I don't have to hype the colored spray paints. I have multiple airbrushes and can mix and spray any shade I need for a single mini, or a whole car. But sometimes it's just really convenient to grab a can, give it a shake, spray and be done in less that a few minutes. Spray cans are just another tool that have thier place in our tool box, and like every tool sometimes they're the right hammer for the job ^_^ And even with hammers- not all hammers are created equal!
For those that have read my Primer on Priming article, you might recall that I'm not a fan of anything in a can that costs more that 5$ unless there is a very very good reason to justify that expense. In the case of gaming labeled spray paint and primer, often costing 10-15$, there is NOTHING to justify that. Just a label, the marketing, and its often 'right there' next to the little dudes you just bought, so its convenient. Whats an extra 7-10 bucks for a can of spray to base coat the 500$ of minis you just bought?
Well, for the average gamer that 7-10$ is probably an hour at work right? And maybe- theres better paint out there for a lower price? And what if I told you there was even MORE colors? Not just a bland handful of lame Space Marine Scrotum shades, and Goblin and Dwarf colors- but like "Screw Baskin Robbins- we want ALL COLOR FLAVORS!"
Yep, its true. It really exists. Has for years. And no- its not 'derp buy an airbrush!'
Heres the 'original' Montana Black paint line courtesy of Blickarts: http://www.dickblick.com/products/montana-black-spray-paints/
With that color chart you should be able to match ANY current base coat color from all the major paint ranges, whether its Citadel, P3, Vallejo, whatever. Remember, a base coat doesnt have to be a perfect match, you're still going to go over it with washes, shading techniques, and highlighting for a complete paint job. So, if you get something thats a shade off, its not a big deal. If its too bright you wash it darker, if its too dark you do a quick highlight up, either with dry brushing, or with a zenital spray of white(or other available brighter shade).
Lots of colors, dense pigments. Just make sure you shake them more than any other can of spray that you've ever used before. That extra pigment means extra shaking. And its worth it. The stuff is intended for 'street art', meaning grafitti and out door applications.
One of the nice things about Montana sprays is you can get different spray caps to alter the spray pattern.
Those smaller tips could prevent alot of the common spray paint problems that regular commercial 'one size fits all' nozzles cause in our hobby. Thats one thing the gaming branded spray paints should be doing already- but that 20 cents a can is obviously too important to thier profit margin.
Still not convinced? Ok, this stuff has some other advantages. Its a pretty durable resin binder, and the solvent carrier dries really fast. And the other benefit- its winter proof. Yep- with the the cold months upon us, you can use this stuff year round, and it works fine- its designed to work outside.
The valves on them are really nice, so while the cans are 'high pressure' as long as you are light on your finger, you have alot of control.
So, while it might seem expenisve at around 8$ a can, its cheaper than the game branded crap, and its FAR higher quality paint, in a better can can, with a better valve and spray tip. In short- if you know about this stuff- and still buy a can of game branded spray, you are essentially letting yourself take it in the arse. Be sure to tell your freinds about your preference for spray paint buggery ;)
Now, Montana also has thier Gold line, which I haven't gotten to use yet. Its ACRYLIC! Meaning you can spray it inside without worrying about fumes, or melting styrofoam terrain pieces, or several other possible benefits like it being flexible (are you reading this cosplay makers?!?) Only main difference is the can work on lower pressure, and theres been complaints of the cans getting plugged up. Once I get some to try out I'll let you guys know how they work.
Along with Montana, Theres also http://www.dickblick.com/products/mtn-94-spray-paint/ and http://www.dickblick.com/products/plutonium-spray-paint/
Both are high quality artist grade paint lines, and are priced similarly. I haven't gotten to use either brand but havent heard anything bad about either of them.
Now for the shopping part! The links above for Blick Arts give one obvious source. The other is http://www.jerrysartarama.com/
Both are closely matched price wise, and frequently run discount deals. Better deals are often available if you join the customer loyalty programs they offer.
Its worth checking thier local store locator links:http://www.dickblick.com/stores/ and http://www.jerrysartarama.com/Retail-Stores/Store-Index.htm to see if theres one nearby. Not only does this let you check out the discount shelfs, but there is usually an additional charge for shipping on spray cans when you order online since they can't be shipped through the normal methods. Sometimes this can be worked around with the 'free shipping' deals, but sometimes they're excluded, so read the fine print.
Sometimes the best option is to get together with your freinds or gaming club, and order several cans. Not only does this help spread out the cost of shipping, you at least get a bunch of peoples grey legions base coated!
When going in together with a gaming club, do not be tacky and do it in the face of your LGS if they happen to sell the gaming brand paint. Talk to the shop owner first, show them the expanded color selection Montana (or the other brands) offer, and see if they can order the stuff from Montana or Blick as a Vendor so you can buy it right from you LGS. This is the best case scenario, as it gets you good paint, puts painted armies on the tables of your LGS, and puts money into their business which helps gamers keep a place to play.