold – were both impressive. They were very smooth, and I used them from a dry palette, adding just a small amount of water. So far, I’ve only had the chance to use them on small items, like daggers, buckles, and such, but I’d like to try them on something larger at some point, to see how they reflect the light.

Compared to Vallejo’s Game Color metallics, I think they win hands down, but Vallejo do a specific range called Metal Color and I will return to them shortly…

To buy or not to buy?

Retailing at £3.95 per 15ml bottle, they are on the expensive side, even more so than Citadel’s £2.75 for 12ml (£0.26 per ml compared to £0.23), but they don’t come in a stupid container. Vallejo’s Model Color, on the other hand, comes in at £2.75 for 17ml (£0.16 per ml). Obviously, shopping around will find all brands a little cheaper.

Would I recommend these paints?

Certainly. They’re a viable option for anyone who’s looking for quality paints. They’re easy to use, being predictable and precise, they come with an agitator, so no messing around with the bottles to add one, and the range of colours would suit anyone with an eye on painting GW miniatures.

They have an advantage over Citadel paints, in that they come in a dropper bottle and contain more paint, but they are more expensive. They also have an advantage over Vallejo’s Game color range, and that’s consistency. I’ve found that Game Color varies considerably from one paint to the next. Some separate on a wet palette within the blink of an eye, and some have really poor coverage, especially the yellows.

The range will most likely expand, but it is currently on the limited side, and is never likely to compete with Vallejo’s massive catalogue.

Their 6-washes are going to be an option, no matter what else you may have, because they act a little differently. They’re thicker than others I’ve used, giving a greater tint to whatever they’re used on, and this can be used to one’s advantage. A novice to the painting world, however, I would point to Citadel’s shades, as they’re a little less forgiving.

As for the metallics, I can’t compare them to Citadel’s, as I’ve never used them, but they definitely get a thumbs up. However, their price pushes them into comparison with Vallejo’s Metal Color range (£7.99 for 32ml, that’s £0.25 per ml), and for me, they’re the best metallics on the market.

So, will I be buying them?

I extensively use Vallejo, both their Game Color and Model Color range, and the latter is an excellent paint, so it’s unlikely that I would go all in here. However, I’d certainly add specific colours to my collection if and when needed, such as the Skulker Yellow, the Dwarven Skin, and Sword Hilt Burgundy, which is a lovely colour. I’d happily pay the greater cost over their Citadel equivalent purely because it is a superior package – the conical dropper is great – and nobody should have to put up with GW’s pots if they don’t have to!

Two Thin Coats
Sandra. Her hat is Sword Hilt Burgundy and her flesh is Dwarven Skin, the same as Rick. The dagger was painted using Sir Coates Silver, washed with Nuln Oil and then bloodied!

13 thoughts on “Two Thin Coats

  1. Enjoyed the review, Justin! 🙂 Read in conjunction with Dave’s review over at Scent of a Gamer it provides quite a bit of info (and means I might buy some of the yellow)! The bottles seem to be the same as those now used by Humbrol for their acrylics (although they don’t have an agitator in them). I only have two trivial comments and they are probably due to me being grumpy and not painting fantasy figures, 1) the names of the paints aren’t necessarily much help and 2) why do paints have to come as triads (I’m assuming for convenience)? No need to answer that by the way! 😉 (I think the timer for my “Grumpy Mode” programming has been accidentally set to 24 hours!)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks John.
      Yes, I think I’ll invest in the other yellows they have available.
      I agree, some of the names leave a little bit to be desired, not helped by the bottles not being fully transparent. It can be difficult to make out one shade from another.
      Triads – Dave has already provided the answer to that – he’s far more knowledgeable about these things than I! They certainly make things easier for beginners and those of us too lazy to mix up paints😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice review on these! I have a similar thoughts. Especially on the metals. Someone has to beat VMC or AK’s metals before I’d consider jumping ship. I still need to paint up a mini fully using the 2TC line before I put my own thoughts out there though.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks Mate.
      Yeah, the metals are good… but not Metal Color good! Never tried AK’s.
      I had mostly Soviets and Walking Dead minis prepped or in paint and the samples I had been sent didn’t really lead to painting up any of these fully. I did try all the paints sent but a bit here, a bit there.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great review Justin, listing both the positives and negatives, might have to look at these at some point. In answer to John’s comment, triad colouring is to make it easy for anyone who can’t work out what to use as a shade and a highlight, so you get a dark tone, a mid tone and a light tone , and not to be confused with traditional art triads, where it uses three very different colours purple shade, green main and orange highlight for example

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for answering that, Dave! 🙂 I did think it might also be a marketing ploy to sell three colours when only one might be needed! I’m afraid I’m a bit set in my ways with white or yellow for mixing highlights and brown or black for shading being good enough for me!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. No problem John, happy to help, we each find our own way, and if that is what works for you, then it’s the right way.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. You should try using flesh colours to both lighten and darken. I find it works a treat. I use Pale Flesh or Elfic Flesh to lighten most colours, and Dark Fleshtone to darken. They don’t desaturate the colour so much as white and black.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Cheers Dave.
      Thanks for answering Johns question there. I had no idea about traditional triads, sounds very different to me – every day’s a school day🤔

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Nice review! Having used most of the paints in the range myself, I am overall inclined to agree with your approach – as an existing painter, just buy a few colours that interest you can go from there. I was also impressed with the yellows.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks Dave.
      I think that’s what most of us do once we get to a certain point, just pick and choose irrespective of range.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is a great read, Justin, and I’m glad you’re liking these new paints. I’m a little surprised they’re more expensive than Citadel paints as I think Vallejo are a bit cheaper than Citadel and are of a good quality. I might be wrong on that as I don’t buy or use Vallejo’s paints frequently and pretty much stick to Games Workshop/Citadel for the far superior pots! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Vallejo are cheaper but they have more marketing power, as they’re a much larger company. 2TC are more expensive than GW but you do get a nice dropper, an agitator, at least as good a paint in a pot you can accidentally knock over without losing it all!

      Liked by 1 person

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