Gear: Starting Miniature Painting

Updated as of July 2019. If you want to start painting miniatures, here are my recommended paints.

If you’ve ever wondered what paints you would need to start painting miniatures, I’ve created a list of what I believe to be the best well rounded collection of paints you can get for the total sum of around £50.

First, the caveats

  1. Warhammer TV has a massive collection of tutorials using Citadel paints, hence their inclusion.
  2. You shouldn’t struggle to find these, they are fairly common.
  3. Citadel paints have a decent resale value on eBay so if you don’t like painting you can make a decent amount of money back selling them.
  4. The premise involves buying the Age of Sigmar starter paint set (which is good value) then filling in the gaps with other paint. If this ever goes out of stock or changes, comment below and I will redo the guide.
  5. These are not necessary all paints I would use. Abaddon Black and Leadbelcher have been cycled out of my everyday use but you will still be able to get good results out of them.

Let’s get started


To coincide with the Mid 2018 release of Age of Sigmar Soul Wars Games Workshop created an Age of Sigmar starter paint and modelling set with 13 full-size paints, clippers, a mould line remover and a brush for £25. Not bad as I estimate there is around £47 worth of stuff in there.

Here’s my take on the contents and the extras I would recommend to fill out your collection, if you were starting out.

FYI, I have marked the paints in the starter set with a *

Washes

Citadel’s washes are fantastic at instantly applying a darker colour to the shadows of a model without causing tide marks or other unsightly blotches. They can be applied straight out of the bottle or diluted with medium for some more subtle effects.

When you are starting you’ll want the matt versions, however the gloss versions are also useful.

Nuln Oil: A great way to shade any dark colour as well as all silver-grey metals. When starting out you can just cover the entire metallic part with this. Possibly the most used paint on this list.

*Riekland Fleshshade: The wash used for skin. It now works in places that aren’t Riekland. That bit is a joke and an invitation to experiment. Useful for Rust, Gold and Bronze effects.

Note: In the starter set you will only get the smaller 12ml pot of this colour.

Agrax Earthshade: Also known as Liquid Talent. This goes with nearly everything. It is a darker brown wash that can be used on oranges, yellows, cream, bone, parchment and many more. Army Painter uses giant pots of gloss brown shade called Quickshade to quickly shade entire models in one go. Arguably more useful than Nuln Oil.

*Nighthaunt Gloom: Its main use is for painting the ghosts that come in Soul Wars. So far I haven’t found a use for it outside of this limited window. Even if you never use it, it still makes the starter set good value.

Note: In the starter set you will only get the smaller 12ml pot of this colour.

Blacks

*Abaddon Black: Your standard black paint. I am now experimenting with Army Painter Matt Black and Vallejo Model Air Black instead. Reaper apparently make a good black. If anyone knows a good U.K. supplier let me know in the comments.

Greys

Mechanicus Standard Grey: This dark grey is a great choice for a neutral highlight for any black areas. Just add white to highlight further. Or buy Dawnstone.

Whites

*White Scar: There are two “pure” white colours Games Workshop offers, this is the whitest white and matches their base white spray. You will also use it to mix into other colours for highlighting (although pros often also use complimentary colours to make the highlights pop). Previous sets used Ceramite White but people have reported issues with it on Google.

*Celestra Grey: A blue/white/grey colour that is designed to create a nice smooth flat coat over black so you can then add lighter colours like White Scar or Astronimicon Grey.

Metallics

Before I get crucified, I know Games Workshop metallics aren’t rated that high but for a starter article I’m sticking to all Citadel products.

*Leadbelcher: The basecoat for silver or metal, just hit it with (almost) any colour of wash to get a nice metal effect. FYI metallics chew up paint brushes so do not hammer your expensive ones with it.

Stormhost Silver: Many people have started to use this as the single colour to highlight metal with. Previously they would have used Runefang Steel however it was known to be a pain to apply smoothly.

*Retributor Armour: A great starter for all gold or brass colours. (Certain) Games Workshop metallics are some of the most expensive paints on the market so it’s great that 2 come in the starter set so you can pick them up for a reduced price.

Yellows

Averland Sunset: Sometimes you will need to paint yellow over a dark base colour, and you will need the patience of a saint to do it without starting with Averland Sunset.

Yriel Yellow: Used for highlighting fire effects, chevrons and by crazy people for painting entire armies. A deeper yellow and slightly less obnoxious to use than Flash Gitz Yellow. Use this for highlighting Averland Sunset. Phalanx Yellow might be a better pick but I’d need to test it more.

Reds

*Khorne Red: A good pick for your basic go-to red, Mepheston Red is slightly lighter and the colour you’ll need to paint Blood Angels but Khorne Red seems to cover better and combos better with Evil Suns Scarlett below.

Evil Suns Scarlet: Your red highlight. Interesting point: This is the reddest red Games Workshop do, any lighter and you end up with an orange or pink colour. Games Workshops army painting teams do further extreme highlights for reds with flesh colours.

Blues

*Kantor Blue: A dark blue. Macragge Blue is the colour you want if painting Ultramarines is your thing.

Alaitoc Blue: Possibly the best highlight colour for Kantor BlueHoeth Blue is even lighter if you want to push it further.

Greens

Waaagh! Flesh: When I started this guide in 2018 there were 40 greens in the Citadel range, however, while I was reviewing my second draft a couple of weeks later that number rose to 42. Now in 2019 there are 51. It’s clear that these are growing at an exponential rate and will eventually consume all sentient life on this planet.

The only reason this stands out is that it can be used as the base colour for all Ork (or Orc or Orruk) flesh. As before beware that if you wanted to paint Dark Angels you would need Caliban Green.

Warpstone Glow: Your basic green highlight. I also like this colour as you can create a lovely glowing green effect by repeatedly mixing it with White Scar. Of course, if you want to match Waaagh! Flesh you’d need Warboss Green followed by Skarsnick Green.

Browns

*Mournfang Brown: An excellent Brown for chipping, dirt and rust, I would usually suggest starting with the equally excellent multipurpose Rhinox Hide but as this is in the base set you can use Agrax Earthshade to darken it down.

*Rakarth Flesh: This one doesn’t need to be used exclusively as a base for other colours as its light enough to highlight all browns and greys. I regularly use this as a final drybrush for all black, grey or brown bases. It also can be used as the starting colour for all papers, parchments and in some cases light skin.

Pinks

*Bugman’s Glow: I’m sure there are tutorials on using this colour for human flesh on this online, just add Yriel Yellow or Rakarth Flesh for some highlights.

Texture Paints

*Armageddon Dust: The Eavy Metal team use this as their go-to basing paint for their armies by applying this in a couple of layers to ensure an even mix before drybrushing it with Screaming Skull and painting the rim of the base with Steel Legion Drab. If you want to save some coins, you could drybrush with Rakarth Flesh and paint the rim with Abaddon Black.

Note: In the starter set you will only get the smaller 12ml pot of this colour.

Pricing up – 2019 prices

The Age of Sigmar paints and tools set contains 13 paints and is £25 rrp. I recommend 2 extra washes, totalling £9.50, Stormhost Silver (a newer, more expensive metallic paint, costing £3.70 and 7 others at £2.75.

This totals £57.45. You might get them at a discount of 20% online which comes to £45.96.

Just add a couple of different sized brushes and a spray primer or two and you’re good to go.

The case against…

Vallejo sell Model Color, Game Color, Game Air and probably Model Air starter sets of 16 paints for around £37 on Amazon. Each pot contains 17ml of paint compared to 12ml for Citadel. Some of these paints are better, some are worse.

However you will not get the washes, the texture paint, the brush, the clippers or the mould line remover tool. So you will have to purchase them separately.

Final thoughts

Yes, there are compromises here. You will need to add colours if you want to paint armies that reply on pinks, purples or turquoise. But you should have all the tools you need to manage most general tasks.

What do you think, have I missed anything obvious out? What else would you recommend? Could you do better for around £50.

2 Responses

  1. I’m pleasantly surprised there’s some savings available in the paint set. It has me wondering what other companies do? I’ve mostly Citadel paint but a growing number of Vallejo/Army painter (especially when replacing dried up ones).

    1. You have the Army Painter Warpaint Set, Scale 75 Smog Rider Set and Vallejo Game (and Model) Color Set just off the top of my head. I think Warcolors have one but I’d doubt that’s aimed at new players.

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