Coat d’Arms Paints: ACW Set | Print |  E-mail
Written by Don MacVittie   
Wednesday, 16 April 2008

The paints as delivered to us.

While we were gearing up the American Civil War reviews, we were talking with Mark Severin at Scale Creep Miniatures  and I were talking about his ACW figures and his excellent ACW Reviews, and he asked me if I would be interested in looking at Coat d’Arms paints. Since we had several reviews coming up in ACW, and we have the Valejo and Howard Hues ACW sets, I said “yes, can we do ACW?” so he sent them off to us, and when the artillery review started off, we used them to paint up the pieces and their crews.


After the paints arrived and we did the usual introductory stuff – taking pictures of the packaging and bottles, opening the bottles to take notes on quality, etc – we painted up a couple of figures in Union colors as a test set to see how they looked. To us, they seemed a bit light, so I dropped a note to Mark asking him what he thought. He very rightly pointed out that some people like their Union infantry to be a very visible blue on the table-top. This wasn’t an incorrect set of blue colors, just lighter than we use. Our normal Union figures are more in line with the picture on the cover of the excellent reference book American Civil War Union Army from the Brassey’s History of Uniforms series, while the Coat d’Arms paints come out more like the illustration at the top of this Union Army reference site. Since the color, quality, and color retention of Union Uniforms varied widely, both are likely accurate, it is just a question of taste.

The ten vials prior to opening. 


The first thing to talk about with paints is the packaging. Not the box, but the paint pots used to deliver the colors. Coat d’Arms packages their paints well, with a top that opens with a small scoop on it to collect paint for your brush to reach without delving into the depths of the container. The bottles are sealed with a plastic band that must be ripped off to open the container – good because you know it hasn’t been opened and half – resealed, sitting on the shelf at the FLGS for the last year. In acrylics, the only negative to their open-topped arrangement is that mixing is the heart and soul of layering. If you’re into mixing your own colors and you like Coat d’Arms, you’ll need to pick up a small syringe that you can use to suck out paints and drop them on a palette. Since syringes are cheap, and you don’t need anything astounding, this is not a huge issue even if you mix all of your own colors (we do for some modeling projects). The vials are 18ml pots with airtight resealable lids, ten in the package. 

The paints included in the set are black, white, wood brown, leather tan, dark grey, medium grey, light grey, flesh, light blue, and dark blue. The flesh is a very pale flesh color, but we did some samples up with a brown base coat and a light coat of flesh over top, and that darkens the flesh up nicely without too much muss.

The ACW Artillery for review painted primarily with these paints (Red trim and bronze cannon are the only paints not from this set)


In terms of paint quality, we think that Coat d’Arms has a QC problem. While the paints are nice enough, the dark blue was gummy – like a block of sponge with liquid paint around it – while the wood and leather were thin enough that a single coat does not cover other colors. Neither of these things is necessarily a show-stopper, the wood and leather did cover every other paint in two or three coats, while the dark blue cleared up enough to be used for the entire ACW artillery review  with just a little water and flow improver. Note that the blue never did completely clear, the spongy bit in the center of the pot never completely dissolved.

A close-up. Note the even coverage, only wood and leather required multiple coats applied.


The only other thing to consider is the choice of colors that go into a set labeled ACW. We own the Howard Hues and Valejo ACW sets, so there’s even a bit of basis for comparison. The Coat d’Arms set contains the most basic color choices, with only red for artillery fringe and ranks and yellow for cavalry fringe and rank missing from the set. If you’re a later war gamer, the absence of a butternut tone might turn you off - Valejo includes it in their set, Howard Hues does not in theirs - but the Coat d’Arms leather color is yellow enough that with a little lightening you could make it butternut.

Some confederates and horses, all painted with this set.

Note the yellow tone to the leather (actually a tiny bit exaggerated in this picture due to incandescent lighting, but close)


For those who like a single coat – a confederate team with one coat of medium gray for uniform.


Overall, for basic ACW colors – black for cannon, two-tone blue for the USA, a range of grays for CSA, flesh – these paints work just fine. If you’re into the more exotic ACW uniforms, the Valejo ACW set with its range of red, greens and browns might suit you better. 

For the price, we’d buy them. The colors are more soft and glowing than most Valejo colors, and less earthy than most Howard Hues colors, so they fit in well, offering a space somewhere in between to fill in the gaps. Going forward we will use the blues as a dry-brush coat, much as we only use Valejo Imperial Blue as a heavily watered wash… because they are softer, they will do well as the dry-brushed top layer.

And the caissons from the side. The black marks on the wooden wheels are single-coat coverage. 

For more pictures and a comparison of ACW Artillery in 15mm, check out our upcoming ACW artillery review.


US: Scale Creep Miniatures

MSRP: $30.00

UK: Fighting 15s

MSRP: £ 14.00



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