Citadel Paints: Derek the Dark Angel, Birth of a Splodgy Legend…

Citadel PaintsOk, Derek lives, in total he has lived for 16 days now, but in a massive fit of warp shenanigans my camera died at the very first picture of the poor hero, so I resorted to the phone camera, you should be able to see what’s what though.  What I did was paint one of the Dark Angels as if I had never painted before, and I was 12 and not 30+…

TL:DR summary: So, how good are Citadels new paints?  How good is the new starter set?  In a word:Amazing!

The Models

The 40K starter comes with 5 lovely dark angels, as intimated previously, they essentially snap together in a similar fashion to the AOBR marines.  The only problem I had was having to trim down the tabs on the shoulder pieces to ensure a snug fit.  All the detail and iconography are moulded on and is as crisp as you would expect for the cheaper plastics.

Citadel Paints: Derek Fresh from the Sprue
Derek , in the womb

The Base Coat 

Once Derek was put together (which took about 1 minute, with trimming), I set out to paint him using the guide included in the box remember, as if I was a new-born babe and this was my first rodeo.  I resolved to do *exactly* what the instructions wanted, even if they flew in the face of my painting experience and hobby know-how, or indeed common sense.

Imperial Primer comes from what GW dubs the “technical” range…the nomenclature is neither here nor there for me, but it helps separate things into intended roles.  Here is where I hit my first speed bump:  If I was not a 30+ man of not inconsiderable strength this pot of paint would have been the first and last thing I did in the hobby.  12-Year-old me would have not been able to open this pot, not without getting frustrated and making a mess.

The pots are devilish hard to open, requiring far too much force and the reports will no doubt be rolling of disasters akin to a Vallejo stopper explosion soon.   The paint itself smells a lot like the old (old old), Smelly Primer, and dries in no time at all, by the time i was finishing Dereks’ head, his feet were bone dry…total time, 2 minutes, paint-able in 5.  The brush included in the set is of an inferior quality to regular citadel or Army Painter brushes, but the hard bristles are absolutely ideal for younger hobbyists, as it’s a lot harder to mangle the bristles.

Citadel Paints: Phone Cam!
Derek, with his modesty protected

COLOUR!  WITH A U!

The colours included are allegedly what you would need to paint a Dark Nngel, allegedly?  Read On…:

Caliban green is the new Dark Angels Green, of course, and in common with the other base paints is fast drying, thicker and covers excellently.  The Brown shares these qualities, great so far!  Mephiston Red shares the genetic legacy of red pigment everywhere…it needs multiple coats straight from the pot, but that’s to be expected.  The guide included does not indicate this however, so 1 coat went on :).  Now the problems started.  Problems that 12-year-old me would have had a fit over (like many hobbyists I was not a well-adjusted youth…)

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The guide asked me to paint parts in IronBreaker, but Horror!  Tragedy!  The paint in the set was Leadbelcher!  What was I to do?!  Well, I used my powers of Science to figure out that they must mean the other silvery paint that was in the set, so the crisis was averted.  It was a near miss and I nearly threw my paint brush at the wall and went out for some Buckfast and a ciggy (I was 12 in Scotland remember, we pretty much drink and

Citadel Paints: Derek Back View
Derek, too shy for a front view

smoke from birth here (hence we die at 40…)).  I restrained myself long enough to finish the 2nd, 3rd and 4th stages of the guide, giving me a miniature that met the 3-colours up  minimum and was starting to take real shape.

No White and the death of Devlan Mud

Stages 5 and 6 were the red and bone stages, picking out the eyes, purity seals, bolter, etc. on the correct contrasting shades.  Again, going by the book I merrily slurped the paint straight onto the miniature without any care for my wet palette or years of studying the french method.  In all honesty it was liberating, taking me back to a simpler time when  my mate and I painted all our SpaceCrusade mini’s using the very first Citadel paint set.  I’m convinced however that the Ushtabi Bone I had had been from a bad batch…it was thicker than the base paints, dried *on* the brush after a few seconds and was almost impossible to work with. A more massive shock awaited over the page however.  Something that will literally revolutionise both my painting and the entire hobby:

AGRAX EARTHSHADE!

Agrax Earthshade is to Devlan Mud as a Big Mac is to a frozen cabbage.  This is the most wonderful thing, the pigment and fluid mechanics interact in a way that is as sublime as the movement of the stars across the celestial dome.  It has the edge over devlan mud simply due to pigment density, and the way it dries leaves the pigment where you left it, allowing a much finer control than Devlan mud.  Liquid Talent got a whole load better.

The booklet recommend I should paint this over the Ushtabi Bone and Metal, which I duly did.  The wash was so wonderful though, that I did the whole mini, several others that were on my desk and most of my hand.  Another moment of disappointment awaited though:  Stage 8 wanted me to overbrush the Ushtabi Bone with White Scar, a paint that is not included in the set at all.

Citadel Paints: Paint Set
Paints from the Starter

Total time from sprue to painted derek was around 25 minutes,  and that includes an easy 5 minutes of doing an agrax wash on my hand, desk, etc.  Sadly no photos of finished derek made it through the camera meltdown, but overall, he is as good as I would expect from a 12-year-old.  The paint is thick, splodgy and looks awful up close, but from the two foot mark he looks absolutely brilliant.

The Citadel paints are good enough that I want to use them more, I want to try them out and can see myself using them in preference to the Vallejo and P3 paints that have become my staple.  I can’t wait to get them onto a wet palette and see how they thin down, building colour by gentle encouragement rather than brute force is a far better way to paint.  What the Citadel paint guides considers good for a beginner is a goal post that has definitely moved southward.  The 12-year-old I was being today has so many more resources that it feels almost churlish to suppose he will go ahead and splatter unthinned paint on Dereks brothers, but he will have 5 great miniatures to make those first mistakes on, and some fantastically good paints to work with.

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I just wish the guide has started right out the gates with getting kids used to thinning, there’s a plastic palette built-in to the tray the paint comes in after all!

Oh and if your wondering what I mean by the french style, it’s the currently fashionable way of building layers and layers using juices, glazes and very thin paint over white to give ridiculously smooth results…its downside is that it takes weeks to do a hand or a torso….its upside is the smoothness, you can see examples in the top ten on CMON, product shots for Malifaux etc…

See you soon!
Grumhelden

  • I’ve picked up some of the new paints but have yet to try them. I’m glad to see they’re getting such good reviews from everyone. I have tried out their glazes and I’m really impressed with those.

  • khorneinquisitor

    Wow. Debated grabbing the shades as I was unconvinced by reading about them on the GW site, but now I am convinced! Thanks for the great article.

  • Sean

    Nice review. My painting career started when I was twelve, went on a break until I was 22 or so (where I drank and smoked while painting) and is probably in the same sorry state now that I’m almost 44 and haven’t painted since the 90’s. Thin paint? Who knew?

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