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Wednesday, June 1, 2022

The Great Indian Army GW Contrast Paint Field Study

The Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army has ordered a field test of GW Contrast Paints to see if units can be uniformed more quickly for the field; especially with the expansion of the forces of the Indian Service Army. Being the only Colonel in the vicinity of the CIC, he quickly pointed his finger and said," Mad Dawg, the project is yours. Since you have taken more than you fair share of hills, you will now be given more than your fair share of hills to take." 

"Yes Sir."

"Okay Captain Spencerbottom-Smythe you will be my assistant and . . . where did everyone go?"

So what are the Games Workshop Contrast Paints and are you wondering if the new Citadel Contrast Paints are worth it? The Citadel Contrast Paints are a potentially game changing tool for miniature painters. Unlike "regular" miniature paints, Citadel Contrast Paints are paints designed specifically for new painters or people who want to get their tabletop models and miniatures painted quickly. Since I'm an experienced painter and wanted to see how quickly I could get some units painted I decided to give them a try. Contrast paints are a new formulation of paints made by Game Workshop. They are designed to be applied over a bright undercoat (recommended as white colored). If I was to simply describe the behavior of Citadel Contrast Paint, it would that it is a highly-pigmented paint suspended in a medium that helps it act as both a wash and glaze at the same time.

But first, I wanted to watch a video. There are a gazillion videos on YouTube posted by Citadel and others, so I first watched the basic Citadel Video:

Well that doesn't look to hard. I drove up the road to the nearest GW store and asked the individual there about Contrast Paints, what would be the best for khaki, etc. He was quite knowledgeable about the paints but wasn't sure what would be the best for khaki. He recommended that I wait until the store employee returned from Starbucks next door. (Embarrassed silence as I looked at him and the others in the store - then I started laughing and so did he.) After the Warhammer guy came back and I showed him a picture, he recommended Contrast Nazdreg Yellow (Hee, Hee, Hee) and Contrast Skeleton Horde (BWAH, HAH, HAH!).

New paints, same lousy containers.

Each bottle is about $8.00 each and requires a white or gray primer. Since the official Citadel sprays were $22.00, I decided to pass and just do some priming by hand for the great experiment.
While I was there I also picked up two of the brown's for horses since I'm not a great fan of when it comes to painting horses: 

Contrast Cygor Brown (a dark brown - Ha, Ha, Ha! What names! I know that GW does the copyright thing and all, but if you are not a regular GW player - how do you remember the names?).

Contrast Gore-Grunta Fur (BWAH HAH HAH!) I'd hate to meet a Gore-Grunta in a dark alley). Anyway it's a lighter brown.

First up is a test figure and I hand primed him with Vallejo Medium Grey.

Let's try the Nazdreg Yellow (Hee, Hee, Hee) and see how that looks.

Oh my gosh - that poor bugler. Then I remember in the back of my mind the GW guy telling me to prime with white or a very light grey. So let's try another figure, the British officer, hand primed with Vallejo Green Grey.

I actually used Contrast Skeleton Horde (BWAH, HAH, HAH!) on the officer and it doesn't look too bad. I went back and watched some more videos and discovered that I'm a slow painter which causes some of the pooling. The trick is to paint faster over the area that what you may be used too and that helps avoid the clumping. If it continues to pool, just dry your brush and then use it to brush the excess paint off. It also takes about 30 minutes to dry.

A side by side comparison. One the left is 
Contrast Skeleton Horde (BWAH, HAH, HAH!) and on the right is Contrast Nazdreg Yellow (Hee, Hee, Hee). They may look a little "grungy" but once all of the details are painted, they look just fine at gaming distance. The Contrast Nazdreg Yellow (Hee, Hee, Hee) looks shiny but that's just my camera.

The just about completed figures. I re-did the bugler with a white primer which made the Contrast Skeleton Horde (BWAH, HAH, HAH!) much lighter. The horses were primed white and I used the Contrast Cygor Brown (Ha, Ha, Ha!). For someone who does not like painting horses I think they turned out great.

A note about detail. When using Contrast Paints, a lighter color will not work over a darker color. You have to paint a lighter color over the darker color if you want to use a lighter Contrast Paint. I enjoy painting, so painting the details with Contrast Paints (plus the price) is not a problem for me and I'll just stick to the tried and true Vallejo. But for painting large areas of base colors, plus the shading that comes with it, I think it is worth the price.

Last experiment for horses:

You have already seen the horses with Contrast Cygor Brown (Ha, Ha, Ha!) so from Left to Right is a 50/50 mix of Contrast Skeleton Horde (BWAH, HAH, HAH!) and Contrast Nazdreg Yellow (Hee, Hee, Hee); Contrast Skeleton Horde (BWAH, HAH, HAH!) and the last two are Contrast Gore-Grunta Fur (BWAH HAH HAH!).

Here is a Perry miniatures Bengal Lancer (Sikh) mounted with some of the details starting to be painted with Vallejo paints. The figure and horse were both primed white and I used Contrast Skeleton Horde (BWAH, HAH, HAH!) for the uniform and the figure is mounted on a horse painted with Contrast Gore-Grunta Fur (BWAH HAH HAH!).

My recommendation? After I got the hang of applying the Contrast Paints, I think they are great for quickly getting large portions of uniforms and other items painted. For me, I'm not going to use Contrast for straps, weapons, etc; it seems to me twice the work on smaller details and I'll just stick with Vallejo or other paints for those details.

I rebased the officer of the 10th Bengal Lancers so this gives you an idea of what the finished product looks like at gaming distance. I will admit that I used a little Contrast Nazdreg Yellow (Hee, Hee, Hee) on the pugree wrapped around the helmet:


  1. Hi Neil (sounds like I'm talking to myself! :-) ),
    I was late to the Contrast Paints thinking them just another fad.
    I've found they do work for C20th if you select the right colours. The flesh shades also work well. I have yet to try the colours. I'm thinking they will work on Biblicals well (all that flesh) and Wild West ( muted browns, greens, sand and grey).
    They will never replace really good painting, but if you want to get troops on the table fast, it's what they were designed for.
    I have some 20mm examples on my blog (AIW Egyptians).
    A couple of sites I found useful; for what the colours actually look like (the silly names don't really help do they):

    For WW2:


    1. Dear Clone Brother Neil,
      I know what you mean!

      I agree. I'm using the Contrasts for horses or big uniform parts but I still doing the details the way that I'm used to doing. BTW, great resource on the link; I'll be posting it soon on my Facebook Group.


  2. Great results, Neil! I think I get a similar effect from block painting followed by an application of Minwax wood stain. My method predates “contrast colors” by decades…

    1. Jonathan,
      You are definitely a man ahead of his time!

  3. Second attempt at a comment... Previous was aborted by Blogger for some has happened previously on your blog....Anyhoo, great results, despite the laughable names, the paints have done a great job....might actually be something in this new tangled contrast paint malarkey!

    1. I've had the same issue with some of my favorite blogs - must be a bug in Blogger. I like using the Contrast paints if the majority or a large portion of a figure (like horses!) are one color but it is definitely a different style of painting. I'll be using them selectively as I like still doing the details the old fashioned way.