Available Now: Vallejo Xpress Color and Vallejo Game Color

Vallejo Xpress Color Paints are here! Do they hold up to the hype?

Over the Brush - A Painting, Miniatures and Hobby Crafting blog by Over the Brick
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Vallejo Xpress Colors have been one of the most anticipated paints in the heavy body wash/ink/one-coat painting arena, and they’ve finally arrived! It’s been a long time coming and the work with one-coat paint aficionado Juan Hidalgo has borne fruit for those looking for a great quality, consistent, non-reactive, if somewhat limited, option to the other behemoths currently in the space.

Matte Finish for those Coveted Highlights and Shadows

Vallejo Xpress Color Bottle

The largest feature of note for this range of heavy body washes is the matte finish, setting the Vallejo Xpress Color range apart from any of its competitors. It is a boon to those enjoying complete control over their highlights and shadow as many painters appreciate a matte finish on their models. For anyone wanting a satin or glossy finish, these are only a spray or paint brush away with any of the various satin or gloss varnishes available on the market. These products add another layer of abrasion or impact protection to your model while keeping the finish consistent across the entire figure. A clear coat (matte or satin, even gloss) over the model will also not cause any unfortunate reactivity issues, but more on that later.

Consistency as a Unifying Glaze

Range-wide consistency is also a much-appreciated aspect of these new paints. Wonder no more whether the one-coat paint you have chosen will deliver a value range from dark to light, or basically apply like a complete base coat. The Vallejo Xpress color range offers a consistent application across all 23 colors, even if not as highly pigmented. Compared to others in this space, coverage is heavier than the lightest, and lighter than the heaviest; somewhere in the middle of sometimes needing two coats for best coverage, but still being usable as a unifying glaze. Speaking of glazing, these paints also thin down well with water, and while a special Xpress color medium is available, it is not absolutely required at all times to make the paint work as intended.

Avoids Unfortunate Reactions and Undoing Previous Work

Non-reactivity is the last powerful hallmark of the range. While this issue does not plague all the other heavy body wash/one-coat paint options (with the most notable offenders speedily attempting to repair the issue), Vallejo has worked out how to avoid it from the beginning. Feel at ease applying additional coats of full strength, thinned, or glaze consistency without fear of undoing previous work. Finishes or additional coats of paint applied above or below the Xpress colors will work as intended and keep colorfast. As with anytime acrylics and white spirit or oils meet, one should be careful to ensure no unfortunate reactions, but no longer must we concern ourselves when working solely with acrylic!

Sacrifice Time to Save Brush Strokes and the Dreaded Coffee Staining

In the Vallejo Xpress colors, an increased drying time over the competition and a consistent paint flow combine to make real strides in avoiding another common pitfall of the one-coat method: brush strokes and “coffee staining”. These maladies plague the search for quick, clean areas of color, particularly on larger, less ornate, surfaces. Most of the heavy body wash style paints dry rather quickly, the result being that keeping the all-important “wet edge” to avoid areas of dry pigment getting a second coat that will ruin the effect of these paints translucence, is often difficult (if not impossible).

With an extended drying time, the Xpress colors allow for those areas to get covered completely, and for the paint to still have a little time to settle into a single layer and work its magic of depositing more pigment in the recesses and less on the raised areas. This increased drying time also allows the painter to remove excess paint from recessed areas that are over flooded and run the risk of becoming unsightly and gloopy. While these still might not be the solution for painting the large, blank areas of a tank or large shield, it will make those larger shoulder pads and infantry armor segments much more manageable. 

Limited Range (for now), One Coat Woes, and Watching Paint Dry

No article can be all glowing praise, and there are a few areas that these new Vallejo Xpress paints do show some weakness. The first, and most noticeable, is the limited range of colors at present. Bone colors, off-whites and the like are completely unrepresented, as are any true blacks or greys. Vallejo do say that this is just the first wave of offerings, and the next selection of colors is already in the early stages of production, so we can expect that to be remedied soon.

The second limitation is, compared to some of the others in the one-coat painting space, that the pigment density is just not there. As mentioned, the “sometimes second coat” can add time to your paint job. While there are many painters who prefer subtlety in adding layers of color to a model, there are those who are looking to use these paints for a one-coat paint job that doesn’t require any additional fiddling, and it will be there that the Xpress paints show something less than strength.

Those who are looking to maximize speed in their painting might also be concerned with the increased drying time. This will, by necessity, add a few minutes to the painting clock, whether it be between layers or glazes or just waiting for that heavy single coat to be ready to play. The benefit of decreased coffee staining and tide marks is paid for with those few extra minutes spent watching paint dry.

Vallejo Xpress and Game Color Range

The Verdict?

All told, the Vallejo Xpress paints are a great addition to a rapidly expanding universe of options for getting models on the tabletop more quickly. Application is intuitive and easy, and the flow and extended working time make them very forgiving of beginners and more hesitant painters who need extra time to work color onto their figures. These paints will also find their home in the collections of seasoned painters who are looking for the newest ways to explore glazing and tinting, who want a steadfast ally in evening out their blends, or who need to sketch color quickly over their zenithally primed figures before working more (…or less) conventional painting techniques.


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