Is Citadel Paint Acrylic?

Yes, citadel paint is high-quality acrylic typically used for miniature paintings. 

Similar to regular acrylic paint, the ingredients of citadel paint fall into three categories− vehicle/base (water), pigments, and binders.

Despite having the basic water-based formula, acrylic and citadel paints have different properties, viscosity, texture, application, and prices. 

So, is citadel paint acrylic? What are the differences between regular acrylic and citadel paint? Can you use them interchangeably?

Let’s get all your queries answered!

Citadel Paint Chemical Composition 

Regular acrylic paints can’t provide the perfect texture and finish that miniature artists require. To solve this issue, Warhammer produced high-quality citadel paints for paint base, layers, and contrast.

Here are the notable features of the formulation −

  1. Citadel paints are a suspension of pigments and a liquid base. Pigments provide the necessary colors to the paint, while the base is responsible for paint thickness, consistency, and other physical properties.
  2. Since citadel paints are acrylic, water is used as the base, along with several other chemicals, to achieve the required viscosity.
  3. What makes citadel paint so special is its ability to provide the perfect finish for metal, resin, and even plastic miniatures. 

For this, the manufacturers focused on five main points −

  1. Appearance The opacity, sheen, and smoothness of the paint are strictly monitored to suit the needs of all miniature artists.
  2. Cohesion Adhesion, coverage, and mixability of the citadel paint are thoroughly tested to create the perfect texture for a long-lasting finish.
  3. Moisture Basically, the amount of water in the paint decides how much time it takes to dry. It also helps you understand whether the paint is suitable for rewetting or not.
  4. Stability How long does the paint last? Is it affected by light or weather changes? These factors are the indicators of paint stability which allows the users to decide whether the paint is suitable for their needs.
  5. Temperature Fixing the freezing temperature of the paint is essential for storage purposes. Besides, the manufacturer also evaluates the highest temperatures citadel paints can withstand (up to 200°F).

Manufacturers have developed different formulas for citadel base, shade, layer, and contrast paints. 

To satisfy both amateur and expert citadel technical, dry compound, airbrush, and spray paints are also available with different chemical and physical properties.

With such a wide range of citadel paints, you can create any effect you want without thinning and mixing.

Citadel Vs. Typical Acrylic Paint − What Are the Differences?

Now, you might wonder how citadel paints can provide a better finish than regular acrylic paints. Go through this ‘at a glance part’ before we delve into the detailed information.

Comparison FactorsCitadel PaintAcrylic Paint
Key IngredientsBase, binder, and different types of pigmentsBase, binder, and a single pigment of a specific color
ThicknessHigh viscosity, thick consistency Thick, thin, fluid, runny, all types are available
Average Shelf Life5 to 7 years10 years
Compatible SurfacesPlastic, resin, and metalCanvas, paper, wood, metal, plastic, resin, etc.

As mentioned, the unique formula makes citadel paint different from any other acrylic paint. Here are the notable differences between the two paint types −

Addition of Ingredients 

In citadel paint, the manufacturers tend to include additional ingredients to improve the quality of the paint. For example, pigments are produced by grinding various chemical compounds to achieve the right color and consistency. 

Regular acrylic paints include titanium dioxide for pure white paint.

In most cases, pure white looks clumpy and fails to provide the necessary coverage. 

However, in citadel paint, the white is mixed with additional pigments of a different color to increase paint smoothness and ensure good coverage. For example, the brand Warhammer mixes gray pigments in their white citadel paint to smoothen the paint and create a unique shade.

If you ever plan to mix different brands of acrylic paint to get a unique result, make sure you know the right way of doing it.

However, getting back to where we were, contrast citadel paints come in warm and cold shades of white which you can’t achieve with regular acrylic paints. 

This way, the clever addition of ingredients makes citadel paints more diverse and different than regular acrylic paints.


In general, two grades of acrylic sold on the marketplace −

Students’ quality and artists’ quality. Students’ quality acrylic paints have lower viscosity and coarser consistency. 

As a result, this type of paint is thin, runny, and difficult to work with. Citadel paint is artists’ quality acrylic with higher viscosity and thick consistency. 

Hence, this paint is easy to mix and blend. With citadel paints, you can bring out the details better than typical students’ grade acrylics.

In case, you notice the acrylic paint getting lumpy while working, don’t worry as you can fix it by following a few tips! 


Since citadel paints are artists’ grade acrylic, they offer higher pigmentation and a greater range of colors than regular acrylics. Hence, citadel paints offer better opacity and a better-looking finish. 

Also, the pigmentation doesn’t weaken upon thinning or mixing colors. With brighter pigmentation, you’ll need less paint to cover a surface which is a great advantage over other acrylic paints. 


One common complaint about acrylic paints is that they dry out easily and fade away after some years. The shelf life of acrylic paints is about 5 to 7 years. 

Good-quality paints can survive up to 10 years. However, weather factors like high heat and freezing temperatures can ruin acrylic paint faster.

To make the paint long-lasting, citadel paints come in special pots which protect them from extreme weather conditions. 

If you take good care of the paint, maintain the moisture level, and keep it away from direct sun, citadel paint can last for more than 20 years!


Acrylic paints are highly versatile and suitable for almost all types of paint jobs. You can use them on canvas, paper, metal, cardboard, plastic, wood, glass, resin, and stone. 

As the paint is non-toxic and dries fast, it is widely used both indoors and outdoors. 

When it comes to citadel paints, the formula is specially made for miniature painting. Besides, you can use the paint on resin, metal, and plastic.

It doesn’t cover the details of miniatures and offers a smooth matte finish. Due to its high viscosity, citadel paint takes a bit longer to dry than thinner acrylic paints.


Regular acrylic paints offer a wide price range depending on the paint’s brand, quality, and grade. The type and amount of raw material decide whether the paint is sold cheap or expensive.

As for citadel paint, high-quality binders and pigments are used to create its formula. 

So, citadel paints are comparatively expensive, and you have to spend $5 to $30 for each bottle.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you thin citadel paints with water?

Yes, you can thin citadel paints with water, but it’s not recommended. If you mix too much water with citadel paint, it can ruin the paint’s consistency and affect the bonding of the paint components. To thin or fix dried paint, you can mix a small amount of water and stir it until you get the desired consistency. We recommend using acrylic medium instead of water to protect the paint quality.

Do citadel paints contain lead?

Although citadel paints are marketed as non-toxic, some of them contain harmful ingredients such as cadmium, lead, chromium, cobalt, and manganese. The color white is achieved by bleaching titanium which is also harmful to health. 

So, be careful not to drink citadel paint (since the paint pots look like cups) and keep it in a safe place. 

Can acrylic paint replace citadel paint?

Yes, you can use acrylic paint instead of citadel paint, but you have to compromise the quality. Heavy-body artists’ grade acrylics are the best alternatives to citadel paints. Although you might get a different range and finish than citadel paint, good-quality acrylics can do a decent job and save you some bucks.

P3, Vallejo, Kimera, Pro Acryl, etc., are the best alternatives to citadel paint for small-scale miniatures.

Wrapping Up!

So, is citadel paint acrylic? Now you know the answer. All Citadel paints are water-based, non-toxic, and high-quality acrylic paints used traditionally for miniature paintings. 

You can use regular acrylic paint if you’re just starting with your tiny figures and want to save some bucks. 

However, for better results with detailed, consistent color and smooth finish, using citadel paints is a must!

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