Formula P3 Paint Review for Miniature Painters

Last Updated on April 23, 2021 by FauxHammer

Here we go with another paint review – I am blitzing through these now yay. Come and see what we think of this range in our Formula P3 Paint Review for Miniature Painters.

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The Best Paints for Miniatures & Models

This article is part of our series looking into the best paints for Miniatures & Models.

Best Paints for Miniatures & Wargames Models - Featured

To see our up-to-date list of the best paints for your miniatures, just click the image above.

Formula P3 Paint Review – Summary

Formula P3 is to Warmachine and Hordes what Citadel Colour is to Warhammer – and I mean that more literally than what you may take that statement for at face value.

A huge variety of acrylic paints available in various hues. Made specifically to complement models from their flagship games. The company provides painting guides for their models using their paints.

The colours are presented in sets with specific paints having a dedicated shade and 2 levels of highlight. A wide range of metallics, washes and inks along with additives like thinning medium.

Coverage is generally on par for the miniatures industry with some colours performing better than others, you will need to spend time with this or a very similar range to understand how each paint behaves

Now go read that again.

Do you know which of the 2 brands mentioned above I am talking about?

Well, they are both made in the same factory…

Formula P3 Paint Review – Privateer Press

Privateer Press seem to have 2 websites, this old one and this new one. either they are moving from one to the other or one is more of an online store and the other exists as the corporate face.

Privateer Press was founded back in 2000 and have since released several game universes along with Their own Hobby tools and paints. Additionally, they also provide a variety of exclusive miniatures in the form of Loot Crates (Both models from their own brands and some through partnerships)

They’ve created, published and partnered with various Miniature War and Board games including.

  • Company of Iron
  • Level 7
  • Monsterpocalypse
  • Riot Quest

And the upcoming (recently Kickstarted) Warcaster

With so many different miniatures universes coming out of one factory they really are the definition of a Games Workshop… (I thought it was funny when I wrote it).

Personally I love the design of their various models, all of them. Especially the futuristic, somewhat cyberpunk, style of some of their ranges really speaks to me. But the thing that puts me off is the scale. I have been conditioned now to prefer a slightly larger 32mm canvas for my paints.

But anyway, today we are just looking at the “Privateer Press Paints”. Wow, that’s a tongue-twister. 3 Ps in a row (PPP).

oh….. I just got it.

Formula P3 Paint Review – Packaging

Eugh Paint Pots. Again!

P3 Review - Privateer Press Paints for Miniature Painters - Pots

Yeah, I’ve said it a few times, I hate paint pots and much prefer dropper bottles. When I posted my last paint review on social media, also a brand in pots (made by the same company again). One of the first comments was “Paint pots – I’m out”.

P3’s Washes and Inks come in dropper bottles Why can’t their paints?

Well, I expect they come from different places. These specific pots (labelled 1859/x) are synonymous with other brands of hobby paints produced by HMG paints Ltd. I expect that their industrial-scale machines are geared up for this type of bottle and the cost to make such a change would be astronomical. But Still, I hate these pots. Sorry.

It takes longer to transfer paint to your palette or airbrush. The neck under the lid gets crusted with paint, causing it to get gunked up and the paint dries out. My biggest peeve is that every time you open the pot, you get paint on your thumb, which then makes my nice brushes all messy.

P3 Review - Privateer Press Paints for Miniature Painters - Messy Brush

Each bottle (Ewww!) comes with 1/2 oz of paint (18ml in real money) though I had noticed that the visible volume in each bottle varied considerably. both bottles below were freshly opened and you can see the difference.

P3 Review - Privateer Press Paints for Miniature Painters - Paint Volume

It’s not a problem, this may just surprise many of you if you are new to hobbying. Different colour paints have very different chemical formulas. varying amounts of medium and entirely different types of pigment. It’s not unreasonable to expect that some formulas will expand or contract based on local temperature.

The bottle on the right may seem like there is less paint, but based on my experience I expect that this will be denser, and will cover better.

But Still – Paint Pots!

Don’t worry, I have already have the cure for that disease.

P3 Review - Privateer Press Paints for Miniature Painters - Dropper Bottles

If you want to do this yourself, it’s super easy – barely an inconvenience – check out our guide for more info.

Formula P3 Paint Review – Airbrushing

I spent a while trying to think about what I could paint with the range of paints that P3 supplied us with – I wanted a project that I could use to test out every paint. After spending far too long on that – I decided to paint some Blood Ravens because I hadn’t done any yet and I was in a Red mood.

P3 Review - Privateer Press Paints for Miniature Painters - Airbrush Basecoats

I had pre-shaded some Space Marines by adding white primer spot highlights over a black primer base then Sprayed them with Sanguine Base. I quickly realised that I had added too much airbrush thinner to the mixture but carried on regardless. This is why the colour is heavier in some recesses.

The coverage was still pretty excellent, almost too good, Even though it was over thinned, the dark red has covered a lot of the white highlight.

I had another go with a different model, this time using Beaten Purple. getting the mix right I was able to add just a few layers which nicely pop in the highlights and stay dark in the shadows.

P3 Review - Privateer Press Paints for Miniature Painters - Airbrush Over Preshade

FYI, I have no idea why I painted this guy purple, I have no plan where to go next – I just thought it would look cool. – I think it does.

Going back to my original squad, I airbrushed some Khorne Skorne Red over the previous spot highlight areas to re-enforce that vibrancy.

P3 Review - Privateer Press Paints for Miniature Painters - Airbrush Highlights

Again, now that I have the paint:thinner mix nailed, this airbrushed on beautifully.

After masking with silly putty I added Trolblod Highlight as a shade and then some spot highlights with Menoth White Base

P3 Review - Privateer Press Paints for Miniature Painters - Airbrush Masking

Again with the right balance of airbrush thinner, these colours went on really well. The coverage was excellent. And whilst I do still have my hate for paint pots. It was this range that helped me to realise that when I only need a little paint in my airbrush, it’s much easier to do with a brush from a pot, than a dropper bottle

BREAKING NEWS: FauxHammer in local hospital having foot removed from mouth.

I really enjoyed airbrushing with these paints. Even when over thinned the layers stayed consistent.

P3 Review - Privateer Press Paints for Miniature Painters - Airbrushing Complete

In general terms, I had absolutely no issues once I worked out the paint to thinner ratio. As I’ve said many times there’s often little need for an “airbrush” specific range of paints other than the offer of convenience. You can make your own airbrush paints with most acrylics.

These are on the better some of that coin since they do not break apart as much as some other brands as these paints all use liquid pigments.

Formula P3 Paint Review – Drybrushing

So I lost my photos of this stage…. darn

But simply, I had no issues drybrushing these paints. I added an all-over drybrush of Khadorr Red base then picked out some edges with Menoth White Highlight.

P3 Review - Privateer Press Paints for Miniature Painters - Layering & Drybrushing

As the paints had more of a satin finish I was easily able to blend and smoosh with the Artis Opus – Series D drybrushes.

The strong opacity of the paints really helped to pick out the edges in just one light-touch application.

Formula P3 Paint Review – Layering

Again corrupt photos here so I used some close-ups of the (almost) completed models.

For layering these paints are pretty much par for the course, though I found them to be just a little stronger than many other brands in consistent coverage.

P3 Review - Privateer Press Paints for Miniature Painters - Layering 2

The Weapon shown above was based with 2 layers of 1:1 Gnarls Green:Thamar Black, then highlighted with an Artis Opus Drybrush using Iosan Green.

I’m never a fan of layering, I like to paint quickly and with as much airbrush work as possible. But these did make the process a little more enjoyable. With some of the extra experience, I’ve picked up along with the consistency of these paints I’m happy with the smooth layers I made.

P3 Review - Privateer Press Paints for Miniature Painters - Layering 3

Intentionally going the other way with the paints I thinned down some Bloodstone and placed it on these rocks as water droplets to add a bit of surface detail.

AS for the Skin tones in the range, I had 3 in this set. Idrian Flesh, Midlund Flesh and Ryn Flesh as the base tone, mid-tone and highlight respectively. The result of these is one of the best faces I have ever painted.

As an extra highlight I added some Menoth white Highlight to the Ryn Flesh

P3 Review - Privateer Press Paints for Miniature Painters - Layering

The eyes were glazed cool with some water thinned Exile Blue and the same for the nose and bottom lipe using water and Khador Red base.

The range is advertised as one which never separates when thinned, due to the liquid pigments and from what I have seen it does just that. However, you still need to manage the consistency of your layers.

There’s a lot of strength in this range when it comes to layering or applying glazes as you will infrequently get the spotty/patchy result which can so often be the case when paint pigments separate in water or other thinners.

Formula P3 Paint Review – Metallics

The metallics in this range are really strong. The below image has just one coat of Blighted Gold on the Chest and a thick layer of Rhulic Gold on the should pad trim.

P3 Review - Privateer Press Paints for Miniature Painters - Metallics - Gold

Whilst the Blighted Gold coverage isn’t great here, the colour itself is just fantastic – I’m sorry that the photo does not do it justice. It is a really nice bright bronze colour.

Coverage wise they are pretty much the same as most metallics with more of a gloopy medium and they don’t work as well when over thinned, like on a wet palette.

The silvers are just as good, whilst they don’t perform better than the average metallic paint Boiler Black (used as the based on the chest below) just looks amazing. Personal preference obviously but I love this colour. The Highlight was done with cold steel which has a really nice shine.

P3 Review - Privateer Press Paints for Miniature Painters - Metallics - Silver

In summary, I really like these colours and they have a fine pigment which prevents flecks from showing.

Formula P3 Paint Review – Washes & Inks

Upfront, as I develop as a miniature painter I’m growing further away from Acrylic washes and more toward oils. Not that they don’t have a purpose for me, I just don’t enjoy the lack of precision and finality you have when committing an acrylic wash to a surface, nevertheless – let’s see how these work as I know that manny people use them that way.

I don’t believe the washes and inks are made at the same place as the paints as they are provided in dropper bottles rather than pots – yay!

I used Armour Aash below on my test model (who has been painted numerous different colours). Here he’s been based out in Trolblood Highlight and Menoth White Base before a pure all-over wash.

P3 Review - Privateer Press Paints for Miniature Painters - Armour Wash

This wash is incredibly strong and needs thinning down, in the picture above, not only has this provided deep black recesses but it has darkened the entire surface entirely – though this is in part the texture left by airbrushing the paint on.

Applied below over a gloss coat and slightly thinner consistency. This is much better at sitting n the recesses whilst avoiding the surface. Also worth noting that in the deepest parts (shown in both pics) the finish-texture of the washes/inks are on the glossier side.

P3 Review - Privateer Press Paints for Miniature Painters - Armour Wash & Brown Ink

The brown Ink, applied on the right side, is similar to the wash but has much more intense pigment

With only one of each type, I didn’t have enough here to test the “range” of washes and inks.

These are some good washes if that is your thing, just beware of the natural intensity to them. It’s good in the way that you can always thin paint but never increase its natural opacity. If you want acrylic washes which will really darken the shadow colour, these are great for that.

Formula P3 Paint Review – Mixing Medium

The other product I had was the Mixing Medium – I don’t understand the name, unless Mixing is a reference to something in Warmachine/Hordes. It’s just medium (paint without any pigment).

P3 Review - Privateer Press Paints for Miniature Painters - Mixing Medium

I mixed this with some Eldritch to reduce the opacity of that paint right down and went back to the Blood Ravens. I added this on some parts of the armour in order to give a little more interest across the surface.

It was sprayed onto the shoulders and chest and glazed into the shadows on the legs and torso.

P3 Review - Privateer Press Paints for Miniature Painters - Mixing Medium Lowhlights

It really does the job at thinning down the paint and what I believe to be the Liquid Pigment managed to get some really easy glazing without the pigment separation I’m used to from other brands.

Formula P3 Paint Review – Price & Availability

As for availability, you can find these on most of the larger Websites for this Hobby. You’ll even find them on Amazon which does mean something since most of the smaller brands are not available there.

Price-wise they also sit along that mid-tier with an RRP at £0.21 (GBP) $0.19 (USD) per ml. In the UK They are marginally (just over a penny per ml) cheaper than Citadel In the US and other territories they are a lot cheaper than Citadel.

Wow, I have only just realised in the US, Citadel paint RRP is $0.37 per ml! Seriously, almost twice the price of P3!

Definately buy Formula P3 instead.

Will Formula P3 Paints Improve My Hobby?

It depends what you want to do, it’s not just me that thinks this I’ve seen several reports from experienced painters that the consistency of these is really great for glazing and layering as the pigment does not separate as easily.

If you want a cited example of that claim – I heard this from David Soper.

So if you are into easier blending and glazing – definately try these out.

P3 Review - Privateer Press Paints for Miniature Painters - Summary

Personally I just really like a lot of these hues over other brands. They just seem more vibrant. But more specifically they offer a better range of contrast between their colours than most.

The paints themselves are advertised as triads/quads where each base colour has an appropriate shade and 1 or 2 levels of highlight. (e.g the Citadel Color System). But in this case, there’s a wider distance between each colour leading to more contrast on your models. Which makes sense due to the scale of models in Privateer Press’ ranges.

You can see the Mixing guide here

Formula P3 Paint Review – Final Thoughts

Consistent Coverage
Readily Available
Painting Guides
Strong Washes
Pots not Dropper Bottles

In the most part – they are very much the same kind of paints as P3 and Coat D’arms. With coverage and finish texture varying between the different colours.

I really like these paints, but I don’t “love” them. Woah, that really sounds like something you’d say bad break-up. Ah well, let’s keep the analogy going – I think I’ll treat P3 more like a FWB.

This is more due to the way I paint though, I’m not the biggest fan of Painting Competition level artwork as it just takes too long for me and I get easily distracted and just want to move on to the next project. (That’s why I review various paint brands, I just want to keep trying the new stuff).

I like to just airbrush/drybrush, slap down the fewest layer colours possible, Oil-wash and done.

However, that being said, when I do dabble in the occasional project at a higher painting tier I can already see how these would be a favoured choice.

As the colour difference between the hues on their mixing chart is wider than what is on offer by Citadel – I can see me reaching for this range over that much more often.

I’m just going to need to put those pots through my sacrificial chamber first.

P3 Review - Privateer Press Paints for Miniature Painters - Paint Pot Sacrificial Chamber

If you’ve never tried these, I’d say give them a go in the very least. Grab a couple of them which are a close match to the colours you currently use as the chances are you’ll notice a slight improvement.

I’ve done one of my best ever paint jobs using them and so far the finished picture of my Blood Angels is the one that has had the most Instagram likes I’ve ever had. (though I finished them with Oil washes for some Grim-Darkness)

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Self-appointed Editor in chief of - But I need to thank the team for existing and therefore enabling me to give myself role - without them, I'm just a nerd with a computer and a plastic addiction.

4 thoughts on “Formula P3 Paint Review for Miniature Painters

  • July 22, 2020 at 7:49 pm

    What the heck is that sacrificial chamber, perfect for transferring paint?! I need that!

  • July 22, 2020 at 9:53 pm

    PERFECT! Thanks FH! Queuing that up on my Prusa i3 Mk3S right now! =)

  • July 23, 2020 at 4:15 pm

    A couple of thoughts: I believe HMG, who manufactures Formula P3 and Coat d’Arms, also does the current Citadel paint line, which is made in the UK, as the label says. Some paints are 100% matches to Citadel paints – Coal Black is Incubi Darkness, Battlefield Brown Dryad Bark, Umbral Umber Rhinox Hide, Boiler Black Iron Warriors. Maybe P3 is a bit more satin than Citadel paints, but some colours definately seem to share the same base pigment. Their metallics are also very similar to Citadel metallics, rather thick metallic flakes and most of them separate fast and badly. I moved on to Scale75 metallics and Vallejo Mecha Color metallics, which have much finer flakes and apply more evenly.

    Having said that, I really enjoyed using P3 paints over the years (apart from the metallics, obviously). Coverage is pretty decent most of the time. However, when I wanted to replace some used up paints I bought like 6 or 7 years ago, I noticed that some hues changed over time noticeably. My new pot of Battlefield Brown was not as warm as my old pot (though closer to Dryad Bark), and my new pot of Coal Black was a nuance lighter than my old pit (or as Incubi Darkness). This happens of course with any paint manufacturer, I had this experience with Vallejo Game Color and Army Painter, too, though not as much with the new Citadel paint range. So if you like a certain colour and tend to use it often, I recommend stocking up sooner than later.


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