Wargaming Tradecraft: Musou Black - An Actual Blackest Black




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Musou Black - An Actual Blackest Black

 As some of you may be aware, I'm on a bit of a quest to find the blackest black paint... I love working with contrasts between dark shadows and lighter highlights and like the idea of creating evil or pure darkness... void-like eyes, etc... This journey has even taken me to painting with actual carbon nano-tubes that NASA uses, but that was a foolhardy endeavor. (Though I like to think I'm the first miniature artist to have travelled that road.)

BUT NOW, thanks to a video I saw on Facebook, I present you with MUSOU BLACK and boy, am I extremely pleased with the results.

There are a few drawbacks however, so read on...

(I didn't receive anything for this review)

Usage

The paint itself was FANTASTIC to work with. It IS acrylic paint and has the consistency of what you'd expect - thin, nice flow, doesn't obscure details. If you're familiar with Black 2.0, etc that stuff was very thick.

Those without airbrushes or just looking to paint with a brush will be happy to hear that it also flows nicely AND can be used with mediums. I tried thinning with some Liquitex Slo-Dri and Curries flow aid without any problem and very little impact on the finish. (Just don't add too much thinner to make it wash-like and you'll be fine.)

The below photo has 2 soldiers face up toward my overhead lights - left with a regular black paint in the visor, right with Musou. It's a small difference, but it just doesn't pick up the highlight. If you're looking for this kind of nuance, here you are.

Airbrushing

I was able to run this through an airbrush with and without regular thinner, but turn the PSI up and use a larger needle. I usually Varnish without thinning with my larger Iwata at around 36 PSI and that worked fine with Musou.

Musou recommends you use multiple thin coats to achieve a nice dark coat and I found the same.

After 3 coats, this was INCREDIBLE.

Now, you may be asking, what kind of light source are these photos taken with? Well, first off, you can see the background is lit up. But if you'd like to see the lighting, this is my setup... I have an LED Ottlite and circular neon lamp - that's some strong light hitting the mini.

Lets move things to my computer desk. The desk, mouse pad and tower are all there for light strength reference.

Thoughts

Is it a perfect void of darkness? No, but it's very close. They're also honest in their advertisement, which was a sticking point for me with Black 2.0 - I didn't feel Stuart Semple was portraying the results of his paint in an accurate way.

Feel free to read my review on that money grab. (And the below photo was taken with just my neon light.) TL;DR, Black 2.0 is a thick ultra matte black paint, but not ultra black.


Other Options

I just saw this today and wanted to tag it on... mostly because I'm intrigued as to whether a similar effect could be created with colour shift paints lightly dusted over something you've painted with Musou.



Down Sides (Uh-Oh)

As I mentioned at the beginning, this product isn't perfect, there are a few things that are very important to be aware of... These issues stem from the fact that the final finish is ... well, "powdery" is a close description, but not entirely accurate.

I think that while these issues prevent it from being a universal blackest black, there are still plenty of applications within our hobby.

Varnish

You can't varnish it.

Aside from the fact that putting another product with it's own reflective properties over something like this is going to completely change it, varnish just doesn't layer nicely over it.

So, my suggestion would be to try and approach your mini too paint and varnish it first, then apply Musou next. (The same way you'd have to approach it if you were using Molotow Chrome or gel mediums / special effects.)

No-Touchy

Yeahhhhh... you also shouldn't touch it. You basically end up damaging properties of the paint which create the ultra matte/black look. (But they sell other materials that can be handled.) To be clear, in none of my tests did it actually rub off on my finger - the paint is well dried and stuck to the surface.

But basically you can see below how it gets shiny if you rub it.

This means it's fine for show pieces, but can cause some logistical issues for game-ready minis. You'll want to plan how and where you're going to paint it. For ultra-dark shadows, which would be tough to touch, shouldn't be a problem.

(Worth noting, my bottlecap test only got a single coat, so it's not as black.)

The Company - KoPro


Musou Black is a Japanese product, so I wasn't sure what to expect with shipping since my overseas orders usually come from Europe. The price for a bottle of paint is quite reasonable, though shipping actually cost more. (So order with friends?) They processed the order fast and shipping time was less than a week, during a time when stuff from Europe was taking almost 2 weeks.

They have their own blog post comparing their product to Black 3.0, which had similar results to what I found with Black 2.0.

They sell some other products that utilize their ultra black coatings as well THAT ARE handleable and washable like their Fine Shut. They also warn that while you might be seeing videos of people painting cars with their paint, they only recommend that for short-term show and not for driving. (See my above examples of touching.)

Overall

I'm extremely happy with this product and recommend not hesitating buying it if you're curious.

Not being able to varnish it makes sense, but not being able to touch it does kind of suck.... Most of what I want to use it for are things like deep shadows, void-filled undead eye sockets, gun barrels, etc.

But it would have been nice to create some digital landscape (Think Tron) effects. Though I'm curious to experiment with a few other blacks and ultra-matte varnishes to see how close I can come to replicate that look.

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