How to paint white is a question as old as time. What can be a painter’s nightmare is actually really easy with a few tricks.
White is known as one of the trickier color to paint. There are two main reasons for that. First, White paints from different bands are very hit or miss. Second, it does not follow the ‘normal’ painting rules.
What’s Different in Painting White
The normal way to paint any color is with a base color, a darker color for the shading and a lighter color for the highlighting.
White does not work that way because you can’t highlight white. It simply does not get any lighter.
If you don’t know ho to paint white and try to paint it like any other color, the result will generally be either too much on the grey side of things, ending up looking grey, or way to white and details don’t stand out.
Too grey is a problem easy enough to solve, as you can layer in more and more white, or use lighter grey for the shading
That is because in the real world, very few things are actually pure white.
Best White Paint Brand
Much like red, finding out a white paint that you can work with is 50% of the work.
Arctic White from Vallejo is often viewed as best in the business. It is one of the most opaque, so you can get a smooth and flat coat easily.
My current favorite is The Army Painter’s Air Warpaint White. Despite being made ‘for airbrush use’, it is one of the best white to paint with a brush. The fluidity of the airbrush formula makes blending it with very easy, and it is surprisingly opaque.
How to Paint White
Almost as equally important than the white itself is the base color.
Using a light but opaque grey as your base coat will painting white much easier.
If you’re starting on a dark primer, Celestra Grey is one of my favorite. It is a light grey, but will often cover black with a single smooth coat.
On lighter primer, I prefer Ulthuan Grey for the base coat of my white. In fact, Ulthuan Grey is the best color overall when it comes to painting white. It’s more off-white than grey, and covers incredibly well.
This means you have the majority of your model in off white, with heavy pure white highlights to make some areas stand out.
Shading White Trick
How to paint white with some easy shading is with weathering.
This is my favorite method of making white interesting because it is easy, adds a lot or realism to your piece, and a lot of contrast, which is hard to get on white miniatures otherwise.
This works really well on Armor plates, where you can sponge on some battle damage with either Rhinox Hide or Skavenblight Dinge.
This adds a dar color to your white, without turning it into another color, like you would get if you shaded the traditional way with either of these colors.
Contrast Paints (and their non-gw equivalents like Speed Paints or Xpress Colors) are really hit or miss when it comes to results.
Apothecary White is a hit, despite being very limited in how you can use it. Because it is very light, it works solely on a coat of white primer.
But limited at this is, the result is great for something that takes no effort, skill or time at all.
If you are looking for a quick white army, a shaker can of Army Painter Matt White, a pot of Matt White Warpaint and an Apothecary White contrast is all you need. With only these 3 products, you are setup for success.