How to Paint Everything: Which Dark Angels Green Is Best Dark Angels Green? Citadel, Vallejo, Instar and Contrast head to head!

Hello friends! Welcome to my new series where I paint things from an ‘average painter’s mindset’. I’m no Lupe, Richp, Brin or Booley but I feel that an everyday painter can have some insights on a review for other everyday painters. Anyhow enough words, lets get to it!

So, all of these miniatures where painted with five kinds of dark green paint by three different manufacturers. Why? Because I wanted to know who made the best one god damn it.

Like seriously, which one is most Dark, Angel and Green?  Why doesn’t my small country town have a Nando’s?

All this and more will be answered if you read on.

Ok, seriously before we start talking about this article, all I intended to do was try instar vintage paint and say ‘its good, bad, cool and good, etc’. Naturally I put off this simple and quick article in favour of doing something overly complex. Let’s look at the options we have to paint some sweet totally loyal green lads.

The contenders:

Citadel Colour Base – Caliban Green

Source: Geedubs website
It’s green!

The obvious choice but is it the correct one?

Games Workshop’s paint line used to be a distant second to Vallejo and the like (in my opinion) however savvy marketing and a big push in paint quality have let it step up majorly to the point I would say the only real bad bit is the bottle design and price.

In short the new CPS System/Citadel App is great because it removes a lot of unneeded thinking for someone at my skill level. If you want to know why I just typed that sentence you should look at Lupe’s excellent Throwing Shade Part 1: An Actually Helpful Guide to the Citadel Paint System if you want to know more about it.

It comes in a 12ml bottle that will totally refuse to shut if you get paint in the wrong area for about $6.50AUD. Google the price in your area friends! Or go to the gee dubs website.

Anyhow, this would the defacto choice for most people right?


Some people with a good eye (not me) spotted that Caliban Green wasn’t a 1:1 match up with the Dark Angels Green that it replaced. So, what would you buy if you wanted to colour match to your old armies? Lets look at what the internet told me to buy!

Vallejo Game Colour – Dark Green 72.028

source: vallejo's website
Yep. It’s a green. Also dark. Fit for purpose???

According to the internet, which is never wrong, ever, this is a match for O.G Dark Angels Green. Until games workshop made finding guides via YouTube and the Citadel colour app easy as hell, Vallejo was my go to choice for paint due to the dropper bottles, cost per ml and the sheer fact that it is very, very nice to paint with.

I paid $4.99 AUD for mine in a 17ml dropper that will clog and explode everywhere and I mean EVERYWHERE one day.

You can find Vallejo Model/Game colour at your local FLGS, model/hobby stores, the wider internet and their website.

Instar Vintage IV-15 Matte/Sheen

I couldn’t find a good picture of the bottle by itself and I forgot to take one before writing the article because I’m a pro. This is instar’s cool and good logo. They rock. Buy their paints.

Instar is a new company compared with the two giants above, based in the UK the have their own product line. What drew me to them was that they reportedly had a recreation of 1998 spec Dark Angels green. This was handy to me as I loved the hell out of that colour.

I spoke to instar on their facebook page (they are lovely and will go out of their way to help you btw) and they suggested that the sheen would reproduce 1998 dark angels green while the matte would do the same without the period correct slightly glossy finish. I brought both because I have zero percent self control.

Instar comes in a better bottle than the Vallejo stuff for £2.19 for 20ml and £4.99 for a whopping 50ml. On that note, buy the 20ml bottle. Seriously. 50ml is a lot of paint people please learn from my mistakes.

You can find Instar here.

Late Entrant:

Citadel Contrast – Dark Angel Green

The wonder-kid. A wash for the ages. It’s also got the name!

Well looks like the old name is back, this time as part of breed of apparently wonder-kid paints. That are actually high powered and well made washes!??!? I can’t use a black undercoat?!?!? Will it match up to the hype?

Contrast runs at $13.50 AUD for a 18ml pot. It has the same demonic lid as the citadel base paint but you shouldn’t clog it. Instead you can knock it over and spill it all over your desk.

You can find CPS paints everywhere and also the GW website.

Anyway, enough jibber-jabber. We are going to look at the Citadel Base, Instar and Vallejo paints in a few stages notably the 1st layer, 2nd layer, before highlighting, after highlighting and finished. For our contrast entrant we are just going to look at the base, 1st layer and finished product as a bit of a bonus. This is because it’s not really a layer-ed on paint and totally not because I haven’t figured out how to use it.

At the end I’ll rate them out of 5 and bombard you with my thoughts in word form. Also for the record, I paid for all of these models, brushes and paints with my own money.

As we are deciding what green is the most Dark Angel Green, I’m going to rate the paints out of Starscream, a notably loyal cartoon robot.

All the models where base coated with Matt Black White Knight Squirts (don’t laugh you animals.). It’s a good, smooth and most importantly cheap primer.

Instar IV-15 Matte aka Retro 1998 Spec Dark Angels Green But Not Matte Finish!

Finding this paint kicked this entire article off, so lets start here.

Look at that beefy lad!

Well that’s definitely a dark green angel of death.

But is it the right dark green? Yes. And no. Read on to find out!

Anyhow, I found that the ‘Wet’ colour is very, very different to dry colour. I would advise shaking bottle like a Polaroid picture for an extended amount of time. With a little water it goes on very thin and easy. Bluer than Citadel Caliban Green when dry. It also dried quickly on palette and I think using a wet palette would own with this line.

Very patchy. But also thin!

The above is after the first layer went down. As you can see this is not a paint you can just slap on and walk away. It goes on thin as heck. You will need more layers so thin it down.

Looking way less patchy!

Well as you can see, it’s a more blue hued rich as hell green at this point. Which looks pretty rad, in fact it looks real close to what I remember the old Citadel paint looking like. Unlike the old citadel line it goes on super thin. However it will need a 3rd coat to get rid of some of patchiness on the flatter panels. I don’t think this a bad thing though as I normally put down a thin 3rd layer after I black wash the model, so no harm, no foul on that front.

It also dries super quick so you can re-layer real fast. Doesn’t seem to ‘push’ around the model which makes black-lining super easy. It feels more latex like than the other paints, which is dead-on for how I remember the old citadel paints ‘feeling’.

See the blue-ness? That’s cool and good. This is post wash/touch up.

I painted in the rest of the colours at this point (I’ll make a list at the end if you want to replicate it) and washed the model with Army Painter Dark Tone (nuln oil for you Gee Dub converts).

Things you realise in post production: The missing bit on his ankle. Fffff- Also I’m yes I’m reusing my insta posts…

I then went though and retouched, detailed and highlighted model. The green is highlighted on all the models with Warboss Green and then hit with a second highlight of Skarsnik Green as this isn’t as jarring to my eye as the official GW method of Warpstone to Moot Green. Huge credit to fellow Goonhammer writer person Lupe for helping me out (i.e coming up with it as I panicked endlessly) big time with that one.

The Instar Matte was a joy to use, despite it drying quickly on my palette. It really does match up well with the old paint. It also has the best packaging bottle wise. Other manufactures please for the love of god take notice.

Instar Matte: 4/5 Starscreams. A very good effort to replicate a classic.

Citadel Colour Caliban Green

“How do you do, fellow loyalists?”

Ah. The GW standard. It’s the second most ‘green’ out of the bunch.


I really base-ed this one guys! Guys? Guysssssssssssssssssssss?

Ok yeah. That’s powerful. Even thinned, the 1st layer covered well. In other words it’s doing it’s damn job.

Damn good coverage.

After the second coat, we get additional info that it does indeed do the whole ‘BASE’ function well. Out of all the paints this is the one where I could say it would work with 2 thin coats, no touch up needed. It has a more of a sheen than the instar matte.

Honestly I would be tempted to stop there and call it done for a standard infantry model in 2000pts.

Which means that if you’re regular technique is to wash, tidy and black-line a miniature (as per above) then this the paint for you.

The green remains consistent between pot -> layer 1 -> layer 2 and the initial coverage is the best out of the 4 paints here. Thicker than the VGC coats and Instar Matte but not necessarily in a bad way if that makes any sense.

GW’s base paint is a serviceable workhorse that produces a nice green. It’s let down by it’s higher price per ml and silly pot lids.

Citadel Caliban Green: 4/5 Starscreams. A future classic but not the ‘right’ green.

Vallejo Game Colour: Dark Green 72.028


Vallejo. Oh my old friend how I love thee.

I’m not out of ideas of what to put in these captions and you can’t prove otherwise.

Coverage was in between instar and GW. Seemed more ‘rich’ on the 1st layer but more transparent.

This is the second layer. It is a very nice matte green.

Vallejo makes a quality product. It covered well, was thin and easy to use. Truly had no flaws. This makes it boring to write about. Oh it’s also the green-est of the bunch. If you want ‘forest’ green dark angels this is the paint for you. It’s also very smooth and mostly matte.

Before highlights, after a wash and touch up.

It also ‘felt’ the best on the pallet and brush which is the kind of thing you notice when you hopping from dark green paint to dark green paint from 3 different manufactures.

Whew lad. So smooth. Also I tried to make the marine face/hair like some 2nd Ed artwork! Inspirational!

Vallejo is very, very nice.

But it’s a literal Dark Green. It doesn’t have the slightly blue hue of traditional Dark Angels Green. That said I like it.

A combination of being a high quality product in a nice dropper bottle give a:

Vallejo Game Colour Dark Green: 4/5 Starscreams. Smooth as heck. But too green?!?


Instar IV-15 Sheen aka Retro 1998 Spec Dark Angels Green

The 50ml bottle is bloody huge. I’m not kidding.

Well, it has a sheen and most of what I said about the Matte applies here.

Similar properties to the matte otherwise. Strangely came out of the bottle a different colour but dried pretty similar but slightly different to the matte. Was it because of the giant bottle causing mixing issues? I honestly didn’t know even during painting. Turns out it wasn’t anything to worry about and as I added layers it came into it’s own.


Cue the second layer. Oh boy.

THE SHEEENNNNNNNNNNNNN. This is very late 90s citadel and if you are a retro painter you will love the heck out of this. It’s even more latex-like in feel than the Matte which reminded me of the old stuff.

However it really surprised me that it was a little bit different to work with than it’s matte brother. It really needs constant water to apply well. More so than the other paints. Now, with more time to muse on it I wonder if the heater I have on during winter is drying out my apartment and causing some of the paints to lose moisture a hell of a lot faster. I’m keen to try out instar’s Water+ to see if this effects the drying time. On the plus side, it goes on damn thin when thinned with water. You can do a 3rd layer with ease if needed after the wash, which I would say you will be doing if you go with this green. Food for thought I guess.

As you can see on the before highlight stage the colour is different than the matte. It’s not as blue, it’s still good though!

very sheen. very good.

IV-15 Sheen really was like painting with a modernised version of the old citadel line. It also goes on nice and smooth. It’s also cheap as heck for what you get, the 50ml bottle cost me very little and would do an entire army with ease, so mission accomplished Instar!

Instar IV-15 Sheen: 4/5 Starscreams. So. Much. Retro. Sheen.


Citadel Contrast: Dark Angels Green

Well, well, well. It’s the new kid on the block… It’s a fancy as heck wash… It needs a different undercoat compared to the rest of the gang above… It has rave reviews and a big marketing push…

But is it…. good?

Is it as it claims, Dark Angels Green?

Well of course it is. It’s on the damn bottle. I’m including this guy for the sake of completion but I’m not going to rate it as:

  1. I’m still learning to use it on PA armour. Right now it’s too splotchy for my tastes.
  2. It’s not a ‘put a layer on’ kind of paint. It’s not an equivalent like the paints above.
  3. I don’t have a 3rd reason.

I nearly didn’t include him as I hated the splotch, but as I added other colours the errors faded away and in bad cases I got away with a thin second layer. It’s still not as precise as the layer -> wash -> touch up -> highlights 1/2 method but it takes a hell of a lot less time. I added a bit of Warboss Green as a highlight in a few areas on this guy.

So you might think from the above that I’m bagging out contrast. Let me make it clear that I’m not. It’s a great idea/system. The problem in this case was holding the Citadel ™ (r) Painting Handle.

Oh, it’s also not the only bit of contrast in this article, but more on that later.


So. I rated them all the same, 4/5. Making this article useless right? Well kind of. They are all the best green for different reasons.

  • If you want a modern take on the old blueish DA green, go for Instar Matte. The colder tone would go nice with reds, blacks and bone over a bigger Dark Angels army IMHO. I also really like the finish.
  • If you want ease of procurement and want to stay in the CPS lines then Caliban Green has you. It’s a little bit expensive and the pot it comes in sucks but it’s technically very good. The colour is also the most neutral of the bunch and of the traditional paints this will be the fastest to go onto the model. 
  • If you want a real *green* green to go with some baller gold trim, then Vallejo pops nicely. However it’s not as traditional as the others. It also has the nicest finish! 
  • If you want to go full retro, sheen and old school colour, Instar IV-15 sheen is the way forward. Also Instar has insanely good customer service. Which is handy as heck.
  • Annnnd if you want raw speed? Contrast. Vertical strokes and prepare for a slightly splotchy outcome on large power armour panels.

So if I go and make a new Dark Angels army, what would I go with?

Instar Matte or Vallejo for sure.

It would honestly come down to a coin toss. In other words this is high bloody praise for instar there as I love the heck out of some Vallejo. I would also note that if I was running on a tight as hell budget I would go with instar. They have a great cost to paint ratio and the bottles promote less waste.

Speaking of contrast before, here is my colour list. As you can see I used it a fair bit on the little bits as an experiment and hot damn it saved some time:

Traditional paints:

Flat Black undercoat
<Your Choice Of Green> -> Washed Army Painter Dark Tone (black wash) -> Highlighted Warboss Green -> Fine highlight Skarskik Green.
Reds: Vallejo Model Colour [VMC] Carmine Red -> Dark Vermillion -> Vermillion
Purity Seal: Wraithbone, Black Templar for text, wash Army Painter Soft Tone
Undersuit: Layer Grey Seer, Wash Black Templar
Pouches: Layer Grey Seer, Wash Contrast Wyldwoods
Boltguns: Black – Layer Grey Seer, Heavy as hell wash with Black Templar.
Metals: Citadel Iron Warriors washed with Dark Tone.
Boltgun Lens: Citadel Stormhost sliver, Spritstone Red.
Gold: Liberator Gold -> Wash Army Painter Soft Tone (sepia) -> Mix in more and more Stormhost silver as desired. Aim for 2 highlights.


Grey Seer Undercoat
Wash Dark Angels Green -> Tiny Warboss Green highlight
Purity Seal: Wraithbone, Black Templar for text, wash Army Painter Soft Tone
Undersuit: Layer Grey Seer, Wash Black Templar
Pouches: Layer Grey Seer, Wash Wyldwood
Boltguns: Black – Layer Grey Seer, Heavy as hell wash with Black Templar.
Metals: Iron Warriors washed with Dark Tone.
Boltgun Lens: Stormhost sliver, Spritstone Red.
Gold: Liberator Gold -> Wash Army Painter Soft Tone (sepia) -> Mix in more and more Stormhost silver as desired. Aim for 2 highlights.


Anyway, that’s all I got for now. If you have any questions you can find me on Twittar and Instagram. Feel free to drop me a line if you have any comments or questions!