Hello and welcome to a special edition of The Art of Caesura!
I've just returned from Warhammer Fest 2019 (and what a brilliant time it was!) Without a doubt, the big reveal of the festival was the new Contrast Paints that Games Workshop are touting.
They have seriously been marketing the bejesus out of these things, whether it be the three hilarious teaser videos in recent months:
Leading up to today's reveal trailer:
Or the heavy branding throughout today's swag bag and arena:
Including half of an entire floor devoted to display cases of miniatures painted entirely with the new Contrast Paints - and, more excitingly, demo pods where we could give them a spin ourselves! But, I'm getting ahead of myself.
I attended a seminar on the science behind the new Contrast Paints and between that and what I saw (and experienced) today, I'd like to share as much of it with you as possible. At the moment information is a little light on the ground (though that is sure to change in the coming weeks leading up to their release), so I hope this can be your one-stop shop for getting up to speed on Citadel's new paint system.
As always, feel free to ask questions in the comments section below!
What Are Contrast Paints?
TL;DR: they are high pigment, low viscosity paints that feel like shades when you use them, but act as a magical combo of layer paint / shade / highlight.
Contrast Paints are a whole new style of painting. David Cross, the guy giving the seminar (the chemist behind making citadel paints), likened the way we currently paint miniatures to traditional oil painting. Many people undercoat in black (to forgive any whoopsies by hiding them in deep shadow) and build up the colours and highlights on top.
Contrast Paints, in contrast, are like watercolour paints. You start from a light undercoat (close to white), tinting this with paint that is thin enough (low viscosity) to act like a shade - sliding naturally into recessed details, but has enough surface tension and opacity to colour the flat surfaces and thinly tint the raised surfaces (with the light undercoat showing through, this gives the effect of a highlight).
Do Contrast Paints Work?
TL;DR: Yes* (terms and conditions apply, read on).
They'd better. Apparently Games Workshop has spent the past 4 years developing these paints. They were working on them when Warhammer Fantasy 8th Edition was still a thing. According to the guy's presentation, they tested these Contrast Paints on 12 companies (1200) worth of Space Marines!! He showed pictures of picnic tables full of Space Marines of many a hue, saying that that would be one day's testing!
They had to test the paints on assembled models (rather than just pieces of paper or chunks of plastic sprues) because the way the paint flows (like a shade), naturally settling in crevices, you wouldn't really get an idea of whether or not the paint was working as intended unless you could see the paint dry on an upright model.
All of this amounts to a paint that flows into recesses, but stays (thinly) on raised surfaces.
I will give my opinions of if they work at the end of this post.
How Do You Use Contrast Paints?
So, going back to our watercolour pontifications above, you need to start this approach from a light colour. Who knew, but white spray paint is REALLY difficult to make. There are only two things they can use for white pigment: titanium dioxide (which is used in white bread) and lead (which is not). Titanium dioxide molecules are very large compared to pigments used in other spray paints (the analogy he used was: scaling up a molecule of titanium dioxide to the size of a soccer ball [football], a molecule of whatever they make black pigment out of would be the size of a marble!). With their relatively large surface area, these molecules begin to dry in mid-air (between the spray can and your model) causing clumping (hello White Scar spray).
The way they got around this was to cheat a little. They've produced two new sprays: Wraith Bone (off-white beige) and Seer Grey (off-white grey). By "contaminating" the white with another colour, this "fills in the gaps between the larger molecules". Science; what can I say? They tested these sprays in all kinds of conditions (including having a kettle perpetually boiling in their spray hood to create humidity).These spray colours will also come as paint-on "Base" paints.
The models that we got our grubby paws on today were already assembled and primed with the new sprays and I can say that they are very smooth indeed.
Once primed, you really just slap these bad boys on. As I've said, they're much less viscous than normal layer or base paints, more like a shade. In fact, apparently Nighthaunt Gloom and Hexwraith Flame were semi-failed first attempts at these paints. Those two are made with the same base (medium) as the rest of the paint range, while Contrast Paints have a whole new medium (Contrast Medium). Because of that, you shouldn't use water with Contrast Paints (it will create streaky water marks like shades diluted with water), you also shouldn't use Lahmian Medium (it would ruin the "Contrast" effect, making them just act more like normal paints).
Drying time is similar to a shade (a few minutes to 20 min in heavily-pooled areas), and yes, you can speed things up with a hair-dryer. You can then use layer paints etc. to add further details / highlights if you wish.
Because these paints work by very thinly covering raised surfaces, the guy said they will pretty much have to be varnished so the paint doesn't rub off. He did say that they will be releasing a new varnish which will have a similar finish to "acrylic painted miniatures" so...satin finish?
What Colours of Contrast Paints Are We Getting?
- Apothecary White
- Black Templar
- Space Wolves Grey
- Gryph-Charger Grey
- Ikhelian Grey
- Volupus Pink
- Blood Angels Red
- Flesh Tearers Red
- Magos Purple
- Shyish Purple
- Ultramarines Blue
- Aethermatic Blue
- Talassar Blue
- Leviadon Blue
- Terradon Turquoise
- Akhelian Green
- Militarum Green
- Dark Angels Green
- Militarum Green
- Warp Lightening (Green)
- Nazdreg Yellow
- Iyanden Yellow
- Gryph-hound Orange
- Snakebite Leather
- Cygor Brown
- Guilliman Flesh
- Fyreslayer Flesh
- Darkoath Flesh
- Plaguebearer Flesh
- Ork Flesh
- Skeleton Horde
- Aggaros Dunes
- Creed Camo
- Gore-Grunta Fur
|Thanks to Retro on TGA for help with this complete list|
There will be 34 colours to start (we got to try out 10 today), but I must say, the two different undercoats ACTUALLY DO make a huge difference (it's not just a marketing gimmick). I saw the same yellow over each undercoat and it looked like two completely different colours. And you don't even have to use these new undercoats if you don't want to (you could use Corax White - or anything else) but they were designed around these undercoats. Separate pots of "Contrast Medium" will be sold, but this won't turn "normal" paints into Contrast Paints (the "normal" paints already have their own medium in) instead it will help with wet-blending.
The Contrast Paints will be completely compatible with rest of paint range (they tried to colour-match specific paints, so for example Blood Angels Red is like Mephiston Red, shaded and then highlighted with Evil Sunz Scarlet. Contrast Paints work better on textured surfaces (as it can pool on large flat surfaces – like tanks (though I saw a bunch of tanks there, and they all looked great!).
There will be no metallics in the Contrast range (because the metallic “pigments” are too heavy to work with this medium). But, you can paint them over metallics, and apparently it gives a nice "matte-metallic" finish.
- Contrast Paints are high pigment and will stain clothes (I did not test this claim)!
- Contrast Paints are in new medium-sized pots (between normal 12mL (layer, base etc) pots, and large 24mL (shade) pots.
- We don't know if they can be used with an airbrush.
- We don’t know the price.
- We don’t know the exact release date – only that it’s in June.
There was a constant emphasis of the term “battle ready” (i.e. tabletop quality) in reference to the quality produced, however, I did see ones that the teams had highlighted up with the rest of the range after applying the contrast paints – and they looked great!
These paints introduce a totally different style of painting. You have to start with the lightest colours first, because you can’t paint a light colour over a darker colour (they're very unforgiving in this way), so you would have to repaint the undercoat colour then use the Contrast Paint again. This can be tricky as the lightest colours may be the outer-most surface (like the tabbards on these Sequetors) – which I would usually leave for last – painting from the “inside out”).
But, used well, in combination with the rest of the Citadel paints (metallics etc.) these will be a seamless addition to our armamentarium and will definitely save time and sanity. For the first time I can actually see myself going back and painting my Battle for Skull Pass Night Goblins!
I have to admit, these were quite a surprise! For the most part they do seem to do what they claim to! I only got to try 10 colours, and certainly had more success with some of them than others.
The standouts for me were:
Guilliman Flesh (genuinely was like several coats of Cadian Fleshtone, Reikland Fleshshade and then highlighted with Cadian Fleshtone) but it only took one quick stroke (literally 2 seconds per face).
Skeleton Horde: Did a beautiful job of replicating Zandri Dust > Agrax Earthshade > Ushabti Bone. In. one. coat.
They blend really well – like wet-blending. Apparently when using the new "Contrast Medium", they blend even better.
I can actually see myself using these for my old Night Goblins hordes (of which I have many millions) a lick of Black Templar and a green for their faces, would pretty much have them done in a few hours.
I can also definitely see myself using Skeleton Horde for my Barak Mhornar under-suits – especially if they have one for the dark blue – green armour.
Over the course of the day, I tried 3 different minis (one with standard base / layer paints and the other two with the new Contrast Paints. I spent about 8 minutes per model (as I was rushing between seminars). Obviously they're very rushed, but might give you some idea of these paints.
I've shown the model above (with standard base / layer paints over the new Wraithbone Spray) just to demonstrate how much (little) I was able to paint in 8 min compared to using the contrast paints (over Seer Grey) below for the same amount of time.
Here are a few (very blurry) pics I took of models on display that were painted with Contrast Paints.
Peachy photo-bomb above!
And here are some high-res images to get a better idea of what's going on (thanks to CaptMytre for these)
Ben, from The 2 Ps Podcast (who I had the very great pleasure of meeting today), has filmed his first go using these paints:
Are these total game-changers? You know what, I think they could be. They might be the best thing since Agrax Earthshade!
Thanks for your time and interest. I'll see you on Friday at our usual Bat-time, usual Bat-channel, right here on The Art of Caesura!
Watching: Vermintide II: Winds of Magic Gameplay
Reading: Maleditictions - Various
Drinking: Durgrund's Hellfire - Bugman's Brewery
The rest of the fest...