Painting white isn’t easy, especially if you start from a black or dark basecoat. White pigments are rather weak and often have a tendency to dry chalky or uneven, so you usually need a lot of thin coats for perfect coverage. And by a lot, I mean a lot. However, over the years I tried several white paints from almost all manufacturers out there, and also several approaches to painting white. Here is what I learned: My three must-have paints to make painting white easier.
Here are my favourite three white paints. They make a great triad for basecoating, shading, and highlighting:
1. Corax White spray & base paint from Games Workshop
Corax White is actually not a pure white but a very very light grey. It’s available as a spray paint but was also released as a base paint a while ago. I like that it appears almost white, but you are still able to add some depth with a highlight of pure white. The spray paint works well as a primer, just remember to apply two or three thin coats instead of a single thick coat that might clog up the details. Now, the consistency of base paint Corax White can be slightly hit or miss as pigments and medium separate easily, so heavy shaking and an occasional stirring with a cocktail stick is needed before use. However, it makes up for it with its astounding opacity and smoothness. It covers perfectly in two to three slightly thinned coats over pure black, in one to two coats over lighter colours. I love to use it as a base colour for painting white, and also as an undercoat for lighter colours such as bone or yellow. I also use it as a base colour for applying Contrast paints, because when you make a mistake over any areas primed with Corax White spray paint, a single coat of Corax White base paint is often enough to cover any paint spills, unlike say Wraithbone base paint, for which I often need three or four thin coats to cover up because the opacity is much lower (and it also dries chalky when applied too thickly).
2. Apothecary White from Games Workshop
This Contrast paint is a very unique light grey wash with a blue-greyish hue. It’s great for shading Corax White or pure white, the finish is pretty smooth so you can even apply it over flat armour panels without too much pooling. Once dry, you can easily highlight with Corax White and pure white to add some contrast for a fantastic white/off-white with a lot of depth.
3. White from Vallejo Model Color
Over the years I’ve tested the pigment strength of several pure white paints. Skull White and White Scar were lousy, Vallejo Game Color White didn’t impress me either. Matt White from The Army Painter’s Warpaints range and Morrow White from Privateer Press were better, and applied more smoothly, but in the end, the white of Vallejo’s Model Color range became my favourite. The pigment strength is the best out of the whites I’ve tried so far, like most Model Color paints the consistency is a bit on the thicker side, but for drybrushing, that’s actually a plus, and with a wet palette or a drop of water you can thin it easily without losing much opacity. The smoothness is also decent.
Hope you enjoyed this ToP Tips post and found some helpful advice on how to expand your paint collection. Leave a comment or reaction below, and if you got any ideas for what topics you would like to see in future ToP tips, drop them in the comments section below!
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Also it mixes very well with all the acrylic paints (mostly citadel and Vallejo) that I've tried it with.
I'll definitely need to get my hands on these!
I'd add Pallid Wych Flesh to the list: it's one of my favorites for off whites, with a warmer tone than Corax White or Apothecary White. There's almost no model I've painted for quite some time that didn't have PWF somewhere on it.
Vallejo Game Colour Rotten White is another good one – very heavily pigmented and glossy with excellent coverage.
Pure White(09039) from Master series paint is a foundational white for me especially if I’m trying to go “lighter” with desaturation. And Ghost White(09063) from Master series paint Bones line, it actually says “High Density Pigment” on the label.
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These are great whites. I also use Daler Rowney fw acrylic white ink, which is designed for calligraphy, but is great for smooth highlights without any chalkiness. I bought mine online for ~£5 for 1fl.oz (28ml) in a dropper bottle.