Paints For Miniature Hobbyists: Nerdmire Recommends
Updated: Dec 6, 2021
This post is a summary of the brands present on our Great Wall of Miniature Paints, and why we encourage you to try them if you are starting this hobby.
We did our best to match color charts to their counterparts based on personal experience and color charts. Some of the color codes don’t particularly match the results you can get in real life, but here are a few charts you can refer to yourself. Full credits to their creators.
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Table of Contents:
3. Army Painter
5. Scale 75
The main aim of this post is to quickly overview each brand and its paint quality, as well as highlighting some of their better paint sets. Visit our interactive color chart here for individual paints and easier decision-making when purchasing! More products will be added to other posts.
As if we need to introduce this one. It is only the most popular warpaint brand and most commonly used, if only for the fact that it's widely available across most regions.
While the general opinion is that the paint quality is mediocre for a higher price, its appeal is that colors have a broad range and are given their equivalent highlights and washes (or shades as GW calls them), making them easier to understand especially when following along with their paint tutorials which you may find most helpful as a beginner.
Warhammer 40,000: Paints & Tools Set
That being said, Citadel warpaints are consistent across production batches, and their metallic paints are unique even though the density of pigments is rather low which makes glazing more difficult.
One of the community’s largest pet peeves however is the packaging as it comes in pots rather than dropper bottles, to which we say, simply transfer your paints into bottles! Read more on that in later posts.
Warhammer Age of Sigmar Paints & Tools Set
Besides their base color range, Citadel offers other products such as primers, washes, layer, dry, technical, and airbrush paints making them a one-stop-shop for the average beginner. Citadel also produces their own unique paint line known as Contrast Paints, more on that on later posts.
Feeling a little lost? Here is a handy color chart by Games Workshop:
If you want the best of both worlds, Citadel Colour: The App offers painting tutorials along with color charts. The app is downloadable on iOS, and Google Play Store.
The runner-up to Citadel paints in terms of popularity, or perhaps even more well known for its availability, consistency, quality, and incredible color range. Vallejo paints are easily matched with Citadel, making it easy to replace one with the other.
Similar to Citadel, these paints have a satin finish and are well-pigmented. The composition is thick, and smooth which provides great coverage and no brush strokes. Thinning with a thinner rather than water is advised, and sealing is a must since paints tend to be easily scratched. It may be worth noting that Vallejo's metallic colors are beloved by the community.
Vallejo paints come in two main divisions: Vallejo Model Color which are a higher quality but have less color saturation, and Vallejo Game Color which is the opposite, and when thinned, it can easily become glossy without glaze medium or thinner.
Vallejo Game Color Intro Set
It’s worth mentioning that Vallejo produces excellent metallic paints, and their products include primers, varnishes, and washes just to name a few.
Vallejo Model Color Paint Set - Folkstone Basic Colors
3. Army Painter
This is Switzerland! Not really no, but it might as well be! The Army Painter may just be your brand of choice when it comes to paintings various wargames as they cover plenty of them with color range and painting guides using their own paints.
The paint line is comparable to Citadel’s in terms of range and consistency. The paint itself tends to be more superior in terms of coverage, thicker and similar to Vallejo Model colors, although their metallics may not be the best out there, and the paint needs more time to be shaken for it to mix well. Similar to the previous paint brands, these paints have lower pigment density and tend to be glossy when thinned.
The Army Painter Dungeons and Dragons Official Paint Line Adventurer's Paint Set 12ml
Another good reason to get your hands on these paints is that the standard paint bottle is 18ml making it larger in volume than the average 12ml, and in turn making it the least expensive brand to purchase.
The Army Painter Miniature Painting Kit of 50 Model Paints & Paint Brush 18ml - Mega Paint Set
Like many other brands, The Army Painter offers a variety of miniature painting products that include washes, varnishes, inks, and primers. One of their best features is that the primer colors and names correspond to their standard paints, saving you the hassle of sorting them out yourself. Army Painter has a unique production line known as Quickshades, more on that on later posts.
The Army Painter Wargamers Complete Paint Set - 124 Model Paints 18 ml
A few years ago, Reaper Miniature Paints were not as widely known as their counterparts on an international scale, but have come a long way since. While they only offer painting guides for a very limited selection of their own miniatures, what gets these paints their praise is their quality.
The paints are known for their high pigment density that provides excellent coverage and stays consistent when thinned. You can evaluate said density for yourself based on the fact that their white paint can be layered onto a black paint coat to cover it completely in just a few layers.
They make an amazing addition to your paint collection as they’re easy to work with using various styles and techniques, from priming to glazing and layering, giving you a high definition matte finish. You may need to shake heavily before use and may want to avoid their metallics since they tend to be slightly lackluster.
Like Citadel’s Paint System which provides shadows and highlights beside their base colors, Reaper Miniature Paints follow a similar pattern under the name of Triad System. This system is favored by many since it makes color selection intuitive, which is especially helpful to beginners.
Reaper Miniatures - Learn to Paint Kit Core Skills
Reaper Miniatures is a company dedicated to wargaming and therefore produces a range of products including specialty paints, airbrush paints and accessories, and even carrying cases only to name a few. Reaper Paints have a rather large range that can be found as single bottles or as paint sets, of which they made PLENTY! Their most recommended sets are the “Learn to Paint” kits with which excellent paint guides and a few miniatures are included to make a beginner's life easier. It’s worth mentioning that their website contains a fun little corner of mixed guides that’s worth a visit.
Reaper Miniatures - Learn to Paint: Layer Up!
5. Scale 75
Coming on to our next brand that’s definitely not for the faint of heart! Or for beginners for that matter. You have been warned! Scale 75 paints are known for being a bit more on the inktense side (pun intended). These paints are well known for their heavy pigmentation, smooth blending, and versatility. They do not offer painting tutorials but check out this awesome book they made as a beginners' guide to painting.
The paints are made with gel medium which makes it take longer to dry (which can be an advantage if you’re not a quick painter), giving you a smooth finish with little to no brush strokes, and combined with dense pigment, it provides excellent coverage when thinned making it incredibly flexible to use for anything between base-coating to glazing.
There are a few things to point out, however, and the reason as to why these paints require a higher learning curve and are not usually recommended for beginners. Thinning gel-based paints might be difficult, and causes the paint to separate easily. It will require heavy shaking with agitators. Core paints have an extreme matte finish which makes results when dried unpredictable at first.
Scale 75 WarFront Collection - 64 colors 17ml - Super Matte Finish
Scale 75 produces several paint lines and are highly praised for their metallics. They have a vast range of colors, some rarely found in other brands. The paint comes in 17 ml bottles which are larger than average, and sold as themed sets or individually. Scalecolor (core colors) and Warfront dry to a very realistic matte finish, and the Fantasy & Games range dries to a satin finish. Their other products include miniatures, airbrush paints, and inks.
Scale 75 Fantasy and Games Collection - 48 colors 17 ml - Satin Finish