What will all the Web sites and message boards on the Internet, it’s hard for a book on miniature painting to stand out. After all, if advice is available for free, why plunk down 20 bucks for a book? Firstly, the pictures in How to Paint Citadel Miniatures are superior to most found on the Web. How many times have you solicited advice on a message board only to receive a wonderful tip but no picture? Think of How to Paint Citadel Miniatures as a one-stop library for all of your standard painting techniques.
“There is an awful lot of sand in the world and much of it can be had for little effort or cost…Ordinary building or horticultural sand will endow your bases with a pleasing variety of texture—add a little fine grit to the mix if you want a few scattered rocks…The geranium’s loss is your gain.”
Devoting eight pages in the beginning of the book to talk about basic materials and tools from brushes to varnish is a tad excessive, but hey, this is a ‘how to’ book after all. The meat of the book deals with both basic and advanced techniques from dry-brushing to blending to even stippling (using small dots to indicate shading—it’s not the most common style of miniature painting, but it creates an interesting effect). There’s even a page on how to keep one’s hands steady for those of us not gifted with a surgeon’s finesse. A few pages on color theory are a bonus, covering complementary colors, discordant colors, layering, mixing charts and mixing metallics.
A small middle section weighs the pros and cons of various finishes (matte versus gloss) even suggesting diluted PVA wood glue as either a matte finish or prep coat for a final gloss varnish. Author (and Games Workshop rules godfather) Rick Priestley follows this with a ton of suggestions for basing. He omits water effects (like puddles or marshes) which is odd because there is a picture of a Chaos Warrior on a swampy base with no explanation of the technique.
The last section of the book offers a two to three page treatment each on 12 different warrior models. Priestley provides step by step-by-step instructions on painting basic troop choices such as an Empire Spearman, Blood Angel and Chaos Marauder.
Several topics are noticeably absent. Most glaringly, there are no tips for painting bones or skeletons. While skeletons are only one army of many in the Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 universes (and even a smaller fraction of the miniatures multiverse in totem), bones and skulls are a part of the decoration of many miniatures and their terrain. It is true that the wide variety of techniques in painting bones could comprise a book all their own, but (as this is a book for beginning and intermediate painters) a modest treatment is warranted here. Gems are also ignored (although they are treated in Codex: Eldar). Rust is another topic left for the Web. It’s a pity because rust effects on vehicles have become de rigueur in most recent White Dwafs. Priestley’s brief treatment on the application of decals is just that: brief. Possible tips omitted include nicking the edges of the decals so they better fit over rounded surfaces (like the ubiquitous Space Marine shoulder pad) and using a hair dryer to shrink to fit.
“It’s better to paint in a series of short sessions than to blitz the job in a mammoth all-night effort…There’s no sight more common on the morning of a Grand Tournament than bleary-eyed competitors who have spent much of the previous night finishing their armies. Good news for the rest of us I say—at least I stand a chance if my opponent is only half awake!”
Despite the above noted omissions, How to Paint Citadel Miniatures is a handy compendium of tips for beginning and intermediate painters of all types of miniatures. That Priestley often offers more than one tip to achieve similar results is a true service to hobbyists.