I've been asked about the paints I use, so I thought I'd talk about what's available and what I use.
GW are the most prevalent and easily accessible paint suppliers. Most people start with GW paints, primarily because most people start with GW models. However, this does not necessarily make them the best choice.
Since I've been painting, GW have changed their formula a twice, the most recent earlier this year. Previously the paints were a bit thick and had a tendency to dry out within a month of being open. The current range now has a number of different formulas that are supposed to be used together to easily create the classic GW look.
The key issue I have with the GW paints is the price. Per ml, most other paint ranges are better value. For novice painters wanting to paint the GW schemes, their paints are an adequate place to start, but for anything more advanced or for none GW models, I'd go for another range.
I have a lot of the P3 paints, primarily as I paint a lot of PP miniatures and for the most part I want the official colours. It certainly doesn’t hurt that they are a nice paint to work with.
The range is varied, although it does lean towards the paints needed to create the studio schemes. Of the range, the metallic’s are perhaps the biggest let down, although I do have the first run of paints, the later run (black labels vs white for the first run) are supposed to be much better.
They are usable straight from the pot and give a decent coverage with little work. They perform well for advanced techniques, and don't separate when thinned. They are my go-to paint line these days.
When I moved from GW paints, these were the ones I went to, mainly because the site I was buying some models from sold them. However, I've not been disappointed by them, and certainly can recommend them. I still use many of these paints in conjunction with the P3 range.
As it turns out, Coat d'Arms used to be the paint supplier for GW, so they are now one of the few places you can get the old school GW colours. Coverage is good, but not quite up to the same standard as the P3 coverage. I also find that they tend to separate more when thinned, but that can be worked with.
I haven't personally used any Vallejo paints, but they are highly rated by painters online. They have a massive range, with different formulas depending on what you are wanting to use them for. Unlike P3 and Coat d'Arms, they also come in a dropper bottle format, which you either love or hate. While they are not my go-to paint range, I don't know of any reason not to use them.
I mention Army Painter here purely for their undercoats and Quickshade products. They have a wide selection of spray undercoats, in more than just white and black! When painting a lot of models, combining under coat and base coat can be a huge time saver. Their small paint line also matches their under coats for ease of touching up mistakes.
The Army Painter Quickshade is great for mass producing gaming table standard models quickly. I'm letting go of my snobbery regarding it after seeing what it can produce. Not only do they do the large tins that combine a gloss varnish, but they have also introduced smaller bottles without the varnish component. These make for easy shading, and I'm enjoying experimenting with the effects they can produce.
I don't use any range in isolation, instead using whatever will give me the effect I'm looking for. If I was to be pushed to suggest a range to buy into, I'd say go with P3. Vallejo is a great line, but for me there are just too many colours and ranges. P3 keeps it simple, and has some of the specific colours I need.