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Contrast Paints, is everyone really using them and are they actually quicker?

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This topic contains 33 replies, has 22 voices, and was last updated by  onlyonepinman 1 week ago.

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    Cult of Games Member

    Contrast Paints, and to a lesser extent Inks seem to be coming up more and more again in Beasts of War content.

    The latest XLBS seems to be suggesting they are the way to go, and in all honesty, John does some amazing work with them as do several members of the community, but how many people are really using them, how much are they being used, and are they really faster?


    Personally, I have around a dozen of them, I used them fairly heavily at the beginning of the year but now use them very sparingly and with very different techniques to when I started.

    I found the one coat method ends up looking too much like its being painted in contrast (A look I personally don’t like that much), so with the exception of Gore Grunta Fur, which I use for Napoleonic packs as its excellent, and a few browns for hair shades I don’t really use any directly as a single coat. Instead, I’ve found myself using them as very strong shades once diluted with a medium or thinner.

    As for speed, I’ve found to get the look I’m after they are not any quicker after the work to make them look non-contrasty, and I’ve instead gone the opposite direction most of the time now using paint triads from good old Vallejo dropper bottles which I’ve found with practice to actually to be pretty quick when batch painting.


    These are just my thoughts and experiences, what are yours?



    from my experience people who can paint fast, can paint faster with contrast paints,

    those of us that can’t take just as long if we want anything but the most simplistic coverage

    that said they give more options of how you achieve the final results so they’ve got a place in the paintbox


    Cult of Games Member

    there are a few gems in the range but when I tried using them I really was not a fan of the results. I ended up selling the Skyrim models and the new owner told me he loved them but I decided I could achieve better with older methods.

    in terms of speed, I am not particularly fast and I don’t think contrast sped up the painting process one bit for me.

    I have about 20 of the contrast paints. I only use 2 of them, the grey and the black. some of the browns are quite good but not used since the Skyrim testers.


    I have a few and I’m not impressed with them.  I do like the results I get when painting over metallics with some contrast paints. I use them occasionally but I prefer normal paint.


    Cult of Games Member

    @jamescutts if you have to spend time to ‘undo’ how contrast paints look … then they probably weren’t the right tool for the job.

    I think that the people who get the most out of any given paint set are those that lean into the style of painting that matches what they were made for. Then there’s always folk who use them as yet another tool in the box.

    The only ‘problem’ with these paints is that they vary wildly within the same range, which means that if your favourite colours are in the ‘weak’ / ‘crap’ part of the range  then you’re not going to have any fun with them.

    As such I think that this is a paint set that really emphasizes a particular style of painting and you either love it or hate it as a means of painting a complete mini.


    Cult of Games Member

    I use them on pretty much every project these days and they have been a huge speed/productivity boost to me. What I tend to do though is use them over a zenith undercoat, and always mixed with medium. Two thin coats (to coin a phrase) rather than one thick coat. I’ll often drybrush/highlight with wraithbone between layers to get richness and shading with decent enough looking highlights on top. Thinning contrast allows good blends between different colours. This beastie here is 99% done using the techniques above. Is he going to win awards? No. Does he look good for 2-3 hours work? I think so.D28DC613-8839-4DCC-801D-821AD3B459A680D3D59C-2500-4FAC-BCCD-6A9D40671B10417C68E2-C0D1-48ED-AF49-E4EEB2B5B425C158EFB6-FAA4-45AA-835A-D68C1B9F66DA


    Cult of Games Member

    For most figures I use them for parts I want done quickly. E.g. legs. The parts I think will draw the eye I use basecoating and layering. I zenithal highlight all my figures first. They thin well enough for me to use as a filter sometimes.

    I painted most of the B1 droids in Star Wars Legion with contrast paint. I wasn’t particularly bothered about the figures and wanted them done quickly. They’re broadly a single colour so contrast with a few highlights got a tedious job done quickly for me.


    Cult of Games Member

    I’m not using any contrast paints (or similar things from different brands) for one simple reason. It can either go: Works great! Will never use anything else again! or: Works horrible.. will never use them again. In both cases paints will remain unused and money I spend on them is wasted. So, no. Not going to try them.

    I might give inks a go since I already have some inks at the ready to make washes.


    Cult of Games Member

    They have their uses. However, it takes a while to figure out what those uses are for each individual paint cos some act very differently to others. Some are good for coverage, some for shading, some for washes, etc. You have to play about with them and figure out how they fit with your style of painting too.

    Once you’ve figured all that out i guess that they probably do save you time but will never get you the same results as more traditional methods. But that’s ok if you’re happy with the results you do get.


    I painted these guys when contrasts first came out just to see. 100% contrast apart from the base edge. Definitely quicker than normal painting. But better? Not sure.

    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 5 days ago by  innes.
    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 5 days ago by  innes.

    No not everyone is using them, I wouldn’t think most people are. I have a few and use them for specific things, but don’t use the contrast system as a whole. For me they aren’t quicker to use as they need to be applied carefully and any mistakes take for longer to fix. So paying a premium for something that isn’t quick makes no sense.

    Overall they produce a particular style for certain types of models, i.e. with lots of details and recesses. That’s not going to work with everything. If though you get on with the system and practice with it then I could see it producing good results in less time.


    Cult of Games Member

    Thanks for all the responses everyone, it’s nice to see some variation. Some of us like them some of us don’t, some of us just see them as another tool, and some don’t want to buy more paints (very sensible advice from the German). This wasn’t aimed at being another is contrast good or not discussion so it’s nice to see that hasn’t been the case and every contribution has been constructive and informative.

    The work from @carlospictor and @innes really highlights what you can do with them, just as John does.

    Part of me wonders if the reason why I don’t use them that often anymore is I’m mostly painting historical minis at the moment and the color selection just doesn’t work with what I want. As @seldon9 says contrast was perfect for B1 droids, and the community has some great results with fantasy and sci-fi minis.

    I know my brush skill has improved when I was using them more heavily, due to the need to paint accurately, and I think that’s carried over.



    I’ve been a big fan of contrast paints and use them across all genres I paint.  One of the biggest surprises I had was how much I liked using it to paint horses for my Napoleonic French.  Especially Black contrast paint.  Initially I thought having that in black would be kind of pointless.  But if you use it over white primer it really brings out the detail and gives the higher areas a very dark grey highlight.  Which saves me time when painting regiments.  I also discovered that Leviadon Blue contrast dry brushed with Caledor Sky gave me a pretty satisfying blue for my French Old Guard coats.

    Then there is the White contrast that I’ve started using as more of a wash over detailed white objects.  Snakebite leather makes convincing wood effects on ships too and I have used that through out my French fleet.  Flesh Tearer Red seems to work well for deep red roman cloaks and tunics.  The ability to just put on one coat and save myself the inking/shading process has sped up my assembly line painting noticeably.  Which may also be where these paints shine.

    The net net seems that it takes a lot of experimenting to figure out where these paints actually save time.  I certainly have colors that I picked up thinking they would be great and never ended up using.  The yellows and greens for instance I find really disappointing.  But that could be just cause of what I paint with them.  Everyone gets a dose of Guilliman’s Flesh over their base flesh tone now and I don’t bother dry brushing afterwards.  I’ve been able to churn more skeletons in a day then I ever imagined I could with Skeleton Horde.



    The contrast paints are another tool I can use. Like any tool it is knowing how to use them that is the key and some are better than others. I recently painted a skeleton undead army as visago above mentions the contrast skeleton horde is just super. Under coat with the paint on the top and it is good to go as a bone effect. The snakebite leather is a another contrast paint along with wildwood I think is great for leather. If you have any items like cloaks, or dresses, fur contrast paints work really well. If you have lots of flat surfaces personally I have struggled to get it to work.

    A lot of of it is down to experimenting I have been using contrast white as a shade over white armour to good effect. That is something i struggled with a lot in the past. The black contrast over metal colour thinned down gives me a worn look to guns which I like. You have ones like yellow contrast which I find works well for things like blond hair, gulliman flesh if you struggle to paint faces like me as a god send.

    I will admit my first go with contrast paints dark angels green on a space marine the result was horrible put me off for months. It was watching other people using them and learning how best to apply them.

    I think that is the key that contrast was never designed to replace standard paints. While I have seen people only using contrast to great effect I think most people use a combination of styles to paint with.



    Cult of Games Member

    If inks and possibly contrast paints had more military/muted nature colours available I would certainly use them more


    Cult of Games Member

    I would say the majority of what I paint is with contrast paints, with maybe 10-20% of a model using traditional methods.

    I personally think they are excellent and have increased my output significantly.

    Just a handful of stuff I have done but the reality is I am well over 300 models this year with this method which I could not do without them.


    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 4 days ago by  laughingboy.
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