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Posted by Terarin


The BrushThralls were lucky enough to spend some time with Mike and Ali McVey this past weekend at GenCon Indy 2006. We sat down with Mike and peppered him with questions regarding the new P3 paint line and other topics.

Questions & Answers

BT: Why P3? Rivethead Paints or RHS would have been a much cooler name and logo.

MM: We don’t really use the RHS brand any more. We found that is was causing some confusion, so chances are you have seen the last of it. There was really getting to be too many logos on our products.

P3 just calls it like it is - Privateer Press Paints. It was an idea that came up in conversation between a few of us - I think it was Sherry (Yeary, the PP President) that coined the name. The more we thought about it and kicked it around - more we liked it. It just stuck really.

BT: How did you decide which colors to put in the initial sets?

MM: We built the initial sets round the studio faction schemes - so there are shade and highlight versions of the key colours and then the other colours are the ones that you will find most useful when painting those particular miniatures. The Iron Kingdoms colours are just really useful all round colours - black, white, flesh (really great flesh tone), leather and two metallics. We decided on a slightly different approach for the merc set - instead of providing shade and highlight versions of any colours we decided to give a wider choice of military style colours instead. This reflects the faction better I think - there are far more colour schemes to choose from than the four Warmachine factions.

BT: Are there any “not so useful” colors in the sets? Many sets out there these days seem to have have one or 2 “throwaway” colors that you’ll never use. *Looks at an old pot of Tentacle Pink…*

MM: Well we certainly haven’t consciously chosen to put redundant colours in the range… In fact we went to great lengths to make sure that the colours we chose had a great as range of uses as possible. But I guess other people will be the judge of this, if some colours turn out to be not so useful, people just won’t buy them.

BT: How did you decide which colors to develop?

MM: The core of the whole line is built around the studio faction schemes. Privateer Press miniatures have a strong visual identity to them and we wanted to create a paint line that catered for that, this became even more important as some of the colours that we use are not particularly easy to mix… Colours like the deep red wine colour we use for Menoth, and true Cygnar blue - we wanted to be able to give these to people without having to do any basic colour mixing.

We also wanted to have a full spectrum of paints so that people could also come up with their own colour schemes.

Then we also wanted to keep the range compact - the last thing I wanted was to launch a sprawling range of 200+ paints. People are always going to want an exact shade that they use for one particular purpose, so you are never going to be able to cover all the bases. We thought it was better to keep the range lean, but provide all the colours you would ever need to mix anything. Chances are that people are going to keep using that particular paint for that one special aspect of their army anyway.

BT: Will the Hordes line have 5 or 6 sets?

MM: Still under discussion. We might not even do Hordes sets at all – and just release the Hordes specific colours as singles. There will be faction specific base coat and highlight colours for sure though – like Trollkin Flesh.

BT: How did you communicate the color choices with the vendor? Mixing colors, providing color swatches, etc?

MM: All of the above. The initial colour choices are either communicated through a code from a swatch book (we use the NCS colour reference system as it has a great range of both natural and bright pigment colours), or a wet sample that we mix ourselves. Then the vendor will make up wet samples based on our references and we will take it from there. Of course the fact that the vendor is several thousand miles away make the process a little more difficult - they used to be an hours drive for me, so I spent a great deal of time working directly with their colour lab. I did manage to pay a couple of visits to them for the P3 line though - and that’s when we worked on some of the key issues with the line.

BT: Why did you choose the vendor you did?

MM: I think I have answered some of this already. For me there are a couple of key reasons - I have worked extensively with four different vendors over the years - and to a lesser extent with several more. The ones we chose for this project are the best (in my opinion) - I have worked with them for years, and they have the product that I have the most confidence in. I also have a strong working relationship with them, which can really help a project run more smoothly.

Now if I had wanted an easy life, we would have chosen a vendor that was a little more local to Privateer…

BT: Is there room for expansion in the color line?

MM: The initial launch is 36 colours - in the next few months after launch we will be releasing the rest of the line. The whole thing is going to be around 70 colours, like I said, we don’t want a huge paint line, in our opinion it’s just not necessary.

BT: Do you expect greater rock star-like fame with the release of P3?

MM: You’ve found me out! This was actually my main motivation behind doing this, in fact I have just bought some extra tight leather trousers.

BT: Does P3 paint taste good?

MM: Hmmmm… Can’t say I have eaten a great deal of it… What am I talking about! Over the years I’ve probably ingested a couple of pints! Doesn’t really have a strong taste as far as I can tell - definitely less of a smell then some paints I have used… Some just smell like house paint to me!

BT: Have you considered flavoring the paints for those of us who lick the brushes?

MM: Ha! That would be cool! Maybe we could go for jelly bean flavours, and slip a couple of nasty ones in the Cryx set!

BT: What other plans are there for the line? Inks? Glazes? Something we’ve never seen before?

MM: Inks for sure - they will come in the second wave. For me, inks are an indispensable aid for miniature painters, and good inks are hard to come by. I am currently in the middle of developing them with our vendor and the results so far look great. After that… hopefully a couple of really good, reliable varnishes, and several things in development that you’ll have to wait a little longer to hear about!

BT: Other things? Like glazes perhaps? Please?

MM: We will certainly be doing inks, which is all you really need for glazing. I think that pre-mixed glazes are a rip off for the consumer. They are just basically watered down pigments…

BT: A lot of colors you’ve developed in the past have been discontinued in their current lines. Is there any colors in P3 that brings back colors you’ve never wanted to lose?

MM: I have never really thought about this… Maybe subconsciously… We primarily concentrated on what we wanted for this particular range.

BT: Will a color reference chart be made available in No Quarter Magazine?

MM: Yes, and in other products. I am really keen to push the educational side of these paints - I want people to get the best from them. We have tried to be as smart as possible in the design of this range, so we want to let people know the best ways to use them.

BT: How has the experience of creating the P3 line compared to other paint lines you’ve created?

MM: Favorably… In the past, while I have had a good deal of freedom with developing paint lines - there has always been a level of decision making about me with regards to some aspects of the process (like pricing and which vendor we were ultimately going to use). In this case I got to call the shots throughout the whole process - choosing the vendor, the product, the colours and working with them in developing the line as a whole. This really made the process more enjoyable and rewarding and I think we have ultimately ended up with a better product.

There is also the fact that I have learned what does and doesn’t work from my past experiences. Just like anything else, you discover more and more about a process the longer you are working at it - so by the time I started on this line, I knew pretty much what I wanted.

The other really big change is that I wasn’t working on this one alone, as I had done with all the others. The P3 line was really a joint effort between myself and Ali (PPS_Fluffy) - she paints a great deal more than I do these days, so did a lot of the “front line” testing.

BT: How did you resolve common issues with model paint like opacity and separation?

MM: Separation is an easy one - the basic paint formulation that we used just doesn’t ‘split’ when thinned with water (and just for the record I use straight tap water, in fact I have thinned these paints with tap water from all over the world, and they all act the same…). This is one of the reasons that I wanted to work with the vendor that I did - the basic LMP formulation that they invented was pretty much the first successful miniature paint in the industry, so it’s been thoroughly tested over the years.

Opacity is a more difficult problem to overcome - especially with some pure pigment colours. It really just comes down to a case of working closer with the development lab of the vendor - at the end of the day, they are the only ones that can solve technical problems. Fortunately I have been working with these people for many years and we have a really strong understanding of what is needed. Some colours are easy to nail down and some take a long time…

BT: Is there going to be any noticeable change in the studio color schemes as more models are painted with P3?

MM: No. We have been painting with these paints to a greater or lesser extent for several years now, so you have already seen studio miniatures painted with them. Many of the colours we have been using are in the initial release, and some will be in the second wave.

There are some differences between the way we paint studio miniatures and the colours that are in the faction sets. For example - some of the white on studio Protectorate miniatures is shaded with a slightly greenish tinge to give a more natural “linen” colour. The colours that we provide in the Protectorate set are more ivory - which is really the “classic” colour. However…. One of the colours in the Cryx set (Thrall Flesh) is exactly right for this shade colour. We have done this wherever we could - if there is a colour that we use extensively in studio miniatures, it will find it’s way into the range somewhere.

BT: We own a lot of other paint brands. Will these mix well with them?

MM: Yes. I have used all manner of paints over the years and have never had a problem mixing any of them together (as long as they are all acrylic of course). You will find that the characteristics of the different paints do come through though - so if you are mixing in a paint that has a coarser pigment - some of this will come though. Some people have commented that certain paints only mix with particular things - but I have never really found that. Put them on a palette together, add in a little water (or ink), and they mix just fine.

BT: Do you think the addition of P3 paint will lead to strict painting requirements for official tournaments?

MM: I don’t think that P3 will have any effect at all on tournaments. There are some tournaments that require painted miniatures - “Hard Core” for example (and this was a decision that was taken independently of the development of the P3 line). But we don’t, and never will require them to be painted with P3 paints. I want people to use these paints because they like them - not because they have to…

BT: What makes this line so special when thinning? What are your thoughts on how this line will take to being used for washes?

MM: I think I sort of answered this one above. These paints just don’t split when thinned with water - you can keep thinning them indefinitely and the pigment just stays in suspension. Obviously it’s gets weaker and more watery, if you want to keep a little more body to the mix you can add a tiny spot of acrylic medium. In fact I am looking into getting a couple of mediums made up for testing - it they work well we might try and get them into the line at some point.

BT: What about metallics? You only have 3 in the line right now. Will we see more and what will they be?

MM: There are three metallic colours in the first release - Pig Iron (which is a dark silver), Rhulic Gold (a really great warm gold) and Blighted Gold (which is an antique green/gold). There will be several more metallic colours in the expanded range - a really good bronze and other silver metallics amongst them.

I’m really pleased with the way the metallic colours came out - it’s one thing that we re-worked from the ground up and it took a great deal of work to get them just right, so I hope people like them!

BT: What about working time? Blending is a key the eludes a lot of painters, what sort of inherent qualities are in P3 that will help?

MM: These are the best paints to blend with I have ever used. Now I don’t want to mislead anyone here - they aren’t a magic formula that stay wet long enough to blend with and then instantly dry so you can work over the top! There is still a learning curve here…

Acrylic paints dry fast - and that is one of the best things about them. The drying time on P3 is just about right to allow for smooth blending before they dry - but you still have to work fast and in small areas for best results. -

BT: Does P3 have the potential of becoming a full scale hobby line (i.e. brushes and tools)?

MM: Maybe. I think there is definitely a need for good quality tools. I recently bought some tools from a “well known hobby company”, and I was shocked at the poor quality of them. They were pretty much useless.

No immediate plans though.

Some final silly questions:

BT: Do you dream in black & white, color, or P3?

MM: Sepia tone. I’m quite old you know.

BT: Does Ali really wear Wellington boots while mixing paints?

MM: Yes. And nothing else.

BT: Robots, Monkeys or Ninjas?

MM: Monkeys of course! The revolution is coming soon…

BT: Funny. We would have guessed Pirates! Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions Mike. Hopefully our readers gain some insight into what is sure to be an awesome paint line for mini painters, new and pro alike.

Until next time.

–The BrushThralls–