A Guide for Painting Miniatures: Citadel and Acrylic Paints

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The Complete Guide to Citadel and Acrylic Paints for Painting Miniatures

As a Warhammer hobbyist and miniature painting enthusiast with over 20 years of experience, I am often asked – are Citadel paints acrylic? What is the difference between Citadel paints and regular acrylics? And most importantly, what are the best paints to use when painting miniatures? In this definitive guide, I will answer all these questions and more, drawing from my decades of expertise experimenting with hundreds of paints across various brands.

So grab your brushes and let’s dive in!

An Overview of Acrylic Paints Acrylic paints are water-based paints made from a mixture of pigments suspended in an acrylic polymer emulsion. They are valued for their versatility, fast drying times, and easy cleanup with water.

Acrylics can be used on many surfaces including canvas, wood, plastic, metal, stone, and more. They are available in a wide range of colors and viscosities – from thin, inky washes to thick, buttery impasto paints.

The two main grades of acrylic paint are student quality and artist quality. Student grades contain less pigment and more fillers, resulting in a thinner, more translucent paint. Artist quality paints boast higher pigment concentrations and better lightfastness for archival work.

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Citadel Paints – A Superior Acrylic Formulated Specifically for Miniatures

Citadel paints are a high quality artist-grade acrylic paint specifically designed for painting miniatures and models. Produced by Games Workshop for use painting Warhammer miniatures, Citadel paint offers unrivaled coverage, consistency and durability compared to regular craft acrylics.

The unique Citadel formula achieves a smooth, consistent flow with no lumps or clogs – vital for capturing the intricate details of miniatures. Citadel base paints provide exceptional one-coat coverage, while layer paints allow for fine highlighting and blending.

And the range of technical and dry compound paints create realistic textures like wood grains, rusted metal, cracked earth and more.

Thanks to the optimal pigment load and finely ground particles, Citadel paints produce vibrant matte colors that pop against the dark undercoat favored by miniature enthusiasts. The creamy consistency and optimized drying time also makes blending tones easier compared to standard acrylics.

So in summary, Citadel paints are a specialized premium acrylic paint engineered to meet the demanding needs of miniature hobbyists. The consistency, coverage and color representation caters perfectly to small-scale, detail-oriented model painting.

Comparing Citadel Paints to Craft Acrylics While standard craft acrylics can technically be used for painting miniatures, the results often leave much to be desired compared to Citadel paint. Here’s how they differ:

Pigmentation Citadel paint features a very high pigment concentration, producing rich, highly opaque colors – whereas budget craft acrylics have a lower pigment volume, resulting in faded, translucent layers.

Consistency The viscosity of Citadel paint offers a nice creamy flow that smoothly glides over miniature recesses. Cheaper acrylics tend to be too thin and drippy or too thick and gloppy.

Blending Ability Thanks to finely dispersed pigments and optimal drying times, Citadel paint layers blend seamlessly into smooth gradients. Other acrylics often dry too quickly or leave texture.

Durability The superior bonding strength of the Citadel formula results in paint that flexes with models without cracking or flaking off. Standard acrylics chip much easier.

Color Range With hundreds of diverse tones from neutral greys to vivid hues across triad-based base, layer and edge paints, the Citadel range offers unrivaled choice.

In short, while ordinary craft acrylics can be used in a pinch, they simply can’t match the specially balanced features of paints formulated for miniatures like Citadel. You truly get what you pay for – and hobby time is precious!

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Acrylic Paint Brands for Miniatures

Now let’s explore some top-tier acrylic paint brands designed for miniature work:

Vallejo Game Color With their recent formula upgrade, the Vallejo Game Color range now boasts performance rivalling Citadel paint. Blending exceptional coverage and pigmentation with buttery smooth flow and blending, these paints produce stunning vibrancy in a flexible matte finish.

The high model-to-model consistency and color harmony between base, layer and edge tones make Vallejo sets extremely intuitive to use. And the dropper bottles dispense just the right amount of paint each squeeze.

Army Painter Warpaints Offering great value, Army Painter Warpaint ranges combine smooth application with highly opaque color rendition and the durability to match Citadel’s standards. Their Quickshade inks are also fantastic transparent acrylic washes for shading recesses.

Kimera Kolors With their unbelievably high pigment concentration yielding luxurious coverage, Kimera paints produce astonishingly vivid saturation and value range even with thinning. Blending and glazing abilities are also incredible. Easily rivaling top-tier ranges, Kimera Kolors are a miniature painter’s dream.

ProAcryl With over 114 richly pigmented paints to choose from, ProAcryl paints offer outstanding coverage combined smooth flow straight from the bottle with no mixing required. Their dynamic drying time also makes blending a breeze.

Known for their unparalleled whites and resplendent metallics, ProAcryl paints allow hobbyists to achieve stunning mixed media effects.


As a painter first brand founded by Oscar Cafaggi, Scale75 formulates professional quality acrylics highly tailored for miniature work. Intense, glowing saturation and ultra matte finish represent true scale colors accurately.

Advanced adherence resists rubbing off even when drybrushing while preserving finest details. With unbeatable virtuosity perfect for display level pieces, Scale75 is a premium option.

Two Thin Coats Developed by renowned YouTube painter Duncan Rhodes, Two Thin Coats paint consists of high opacity, low viscosity acrylics enabling incredibly smooth, self-leveling application.

Vibrant matte pigments emulate Citadel tones through base/layer/edge painting harmonized for easy blending between steps. Inks and effects ranged enable hobbyists to actualize any vision.

With drops that practically paint models themselves, Two Thin Coats make mini painting simple yet gratifying!

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Constructing Your Ideal Palette

Rather than limiting yourself to any single brand, I recommend sampling an array of paints to curate your perfect customizable palette.

As no company has definitively “best” versions of every color, selectively mixing beloved hues from various ranges lets painters leverage specific strengths.

Vallejo may excel at vibrant primaries while Scale75 nails realistic skin variations. ProAcryl offers unbeatable metallics as Two Thin Coats simplifies basecoating.

Building your dream team deck grants maximum creative adaptability project to project! Experiment and discover your personal favorites from among leading miniature paints brands.

Caring for Your Acrylic Paints To keep paints viable as long as possible:

  • Store tightly sealed in cool ~60-77°F ambient temperatures away from sunlight
  • Mix in glass/stainless steel palettes to prevent absorption
  • Add acrylic retarder to slow drying times for better blending
  • Use stay-wet palette systems to preserve paint moisture for months!
  • Freeze excess mixed colors in ice cube trays for future touch ups
  • Restock often used colors before fully running out

By caring for your paints properly and refreshing often used tones in time, your preferred acrylics will continue delivering stunning results for years of enjoyable painting ahead!


In Conclusion

To all beginners wondering where to start on their miniature painting journey – don’t be afraid to begin with basic craft acrylics from the local art shop to learn fundamentals. Once confident in core techniques, investing in quality tools like Citadel or Vallejo paints will prove doubly rewarding!

For existing hobbyists currently relying on lower grade acrylic paints – I cannot overstate the transformative magic higher pigmentation concentrated acrylics offer through exponentially boosting blending, saturation and longevity of paint jobs.

You owe it to your efforts to let pricier paint formulas really unlock next level miniature visuals. Trust me, you’ll never look back!

I hope this definitive guide has equipped you with all the knowledge needed to navigate the miniature painting acrylic paint landscape. Feel free to reach out with any other questions – happy painting!


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