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Sunday, April 15, 2012

New Citadel Paint Set Review

We've all heard that GW has released an expansive new series of paints, and many including myself, are excited about the new starter set that comes with Black Reach-style Dark Angels tactical marines. I won't get into the implications of that right now.

As a Dark Angels devotee, and an avid, and relatively advanced hobbyist, I was interested in both trying the new paints, and in checking out the new poster-boys of the 40k universe.

Whats in the box: 
  • 5 Plastic Space Marines
  • 1 Starter Brush
  • 1 Space Marine Painting Guide
  • 1 pot of Mephiston Red
  • 1 pot of Agrax Earthshade
  • 1 pot of Caliban Green
  • 1 pot of Leadbelcher
  • 1 pot of Ulthuan Grey
  • 1 pot of Ushabti Bone
  • 1 pot of Mournfang Brown
  • 1 pot of Imperial Primer

The Marines

First and foremost I thought I should discuss the marines that come with the set. They are Dark Angels specific, with molded pouldrons that bear the chapter's wing and sword insignia, and horizontal tactical arrows. Other than that I am pretty sure they are identical to the old Black Reach marines. 

Assembly is more basic than with standard tac marines: glue on backpack, gun arm, and pouldron. Each part attaches via a peg and hole that should in theory line it up exactly. I attempted to an arm in place, was immediately frustrated, cut the peg off, and glued it just as I would with any other marine.

Overall these guys look pretty good. They are simpler than standard tac marines, and slightly bulkier, but still have an appropriate amount of detail. I am a big fan of the bolter's with straps.

The Brush

The set comes with a brush. It sucks. I tried to use it, but became frustrated and switched to my standard Rafael 8404. 

I understand why this brush is a pile of dog shit--to keep down the cost of the set, and the probable skill of the user--but I must say I hoped for a bit more. When I first started painting, bad brushes were the bane of my existence. I could not pull off any of the techniques I was seeing in painting guides and online, partly because of a lack of skill, but also because I did not have the right tools for the job. 

Give a new painter a halfway decent brush, and they will have a better first impression than this useless, frayed chopstick will provide. I think it's important that sets like this facilitate a positive experience. If you are new to the hobby, bite the bullet and buy some good brushes. Rafael, Windsor-Newton, maybe even the GW master series (never tried them); anything with kolinsky sable written on it will be good. It'll probably be ten or fifteen bucks, but that's nothing compared to what you are about to, or have already, dumped into this hobby.

Wash your brush with cold water, don't mash the bristles, and it'll last a while. 

The Paints

The meat of the matter is the eight paints included with the set. A couple of base colors, some layers, and one of the new shades (wash). The set comes with a painting guide with sloppily executed examples designed to be less daunting (but also less inspiring) for the newbie. My cat sat on it while I painted.

I think the best way for me to describe the paints is to provide a brief tutorial on how I painted my sample model.

Step 1: Prime

I used standard GW black spray primer for this. The set comes with brush-on primer, but I didn't have the patience for all that. I did end up using a few dabs to touch-up some mold lines I missed when I prepped the model. It required two coats, but covered well, and was indistinguishable from the spray primer.

Step 2: Base

I normally airbrush the primary base color, but because I wanted to learn a little more about the new line, applied it by hand.

Two layers of each color did the trick. They cover well, and have a slightly thinner, but more useable consistency than the old base paints.

Step 3: Wash

I don't always use washes, but I did it in this case to test out the new "shades". I was impressed. I bought a few that were not included in the starter set, and decided once the base colors were done to wash the entire mini with Nuln Oil (the new Badab Black). 

I then painted the aquila Ushabti Bone (the new Bleached Bone), and part of the backpack with dwarf bronze (I didn't buy the new version). The aquila received a wash of Agrax Earthshade (the new Devlan Mud), and the metallic on the back pack was washed with the Biel-Tan Green (the new Thraka Green), Agrax Earthshade, and then Nuln Oil to provide a seared and tarnished look.

The washes work well. Really well. There was none of the watermarking the old versions left, no matter how thick I loaded the stuff on. A heavy application did create a somewhat cloudy appearance--something Badab black was also guilty of--but that disappeared once I clear-coated the model. 

I am not a huge fan of the result on the aquila though. After having painted and repainted innumerable Dark Angels chests over the past few years, I think a better result can be had by using a darker base coat, and then picking out the individual feathers with incrementally lighter shades. 

I have been using oils to do a lot of my washing, but if all the colors work as well as the Nuln Oil, I may switch back to the GW paints. I'll probably do an experiment with some of my in-progress Dark Eldar for further testing of the new shades.

Step 4: Details

I did a bit of wet blending to finish the model off, and found that the base Caliban Green worked very well. I used the old-style Rotting Flesh as a highlight as I've yet to buy the new equivalent, which I believe is called Nurgling Green. 

I also blended a little Fenris Grey onto the boltgun shroud. I'm not a big fan of red guns for my Dark Angels, their coloring is already plenty warm, so I wanted to go with something cold to create contrast. 


I like it. 

The new Caliban green is the "right" green for Dark Angels. If you look at the cover of their hopefully soon to be replaced codex, their armor has a...wintergreen(?) tint. The old version always ended up looking too Salamanders-esque once the highlighting was done. My hope is that the expanded range will offer more accurate, realistic, or useable, colors for other armies as well. 

Overall I believe the base and layer paints are as good, or better than the previous versions, and I will doubtless continue to use them. The price is right, and they are available everywhere. I have not tested them in an airbrush yet, but I don't foresee any problems with that.

I have not tried the "dry" line. I rarely drybrush, and I am disappointed in the loss of some of the standard colors I had come to rely upon. No Ice Blue as a "layer" paint is going to be a bit of a pain in the arse, and will either require the use of another line (P3), or mixing some of my own highlights.

That's it for now. We will probably be flooding the internets with more modeling articles as we expand our use of the new range. Also, look forward to extensive Adepticon coverage this week.

1 comment:

  1. Very nice. I just basecoated 10 marines with the new green check my blog for pics.