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"Contrast paints?" Topic

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Desert Fox09 Sep 2019 9:37 a.m. PST

I have seen these come up lately on TMP but I have to admit I know absolutely nothing about them.

1. What are they?

2. How do they work?

3. Can anyone use them or are the techniques involved with using them really only for expert miniature painters?

4. Any particular scales and periods they work best on?

5. Any particular scales and periods you would NOT recommend using them on?

6. Who sells them?

Thanks to all who respond in advance!

Jcfrog Supporting Member of TMP09 Sep 2019 10:01 a.m. PST

Yes would like to know before anothe expense.

Jcfrog Supporting Member of TMP09 Sep 2019 10:11 a.m. PST

Well well, using tmp search instead of rushing
TMP link
Lots there.

Tacitus09 Sep 2019 10:15 a.m. PST

Lots of online sources, but here's my two cents, pence, etc. They create their own shading, so beginners can get decent table ready miniatures. I am not a beginner, but I have several shades and am very happy I found them. The more curls, bends, textures a model has, the better these work. They work miracles on hair, fur, and leather. They suck on large, flat surfaces. They also do a great job on faces for rank and file. I understand you can make these at home. I am not an amateur chemist and value convenience, so I am perfectly happy buying them ready made. Buy a yellow, the black, and a color of your choice to experiment. You will also need either the wraithbone foundation primer or (especially before you commit) a pot of wraithbone paint. I love them, I use them, but they are another tool, and do not replace "regular" paint and regular painting techniques.

Personal logo aegiscg47 Supporting Member of TMP09 Sep 2019 10:19 a.m. PST

Also, you don't need the "official" GW spray paints as you can use pretty much a wide variety of spray can colors as undercoats. That alone will save you a lot of money.

3rd5ODeuce Supporting Member of TMP09 Sep 2019 10:48 a.m. PST

Aegis is correct on not having to use GW "official" sprays for primer/base coat. However, I would recommend not using an ultra matte type, (like grey sand-able primer). Reason being is you want the Contrast paints to flow evenly on the model. I've found that the Contrast paints applied to a matte surface tend to dry mottled and blotchy.

thosmoss09 Sep 2019 10:58 a.m. PST

Still don't quite get why GW didn't release Contrast Dunkelgelb right off the bat.

Personal logo Bobgnar Supporting Member of TMP09 Sep 2019 1:32 p.m. PST

Sounds a lot like Duke Siefried's stain painting from the 1980s. Gesso primer and thin paint.

Teppsta09 Sep 2019 1:41 p.m. PST

Tacitus – thanks for an informed opinion

Personal logo Jlundberg Supporting Member of TMP09 Sep 2019 2:26 p.m. PST

I echo Tactitus' comments. I painted up a mini for a friend in around an hour last night ant it looks pretty good. I ca do better when I slow down and take my time. It is great for painting mob troops.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP09 Sep 2019 2:52 p.m. PST

I have experimented with them on everything from 6mm to 28mm. Here is my takeaway:

Like many (many) methods of speed painting, they give a mediocre result in very little time and with no particular skill required. You will get simple, modest shading with one coat. You can get a very similar effect with the "dip" using "Army Painter" products or similar.

To me the big difference between the "dip" and the contrast paints is the dip applies the same shade to everything (all black, or all brown), while the Contrast paints shade in the same color (dark/light blue, dark/light tan etc.). To my eyes the result is about the same.

The main advantage to the "dip" is cost – each Contrast paint is nearly $8 USD for a tiny little jar and you need a bunch. You can buy one can of dip for $15 USD and you're pretty much set.

You can make your own contrast paints, you can make your own dip, or you can try stain painting (basically, apply a wash of the chosen color over white primer – it gives an effect VERY much like contrast paints once you get the hang of it without needing to buy anything new).

So they are priced for the convenience they give you.

I'll use up the pots I bought but won't be adding them to the tool box as they are just too pricy for me.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP09 Sep 2019 2:54 p.m. PST

P.S. They work on anything with the following caveats:

1) They work best on surfaces that have lots of crevices. They work by settling in these crevices. So they won't, for example, do much on a 15mm tank with smooth sides.

2) They need some area to work. So they don't really do much on tiny little spots where just a dab of paint is needed.

I have used them on a 28mm troll, a 28mm Aragorn, a 15mm Sci Fi power armor dude, and 6mm Cold War Soviets.

Perris070709 Sep 2019 7:14 p.m. PST

Here you go: YouTube link

Personal logo Vis Bellica Supporting Member of TMP09 Sep 2019 10:50 p.m. PST

I couldn't face painting the 288 spearmen for my new Museum Miniatures Sumerian army my usual way (undercoat, base colour, highlight, top highlight), so I gave the Contrast paints a try.

In the pic below, the flesh, kilts, spear shafts, cloaks and shields are painted with one coat of a Contrast paint each. Only the bronze is double-painted, but that's using non-Contrast paints. I can paint 12 figures from start to finish in about 40 minutes. I'm sold on them!


Norrins09 Sep 2019 11:55 p.m. PST

I started off with a couple of the paints. knowing that if they didn't work I'd pass them onto my dad. I was pleasantly surprised and I wouldn't describe my results as 'mediocre'. Contrast paints have certainly speeded up my painting without a drop in my usual standard of painting.

I paint 28mm figures and I've some results on various threads on TMP.

I did try a small tank and was pleasantly surprised by the results.


Personal logo Patrick R Supporting Member of TMP10 Sep 2019 12:22 a.m. PST

It's great if you need to do a ton of rank and file minis quickly and still get a nominal amount of highlights and shade on a model.

It doesn't replace traditional methods, but as a method to paint a ton of figures to a decent enough standard, it works pretty well.

There are a few tricks that enhance the effect, like adding your own quick highlights or vary the layer underneath as well as doing a second pass to get deeper shadows in some parts.

I would be surprised if Vallejo doesn't release their own version in a few months which means you'll get more paint for less money.

Is is perfect ? No, but it works reasonably well, especially for people who are daunted by more complex painting methods. There is a huge chunk of people who for various reasons are not very good at painting minis and this can help bring up their standard a bit with minimal effort.

At the end of the day it's just another tool, I saw some people do pretty interesting stuff with it combining it with other methods to get amazing results like glazing.

Norrins10 Sep 2019 1:46 a.m. PST

Completely agree, it's another tool in the wargamers toolbox!

Lucius10 Sep 2019 2:43 a.m. PST

Great comments above. I've used it, and consider myself a well-above-average painter.

It didn't change my world, but it definitely found a home in my bag of tricks. It is well worth trying.

Personal logo Patrick R Supporting Member of TMP10 Sep 2019 2:54 a.m. PST

1) They are a type of paint which has been formulated to be slightly transparent and leave more pigment in the deeper areas of a model.

2)They work by using an appropriate light background, like white, beige, light grey, light blue etc. They will tend to thin out on the raised surfaces and pool in the lower areas, creating a shading/highlight effect with a single brushstroke.

3) They are relatively simple to use, they do need a little practice to get better results, the undercoat, the amount of paint, the way the model is positioned all affect how the result will look. Generally you can get a decent effect with a single pass of the brush and a little touching up.

4) They work best on models that have lots of raised detail. Avoid use on areas with lots of flat surfaces and little or no detail.

5) I would not use them on figures with minimalist detail. So older very smooth figures with almost no creases in their clothes and faces with little or no detail will not get good results and look messy. Simplified, they don't work very well on classic Minifigs, but do very well on say Victrix or Warlord Plastics.

6) Games Workshop, but I suspect Vallejo will jump on that bandwagon sooner or later.

wmyers10 Sep 2019 10:13 a.m. PST

I second what Patrick R stated!

I think the key is to remember points 4 and 5.

Contrast paints are not going to work on every figure or every part. They will work well on figures that meet requirements 4 and 5 above in conjunction with requirement 2 with one caveat – the smoother the surface, (figure and primer/basecoat/background), the better the paint will flow.

(Also, remember how gravity works and the direction the paint will be "pulled" – so if you are turning your figure lots while painting, it will NOT work as well as if you keep the figure upright.)

Personal logo Flashman14 Supporting Member of TMP10 Sep 2019 3:36 p.m. PST

Maybe other primers work, but I've seen negative reviews with "any old primer will do" where they got splotchy results.

I used the Citadel primers and got splotchy results exactly where I touched up bare metal with the brush on paint.

I recommend the primer unless you know exactly what you are doing.

They are a tool as it's been said, and for me best (in terms of speed) where the model is predominantly one color.

I have a series going on my blog at the moment on these start here:


See all the entries here: link

I'll have different examples up later this week.

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