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Hello, TechRaptor readers. By now you’ve probably decided to dip your toes into some tabletop gaming after getting a chance to take a look at some of the offerings available. Or you’re a seasoned veteran looking for some discussion and insight that doesn’t revolve around how many souls of orphaned Asian children Matt Ward consumes in a month to maintain his unholy powers. (The answer is eight, by the way). Either way, it’s time to take a look at some tools of the trade. Specifically, Games Workshop’s new range of paints specifically designed for airbrushing.

I’ve been using an airbrush for almost my entire hobby career, and it’s been an absolute lifesaver in terms of reducing painting times. The ability to not only prime models any day of the year without having to worry about the effects of weather on spray paint cans but to basecoat huge swaths of models with nowhere near the effort of doing so by hand simply can’t be overstated.  Using an airbrush can be tricky when you’re first getting the hang of things, but stick with it.

One of the biggest problems new airbrush painters have is getting the paint consistency right. Different paint lines tend to work differently in airbrushes, and their behavior can change even more depending on what you use to thin said paints down with. When I was first starting out, for example, I had quite a bit of trouble getting my Vallejo Game Color paints to work properly in my new airbrush. The pigment would separate very quickly and easily until I switched from straight water to a mix of water, drying retarder, and matte medium. You can find a quick video on the exact recipe and process here courtesy of Lester Bursey. Issues like this can easily dissuade people from continuing to work with their airbrush and go back to slowly basecoating their vehicles by hand. Very slowly, I might add.

Fortunately, companies have finally taken note of our wailing and gnashing of teeth and provided a line of paints specifically formulated for airbrushing, saving us a great deal of time. The Citadel Air range launched early last month with a trimmed down number of paints from their main line. Not every color made the cut, however, so it’d be a good idea to take a look at the list of colors currently available. If some of your favorite colors aren’t available right now, I’d recommend taking a look at this conversion chart to find its corresponding color in the Vallejo Game range instead. Game Color and Game Air use the same numbers for their colors, so it’ll be quick and easy. I was forced to do this when I noticed that the trio of Warplock Bronze, Brass Scorpion, and Runelord Brass I use extensively with my Dark Eldar didn’t make the cut. Not that I’m bitter about it or anything.

The Citadel Air paints themselves are priced the same as the standard paints, so there won’t be any surprises in that regard. Except for the airbrush cleaner. That stuff is ludicrously expensive for what you’re getting and should be avoided at all costs. Go to your local craft store and get the same sized bottle for much less than the $16.50 USD Games Workshop is charging.

The base paints have a higher pigment count, which allows it to remain more opaque than the more transparent layer paints. The Citadel Air base paints do an excellent job of providing a strong color layer to build up from. Averland Sunset in particular does a great job of providing a good foundation for stronger yellows. While Games Workshop has said the paints shouldn’t be used with a traditional brush, I didn’t have any issues with it.

Averland Sunset coat

First coat of Averland Sunset

Flash Gitz Yellow, the yellow layer paint, gives you a strong yellow that’s almost fluorescent. You will have to be more precise with it, however, as you can end up with some rather odd results if you paint it directly over a darker color. The shoulder pads on this Killa Kan, for example, look almost green. The oddly-colored spots didn’t get a full coat of Averland Sunset, meaning the brown undercoat is showing through. This isn’t something limited to just the airbrush paints; you’ll see the same effect happening with normal paints as well.

Flash Gitz Yellow coat

Flash Gitz Yellow acts strangely when used directly over darker colors

There also several metallic paints available, which work just as well as the normal colors. Metallic paints tend to be somewhat finicky when airbrushing, as the metallic flakes clog the tip faster than regular paints. Leadbelcher, the silver base paint, works quite well without any pigment separation.

Leadbelcher coat

Leadbelcher Air will save Iron Warriors and Grey Knights players a huge amount of time

The paints do an excellent job, but there’s one major flaw that is almost a deal-breaker for me.

Citadel Air paints

Heresy in convenient 12ml pots

Who in the Emperor’s name thought it would be a good idea to put airbrush paints in a pot? It may make sense from a manufacturing standpoint, since it would be easier to simply increase production of pots already used with the standard paints, but they’re a complete pain to use. Decanting the paint into the airbrush is impossible to do without spilling half of it. Spending extra money for either pipettes to transfer the paint from the pot or going through the long and tedious process of transferring the paint into dropper bottles is required. It’s a huge oversight on Games Workshop’s part. On the bright side, at least they didn’t use it as a reason to sell us overpriced Citadel brand dropper bottles and pipettes.

Citadel Air paints are a good investment if you’re already using their paints and want to keep the colors consistent. They’re also good for base paints, as Vallejo doesn’t have any of their heavy paints available. Otherwise, I’d recommend Vallejo Game Air as an alternative.

You can order Citadel Air paints directly from Games Workshop or pick them up from your local FLGS.

The Good:

  • Work much easier in an airbrush than standard Citadel paints
  • Provide excellent coverage
  • No price difference between airbrush and regular paints

The Bad:

  • Not every color available
  • Overpriced airbrush cleaner
  • Paint pots for airbrush paints is utterly asinine

Heresy stamp image courtesy of gringoscustoms on Etsy.

The paints reviewed for this article were purchased by the reviewer.




Good if you need base paints or are already using Citadel paints. Otherwise, go with Vallejo.

Michael Johnson

Staff Writer

I'm one of the tabletop writers here at TechRaptor as well as an IT security analyst and full-time geek. If I'm not actively playing, I'm either painting something, enjoying burying my nose in a book or arguing on the Internet.