Have you tried Citadel Contrast paints?

Since the dawn of time, Warhammer aficionados have needed paints to decorate their expansive armies. However, the powers that be at Citadel deemed that they would only get one type of paint - the acrylic. With a tendency for covering detail lines, but otherwise excellent colour options, the people were content. They didn't know that there was a better way... until today (or, more accurately, until earlier this year).

2019 has brought the introduction of Citadel's brand new Contrast paints. Made from a new secret sauce, these pots of paint carry new traits that make them an interesting new avenue for painters to explore. Here's why (and when, and where, and how) you should give them a try!

Easy to use...

When it comes to using a type of paint, you won't find a Citadel product that's easier to use than Contrast. Due to the consistency of the paints, you'll be able to wave needing a palette behind. Contrast paints can be used straight from the pot (after a firm, prolonged shake, of course), meaning you won't have to add that frustrating extra step between you and painting.

Basing with a Contrast spray is also far better than the acrylic alternative. When Contrast dries, it slips into the grooves of your model, meaning that detail will be preserved even after a hefty base coat. Compare this to coating with a normal acrylic spray, which can easily be over-applied if you're not careful, and there's very little room for debate.

... but with caveats

If you're not careful, you may have some gnarly results...

While Contrast paints are fantastic, there's a golden rule you need to observe if you plan on using them:

Contrast paints are not a one size fits all solution.

If you're new to painting (like me), you won't suddenly become a master just because you've got these paints on your side. The way they sink into the crevasses of a model is incredibly helpful, as it allows you to ensure that you'll get nice detailing without worrying about being super careful. That being said, you can still overload those crevasses if you're not prepared.

Beyond that, the Contrast paint range is quite limited compared to standard Citadel paints. You won't find a true black or true white in any of the pots - everything is either a very dark or very light grey (the black substitute is, however, pretty damn close, and will do the job for many).

Don't be afraid to mix and match!

The core idea that I want to get across in this article is simple: Contrast paints are a tool in your kit, not a brand new belt. Take these space marines, for instance. Their immaculate detail most likely came from the way Contrast paints seep into grooves, allowing for retention of those details. However, there are colours present here - like the white on the checkering - that Contrasts just can't create.

The two solutions have their strengths and their weaknesses. If you want the best results, you'll have to keep those limitations in mind, and work around them to make something special.

Tips for using Contrast paints

  • Make sure you thoroughly wash your brush after using Contrast paints. If they're not cleaned properly, they have a habit of damaging the brush hairs.
  • You don't need to close your paint pot's lid while you're painting, but you can't just leave it open willy nilly. If it's been ~20 minutes since you opened that pot, it's probably time to leave it for a bit.
  • Routinely re-shake your Contrast paints for the best looking colours! They need a little more oomph than other paints, but the result is worth it.
  • It's a bit of a meme at this point, but the mantra is true - Contrast paints are best as "one thick coat". When applying Contrast paints, create a well-like spot at first, and then spread outwards from there. You shouldn't need to do a second layer for one colour, as you may run the risk of obscuring details by over-layering.
  • Instead of the starting dark, finishing light approach that you take with standard paints, use Contrasts the complete opposite way. Because they're a bit thinner, they tend to blend with the colours underneath instead of completely replacing them (think watercolouring). To get the best results, make sure to start with the lightest base possible, then work down from there.

Interested in giving Contrast paints a try for yourself? You can find them here, or you can come in-store and use the paint set to see how you like them!