GW range paints explanation please?
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Thread: GW range paints explanation please?

  1. #1

    Default GW range paints explanation please?

    Hi all, I have recently started painting again after MANY years away from the hobby. I have a citadel starter set and that's about it.

    now all the names have changed (I can handle this) but the thing I can't fathom is all this wash, layer, shade and base malarkey that is written on the tubs.

    I have a be a mix of them in my set and I'm pretty sure the black is actually some sort of oil slick rather than a paint.

    what do these all mean? Are some just more transparent or runny? Are they made to group up like the old foundry triad system?

    are there any 'must have' paints in the range that I need to know about and ines I need to stay clear of?

  2. #2


    Layers are generally thinner/do not cover as completely as bases. Both can be used regularly, you'll learn the properties in time. Wash/shades are inks, and glazes are for blending (seems like they have a bit more pigment than they should for true blending, though). Drys are for drybrushing, unless you are quickpainting armies, stay away (but if you are, they are great!)

    They also have a technical line, with textures and other things. They are neat, but research what you need before you buy.

    Generally, get whatever colors you need in layers and bases. Don't worry too much about which is which, you can thin them or paint more layers if you need it.

  3. #3


    .... And is your black named Nuln Oil, by any chance? If it is, you got an ink, and will need to buy another black...

  4. #4
    Brushlicker gohkm's Avatar
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    There are other paint lines with better value, but GW is a good place to start from. Their paints cover relatively well, take dilution easily and play well with general acrylic thinners, too. You can move on to P3 for highly pigmentation (the P3 range all have coverage equal or better than GW Foundation/Bases), or expand your colour range with Vallejo.

  5. #5


    The black is "imperial primer " and says technical on it.

    to be honest half of it is sludge and the other half is runny stuff no matter how much I shake the b'stard up!

    it reminds me of tamiya smoke. Any ideas what their flat black is called?

  6. #6


    Abaddon black.

    I have no personal experience with the primer, but I see people suggest shaking it a LOT, and to put an agitator in it.

  7. #7


    The imperial primer is actually a paint on primer. But i dont think it works very well - spray primer works way better but I have used the paint on primer on hard to spray places.

    The new citadel line is actually made to make the painting really simple and fast so people who dont like to paint can get their army done with decent result very fast. If people like the sysyem or not is up to own taste.

    I really like the paints but use them diffrently than the system dictates.

    the system is based around a workflow as follows.

    primer -> base -> wash/shade -> layer 1 > layer 2 > dry compound (-> glaze)

    where the base is the dark version of the color, the wash is the fitting wash and the layers and dry are increasingly brighter versions of the color. A glaze is sometimes used to dull the overall highlight or give it a diffrent hue/tint.

    their intended recipes can be found on the gw website albeit a bit harder to find after they remade it.

    hope this explains it a bit.

    P.s. essentialy if you want to paint with this system you find the gw recipe for the type of unit you want to paint and go from there..
    Last edited by Alowan; 10-21-2014 at 05:23 AM.

  8. #8


    I rather like much of the new range.

    Base - are high density paints. Quite thick, and heavily pigmented. They started that with Foundation paints a while back and other ranges are doing similar things with stronger paints now too. The current Base range are more vibrant colours than the murky Foundations were. They're for that first pass of paint onto a primed mini. Provides a strong base coat. To keep it pretty it's still best to water them down and do a couple passes to ensure the paint isn't too thick and obscures detail on the mini. Such strong pigmented paint they don't lose a lot of opacity when when thinned.

    Layers - pretty much regular ol' paint. Meant for building up the highlights, in layers. Should ideally still thin them down, not only so as not to obscure detail but also to help the layering process transition from stage to stage.

    Washes - the inks. Liberally slapped on it runs into the crevasses and provides easy shading. Used less slappy and with more brush control you can apply to the areas in need on shade and get some wiggling brush control to clear it around the edges to mitigate the possibility of it drying with tide marks.

    Glazes - weak inks basically. Weak for a purpose. There's little pigment in them so when applied they merely tint what's already down. They can inject a little pigment into an area that due to dodgy highlights or poor paint choice ended up looking a bit dead. Glazing can be down with thinned down inks or paints too, but the glazes (like most paints) is a shortcut, a commonly visited paint choice to save you mixing up your own.

    Technical - cover a lot of different sorts of things. Imperial Primer is one, really only good for touch ups where a spray on primer has rubbed/flaked off. And such a poorly mixed paint it's a good idea to bung a couple agitator balls in there to keep it from separating more into sludge and water.
    The range also has some textured paints, (paint with grit in) for basing minis. I like them as basing ain't something I enjoy and condenses gluing-on-sand and painting-sand into one stage.
    Technicals got boosted with some cool effect paints. One more bloody effects, one for the verdigris effect that builds up on copper/bronze.

  9. #9


    Quote Originally Posted by Wyrmypops View Post
    And such a poorly mixed paint it's a good idea to bung a couple agitator balls in there to keep it from separating more into sludge and water.
    Agiator balls? Can you ellaborate on that? Sounds look a cool addition to the gw paints.

  10. #10


    Good catch. Agitators balls. Like what you hear when you shake an aerosol. They're a nifty thing to add to most paints to help the shake you give 'em before getting stuck into painting. Some of us bung a chunk of sprue into a pot of paint, some favour glass beads, some of us use BB gun pellets (I picked up a huge amount very cheap off Ebay).

  11. #11


    Thanks. Got a bunch of yellow BB gun pellets in a box somewhere - got to try it out
    Awesome tip for GW paints. Hope the OP can use some of the tips/explanations in this thread.

  12. #12


    The moment you said "oil slick" stuff I knew immediately thAt you were talking about the brush on primer. I was actually a bit disappointed when you said what it was cuz I wanted to guess it correctly! Ah well.

    Imperial primer does work very well as a brush on primer. Something you must do before applying it, though, is put the stick end of an old brush in it and stir for awhile. You'll notice there is a thick mass in there. That is fine, it is supposed to be there for some reason. But just mix it up, no need to break up the mass, and apply it. Personally, I don't use it to prime a whole figure. It's good to use on spots missed by your spray primer-for the love of God, non-Citadel spray primer please-or if you decide to strip just one part of a mini, you can reprime it with the imperial primer. So it's serves a purpose and can be quite handy. Sometimes I water it down just a very little bit but that's not necessary.

    By by no means should you ever use it as a normal paint.
    ​You are ranked 1 out of 9149 artists.
    BloodFather's Axis of Chaos

  13. #13


    Cool, thanks for the replies guys. I'm going to get myself some a bacon black at the weekend and see if it makes a big difference.

    at the moment the plan is just to get used to the paints and learn their properties before I get more ones. Plus I'm enjoying mixing new colours too much

  14. #14


    Quote Originally Posted by StuartH View Post
    Cool, thanks for the replies guys. I'm going to get myself some a bacon black at the weekend and see if it makes a big difference.

    at the moment the plan is just to get used to the paints and learn their properties before I get more ones. Plus I'm enjoying mixing new colours too much
    It will make all the difference in the world. Right now you are using the equivalent of a charcoal briquette to paint the Mona Lisa.
    ​You are ranked 1 out of 9149 artists.
    BloodFather's Axis of Chaos

  15. #15


    Fun stage that innit, learning the properties of a new paint. Finding how it plays with others, which other bring out its RGB leanings and interacts with how (de)saturated it may be.
    You may find crossover between Base and Layer paints a particular issue though. The heavily pigmented Base colours dominate in equal parts with a Layer in the mix.

  16. #16


    Yup I'm experiencing that already as the base red is very strong for a red. Btw which bit of South london are you? I'm in bromley

  17. #17


    Abbeywood. Don't worry, nobody else has ever heard of it either. A pleasant patch in between the gribbly Thamesmead and Plumstead. You at least have a GW and other shops nearby. I'm looking at a hour and half to get anywhere from here.

  18. #18


    On agitators...

    I use old lead pellet gun pellets, but I'm almost out... Don't use newer ones or BBs that are not lead, many of them rust and will ruin paints (especially the lighter colours).

    Be young, have fun, drink Coke!

  19. #19


    Ceramic or glass beads make ideal agitators. No chance of messing with your paint and cheap as
    The Future Of Magic Wash is Klear

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  20. #20


    I'm late to this party but if you lick your brush, for the love of whatever you hold dear, don't use lead agitators... Very high grade stainless steel is ok as is glass (I prefer SS as they're heavier). I'm in the process of puttin most of my gw paints into dropper bottles and add in a single agitator with each. Makes a massive difference

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