A History of Citadel Colour—Part II
Welcome to part II of a miniseries on the history of Citadel Colour as told by me, just some guy who's been following this stuff for most of his life. You can read part I here, part III here, and part IV here. Without further ado, the continuation:
In 1984 White Dwarf magazine issue #56 (August ’84) and the second Citadel Compedium started advertising two paint sets: Citadel Colour Set 1, and Citadel Colour Set 2 (which would go on to become Citadel Colour Paint Set and Citadel Colour Creature Paint Set, respectively). Each set offered nine paints with delightful names like Titilating Pink and Rotting Flesh. Names that would go on to have staying power for decades until the revamp in 2012.
By all accounts these paints took off amongst miniature painters and they became a featured range in the newly-formed ‘Eavy Metal studio set up by Games Workshop to meet the demand for beautifully-painted miniatures for the insides of their even-more popular product: Warhammer. Both Warhammer Fantasy Battle and Warhammer 40,000 came to dominate Games Workshop’s output when Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson sold the company to Citadel Miniatures, and Bryan Ansell moved production to Nottingham. With the rise in popularity of these bespoke fantasy and sci-fi settings even more paints were released in the form of themed paint sets like the Monster Paint Set, Ork and Eldar Paint Set, Space Marine Paint Set, even a range of inks for "expert" painters, and let’s not forget the Epic Paint Set.
The Epic Paint Set is a great example of the method of releasing paints for what would later be termed the “Classic Citadel Colour range,” and what could be seen as precipitating the 1994 revision into the much-loved hex pot paint range later. If you were to open the book from the Armies of the Imperium expansion to Epic Space Marine 2nd edition (1991), you’ll find a color guide to achieving some new paint schemes for your Imperial Guard tanks. These all had evocative names like Apocalypse Red, Sulfur Desert, and Ash Waste. But these names didn’t correspond to any paint you could buy at your local Games Workshop. Instead, they were achieved by mixing already-existing paints using their guides in this book. Later, to help promote the newly-updated line of Epic games, Citadel would release these colors in pre-mixed pots, filling a gap they, themselves created.
Meanwhile a young painter had become head of the ‘Eavy Metal Team, and his dioramas and blending techniques had attracted the attention of many Warhammer fans who were at all concerned with the art of miniatures painting. Mike McVey was given an opportunity to remake the entire range from scratch, and it was this revision that set the stage for not only every iteration of Citadel Colour, but a whole cottage industry of paint ranges to follow, such as Vallejo Game Color, and Army Painter. Mike McVey’s thoughts in White Dwarf #180 (December 1994) sum up the change:
“The main reason lies in the fact that the range was originally released as separate boxed sets over a period of about ten years. This was fine from the point of view of the individual paints, but little thought was put into considering the colours as a complete series.”
Next time: We move on to the first revision of the Citadel Colour line of paints, affectionately known as the "hex pot" era.