Choosing Paint

O.K., we need to get some paint before we go any further. We’re looking for water-based acrylic paints. Enamels and oils work o.k. for other types of figures and models, but acrylics look great and are easy to work with for our purposes.

Craft Paints
The first kind are found at any craft store. These are your basic acrylic craft paints. Apple Barrel brand is easy to find and is good quality.

These are very cheap, and just a little over a dollar for 2fl. oz. There is a large range of colors available, and many DBA hobbyists use these. I don’t use them very much, but I did buy a bottle to test and have had good results.

Citadel Color
Citadel paints are manufactured by Games Workshop, the worlds largest and most well known miniatures gaming manufacturer. I use these primarily out of habit; I started painting and gaming with GW products about 11 years ago, and while I no longer play any GW games, I continue to buy the paint.

Citadel paints are horrendously overpriced at $3.00 USD, dry out quickly, and are not easy to find if you are just starting out in miniature painting. They will also murder your brushes, and it is recommended that you use a good brush cleaner. The basic reason I like them is that the system is complimentary; therefore you can get consistent shade, base, and highlights without mixing colors very often as you would with the craft paints. Most shops that carry GW figures carry this paint. You can also buy them at the Games Workshop homepage.

Vallejo Paints
These Italian paints are the standard for high-level miniatures painting, and are used by many professional mini painters throughout the world.

They are slightly more cost effective than GW paints, since you get more in a bottle for about the same price. They don’t dry out as quickly either, and feature a squeeze-bottle design. I used these paints for about a 2 year period before going back to GW. I found the color charts to be confusing because Vallejo has several different lines, and it was difficult for me to find the same shade more than once. I also found some of the colors to be dull. These paints are harder to find than the others, but you can find them at a number of online shops.

I previously believed that inks were useless. It seemed like too much effort to get the ink to flow well with adding chemicals. However, I have recently tried, and totally love, Renaissance Ink’s Ink Washes. They come on the thicker side so you can adjust viscosity to your liking. They easily flow into the areas they should with no fuss. These are highly recommended.
After you make your decision about which paint manufacturer to go with, you need to pick up some basic colors. I will list the bare minimum you need, some highlights can be made by adding white or yellow.

  • Black
  • White
  • Brown
  • Red
  • Peach (or any flesh-tone)
  • Blue
  • Yellow
  • Silver metallic
  • Bronze or Gold metallic

These colors should be sufficient to get your first project underway. Let’s go prep our figures for painting!

Prepping Your Miniatures