In 2008 Games Workshop redeveloped a portion of their paint line and introduced their new Citadel Washes. These washes are advertised to compliment the Citadel Colour and Foundation Paint ranges. Many of the plugs Games Workshop gave to the washes, whether through their website or White Dwarf magazine, emphasized the ease with which the washes made getting models painted. In fact, the advertisements showed effectively washing models that only had base colors on them and then putting them on the table. How much truth is there in advertising and just how useful are the Citadel Washes? That is the subject of this product review.
The Citadel Washes are sold as either single bottles or as a set of the eight colors. The colors available are a series of browns: Devlan Mud, Gryphonne Sepia, and Ogryn Flesh; a series of basic colors: Leviathan Purple, Thraka Green, Asurmen Blue, and Baal Red; and Badab Black.
The bottles are 10ml flip top as shown below.
These retail for $3.70 each or $24.75 US for the set.
Citadel Washes are a viscous substance with a low pigment density. They are easily applied to a model with a standard paint brush and work best with no water added. The term “wash” is a bit of a misnomer. These can be used with traditional wash techniques but tend to behave more like glazes. The thick nature of the Washes allows it to pool easily in recesses and holds its place while it dries; however it tends to stain entire surfaces. The overall effects of the Citadel Washes are not unlike ink-and-Future-Floor-Finish washes. Models coated with the Citadel Washes obtain results similar to traditional dipping methods.
Additionally, the Citadel Washes taste horrible. If you are a brush licker these will make you think twice.
As a point of reference, the Citadel Washes are similar to the clear glazes produced by Tamiya, except that these are water based as opposed to alcohol based.
Citadel Washes in Action
So the most important question is: How do they work out?
The short answer is reasonably well, depending on your expectations. First off, the Citadel Washes are only mediocre when applied in thin layers. They get better results when applied heavily. Refer to dipping. I’ve achieved better-than-table-top quality with them, but the Citadel Washes are a long way from being a competition worthy tool.
This first example is a plastic Chaos Marauder from Games Workshop. The flesh has been painted using P3 Khardic Flesh. I find flesh is a good barometer for washes. Gaining smooth definition over muscle is a time consuming process. Often bodies can end up looking cartoony with sharp lines providing definition and not as organic when time is taken to blend in proper highlights and shades.
The next step is to use the Ogryn Flesh wash over the base color to bring out the details.
This second example is a Cryx Bloodgorger from Privateer Press. Flesh again is my barometer and the blue flesh gives me a chance to use Asurmen Blue. The first photo is a Cryx Bloodgorger with the flesh base coated in P3 Trollblood Base. The next photos are after two layers of the Asurmen Blue wash.
A third example is a plastic Night Goblin from Games Workshop. Again testing with flesh, the Night Goblin got a base coat of Vallejo Game Color (VGC) Goblin Green. The green was washed with Thraka Green.
Metals are one area where washes excel. There are a lot of different ways to shade and highlight metals (actual metal metals). In my opinion, washes are the fastest and most economical way of doing this. There are multiple products available including Vallejo Smoke, Tamiya Smoke, P3 Armor Wash, the BrushThralls Metal Wash, ink-and-Future, etc. Between the viscous consistency and the low pigment density the Citadel Washes work well to supplant its predecessors. Simply apply metallic base coats and then apply a Wash.
The first example is traditional silver metals. This Games Workshop Chaos Warrior was painted using GW Chainmail. The metallic areas were washed with Badab Black, and then again with Devlan Mud. One warning: let each layer of Wash dry thoroughly.
Yellow/Gold metals can also be worked using Citadel Washes. The Gryphonne Sepia has a nice red tint to it that really makes gold pop. This Games Workshop Chaos Warrior was painted using P3 Rhulic Gold and washed using Gryphonne Sepia.
The strength of the Citadel Washes is really in adding quick shades, and due to the color selection available and the low pigment density of the medium it is difficult to use those over any base color not “light” in nature. VGC Goblin Green versus VGC Snot Green, for example.
The basic colors like Asurmen Blue, Baal Red, Leviathan Purple, and Thraka Green are novel to use, but their use to me is very situational. They tend to stain surfaces more than the browns and are a lot more finicky to work with. The browns: Gryphonne Sepia, Ogryn Flesh, and Devlan Mud, have good color density and are useful for a variety of applications ranging from flesh to leathers to armor. Badab Black is, well, black. Take it or leave it in a crowded market of black washes/glazes.
The Citadel Washes work well for providing quick lining between parts and establishing definition between hard edges. That’s a plus in my book.
The truth is everything the Citadel Washes do can be done with other tricks. They are interesting, but not revolutionary. If you live in an area where items like Future Floor Finish or Tamiya products are not available, or you are like me where picking up a bottle off the shelf of the game store is easier than mixing anything or mail order, then the Citadel Washes become a useful tool. The caveat to this is that it is a more basic skill to use washes, and by the nature of the techniques and the Citadel Washes themselves you are not going to be achieving competition worthy and award winning results. If putting good looking models on the table with less effort is your goal, then the Citadel Washes are definitely a good thing for your paint table.
One more note: Using these strictly with Citadel Colour and Foundation Paint ranges is not necessary. I personally use the Citadel Washes extensively with the P3 range. In fact, P3 Rucksack Tan and Gryphonne Sepia is a favorite combination for light colored leather.
Overall BrushThralls.com Rating: B-
Thanks to James Russell (Winter of Discontent) for hooking me up with my first batch of these.