Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Oldhammer Fun: My "Citadel Colour" Paints

My private little collection of Citadel Colour paints is all I need. Well, that and a few good brushes.

Warning: This is another frothy Oldhammer Blog post.

Like many miniatures fanatics, I have alot of unpainted miniatures in my closet. And since I've been so busy sculpting original miniatures lately, my painting habits have atrophied terribly. Once in a while, a game convention or an RPG campaign would fill me with the urge to paint some quick table-ready stuff. But lately I've not even been bothering to paint my own miniatures for my own webstore.

I know, I know.. For shame!

But I've recently been bitten by the Oldhammer painting bug once again! And for the first time it isn't really about acrylics. This time, I'm getting excited to use oil paints on my miniatures. (I'll save my discussion about my adventures in using oils, later. Perhaps in another blog post.) But this change might mean saying "Goodbye" to myprecious  Citadel Colour Pots.

Well, when I said "Citadel Colour Pots", I didn't really mean "Citadel Colour Pots." 

And when I said "Goodbye", it might not really be "Goodbye." 

Let me explain...

For decades, up until the early 80's, enamels were the default hobby paint.

In the Beginning.. 

Back in the mid 1980s, Games Workshop launched a line of acrylic paints targeted at a younger market than the older traditional model paint companies were accustomed to. And for those kids who were hungrily gobbling up everything Games Workshop was selling, from the boxed editions of game supplements, to the books and magazines, and the miniatures, those paints were an instant hit, and a big seller. And as the game company grew, so did their variety of paint colors and their popularity with the players. 

The Citadel Colour range was formulated and packaged for appeal to younger fantasy hobbyists.

But in the early 1990s, for whatever reasons, Games Workshop made the choice to switch to a different paint supplier (a French company), and many of us gamers were disappointed with the new product. 

A lineup of Citadel paint pots through the years. Pic by Nevelon posted to Dakkadakka forums.

Some of the colors seemed different, there was less paint in each pot, and those hard plastic lids failed to prevent the products from drying out! For the younger gamers of that decade, the change was tolerated, but for many who had grown up on the earlier version of Citadel Colour, the decrease in overall quality felt like a betrayal.

This nasty little f**ker was a f**king disaster. Pic by Belazikkal.

For my part, I felt so disappointed with those changes to Citadel Colour that I pretty much just gave up on buying any more for decades. But when I learned that the same old paint pots from the 1980s could still be bought via the internet, I immediately went to work to recreate my collection anew.

The Facts

So, for those who never knew about this stuff before, let's step back and trace the history in detail:

In 1985, Games Workshop began using HMG Paints Ltd. (Manchester) to supply their own brand of hobby paints. The original pots were round, soft plastic, with white vinyl lids, and had a generous internal volume of 20ml. 

By the early 1990s, HMG were directed to change their bottle to the 17ml hexagonal design (probably for efficient warehousing and shipping purposes). At that same time, I believe Mike McKay and other GW staff contributed to reevaluating some of the color formulas. 

In the late 1990s, GW made the choice to drop HMG for a French paint company who introduced the now notorious "Bolt Shell" paint pots, which were made of hard plastic, contained an even smaller liquid volume, and allowed their contents to dry out. Though matched to the previous HMG formulas, the new paints were also different in several regards. Since that time, the Citadel Colours paints continued to change, often times for the worse.

Meanwhile, HMG continued to provide paint products for other game companies, including one Gladiator Miniatures. 

From 1996, Gladiator Miniatures were selling a line of model paints that they called Cote d'Arms. Evidently, when Games Workshop ended their contract with HMG, the Coat d'Arms line of paints adopted those same abandoned Citadel Colour formulas (as well as the original pots they came in) for use in their Fantasy Paints line. The only difference was that the names of the paints had to be changed. 

In 2006, Gladiator Miniatures was acquired by Black Hat Miniatures, and to this day Black Hat Miniatures still sells the same Coat d'Arms paints, including the Fantasy range. 

And so the "Coat d'Arms" range, now sold by Black Hat Miniatures, contains the same popular colors we loved from 1985, and in the same 20ml pots too!

Last Note: Since I gathered up my precious collection so long ago, Warcolours has deliberately formulated their Nostalgia 88 range, which are also in these same pots, and deliberately formulated to emulate the old Citadel paints. The methods described below could be applied to that range as well. I've left a link to Warcolours' Nostalgia 88 page down at the bottom.

The brilliant Coat d'Arms Fantasy Colours range (Citadel Colours relabelled).

Why Coat d'Arms?

Now, one might resonably ask why I would want to use paints and colors that are over thirty years old. Particularly when the market is full of much more modern paint products like Vallejo, Army Painter, P3, and Secret Weapon.

For starters these pots are very generous. For less money than I'd spend on most other paints, I get much more. Modern Citadel pots contain a measly 12 fl oz. of paint, while the old pots that Coat d'Arms uses contain 20 fl oz. That's nearly double! Also, these pots have held up to the test of time, and have a proven track record of keeping their contents fresh for over 30 years, while many other pots are letting their contents dry out within just a few years after purchase. To this day, old gamers regularly marvel at rediscovering long forgotten pots among their belongings, and finding their contents as fresh as when first bought decades earlier.

And just as important, the paints themselves are rich and vibrant, with decent coverage and mixing properties that I'm already very well acquainted and comfortable with. They are easy and fun for me to use, and I even enjoy the way they smell. 

Most of all, I'll admit it, they fill me with a strong sense of nostalgia that connects me directly with my earliest years in the hobby.

As an Oldhammer gamer, when it comes down to it, my reminiscences of collecting those miniatures of yesteryear is evenly matched by my fond memories of buying and using those old paints. So for me, collecting and using Coat d'Arms paints is just like buying Asgard Miniatures from Viking Forge, or Feudal miniatures from Wargames Foundry.

Making New "Citadel Colour" Labels

And now that I've explained the history of the original Citadel Colours paints, and where they can be found today, I'll tell you what I did with mine. And yoooouuuuu will now learn just what a silly bugger I can be!

As soon as I learned about the Coat d'Arms range of paints, I was determined to acquire each of the colors from the original range. I sought out paint range compatibility charts online which helped me to match the names and product codes of Coat d'Arms paints with their original Citadel Colour names.  At the bottom of this blog post are the original links to the charts that I drew from. 

When my new paints arrived, before even opening them, I stripped the Coat d'Arms labels from the pots, and applied my own, homemade, 'faux' Citadel Colour labels with the 'corrected' names. At first, I focused on the Fantasy range, but I began to realize that several of the Military range were also involved, and noticed that some of the colors were not true to the originals. 

For example, the legendary Titillating Pink, as well as the brilliant Bilious Green, were not quite as bright as in the CdA range. I called up HMG by phone (from San Francisco to Manchester) to learn that the only way to replicate that color would be to mix in a percentage of black light glow pigment. So that's just what I did (See further below).

Soaking the CdA pots in soapy water to loosen the labels.

After removing the paper, I soak them some more.

To remove the residual glue, I used paper towels and Goo Gone.

Printing in color on full sheet Avery labels. Be sure to use a good laser printer though.

Cutting the labels out with a hobby knife was tedium, and did hurt my fingers towards the end.

My babies all fresh and unopenned! Ready for some Oldhammer painting fun.

Now I was warned to not bother with the Coat d'Arms inks and washes; that they were not the same. When replicating my inks, I learned from my colleagues that what most Citadel Miniatures staff used when painting for White Dwarf, Eavy Metal, Warhammer etc. in-house was actually Winsor Newton and Rotring brands. So I bought those and re bottled them as well. 

These"Citadel Inks" are really rebottled Winsor Newton. 

(Well, not the original Rotring Artist Color bottles from the 1980s. Those things are so rare, I just kept the original dropper bottles with their yellowed labels falling off.)

These OOP Rotring Artist Colors are so old the labels are dropping off.

The secret ingredient to Bilious Green and Titilating Pink is...

Then, in the following weeks, I began to buy additional colors from the Coat d'Arms range, as well as a few other unique colors from other ranges, and made up new GW-esque names for them. Doing that might make it harder for me to communicate with other painters about what colors I'm using, but it also makes my painting sessions just that much more fun!

Thinking up GW style names for paints can be just as fun as naming your painted miniatures.

But, after all that effort, I'm going to just give up on using these and move onto something new?

 Ha! Not likely. Though my babies might become a tad neglected, I know that if I keep them around.. even in a box.. for however many years.. they will always be there for me.

So that's MY flavor of Oldhammer crazy. What's yours? 

Printing Your Own Citadel Colour Labels

Now I will try to share my crazy with the world! Below are links and images you'd need to create your own "Oldhammer" style, Citadel Colour paint collection. I used Photoshop to create the label sheet, taking pains to replicate the fonts, the colors, and the curve to match the (taper) of the original pots. Here are some images of the pages for you to use, as well as links to a print quality PDF, and even an editable Photoshop file so that you could create your own custom color names.

Get the, print quality, color PDF here.

Get the Photoshop file for naming your own colors here.


The "Archaeopainting" article posted on the Realm of Chaos blog back in 2012 is a definitive and indispensable introduction to this topic. http://realmofchaos80s.blogspot.com/2012/09/retro-painting-and-modelling-or.html

Jeremiah Embs provides a very deep review of not just the Coat d'Arms colors, but several related products as well. This page is quite long and in depth. http://embscomputerart.com/miniatures-painting-a-fallen-citadel-rebuilt/

A rightious rant on the disasterous paint pots Citadel switched to in the mid 90's, by Belazikkal. https://www.deviantart.com/belazikkal/journal/A-rant-on-Citadel-paint-pots-366726070

This is the UK business which currently supplies and distributes the Coat d'Arms range; Black Hat Miniatures. https://www.blackhat.co.uk

If I were to try this all over again, I might have turned to the Nostalgia 88 range from Warcolours. Evidently it is a deliberate effort to replicate the same paints from that period, but I've not tested it for myself yet. https://www.warcolours.com/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=146

Just so we are clear, here is the link to HMG, the company that has always made these paints. https://www.hmgpaint.com

This is the current U.S.A. importer/distributor of the Coat d'Arms range; Scale Creep Miniatures. https://scalecreep.com

Doctor Fausts Painting Clinic features this simplified page which matches most of the Citadel Colour names with their CdA range counterparts. https://www.brookhursthobbies.com/paintingclinic/productreviews/cdaconversionchart.htm

This Paint Range Compatibility Chart at Dakka-Dakka includes many other products besides just CdA. http://www.dakkadakka.com/wiki/en/Paint+Range+Compatibility+Chart

A separate source for buying the original style of paint pot (UK). https://www.theplasticbottlescompany.com/shop/product/paint-pot-20ml-polypropylene-natural

Another source for buying the original style of paint pot (UK). https://www.shcweb.co.uk/store/20ml-plastic-paint-pot-with-white-flip-top-lid.html

Another source for buying the original style of paint pot (Euro). http://www.warcolours.com/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=90

Wargames Foundry also gets their paints from HMG. Though the color shades and their 3-Color system are unique, the product is otherwise indistinguishable from the original Citadels of old. If i buy any from them, I have fun relabeling them with made up GW-esque names. https://www.wargamesfoundry.com/collections/paint

Few know that most of what became Citadel Miniatures was in an earlier business called Asgard Miniatures. And few know that many of those early figures are still availalbe at Viking Forge Miniatures today. http://www.thevikingforge.net/25mm-asgard-fantasy.html

It's no great surprise that Bryan Ansell's old family business, Wargames Foundry, ended up in posession of many discontinued molds and master from the early days of Citadel. https://www.wargamesfoundry.com/collections/ex-citadel-games-workshop-models

Skirmish on Rynn's World; an Oldhammer Battle

Oldhammer Fun: My "Citadel Colour" Paints

My private little collection of Citadel Colour paints is all I need. Well, that and a few good brushes. Warning: This is another frothy Oldh...