Comparing Metallic Paints

If you have ever used metallic paints on a custom, you know that it isn’t fun. They don’t play by the same rules as normal paint, and the results aren’t always what you expected. I decided to do a side-by-side comparisson of three silver paints available at my local hobby shop. From left to right in the picture above the brands are Tamiya, Citadel, and Testors. This is the “vanilla” Testors silver. They also have a silver paint in their Model Masters brand, but I have used that before and this is a rare instance where their vanilla brand is far superior to its Model Masters counterpart. I will be comparing their finish, ease of clean-up, compatability with Sharpies, and durability.


The image above shows the finished paint applications in the same order as before: Tamiya, then Citadel, then Testors. The Tamiya paint goes on thick, and leaves a glittery appearance that would work very well for some metals. I used a similar paint to achieve the metallic look of Master Chief. This paint took approximately half an hour to dry. The Citadel and Testors paints had very similar finishes. They applied very smoothly, and left a solid silver finish without any sparkles. The difference came in how they dried. Citadel was dry to the touch in 15 minutes, while the Testors paint took 3 hours to dry completely. On certain types of plastic the Testors paint will leave a slightly tacky surface, but it seems to work fine on base minimate plastic, as long as you give it sufficient drying time.


Both the Tamiya and Citadel paints cleaned up quickly in water with a little soap. The Testors paint was more of a struggle. This is the silver paint I have used for eight years, so I am used to the long clean up by now. You need to use lots of soap and lots of scrubbing, and it takes about three full minutes to clean a brush. I think using a commercial brush cleaner would be faster for this type of paint, but I never bothered to buy any.

Compatability with Sharpies

Sharpies are one of my favorite customizing tools, so it is important for me to know how well they work with each type of paint. For the Tamiya paint, it was an utter disaster. I could not write normally, as the tip of the sharpie would sink into the surface of the dry paint. I had to settle for poking dots into the surface of the paint, and it looked terrible. If you are using this paint, you will have to get out your bottle of blank paint and your smallest detail brush. The Citadel and Testors paint both worked great with the Sharpies. If you find that your Sharpie can no longer write clearly on painted minimates, its time to trash it and get a new one.


I scratched the surface of each paint with a toothpick, and each received the same amount of damage. Using clear coat would protect against this to a certain extent, but it will make the silver paint lose some of its metallic finish, even if you use glossy clear coat. Its probably a good idea to use clear coat if the entire figure is silver, but if only small detailed parts have a touch of silver, I would say to skip the clear coat and let that metal shine.

Final Word

The Tamiya paint is nice for certain metal surfaces, but if you are only going to use one brand of silver paint, you should get one of the other two, unless you plan on never using a Sharpie with your customs. The Citadel and Testors silver paints are very similar. There is a possibility that the Testors paint could have a tacky finish on some types of non-minimate plastic, such as lego accessories. Also, the clean-up is not fun. But it is also half the cost of the Citadel paint. If you can afford it, I think the Citadel paint is superior, but the Testors paint should work for most of your needs. By the way, this is my first experience with Citadel paints, and I am happy with them so far. I picked up a few other colors to try out, and I will post about my experiences with them later. 🙂

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7 Responses

  1. winkerbean says:

    i switched to using the new warmachine p3 paints and have never look back

  2. Massivecarnage says:

    I always use Citadel paints. I just bought some from Warhammer.

  3. Jatta Pake says:

    Luke – The Testors paint is not an acrylic correct? Isn’t it oil base? But I understand Model Masters are acrylic, I think.

    I’d love to see you review YELLOW. It has been a nightmare color for me.

    I like these reviews!

  4. TENIME_art says:

    I’ve been buying Citadel paints lately for ALL my customs – not just Minimates.

  5. Shamrock says:

    I really do recommend the Testors Model Master acrylics if you’re interested in Testors, as they don’t leave that tackyness that Enamel leaves behind.

    And yes, please do yellow.

  6. Luke314pi says:

    Jatta, yes the Testors one is oil based, which is why the clean-up takes longer. There are both enamel and acryl versions of the Model Masters brand. I use their acryl for everything else, just not silver.

    Winkerbean, thanks for the link! I will have to try those.

  7. Shamrock says:

    Me, I use Apple Barrel paints.
    But their silver is useless.