Getting Started: Choosing the Right Paints


So in the last getting started article, I talked about paint brushes and the basic tools of painting. Next up, I wanted to dive into paints and which ones you may want to select as your first purchase. Between paints, brushes, palette, and other hobby tools it’s very easy to spend more in initial purchases then it cost you to buy the first box of models. It’s hidden costs that make getting into wargaming expensive and daunting for the beginner. I hope to help guide you with some of my experience in wargaming.

Selecting a Paint Line

With so many different paint lines on the market right now, it can be hard to choose which paint line to use. Not to mention, it can be another big question as to maybe which lines mix and match the easiest. My best advise is as you get started to pick one paint line and stick with it for your first line of models. Even today, the vast majority of my collection of paints are from one single paint line with a small sampling of products from three or four other vendors.

Army Painter

As a whole, Army Painter puts together a paint line that will do the job for most beginners. To be honest, when they first came on the market I avoided them thinking they were not the same quality of paint and would give me issues. While I am still not a fan of how some of their colors coat and I feel there are better paint lines on the market, you can’t beat Army Painter getting started kits in particular and the price is much easier to handle. I think for anyone just getting started painting models Army Painter paints are a great starting point.

Reaper Master Series Paints

Reaper paints are my primary paint line for all colors and I own well over 100 different colors. The best thing I like about these is the triad system that their paints go in, starting with a traditional shade color, base color, and highlight color while not changing the consistency from color to color. They are high pigment and coat very well. If there was one thing I would criticize regarding the range, it is the metallic paints. While there are a number of shades, I find that they don’t coat nearly as well as another vendor on this list. Reaper paints aren’t as popular though and it can be hard to find painting tutorials that are using those paints. If you are one that needs to match color for color that they are using in the tutorial, you may also want to look elsewhere (or just ask me).

Citadel (Games-Workshop) Paints

This is where almost all of us got our start with miniature paint lines, even myself. I have never had a complaint about Citadel paints. It’s a great range of paint and the way they coat is something you can’t go wrong with. It’s popular so finding tutorials using those paints is pretty easy to do as well. Not to mention, it’s very likely some of the people that you will find playing wargames at your friendly local game store will be familiar with them which gives you some added places to get advise as you paint your first models. My one knock against them is that they still use paint pots. While not the only company that does this, I find that the pots don’t seal as well and can lead to paints drying out. There is nothing worse then going for that pot of color that you want and finding that the entire pot is dried out.

Valejo Paints

Velejo paints are fairly common and popular with a lot of people, particularly when people are painting historical models as there are many painting and color guides out there using Velejo paints (thanks largely to Flames of War). Another dropper bottle paint line (like most of the others) their paints tend towards both good coverage and generally good value. I do have a small sampling of Valejo paints in my collection, but only really there for matching historical colors on some of my WW2 Bolt Action armies where I had a hard time figuring out what the equivalent Reaper paint was. To be honest, I am finding that I really do like the few pots I own and will likely add to that small, but growing collection as time goes on.

Scale75

I don’t have a lot of experience with this range, but I did recently pick up some of their metallic paints. I am extremely pleased with these for their coverage and smooth flow. I don’t know that I would advise a beginner to go buy these for their first paints, but if you were looking to add to your collection some metallic paints and wanted to explore another range then I would point you here.

Sum Up

Overall, there is my first thoughts on paint ranges. You pretty much can’t go wrong starting with Army Painter, Citadel, Valejo, or Reaper paints for your first start into painting. Buying a beginners set with your base colors is always a good way to go, but in the next article I will talk about selecting your first paints and things to think about that might help you save a few pennies on your initial start up costs.

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