A lot of people didn’t like it when Games Workshop changed the formula of their Shade paints and reduced the size of the pots. So that’s why I’m always on the lookout for better and cheaper alternatives. The new Deep Shade washes from AK Interactive seemed promising, but when I put them on a model, the results were not what I was expecting at all.

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AK Deep Shades washes review
These items were kindly provided by AK Interactive. Thoughts and opinions are our own.

The Spanish scale modelling company AK Interactive introduced its new Deep Shade range in July 2023. These acrylic-based washes come in big 30ml pots and are tailored to the needs of tabletop painters. There are 9 colours, featuring various shades of brown, and primary and secondary colours, as well as a transparent Deep Shade Medium for thinning. So far, the quality of AK Interactive products has never disappointed me, which is why I have high expectations for the AK Deep Shades. But before I test the new washes, I must briefly mention that AK has sparked some shitstorms in the past. However, Tale of Painters and my channel is about painting and not drama, so you’ll need to Google that yourself if you feel it might be a concern for you.

Back to the washes. The new formula of Citadel Shade is significantly thinner than their old version, which didn’t sit well with many people. Therefore, I was hoping for a stronger tint with the Deep Shades. Whether AK’s washes make a good replacement for the old Citadel Shades, we’ll find out later, but first, let’s take a look at the colour palette.

The colours

The first big surprise comes when you take a look at the colours. I have to admit, when I saw the colours online in the product images, I was expecting the same old hues found in most other miniature paint ranges like Citadel or The Army Painter. But NOPE!

As usual, I painted all washes over white primed plasticard and photographed them professionally under neutral 5500K light. And here are all 9 colours. Notice something? 

AK Deep Shade washes colour palette
The colour palette

Carmine Dawn is much brighter and more magenta-toned compared to Carroburg Crimson. Invocation Purple is quite close, yet slightly more desaturated. Blue Moon is much lighter than Drakenhof Nightshade, it’s more of a blue-grey, like Citadel’s Fenris Grey turned into a wash. And Greendark is a vibrant blue-green, noticeably brighter than Coelia Greenshade.

In comparison to Reikland Fleshshade, Human Skin is more of a pink salmon colour, very unexpected. In fact, Reddish Filth is a more closer match. Hazel Brown is a lighter, warm brown shade, less yellowish than Seraphim Sepia. Pure Grime is a dark brown, but more desaturated than Agrax Earthshade. And contrary to what the name suggests, Black Night is not a pure black wash, but has a warm, brownish note.

Now if you need more comparisons you can get a hand-painted comparison sheet of all Acrylic Washes from all ranges on my Patreon, which I just updated with AK Deep Shades:

Acrylic washes comparison chart 2.0 Patreon banner

This comparison chart is available in my Patreon shop for a small donation, or by becoming a member of the Autarch tier. By the way, I made even more hand-painted swatches, e.g. for all Contrast / Speedpaints / One coat paints.

As you can see, the colour palette is notably different from what we’re used to from Citadel, The Army Painter, or Two Thin Coats. Is this a good or bad thing? Please tell me in the comments, I’d also love to hear your thoughts about the new formula Shade paints. 

Personally, I appreciate that AK didn’t just copy the colours from other manufacturers and did their own thing, because you won’t find a magenta wash like Carmine Dawn or a grey-blue wash like Blue Moon elsewhere, unless you start thinning Contrast paints. I also really like the range of brown tones. 

So far, so good, we have seen a lot of coloured squares, but how do they perform when applied to an actual model?

Testing the washes

Alright, let slap those Deep Shades onto some plastic and find out if they can surpass Citadel’s Shade paints. First, we have to free them from their screw-top prisons. These are the same pots that AK’s enamel-based washes and paints have, and I have to admit, I’m not a big fan of them. They’re just unwieldy and I would have preferred dropper bottles.

But let’s apply some AK Deep Shade to a model. To do this, I have prepared this beautiful new Termagant sculpt with white primer. In the video you see how the wash spreads on the model and finds its way into the recesses almost by itself? I’d say the capillary action is pretty good.

In the video you see me brushing on AK Deep Shade on the left side and Citadel’s new formula Shade paints on the right. Can you see the difference? Yeah exactly, the Citadel Shades are noticeably thinner.

AK Deep Shade washes vs Citadel Shades comparison

Once the colours are dry, it becomes even more apparent. AK’s Deep Shade washes tint the model more strongly, yet the transitions are soft and there is a clear contrast between the bright areas and the darker recesses. Moreover, they are very matte, which I think is a plus, though they can dull metallic paints slightly. And check out the finish, as Citadel Shade paints can be a bit glossy.

In a direct comparison, you can see that Shade paints mainly darken the recesses, and the overall result is lighter. Whether one or the other is better depends on your personal preference and the effect you want to achieve. 

I hope you found this review helpful, feel free to leave a reaction or comment below, or post your questions here or discuss on our Discord channel.

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9.0
Score

Pros

  • Affordable 30ml pots
  • Unusual colours that aren't just copies of GW Shade paints
  • Stronger tint than the new formula Citadel Shades
  • Very good flow properties and matte finish

Cons

  • Screw-top pots
  • No pure black wash
  • Limited colour selection

Final Verdict

In recent years, I've tested all the new releases on the miniature paint market here on my channel and Tale of Painters. Now in comparison, I think the Deep Shades perform very well compared to other acrylic-based washes, especially if you're looking for a wash with a stronger tint, and they’re quite affordable as they come in big 30ml pots. Therefore, I give them an overall rating of 9, however, as I mentioned earlier, the colour palette might not be everyone's cup of tea.