GW Citadel Brushes Review | How Good Are Citadel Brushes?

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Citadel’s brushes are a part of Games Workshop’s bestselling products, their brushes have found their way into the home of almost every single hobbyist out there. 

Even new painters will have had experience painting with their brushes. 

With their popularity, one would actually think they are the best brushes in the market. Or are they? We’ll find out in this guide. 

Are citadel brushes good for miniature painting?

Citadel brushes vary in quality a lot. Most times, they seem fair value for money, and other times, the worst are awful in terms of quality and value. Then again, that does not mean they won’t work well for painting miniatures. 

When buying a paintbrush, you need brushes with a good belly. A brush that’s too skinny won’t hold enough paint. The brushes also need a fine point that holds together when wet and a good spring. 

What you don’t want is a brush that is too skinny, frays out at the tip, or dumps every paint on it at once the moment you touch the model.

Citadel brushes are not the best nor the worst.  Their paint brushes have decent spring and snap. They offer brushes in different sizes, so you can accurately paint details and have some of the best brushes for dry brushing and edge highlight.

For this reason, they are good for painting miniatures.  

GW Citadel Base Brush

citadel brushes Are synthetics

Sable brushes are made from animal hair like OX, goat, and sables or brushes with hog bristles. It’s why they are termed natural hair paintbrushes. Synthetic brushes, on the other hand, have artificial bristles, from nylon, polyester, or sometimes a blend of both. Besides this, synthetic brushes reflect light more than natural bristles.

Citadel brushes are carefully designed with synthetic fibers. 

Do Citadel Brushes have quality bristles?

Of course, synthetic brushes aren’t as good quality as sable brushes. Sable brushes have better control and paint retention and hold their shape well

Yet, one of the biggest cons of sable brushes is that they work decently for acrylic paints, but synthetic bristles have a higher tolerance to acrylic paints. 

Since most miniature painters use acrylic paints for their models, Citadel brushes have good-quality synthetic bristles. 

However, they require routine cleaning and proper care to offer maximum appeal. 

Luckily, one of our articles on “Miniature Brushes Most Essential Tips gives a detailed outline of how to care for your paintbrush. 

Citadel brushes are professional (as much as Synthetic brushes can be)

When painting miniatures, speed, simplicity, and realistic detail are the common characteristics a professional thinker often considers. 

So, if you are a professional painter, you are definitely in luck with a Citadel paintbrush. 

The best part of using their brushes, especially the base brushes is that they work well for speed painting while saving details. 

Games Workshop Citadel Brush: Medium Dry Brush

Citadel brushes quality breakdown:

  • Will Citadel bristles keep their shape?

Sable brushes offer a lot of snap, but Citadel brushes have synthetic bristles that do not return to parallel when you pull them away from the model without help. 

  • Can their brushes hold a lot of paint?

Quality paint brushes need to hold paint well. With the synthetic bristles of Citadel paint brushes, you won’t get 100% satisfaction with paint capacity, although they take a good amount of paint. Some of their paintbrushes, like the Medium base Brush, lack the paint-holding capacity for realistic surface coverage. 

  • Are they precise?

A good brush also needs to let the paint flow predictably. As mentioned earlier, Citadel brushes do not have paint-holding capacity. Hence, painting details in a single stroke without spilling into unwanted areas is almost impossible. 

  • Do Citadel Brushes have good ‘springiness’ and stiffness?

Citadel brushes can adapt to any paint application thanks to their synthetic fibers. They only offer decent springiness because the paintbrush needs a brush soap for the bristles to stay together or prevent them from splaying out when you press them into the model.

  • Will they survive hard use?

You can use your Citadel brush to paint hundreds of armies, but fair warning – during hard use, the bristles tend to curl. You may need a brush restorer to get them back in shape. However, their dry brushes and stippling brushes can survive hard use. 

  • Will Citadel Brushes last a long time?

Compared to sable brushes, Citadel paint brushes have low survivability. Still, they can last more than 5 years if cared for properly. This care routine is perhaps their winning point since the synthetic bristles aren’t as fragile as sable brushes. For this reason, they retain their form quickly with a little help.

Games Workshop Citadel Medium Base Brush

What shapes and sizes are in citadel brushes’ range

A reliable paintbrush brand offers a wide range of brushes to choose from, from shapes to sizes, and Citadel is not far from this, although their paintbrushes are limited. 

However, they don’t label their brushes by size but by their purpose of use.
Then again, they offer 

  • round, 
  • pointed round, 
  • flat, filbert, 
  • angular flat, 
  • fan, bright, 
  • and detailed round-shaped brushes. 

So far, I have tried the Small Layer brush, Medium Layer brush, Standard brush, Small Dry brush, Medium Shade brush, and Base Brush series. 

The base brush series are chisel wedge-shaped, the Standard Brush may very well be a size 2 brush, the small layer feels more like a size 1 brush, and the Medium Base brush looks more like a size 2. 

Citadel brushes’ purpose

Citadel brushes work for multiple purposes, from basecoating to edge highlights, dry brushing, layering, and speed painting. 

For instance, the base brushes can do almost everything from base coating to highlighting except small details and speed painting. The shade and glazes brush help to build tones and for edge highlighting while the dry brushes are great for dry brush applications. 

Citadel also has some layer brushes for layering techniques and detail brushes for small details like belts Ork teeth, eyes, and facial features. 

citadel brushes Are better than other generic brushes

Citadel brushes are not as great as those paint brushes with natural bristles. But, you’re not going to really get anything crappy from them compared to most generic brushes. 

The only similarity between Citadel brushes and generic paint brushes is that you spend more money to get a Citadel brush with similar synthetic bristles as cheap generic brushes.

Are citadel brushes expensive?

Price-wise, Citadel brushes are quite expensive, even more than generic brushes, and almost on par with brands like Princeton, da Vinci, and Escoda. 

However, their cost seems fair for the value you get compared to the most expensive brands like Winston & Newton and Raphael.   

even famous mini painters use citadel brushes

Citadel is a popular line of Games Workshops. So, every painter, even the famous ones, uses them. The simple reason is you can’t get a brush that applies mid-tones and base colors well. Plus, citadel brushes are great for speed painting. 

Who Citadel Brushes are for?

Citadel brushes are fine for beginners and professional miniature painters. 

Thanks to their usefulness labels, they offer beginners the convenience of knowing what to use at every stage of their painting project. 

On the other hand, professionals can use them for speed painting purposes. 


Natural brushes like Raphael 8404s and Winsor & Newton Series 7 are, no doubt, way better than Citadel paint brushes. Then again, they are much more expensive. 

Skip these paintbrushes if you don’t intend to paint miniatures for long. Even with their not-so-premium quality, Citadel brushes are good for speed painting and dry brushing. The brushes come in different shapes and sizes

So, they will always offer some level of satisfaction when used for painting miniatures.