We were recently invited to test drive a brand-new black paint. One that claims to be the “blackest black” on the entire planet. One that promises a light-absorbing matte finish. One 100% intended for miniature painting.
If you’ve been here before, then you know we’re very into this kind of thing. So our acceptance of that invite, friends, was a no-brainer.
The blackest-black mini paint?
From the folks at Green Stuff World, Maxx Darth “The Blackest Black” effect paint is currently live on Kickstarter.
According to the brand, “MAXX DARTH is the blackest black water-based paint that exists on earth with unique light-absorbing properties.” The paint is the second product in GSW’s “Maxx Darth” line, the first being an ultra-black photography backdrop that claims to “absorb up to 99.9% of visible light, making it the blackest fabric on the planet.”
We got our hands on two bottles* – 17ml and 60ml – and compared them side-by side with the two highest-scoring black paints from one of our most popular articles, “I Tested 14 Black Miniature Paints So You Don’t Have To” – Black 3.0 by Culture Hustle and Black by Vallejo Model Colors.
Why? It’s simple: in the quest for the true blackest-black miniature paint, only one can reign supreme. (And since this has kind of become our thing, we just really want to find out.) So we tested Maxx Darth paint and judged it using the same five factors we always use: Finish, Color, Viscosity, Quality, and Mess.
*(While we are not sponsored by Green Stuff World, we did receive a pre-release version of Maxx Darth for free as review material and we work with their affiliate program. That being stated, all of our reviews are our own honest opinions of products.)
Let’s cut to the chase: this stuff is matte. It has a depth that’s striking and a little hypnotic. There’s virtually zero glare, even under bright studio lights. Maxx Darth is even more matte than Black 3.0, which we previously thought improbable, if not impossible.
We were wrong.
We compared Maxx Darth to Black 3.0 by Culture Hustle and Black by Vallejo Model Colors. To our delight and surprise, Maxx Darth puts both its competitor’s finishes to shame.
In the image above, you’ll see 2 cured coats of each paint: Black 3.0 on the left, Maxx Darth in the center, and Vallejo Black on the right.
Sort of speaks for itself, doesn’t it?
When compared side-by-side, Maxx Darth swallows so much light that it makes Black 3.0 seem almost satin in finish, and Vallejo Black looks just plain glossy. The virtually strokeless deep, matte finish of this paint is as dramatic as it was surprising.
Maxx Darth is a cool-toned deep black (not a “true black” since that doesn’t actually exist, but close enough to feel outer space-y). The dried shade has a plush, velvety-looking quality, and unlike some other black mini paints there’s no gray, blue, brown, or purplish cast.
In short, this isn’t one of those “black” miniature paints that’s really a different color altogether. Trust us: it’s black. Green Stuff World calls Maxx Darth paint “The Blackest Black”, and after comparing it against its counterparts, we have to agree – after all, the results are right in front of us.
Maxx Darth mixes well with other paints, too, even those from other popular mini painting brands. It will darken the colors dramatically, obviously, and flatten them to a matte finish. We’ve also reviewed GSW’s Maxx Formula Acrylic Miniature Paints, which blend perfectly with Maxx Darth.
Maxx Darth paint has a viscosity that falls within medium to heavy-body range, which is a versatile consistency suitable for most mini painting applications where you’d use black paint.
The texture is like warm cake frosting. It has a smooth, consistent flow when brushed on, effectively eliminating strokes and unevenness.
You can thin Maxx Darth for use with a brush, but GSW doesn’t recommend doing so, as it significantly alters the finish, viscosity, and opacity of the paint. We tried it anyway out of curiosity and got the following result:
So it’s good to know: Maxx Darth performs best when used as intended – brushed on straight from the bottle, and that’s how we recommend you use it.
That doesn’t mean it’s unsuitable for airbrush use, though. We didn’t test Maxx Darth with that tool (sorry, blame the bent needle!) but we see no reason that this effect paint couldn’t be properly thinned and sprayed on to incredible effect.
Maxx Darth paint is of unmistakable high quality.
Our measure of quality in a miniature paint is based primarily on pigment density. A high ratio of pigments to other stuff in a paint results in fewer coats, even and predictable application, and high opacity.
It’s obvious that the pigments in Maxx Darth paint are very concentrated. The unthinned paint is smooth, not gritty, and one coat gave us near-perfect results. Two was all that was needed to get opaque and flawless coverage. There was no patchiness, and the paint resisted leaving visible brush strokes. Color swiped on effortlessly with almost no drag and dried rather rapidly.
Maxx Darth paint is a little fragile, however. We tested each black paint by lightly dragging an X-Acto blade across their cured surfaces. While Vallejo Black resisted chipping, both Black 3.0 and Maxx Darth chipped rather easily. The same was true for rubbing the dried paint: both ultra-black paints began to smudge and lighten after a few light strokes, while Vallejo Black held up.
But this isn’t a dealbreaker. This has everything to do with the formulation required to make a paint as black and matte as Maxx Darth. Maxx Darth is not really a “normal paint” – it’s an effect or technical paint with a unique pigment typology, and that specific formulation is by nature less durable than a typical “normal” acrylic mini paint. However, just like other paints in your collection you can varnish Maxx Darth to make it durable.
The rear label of the bottle reads, “It can be varnished to increase resistance to chipping, however, it will decrease the darkness,” so that’s what we tried. And it’s true: a thin coat of matte varnish spray bolstered Maxx Darth’s durability with virtually no change to its finish or color.
For as much as we like this blackest-black miniature paint, here’s where Maxx Darth lost some points in our test. The larger 60ml bottle exploded the first time we used the paint.
This is due to a c-c-combo of three things, we think:
- A packaging feature: Green Stuff World puts stainless steel balls in their paints in order to help you mix, and the bottle tips are specially designed so the ball doesn’t become stuck.
- Human error: Even with a specially designed tip, though, if the ball happens to become temporarily stuck behind the tip of the bottle, it can cause the entire tip to dislodge. We may have squeezed too tightly too quickly, which has definitely happened with other paints from other brands. We just get excited.
- A pre-release product sample: Maxx Darth is not currently available for purchase outside GSW’s Kickstarter, and we received an early version of the product. It’s entirely possible that the final version won’t be messy at all.
In fact, the smaller 17ml bottle performed as expected, with no mess whatsoever, and it has an identical tip and a ball. So just be mindful and you’ll probably have a no-mess experience.
Green Stuff World Maxx Darth Paint Price
The only pricing available at the time of this article’s publication is found in Green Stuff World’s Maxx Darth Kickstarter campaign. Early-bird pricing puts a 17ml bottle of Maxx Darth at around 4€ (~$5 USD), but this is only limited to the first 200 buyers. After that, normal pricing is 5€ (~$6 USD). This will still likely be a savings over normal prices after the Kickstarter is complete, but Maxx Darth is likely priced reasonably like most GSW paints.
There are higher tiers that you can chip into as well, each including various rewards, ranging from wash stations and wet pallets up to other Maxx Formula paint sets from GSW. The Kickstarter campaign also offers tiers featuring larger bottles of paint if you really can’t wait to cover your whole mini collection in Maxx Darth black.
Finally, we know people sometimes have misgivings about crowdfunding, but as of the publication of this review, Green Stuff World Maxx Darth Paint has already exceeded its initial campaign goal. We couldn’t really expect anything less from GSW, since they create fantastic products that are priced fairly.
Is Maxx Darth really the blackest-black miniature paint?
Yes. It is with no uncertainty when we report that, after thorough testing, Maxx Darth is the most matte, blackest-black mini paint available on the market at the time this article is published. We’re not sure how they pulled it off (our best guess is some kind of dark pact), but Maxx Darth is even flatter and blacker than Black 3.0, which we previously named “Blackest Black Miniature Paint.”
The best part about Maxx Darth is that it is intended for mini painting use, something Black 3.0 – or any other paint – can’t deliver. The use examples on the brand’s Kickstarter page show just a few ways the effect paint can be used to add drama and depth to your miniatures.