Citadel Paint System – Edwin’s paint guide

By | 12/17/2018

This will be a series of articles on how to improve your paint, starting with the Citadel Paint System. Edwin Moriarty is a commission painter and games developer living in Nottingham, UK. Keep up with his latest projects on Instagram.

If you’ve somehow arrived on this page without being aware of Games Workshop and the fact that they sell paint, let me bring you up to speed: Games Workshop is a miniatures company. It occasionally is kind enough to design games to use them with, and also sell a plethora of hobby materials, including a copious amount of paint. This paint, and the brushes to go with it, are what they term the Citadel Paint System (CPS), which on the face of it is a bit weird. How is paint a system? This series of articles sets out why they call it a system. What do they think it means? What it actually means? How you can use it to get the most out of their products?

Citadel paints and brushes

What is the Citadel Paint System?

In short it’s the different types of paints and painting accessories that Games Workshop sell and the way in which those products have been designed to be used. If you use their products in the way that the material engineers and scientists who developed them intended, you’ll get the result they envision. Why would you do that?

Well, the secret to the CPS isn’t that it’ll produce the most mind blowing results – a truly good painter can produce far better stuff using their own skills and a mix of products and materials, than they could laboriously sticking to the Citadel Paint System. The secret is that if you’re an OK painter following it will produce really strong results comparatively very fast. If you’re a beginning painter learning to use it and applying it to a variety of models will train in you lots of the key skills that will lead to you doing even cooler stuff later on.

Citadel Artificer Tint Set


I’m not a truly good painter. I only started painting seriously about 18 months ago. It took about 6 months of that for me to really start putting the hours in and stretch myself. I started to create stuff that was, in my eyes, halfway decent. But I was lucky enough to get tips and tricks from members past and present of a few teams inside Games Workshop HQ to help me along. The army painting team, the ‘Eavy Metal team, and the citadel hobby production team. That’s let me improve pretty fast, and I’ve done so using the CPS for the most part. I’m now at the point where I’m moving beyond it, but looking back I wouldn’t be where I am now without having trained using it. My models wouldn’t have looked half as good without it.

What does it include?

The CPS includes five main components, in order of most to least important:

  1. Citadel Paints. This is the obvious one, the pigments in medium that create colour on your miniatures. You’ll need a bunch of these to make the CPS work, and you’ll need the right ones. You don’t have to have all the ones that are recommended, but you’ll find that you can skip a lot of time, frustration and irritation just by picking up another couple of pots. This is the focus of Part 2.
  2. Citadel Brushes. This is a useful but not essential component – as long as you have a few key tools, you’ll find you can make do. That said, the GW brushes despite what some people rant are not terrible, they’re just not the best thing on the market, and they’re expensive. They are, however, very very easy to understand and use correctly. We’ll talk over all of it, and the advantages and disadvantages of the brush types, in Part 3.
  3. Citadel Hobby Accessories. Honestly, the most disposable of all of the elements of the system. They’re just there to provide a product for a thing you can likely substitute with a mug or a paper plate. Some of them are worse than the alternative. That said, some are great, and I’ll cover them all in Part 4.
  4. Citadel Technical and Basing Products. Many of these are in theory part of the Paint range, but in practice you won’t use them in the way that you’d use the standard paints, so we’ll cover them separately. There aren’t too many of these, so we can cover them in some detail in Part 5.
  5. The Citadel Paint System Method: This is the use of all the tools, brushes, paints and technical products in a particular way to achieve an effect. I’ll go over this in lot of detail in Part 6, as it brings together all the other components.

Citadel Waterpot

Why does it exist?

When Games Workshop came into existence and they started selling models more seriously, the founders hit a problem pretty quickly: a lot of the people they sold to wanted to be able to paint their stuff, but didn’t have a painting skill set, and didn’t want to invest the amount of time that using current techniques would require to perfect. They needed a quick and easy way to get a good effect, and so some thought was put into teaching a way of painting that achieved that. The result was the earliest form of the CPS, and is still a lot of the core of what’s used today.

As time has gone on, the materials and science behind them has improved leaps and bounds, and the Citadel Paint System has changed to match. If you’re starting painting today, the CPS is honestly one of the easiest ways of getting good looking miniatures in the least amount of time. Just be prepared to throw money at it.

So it is all about money, I knew it!

Well sure, GW are a business, they want to make money. They’re obliged to make money. But that doesn’t mean it’s not also super useful.

In the next instalment we talk paint, and why there are so many different kinds.


You can see some of Edwin’s work on previous Dreadtobers and his Morty’s Minis Instagram account.

3 thoughts on “Citadel Paint System – Edwin’s paint guide

  1. Westrider

    The best way to make money is to provide a super useful product. I definitely agree that, for many people’s purposes, they’ve accomplished that with their painting system. Looking forward to the rest of these.

  2. Thor

    The CPS is a great way to learn, as you’ve said. That’s compounded with the teaching videos they now do, which are awesome. I’m pretty sure GW is the only one who has hit the market on both fronts like that, modeling and supplies.


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