Nolzur’s Marvelous Pigments Has Everything You Need to Paint Like a Pro (Part 1)

Gaming Tabletop Games
Also pictured, Nolzur’s Marvelous Brush Set and a few bonus minis for Part 3! (Image: Anthony Karcz)

It’s been a bit since I’ve looked at boxed paint sets, with my collection of colors growing organically as I’ve wended my way through various projects. (Don’t worry, Imperial Assault painting guides will be back!)

On the one hand, it’s been fun having lots of colors on hand to choose from. On the other, I now have so many paints that finding just the right one can be a chore. I’m slowly starting to organize them with the help of paint racks from GameCraft, but every time I fill up a rack, I go and get more paint. It’s a problem.

That’s why when Army Painter reached out and offered to send me their latest official Dungeons & Dragons collections, I leaped at the chance. Army Painter is what started me off on miniature painting, and I’ve found their paint sets to be some of the quickest, most easy to organize ways to build and store a paint collection.

D&D Adventurers Paint Set

Everything you need to start your hobby! (Image: Anthony Karcz)

Each of the official D&D paint sets has a nice range of paints, enough to get any burgeoning mini painter started. The D&D Adventurers Paint Set is the starter set, with eight base colors, plus brush-on primer and metallic silver. Also included in the set is a starter brush—great for applying primer and base coats.

The real star of the paint set is the exclusive Minsc and Boo miniature. The intellectually challenged adventurer and his miniature giant space hamster companion are rendered in some of the most perfect detail I’ve ever seen on a mini. Which makes sense. It’s by Gale Force 9, which consistently churns out impeccable D&D minis.

To give the set a proper test, I wanted to paint the mini using only the paints that came in the set.

Washed and ready for priming. (Image: Anthony Karcz)

I started off by giving Minsc and Boo a good scrub in warm soapy water—got to get rid of those chemicals from the factory—and brushed on a layer of grey primer with the Starter brush after the mini dried. (Yay not having to deal with Florida humidity!)

I was pleased with how well the brush-on primer covered. I was a little concerned I was going to lose some of those finely sculpted details, but needlessly so. Within fifteen minutes, I was ready to plow ahead!

Primed and ready! (Image: Anthony Karcz)

I switched to my Rosemary & Co Series 33 #2 and used a slightly thinned down layer of Flumph Pink for the exposed skin on Minsc’s head, arms, and hands. The first layer went on a little thin, but given the fine details, I was OK with having to retouch later. I then added some Kraken Blue to the trousers and applied Bugbear Brown to the grip of the sword and the boots.

Skin, trousers, and brown details all sorted. (Image: Anthony Karcz)

With three drops of Dragonfire Red (I’d forgotten how much I love Army Painter’s dropper bottles) and a drop of water to thin it, I covered the cloak, front and back. Then I used some straight Mithril Silver to paint the pommel and hilt of the sword as well as the bracers, greaves, and chainmail shirt, leaving the edges of the shirt grey to provide a bit of contrast.

Base colors done, time for detailing. (Image: Anthony Karcz)

With the mini mostly painted at this point, it was time to get creative and add some details. I painted the top of the sword straight Mithril Silver, then added a drop of Abyssal Black and painted the bottom half (I might go back and brighten the top up more).

Then it was time for Boo! I based the hamster with Lawful White, then mixed Dragonfire Red and Angelic Yellow until I got a shade of orange I was happy with. I freehanded some orange markings then grabbed my smallest brush to give Boo eyes (that will mostly be invisible at tabletop range, but at least I know they’re there). I also added a little more yellow to the mix to get a pinkish color that I used for Boo’s feet, nose, and tail.

After that, I mixed Dragonfire Red and Kraken Blue to get a muted purple for Minsc’s facial tattoo. Thankfully, there are slightly sculpted guidelines on his head so I didn’t have to completely freehand the entire thing.

Once I was pleased with that, I added a little Lawful White to my remaining red and got a solid highlight tone to brush on the high points of the cloak. I watered down what was left for a little bit of pink shade for Minsc’s lips and mouth.

Almost there, just one last touch… (Image: Anthony Karcz)

Usually, with the cobblestone base, I’d use a shade for quick detail, but there are no shades in the Adventurers Paint Set. (You’ll have to wait for my review of the Monsters Paint Set for premixed shade.) Instead, I mixed equal parts black and Treant Green with a few drops of water until I had a mix that would easily flow into the cracks but wouldn’t run off completely. After that dried, I went over the tops of the stones with a very light layer of the Grey Primer.

What’s that Boo? I should kill them all? Well, if you say so… (Image: Anthony Karcz)

To finish, I roughed in a little bit of white on the eyeballs and dabbed in two quick dots of black to give the impression of eyes. Luckily the sculpt is generous and pretty much anything you do here will look good (as long as you don’t go cartoony). In this instance, quick and dirty (or nothing at all) is better than laboriously working on your eye game.

Should I Buy It?

I highly recommend the Adventurers Paint Set. It gives you nearly everything you need in one box to start (or refresh) your miniature painting. The paints are top quality, the dropper bottles are second to none in the industry, and the Minsc and Boo miniature that’s included is a fantastic way to try out your new paints.

The brush-on primer is revelatory. (Image: Anthony Karcz)

The inclusion of paint-on primer can’t be discounted either. Spray-on primers require ventilation for safety and low moisture to provide the best results. I’ve lost months of painting because I forgot to prime during the Florida “winter” (which is really just a break in the constant humidity). The Grey Primer circumvents all those issues and I’m thrilled to add it to my arsenal.

The starter brush included in the Adventurers Paint Set works for overall coverage, but you’re going to need to invest in some additional brushes for finer details and advanced techniques like dry-brushing. Luckily, Army Painter has you covered there as well. Their Nolzur’s Marvelous Brush Set includes a finer-point basecoat brush, a detail brush, and a flat drybrush. If you don’t have additional brushes already, this will be an essential purchase to get the results you want.

Where to Buy?

Especially if you’re gifting, you have just a couple of days left to pick up the Adventurers Paint Set on Amazon for $30 and still have it arrive before Christmas. The Nolzur’s Marvelous Brush Set is only $13, but is currently out of stock, unfortunately, but should still arrive soon after the holiday. For more advanced painters, the Monsters Paint Set is available for around $70 and is also expected to arrive before Christmas. I’ll have my review of that one in a couple of days. (Spoiler alert: it’s an astoundingly good set.)

I also recommend visiting Army Painter’s D&D Official Painting Series page for tutorials (both in PDF and video form) and more information on the sets.

Until next time, happy painting!

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