01 October 2010

Citadel & Army Painter: Black Primer comparison

While buying brushes the other day I also had to pick up a can of black primer since I was running out of it at home. The store had the usual GW/Citadel Chaos Black and the alternative  - Army Painter "Base Primer Matt Black". I have always used the GW spray ever since I started with miniature wargaming about 10 years ago, so I was a bit reluctant to try out the new stuff - I was worried about the qualities, but then again it was 20SEK cheaper than the GW stuff... I made myself buy a can of Army Painter Black primer in the end and tried it out today.

First impression, the can feels heavier than the Citadel spray, even though you get the same amount of paint in it?
The Citadel spray reads 278g and 400ml. Can't find out anything but 400g on the Army Painter can though. Another thing that looks different is the muzzle/button on the spraycan. It is smaller and much more elevated than Citadels's. I don't know with you guys but I sometimes have a hard time pressing down the Citadel button with my index finger and most often resolve to just using my thumb (works well enough). Pressing down the button on the Army Painter can is much easier - at least for me - since the button is smaller and the weight of my finger doesn't distribute over a large button area.

After testing the new spraycan I also noticed that the burst of paint is much more concentrated and does not spread out in a cloud like the Citadel spray can often does. Looking at the hole in the muzzle I think the Army Painter is slightly smaller.

Now the actual paint is the good surprise here, over the last few years I've switched to games that use metal models, and have not painted plastics for at least 2 years now. I would say that a primed undercoat tend to cover plastic models much better then metal models. Especially in the cracks and crevices, I'm convinced it is because of the material. So I've had some problems over the past years to cover metal models adequately, I would say that the spray most often fail to cover areas with lots of texture, such as chainmail's, hair and such. You most often end up with a perfect coat of black on the entire model except in these areas where you'll have silver or just a faint touch of spray.

It also felt as if the Citadel spray kind of passed over the target model like a dust storm, in a sense that the paint that didn't stuck on the model swirled around like hell before it settled or dispersed.

I did not experience anything like that with the Army Painter primer. This spray behaves differently, at least no - it's still a fresh can so I might change my opinion later on - but now I'm just comparing the quality of the spray when it's "fresh" with those of a freshly opened Citadel can. As I mentioned earlier the muzzle is somewhat smaller which limits the spread of the paint, I did not see the dust storm effect, and it feels as if the paint is much more thick and covers better. I was actually surprised of how good it was at covering areas which I usually have to spray at least twice with the Citadel primer.

It feels as if the paint hits and sticks to the model much more efficiently, and somehow manages to fill those cracks and hard to get to places on a model - but without clogging up details. It does dry a bit slower than the Citadel primer - but we are talking maybe about a minute extra. The finished dried result is also a bit different from that of Citadel, as I think it has a "thicker" and more protective coat,

So I'm pleasantly surprised, and unless this spray goes apeshit at some point, I will switch to this permanently, as it covers metal models better and is slightly cheaper than the Citadel spray.

Models primed with 1 coat of Citadel spray, check the crevices around the face etc where the paint failed to stick.

And models sprayed with 1 coat of Citadel Army painter, check the heavily textured areas such as the hair - all covered with paint.


  1. Thanks was very useful for me, I was getting upset with my metals and this helps bounds. :)


  2. Hi Anatoli, what's your verdict 3 years later, did you stick with army painter?

  3. I have the same question as lordbert

  4. I've returned to Citadel black primer for everything since a few months back. I don't know if I began buying cans from a bad batch, but I started to experience a "dust" effect from the Army Painter cans which made the surface of minis rough and textured with tiny grain...

    Neither paint is perfect, but at the moment I seem to have more luck with the Citadel black primer.

  5. I have gotten that dust texture from Army Painter a few times in the past, so I stopped using them. I try to stay clear of citadel, but their sprays are good.


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