Oh paint. How much time do you think the average wargamer thinks about paint? I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if it was more than they think about gaming. At the end of the hobbying day nothing is going to have a bigger impact on your enjoyment than the paint you’re using and boy are there a lot of options out there.
We’re here today to talk about Monument Hobbies Pro Acryl line. Relatively speaking these are new on the scene, but that is only relative. We’ve seen some of our favorite painters reviewing Pro Acryl over the years and increasing number of these bottles, with their iconic “sriacha bottle” toppers appearing in ever increasing numbers in the background of tutorials. For good reason.
Pro Acryl is a premium line of paints. They are advertised as sporting an ultra high pigment density with an ability to provide full coverage in minimal coats. Over the years they’ve expanded the line both in terms of colors, but also in terms of paint types with transparents, fluorescents, and more hitting the rack. The short version of this review is that we love them; a few of us have straight up replaced our old favorites with Pro Acryl. The long version follows below.
Thanks to Monument Hobbies for sending our reviewers paints. Between all of us we’ve used base paints, washes, and transparents.
SRM: Of the 24 colors in the base set, two have already stood out as absolute favorites of mine: Golden Yellow and Bright Titanium White. It might be the best “pure” white I’ve ever used. I’m also a big fan of the Jade, and the range of ivories and warm greys are lovely. I do wish there was a gold and silver in this set; they seem like obvious picks when you’re trying to show the breadth of a paint range, but the rest of the paints here will go a long way towards building a toolbox of colors.Oldhammer Mentor Legion Space Marine, painted with the set in this review. Credit: SRM
keewa: Although I admit to finding some of the choices in the set a bit questionable (Ivory and Bright Ivory aren’t very distinct to my eye, and 4 browns in a base set is somewhat overkill), by and large I am very impressed with the selection on offer. The Blue and Sky Blue came at the perfect time for my Settler’s Gain project, while the much lauded Titanium White covers very well for a colour that is often difficult to manage. The lack of any metallic paint in the base set is somewhat confusing, but that’s just a personal quibble.
Raf: I paint with a lot of blues, purples, and greens and have fallen in love with the colors in the base set. I’m going to second the love for Titanium White and also add Coal Black. Both of these cover great and replaced all my other pure whites/blacks. Pro Acryl generally has a matte finish which I appreciate when laying these down. I wish the base set had a larger range of grey tones but they exist in the range and you can mix these well enough that it only becomes an issue when trying to color match existing project.
Jack: I think the mix of colors in the base set is OK but not amazing, though the full range has nearly everything I want. Titanium White and Coal Black are my two favorite paints and I’ll never touch another brands white/black. There’s some sort of witchcraft going on with the white and how smoothly it covers. Burnt Red and Bold Pyrrole Red are both gorgeous (and cover well). I also struggle to tell Ivory and Bright Ivory apart, and I wish this set had the neutral greys instead of the warm greys – the warm greys have a weird greenish tinge to my eyes that makes me use them less frequently.
SRM: I’ve found these paints to cover rather well for how thin they are. The colors easily mix in my experience, but will separate on the wet palette if left for more than an hour or two. The ivories are probably the weakest in this regard, usually requiring 3 coats to get an even finish.
Keewa: The coverage is mostly very good, the only colours that struggle to cover completely in two coats are the usual suspects, yellows, oranges, and ivories. The rest go over beautifully and require barely any thinning to get the job done. The paints also thin to a glaze and wash consistency very easily with a few drops of water, making them really easy to control.
Raf: The wet palette separation is my only real issue, I tend to take long breaks in painting. With Citadel paints I can usually bring stuff back to life on my wet palette even weeks after first laying it down but Pro Acryls are more challenging. This is not a huge issue, however, because the sriacha style tops make it much easier to control how much paint I put on the palette and am thus leaving a lot less behind in the first place.
Jack: I find that most colors cover in 2 thin coats, though Golden Brown can take me 3-4 over a dark base. I’ve also found that they separate eventually on the wet palette, but I very rarely end up with too much paint on the palette at the end of a painting session. The only real exception is with Neutral Grey, which I find separates extremely quickly. With it I need to be very careful with how much I put on the palette at a time.
SRM: The paints in this set are pretty much chalkboard matte. I prefer a slightly more satin sheen to my models, especially when working with skintones, but that’s a personal preference. Coal Black especially lives up to its name, and has been great for getting a sooty weathering effect.
Keewa: In a rather lofty manner I tend to think of myself as a display painter rather than an army painter, so the very matte finish is fine with me. There’s almost no specular highlight interference from the environment, so highlights stay where you put them every time.
Raf: I’ve always painted with a hodgepodge of paints that have different finishes, and have relied on my post-painting varnish to provide consistency. Accordingly, I’ve never really considered the finish of my paints. Like SRM said, these are matte as hell and most importantly they are all evenly matte as hell.
Ease of Use
SRM: Coming chiefly from Citadel and Army Painter, there was barely any learning curve to these at all. When I’d rip the freshness seal off I’d invariably splatter some paint around, but the Sriracha-esque bottle tops get a tight seal and offer quite a bit of control. There’s always a rivulet of paint left over at the very tip you need to wipe off, which always feels like wasting a smidge of paint, but it’s not a lot.
keewa: The bottles are pretty clever, but need a bit of know-how to use properly, in my opinion. The anti-clog tops work through a mechanism that “pushes” any paint left in the nozzle out when it’s screwed shut. This might seem like a waste of paint, but you can turn this to your advantage by using this mechanism, rather than squeezing hard on the bottle, to distribute the paint you need. If you don’t like them, ProAcryl does sell alternative lids for dropper or flip-top distribution. In all cases they’re preferable to the dreadful Citadel pots, so it’s a winner for me.
Raf: You could clean them off like SRM, or leverage this mechanism to deploy your paint. That seems smart. You could also do what I do which is let it dry on the nozzle and use the dried paint to help quickly identify your pots when you forget to put them on the rack and just sweep them into a box.
That said I like the sriacha tops. I have issues with Citadel pots (drying out, cleanliness) but I also have issues with traditional droppers (nozzle clogs, cleanliness) and these are the best of all worlds. They take a little getting used to but I’ve not had any drying or any clogs whatsoever since I started using these.
Jack: I’m going to disagree with everyone above and say I hate the sriracha tops. I don’t like needing to clean off the top at either the beginning or end of every use. I’ve replaced all the tops with the droppers, and like them much more.
SRM: I’m an absolute novice to airbrushing, but I’ve almost exclusively used this set on my journey. The paints run through it beautifully, as they’re already a bit on the thin side. Resultantly the paint ends up being kind of fragile and will rub off without varnish. Some of that might be user error on my part as well.
keewa: These paints airbrush very nicely, requiring essentially no thinning to push through the brush without being too transparent to build up a solid colour. I’ve not noticed any particular rubbing-off problems, but in my experience, most airbrushed paints are more fragile than those applied with regular bristles, so who knows.
Jack: Outside of airbrush-specific paints from Vallejo these are the easiest to airbrush paints I’ve used. They do end up being a little fragile, but not to the point that I’m rubbing paint off while painting. If you’re going to mask over them, though, you need to varnish. Even with Tamiya masking tape I’ve ripped paint off several times. I’ve also noticed the same with the primers, which is unfortunate as they have the absolute best surface to paint over of any primer I’ve used. It’s only really been an issue when I’m working with a metal model or am going to be masking over, in which case I need to be sure to varnish over the primer and any airbrush basecoats. Everything else I can just be a little extra careful when handling without a problem.
SRM: This 24-paint set is $100, which is a bit of a buy in. It’s a smidge cheaper than 24 similar colors from Citadel, but you’re getting a load more per bottle (22ml vs 12ml) and they won’t dry out. I’ve used most of the paints in the set at this point and haven’t found any to be duds. Each bottle also has a little agitator in it, so aside from just making a satisfying “clicky clacky” noise when shaking, the paints don’t require much work to get going.
Keewa: Here on this side of the Atlantic, the base set costs €125, which amounts to €35 more than the US price, almost 1/3 more than the US price, that’s already pretty rough. But raw price is not the best way to determine value for money when it comes to paint, in my opinion, so here’s a more thorough look at how ProAcryl compares with other major paint brands on a price-per-litre basis.
|Duncan Rhodes Paints
|ProAcryl (Base Set)
|Reaper Master Series
|Army Painter (Speedpaint)
|Vallejo Model Color
|Vallejo Game Color
Price data from FantasyWelt.de
As the table shows, these paints are not particularly budget, although the set discount does mitigate that somewhat, they’re comparable to regular citadel paints in raw price-per-volume, but I would argue that thanks to not being burdened with the awful design of Citadel pots, wastage will be much much lower from paint drying in the cap, clogging up the rim and the total-pot-dryout that inevitably follows. But still, because of the higher cost compared to the American price, these are not a budget proposition for painters in Europe.
Raf: I haven’t bought another brand of paint since switching to Pro Acryl, and don’t see myself doing so unless I need a very specific color for an existing scheme or it’s a specialty product like Speed Paints. They aren’t cheap, but I’d rather just not buy one of the many models that will rot in my backlog and make room in my budget for the paints I need.
Jack: I don’t think you can really hold costing at the top end of the paint range against these. They’re bigger bottles than you get from anyone else, and it’s still a marginal difference between brands for something you’re going to be using 100% of the time you’re painting. While I might avoid using them for terrain if you’re budget-conscious, they’re definitely worth it for painting minis.
Raf: As I already had the base set of paints, the Monument folks were kind enough to send me their line of Transparent Paints. As you might expect these can function like glazes but the more I play with them the more uses I find. Transparent White has become a critical component to my clone trooper white armor recipe.
Obi-Wan here used a lot of Transparent White. Not only do I use it in the armor, I apply it with a drybrush using the Artis Opus “slightly wet”brush method after painting to provide a base for OSL. Because it’s transparent it lightens very gradually while maintaining tones from the color underneath it which I find makes it easier to then do OSL effects.
They can also be blended with normal acrylic paints to provide light tinting. These are relatively advanced techniques and thus these paints are for more experienced painters, but overall I recommend them!
Jack: Like Raf, I’d heavily bought in to Pro Acryl before we were setting up this review, so Monument sent me a set of black, brown, and flesh wash. I’ve used all three, and all I can really say about them is that they’re fine. I prefer Citadel washes over these, particularly because that’s one spot I like the Citadel bottle, as I can work directly out of it without needing to deal with the wash either thinning down on a wet palette or drying out on a dry one. Other than the usability of the bottle I’ve got no complaints about them, but to me they aren’t a standout like the rest of the line.
The red on this mech was pinwashed with the Pro Acryl black wash over a gloss varnish, and the mech I’d posted earlier in this article was pinwashed with Nuln Oil (also over a gloss varnish). I can’t tell the difference between them.
SRM: The best thing I can say about Pro Acryl paints isn’t here, but in the paint challenge I judged that Monument Hobbies sponsored. Everyone from longtime veterans to first-time painters got to grips with their colors easily, and had a great time doing so. Getting out of my comfort zone and using a whole new paint ecosystem is a challenge, but I’ve had a load of success integrating a few of these colors into my regular rotation. They’ve also been fantastic for airbrushing terrain, and I’ve got a set of ruins using the ivories and greens in this set that is coming along nicely.
keewa: Ever since these paints turned up in my postbox, they’ve quickly muscled out all the others to become my mainstay workhorse colours. I don’t have any particular loyalty when it comes to paint brands, but these paints really do leave most of the others in the dust. While the value proposition is a harder sell in Europe thanks to the higher price, I still really like these paints and give them the highest recommendation.
Raf: Unlike SRM and Keewa, Monument did not send me a base set because I already had a base set. At Adepticon 2023 a buddy of mine and member of the Goonhammer Media Network walked by carrying the entire range of Pro Acryl that he bought at the show. He said he used them, fell in love, and is just turning over everything he’s got. With that recommendation in mind I picked up 4 pots and painted up Ahsoka. While I haven’t bought everything and am not doing a total turnover, I immediately bought a Base Set and haven’t bought another brand of paint since then.
Jack: After buying Titanium White (and a couple others because it felt weird to just have one bottle of paint mailed to me) I used it for about a week and then bought a big chunk of the range. At this point I’m about 90% Pro Acryl – I use Scale 75 golds, new Vallejo Game Color oranges, and Citadel washes, contrasts, and texture paints. Everything else is Pro Acryl.
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