Best metallic paint for miniatures and models


What are the best metallic paints for miniatures and scale model kits? 

Certainly, there are several popular metallic brands that work well. However, only a few contain the right metal pigment or flakes that offers a balanced metallic sheen and adds light-catching details to your model.

Metallic paints are all about the type of pigment they use. Most metallic paints use Mica pigment to give the paint reflective features and a metallic look, but there is one paint brand that uses aluminum metal flakes that provide a higher degree of reflectance, a far better result, and a more realistic look.

What should a good metallic paint be like?

Everyone favors their metallic paint for different reasons. 

When painting miniatures with metallic paints, it’s important to choose a high-quality metallic paint that provides easy coverage, vibrant colors, and a realistic look.

The paint should also be durable, compatible with other products, and easy to use. Other factors to consider include the drying time, finish, density, price, and compatibility with other paints, sealers, and varnishes you plan to use on the miniature.

Some metallic paints have these characteristics, and some don’t. We only mention a few metallics with these properties in this guide to make your selection easy. 

what makes metallic paint to look like metal
Metallic paint is a type of paint that contains small metal flakes that reflect light in different directions, creating a shiny, metallic look. The reflective properties of the flakes can cause the color to appear differently depending on the viewing angle, lighting, and application technique. Image Source

Vallejo Metal Color is THE BEST metallic paint for miniatures

  • Because of the pigments

If you’re a fan of Vallejo, you know they have two metallic paint lines – metal color and metallic colors. One of the reasons their metal color surpasses other brands’ metallic is their pigment size. 

They have finely ground aluminum metal pigments that give your model a more realistic look. However, brands like Citadel have large metal pigments, which, when placed under light, make the model look more cartoonish than real. 

  • Because of their ease of use

Vallejo metal colors are naturally very runny, unlike Citadel and Army painter metallics that require you thin them before use. This milky feature means you can easily use them on your miniatures and models. 

  • Because they are the best for an airbrush and a brush

Vallejo metal colors work well with a paintbrush and for airbrushing. It doesn’t end there!

Technically, using metallic paint in an airbrush is risky because it can easily clog the nozzle. However, almost all metallic colors can be thinned extensively for use in an airbrush. 

Then again, the unique difference between Vallejo metal color and other brand metallics is that their fine pigment size and right-out-of-the-bottle milky consistency mean they work better in an airbrush. So, you don’t have to thin them excessively. 

  • Because of their coverage

Painting with Vallejo’s metal colors is extremely satisfying, as you can get consistent and reliable coverage in just a single coat. However, with brands like Citadel and Army Painter, you never really get this level of coverage in one single coat. 

  • Because of the results you get

The biggest advantage you get using Vallejo metal colors is a high level of realism. Most metallic paints won’t offer this result due to their unrealistic metal flakes. 

Best metallic paint for miniatures and models

What is the difference between Vallejo metal paint and Vallejo metallics?

The major difference between Vallejo’s metal color and Vallejo’s metallics line is in the type of pigment each has.

For a paint to be termed metallic, it must have a metal compound to provide the shiny reflectiveness of metals. 

Vallejo’s metal colors and metallics both have some metal flakes in them. But, while the metal color line uses real aluminum pigments, the metallic line uses mica crystals. 

Read our guide on “Vallejo Metal Color Review” to find everything you need to know about the Vallejo metal color range. 

Besides this, some other differences between Vallejo metal paint and the metallics include:

Vallejo Metal ColorVallejo Metallic Color
PigmentAluminum metal flakesMica flakes
CoverageCovers in a single coatIt needs multiple coats to cover well
Ease of useReliableSomewhat challenging
ThinningOnly thin if requiredEssential
Dry TimeFastSuper-fast
ConsistencyPerfectHit or miss
ApplicationMade for airbrush but solid on the bristles as wellIt can be brushed and airbrushed but often clogs the airbrush

We also have a post on Are Vallejo Metallic Paints Good” to help you learn more about Vallejo’s metallic colors. 

What are the best colors in Vallejo’s metal color range?

If you need a good brass metallic, you won’t really get one from the Vallejo metal line. However, Vallejo has 17 colors in the metal color range, but out of these palates, some stand out more than others. 

For instance, the 77.724 Silver has the most luster and shine with the least separation. However, the 77.702 Duraluminium is my go-to silvery color

The gold and copper are the flawed colors in the line. The 77.710 Copper looks more like copper plastic, but to an extent, it works well on miniatures. On the other hand, the 77.725 Gold has a pale and green appearance that does nothing to improve the aesthetic appeal of your miniatures. On the other hand, mixed with copper, the gold gives a very rich sheeny gold sheen. 

77.725 Gold
77.710 Copper
77.702 Duraluminium
77.724 Silver

Other good metallic paints to consider:

  • Pro acryl

While the metallic paint doesn’t have the high-end features of Vallejo metal colors, Pro acryl metallic paints are still very good. They have a good pigment density with finely ground metal flakes that makes your miniatures look realistic. Plus, they cover well. 

  • P3 metallics

P3 metallics also leave a very strong and desirable impression. Their Blighted Gold and Rhulic Gold give you a nice bright bronze color. Coverage-wise, they are decent but can be a hit or miss, with some of their metallics being gloppy. 

P3 silver metallics are also a must-have. Of course, they don’t perform better than the Vallejo metal color, but their Boiler black and Cold Steel are awesome. 

  • Scale 75

Outside of Vallejo Metal Color, Scale 75 still offer the best metallics on the market, especially their Viking Gold, Black Metal, and Decayed Metal. I have tried some of their metal colors, especially the Eleven Gold, and never had a problem with them not covering or blending well.

Metallic Colours Comparison
Left to Right – Scale Color (Speed Metal SC-66), AK Interactive (Silver AK11209), Vallejo Metal Color (Silver 77.724)

Unpopular opinion: Avoid GW Citadel metallics

While Citadel is one of the most popular paint brands besides Vallejo, you want to jump ships when it comes to investing in metallic paints. 

With Citadel metallics, you’ll most likely have to deal with terrible coverage and the ones that cover well may still be gloopy with overly large pigments that look glittery.

Most of their metallics, like the Retributor Armour, offer satisfactory results, but several companies like Scale 75, pro-Acryl, Vallejo and AK Interactive make much finer metallics with exceptional pigments. 

Wrapping Up

Choosing a good metallic paint is difficult, especially with the large competition in the market. Regardless, Vallejo metal colors are the best metallic paints you should invest in. Their biggest advantage is their consistency. They require no thinning, don’t obscure detail, and dry to a very believable gloss finish. Other metallic colors like the Citadel metallics start very thick, the pigments may separate, or the color may not be quite what you need, 

If you’re considering some other alternatives from the Vallejo metal colors, choose either the Pro acryl, P3 metallics, or the Scale 75 metallic colors. They offer finer results for more reasonable prices than Citadel metallics.