Contrast Paints

I was skeptical about the hype at first, but I have to say I’m completely sold on Contrast. Now, I don’t think much of the “contrast method” of priming with wraithbone and then putting contrast straight onto that and the washed-out look that results. It seems that if you’re going to use a transparent paint you should have something underneath it, because then you’re getting something out of that transparency. So, zenithal / undershading, either with a lot of white or with a grey base rather than black so that the colours don’t get lost in the shadows. I haven’t tried grey yet since I already had a lot of black & white undershaded figures.

The best thing about Contrast is simply how it shortens the distance between having an image of the completed figure in my head and having it in my hand. It really helps with getting momentum and enjoyment in painting. There was a thrill to realising that I could now paint all of my board game figures in a reasonable amount of time – the scope of projects I could reasonable complete being dramatically expanded overnight.

I’m settling into a process of using one or two non-contrast colours on each project (the blue of the Eldar, the flourescent orange of the GSC boiler suits) and then just using contrast for everything else.

Here are my early tests. The first two figures were the free samples from the store painted using the suggested method. The other figures were all undershaded – Empire Assault, Descent, TMNT: Shadows of the Past and an old Citadel dwarf and beastmen.

The Poxwalker has that washed-out look, and I struggled to get it dark enough, since I didn’t leave it any time to dry and I didn’t yet know which paints were the more heavily pigmented. The Stormcast, being mostly pale colours and contrast over metallic, didn’t have the same problem, though it suffered from some bad pooling on the robes. I was impressed with how well the white covered the Stormtrooper’s armour, and with how the denim on the punk turned out, although the figure overall had too much black under the contrast.

I picked up the full range as soon as it came out, but several of the colours are quite similar to one another, so I could have made do with a smaller set.

I compared the shades on paper, some of the differences don’t really come through here, but it was an interesting exercise:

Depending on what you’re doing I think this would be a good starting set:

  • Snakebite Leather
  • Blood Angels Red
  • Black Templar
  • Apothecary White
  • Iyanden Yellow
  • Talassar Blue
  • Ultramarines Blue
  • Warp Lightning
  • Creed Camo
  • Guilliman Flesh

Followed by this:

  • Gore Grunta Fur
  • Wyldwood
  • Skeleton Horde
  • Gryph-Hound Orange
  • Space Wolves Grey
  • Shyish Purple
  • Aethermatic Blue
  • Terradon Turqoise
  • Dark Angels Green

Have you found any particular ways to incorporate contrast into your painting technique? What would your ten essential contrast paints be?