How to Extend the Life of Pricey Hobby Paints

Craft & Design
How to Extend the Life of Pricey Hobby Paints





Has Games Workshop/Citadel Miniatures finally come to their senses and started releasing paints in convenient, air-tight dropper bottles? Hardly. But frustrated with Games Workshop bottles’ notorious habit of drying up long before the paint is gone, a hobbyist took matters into his own hands. Using dropper bottles found on eBay, he transferred his paints, and even their clear-printed labels, to bottles that will surely be kinder to his significant investment in high-priced hobby paints.


This is a particular pet peeve of mine as I’ve gone through several generations of Games Workshop paints, dried before their time, while some Ral Partha paints from THE EARLY NINETIES are still in service on my hobby bench. I stopped buying Citadel paints because of this. But maybe I’ll just go this route from now on.



2 thoughts on “How to Extend the Life of Pricey Hobby Paints

  1. John Edgar Park says:

    Such a great idea and a duh moment for me… Thanks for the tip, Gar.

  2. Dylan Spaniel says:

    Or you could just buy Apple Barrel brand acrylic paints from Michael’s, Joann’s, or Hobby Lobby and forgo the $4/bottle entry fee. I paid $0.60 per bottle for my Apple Barrel paints and they work just fine. In fact there are plenty of equivalent colors out there that make it pretty much a no brainer after you take into account the extreme price gouging GW is so prone to…

    Or you could be a brand purist and justify the high cost because of reasons.

    1. Jim W says:

      Craft paints have nowhere near the amount of pigment that hobby paints do. The pigment in craft paints is also much more coarse than hobby paints. I use craft paints for terrain projects, but hobby paints are for the detail level of models. They are well worth the $3-$4 per jar for the quality. It’s not about the cost, its about using the right tools for the job.

      1. Dylan Spaniel says:

        I’d put my entire wargame miniatures collection on the line if you could tell the difference between a mini painted with apple barrel paints and one painted with GW paints. A skilled artist doesn’t need expensive tools to make art. They might help people who have difficulty with layering and blending, but I’d put money on it that you couldn’t tell.

        1. Jesse James Crawford says:

          He’s right people. I true artist NEVER blames his tools. Thats why I do my painting exclusively with wooden logs. I don’t even use paint. I very carefully smash the models with the logs until they are painted perfectly.

        2. Andrew Peck says:

          If you could show me someone who won a golden demon using cheap craft paints, I might believe you.

          1. HowlingYeti says:

            Tim Lison : has multiple golden demons and slayer swords…

            I personally got painting lessons from him when i started the hobby and watched paint 2 of his winning models using a mix of GW paint, Vallejo and cheap .30 hobby town Acrylic paint and water colors you get for kids… he improvises with what he has on hand


            this is a list of all of his 23 golden demons and 4 slayer swords

        3. zigmunth says:

          show an example of a model painted with craft paints please

  3. JimInAshland says:

    As a young tinkering kid, I used to drop marbles into the can to displace the air. Shaking the can seemed to mix the paint efficiently. Back when marbles were plentiful . . .

  4. wittzo says:

    You can also add a small bead to act as a shaker to distribute the pigments better and faster.

  5. Adam Richard Corrigan says:

    You could just buy Vallejo which are already in those bottles, are fantastic quality paints; are cheaper than citadel for bigger bottles 17ml as opposed to 12ml and have a huge range. That’s what the ‘Eavy metal painters have used for more than a decade.

    1. kalothagh says:

      Though I agree that Vallejo already come in those bottles, but I have had poor results from them, I prefer Citadel, however it is an alternative like you said.

  6. mr badmek says:

    Reblogged this on Brush4Brush and commented:
    This is something I have done

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. His free weekly-ish maker tips newsletter can be found at

View more articles by Gareth Branwyn


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