Best Alternatives to Citadel Texture Paint

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The two best alternatives to Citadel Texture Paint are sanded tile grout or crackle paste medium. Compared to Citadel Texture Paint, these products serve as great replacement mediums. They are much less expensive, just as easy to use, and look great!

Read below to see my thoughts on the best replacement alternatives for Citadel Texture Paints.

Are the Citadel Texture Paints Worth It?

Best Alternatives to Citadel Texture Paint - cheaper technical medium
Citadel Texture Paint – easy to apply, simple and fast. But, expensive?

Are you trying to find an alternative to Agrellan Earth or Astrogranite?

Although I love what Games Workshop has produced for us hobbyists, I feel like in some cases, there are other ways get the same effect for less investment.

Maybe you’re looking to find a cheaper replacement for Stirland Mud or my favorite, Agrellan Badlands.

In general, there are two kinds of Citadel Texture Paints. Games Workshop makes these two textures in different colors, but in general, they function in just two classifications.


The kind that cracks as it dries (crackle effect) and the kind that doesn’t (muddy/dirt).

Best alternative texture paints for basing models - speed painting cracked bases for miniatures - cheap, fast, and easy
Here’s another way to make a cracked base (fast). Check out this speed cracked basing tutorial!

Best Alternatives to Citadel Texture Paint for Basing Miniatures

The following two products reproduce almost the same effect as Citadel Texture Paint. They cost less, work similarly, and with a bit of wash or dry brush are perfect for basing miniatures.

1. Sand, Mud, Snow – Use sanded tile grout

2. Cracked Earth – Use crackle paste medium

In general, they will end up replicating the look of dirt, gravel, or dried cracked earth or concrete. It all depends, but these are durable materials and great medium for quickly getting the job done!

tile grout for basing miniatures

Tile Grout

Mosaic Mercantile’s Pre-mixed Tile Grout is intended for light-duty indoor applications where the space between tiles is 1/8″ (3 mm) or less. This water-based latex grout is already mixed to save time and measuring. – Mosaic Mercantile Pre-mixed Tile Grout – 8 oz, Black

Crackle Paste Medium

Achieve amazing textures and patterns with Golden Crackle Paste. This thick, opaque medium cracks as it dries. Crack size increases with thicker application. It can be tinted with acrylic paints before application or painted over once dry. – Golden Crackle Paste – 8 oz jar

How to Make Models Look Great?

You are painting gaming miniatures from Games Workshop or Privateer Press. Or, you’re a historical tabletop wargamer with a collection of miniatures from the Civil War era. It doesn’t matter, you want your minis to look great on the table.


The easiest way to make a painted miniature standout is to finish the base. There are many ways to do this. Games Workshop sells Citadel Texture Paints (~8$ per pot).

They are simply awesome!

Best Alternatives to Citadel Texture Paint - cheaper technical medium - Citadel astrogranite debris technical paint
Citadel texture paint (Technical Astrogranite Debris) works great for quickly adding interest to a model’s base. But, it’s kind of expensive.
Best Alternatives to Citadel Texture Paint - Citadel astrogranite debris technical paint on small base with drybrush
A quick dry brush after a smooth, relatively thick layer of technical paints gives this model a final, more finished look.

I used to buy these Citadel Texture Paints all the time. I used them to quickly texture my 40k space marines. For painting commission work, the ease and speed of application was a huge bonus.

But, speed and ease-of-use comes with a cost. Each pot of Citadel Texture Paint is about $8 USD, which equates to finishing about twenty 35mm circular bases.

The math for me comes out to 40 cents per completed base, or $4 for two units for 10 infantry sized miniatures. I don’t even use much of the texture paint on each base.

Best Alternatives to Citadel Texture Paint - cheaper technical mediums

This can get expensive for those who collect a lot of miniatures.

Extend Your Hobby Budget!

In an effort to save money, I’ve tried a lot of different approaches to basing models. See my post on 3D printing bases.

Well, I’ve decided on the perfect alternatives for Citadel Texture Paints.

Best Alternatives to Citadel Texture Paint - cheaper technical mediums
Simple Pre-Mixed Grout for basing models – perfect for texturing that looks like dirt or mud.
Best Alternatives to Citadel Texture Paint - cheaper technical mediums
Crackle Paste for basing models – perfect for texturing that looks like cracked mud or concrete

Why do I think these are the best alternatives to citadel texture paint? In general, these are easy to find at any arts and crafts store or online.

They come in huge buckets or containers, and are inexpensive for what you get. Unlike the conventional workflow that you might use, glue, sand, etc., these come mixed with adhesive inside their medium.

Just slap on your plastic base, and they stick. Let dry, then paint to your pleasure.

The following are more thoughts on each of the two types of alternative mediums you can use instead of Citadel Texture Paints.

Mud/Gravel/Sand/Snow: Use Sanded Tile Grout

Any local hardware or home improvement store sells sanded tile grout. You can also get it online (here).

The cool part about premixed sanded tile grout is that it already has the adhesive mixed into it. So you don’t need glue or anything to apply it to your bases.

Best Alternatives to Citadel Texture Paint - cheaper technical mediums
Notice how small the Citadel Texture Paint pot is compared to the tile grout? The Citadel pot is 8$, whereas the tile grout jar is about 10-15$.

You might want a palette knife to smooth it on. Or you can use a plastic spoon. But a good metal palette knife will work best because the grout can be a bit thick.

Best Alternatives to Citadel Texture Paint - cheaper technical mediums
Close-up of the tile grout. It’s a nice pasty medium that is easy to apply. There is adhesive already added into the mixture. So, you won’t need do anything other than apply it to your model’s base and wait for it to dry!

Premixed sanded tile grout comes in many colors. If you don’t want to paint your bases, you can simply buy the color you like. For example, you can buy an ivory colored grout for sand bases, or a white colored grout for snow bases.

Tile grout comes in many more colors than are available than with Citadel Texture Paints.

If you’re on more of a budget (who isn’t?!), then you can buy unmixed sanded tile grout. To use this kind of tile grout, you’ll first have to mix in a bit of water. I’ve tried it, and it works.

But, I recommend simply going for the premixed sanded tile grout.

You’ll save time!

Does Tile Grout Look Good?

Best Alternatives to Citadel Texture Paint - cheaper technical mediums
Looks like dirt or sand to me!

The neat part about sanded tile grout is that it dries fast. In less than an hour, sanded tile grout can take primer and paint.

As mentioned above, you may not need to do this at all if you’ve chosen the grout color you like. So you can quickly go from basing your models to other tasks.

Best Alternatives to Citadel Texture Paint - cheaper technical mediums
Close-up shows the premixed tile grout. It looks great like a sandy or dirt covered surface. I added a bit of plaster that I modeled to look like rock.

There are some examples of me using premixed sanded tile grout here.

In some cases, I mixed in different colors just to give some variation.

Best Alternatives to Citadel Texture Paint - cheaper technical mediums - basing
On the base of this imperial knight I used light- and dark-colored tile grout.
Best Alternatives to Citadel Texture Paint - cheaper technical mediums - basing
Close-up of tile grout on the base of this imperial knight.
Best Alternatives to Citadel Texture Paint - cheaper technical mediums - basing
For these Destroyers, I used smoothed-on tile grout. This was painted with a dirt/earthy color, then washed with a brown ink. I followed-up with a light colored dry brush. It was fast and easy!
Best Alternatives to Citadel Texture Paint - cheaper technical mediums - basing
A bitter photo from the back of the model. The base is clean, but there is space for you add other bits, like grass flock or other debris.
Best Alternatives to Citadel Texture Paint - cheaper technical mediums - basing
The entire unit with tile grout as dirt.

Cracked Earth/Ground: Use Artist Crackle Paste Medium

The other type of Citadel Texture Paint effect is crack earth or ground. This is particularly easy to do with the Citadel Texture Paint. Except you need to apply it onto the base in a thick layer.

For me, this got expensive!

Best Alternatives to Citadel Texture Paint - basing flock mediums
Citadel Texture Paint with crackle effect. The texture paint is applied thick and when it dries the cracks appear.

So, I tried to find a better alternative to replace the Citadel Texture Paint.

The best stuff I’ve found as a replacement is Golden Crackle Paste. As advertised, the medium is a simple paste that cracks when it dries.

Best Alternatives to Citadel Texture Paint - basing flock mediums
Notice the pot size difference? Even though the Crackle Paste is more money, you get tons more of it.
Best Alternatives to Citadel Texture Paint - basing flock mediums
Looks like body moisturizer!

Crackle Paste like the Citadel Texture Paint works best when applied in thick layers. When the medium dries, the surface cracks.

I noticed that for durability with using this crackle paste, it helps if you apply a thin layer of watered down PVA (white glue).

Best Alternatives to Citadel Texture Paint - basing flock mediums
Crackle Paste works nicely! Apply the crackle paste thickly, allow to dry. Paint and color as you see fit!

Final Thoughts

In general, the best replacement for Citadel Texture Paint is the one you think replicates the effect you’re looking for. I love experimenting with different artistic mediums.

1. Sand, Mud, or Snow – Use Sanded Tile Grout

2. Cracked Earth – Use Crackle Paste Medium

In this case, I’ve settled on these two alternatives for the overall general basing material that I use on my models. Works well — fast, easy, and inexpensive!

How do you base your models? Do you like Citadel Texture Paints? Let me know with a comment below!

Thank you for reading!

I have more thoughts and editorial articles (here).

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16 thoughts on “Best Alternatives to Citadel Texture Paint”

  1. So, crackle medium. How easy does it take paint. Glue first or paint first. Can you add paint or inks to the paste before pasting onto your base. You have me Intrigued.

    1. It takes paint really well. Apply crackle paste, let dry. Then apply thinned layer of white pva glue (link in article) over the cracked dries paste. Then paint! Easy!!

    2. For citadel texture paints, you end up painting afterwards anyway. I like drybrushing after doing a solid base coat myself (for either texture paints or the other mediums)

  2. Logan Rasmussen

    About how thick do you apply the crackle paste for the look shown above? (j bought some today) And about how long do you let it dry before painting. I’m a few hours into the drying process and cracks are still working on separating, so far they are still hairline cracks. Thanks for this post, I’m hoping for the best for a magma base.

    1. Oh, and when dry, cover it with a layer of watered down Pva white glue. It’ll keep it from peeling. It’s something you would do with citadels stuff too

  3. To reproduce the cracked effect, it is possible to obtain satisfactory results by gluing and painting small pieces of eggshell.

  4. Pingback: Basing Sand for Miniatures (Ideas and Tips) - Tangible Day

  5. Hey, I’ve started using TIle Grout for my snow bases, bose as rock texture and to form the bulk of the snow’s volume However, I want to paint it instead of going with the natural color.

    My problem is that I’ve found just now that it’s really hard to get a coat of primer on (with a rattle can). I don’t know if it’s because it is so textured, absorbent or maybe the white just stands out under black primer…

    Do you have any recommendations? Should I use Brush on primer? Not care about primeer at all because paints stick great to it (fingers crossed!)?

      1. HA nice. Just responded to your other comment. Yes, regular hobby brand acrylic paint should stick well to tile grout even without primer. It’s not like the plastic, metal, or resin surfaces on the miniature itself. Tile grout behaves differently as you’ve noticed. I love using it.

    1. Ah, yeah some types of tile grout “repel” spray solvents (as a means to avoid grime/soap stains in a bathroom/kitchen setting). Yes, I would try using a brush on water-based primer like Vallejo Surface Primer which has worked for me. Brush it on, instead of airbrushing over the grout since the tile grout can be porous and it would take a while for you to perceive coverage. Thank you for this comment. I’m going to update this post to mention this!

      1. Thanks for the quick reply! Much appreciated!
        For full disclosure, I’ll add that I’ve just now realized that what I had been using was UNSANDED tile grout.

        I’m happy with the look but I think I’ll try the sanded variety when I’m done with the tube. Maybe that affects the priming too, though – so felt like throwing that in here.

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