Citadel Contrast Paints - A Year in my life

Exactly one year ago today, I posted my most successful blog post today; an initial review of Contrast Paints at the time of writing, it has something like ten times as many views as my next most popular post. Being an opportunistic attention seeker. I figured I would play off of that and build out another post on this 'wonder drug' for our hobby.

Rereading the original post, I am kinda surprised just how down on them I am. I had only done limited testing in a less than ideal environment but I was very much wrong in my conclusions. So why have I u-turned so hard on my initial thoughts?


Maximising Light Contrast is all about going from pure white to pure black

Any competition painter will, at some point, have been told that their piece needs more 'contrast'. This is a statement about the need to push colours to extremes of light and dark, warm and cool and complimentary colours. The reasoning for this comes down to what appeals to the human eye, which looks for differences between elements to draw the eye. This is a core tenant of Colour Theory, something every display or competition painter should study.

Citadel Contrast paints adopt this mentality in the dimension of Light and Dark at least, taking the shapes of the model to shadow the recesses of the model in much the same way as a regular shade or wash. Using your brush to move the paint to encourage this behaviour and you can get incredibly realistic shadowing with very little effort or time. 

Building Brush Control

A lot of people have complained about how hard it is to fix mistakes when using Citadel Contrast paints, one little slip onto the wrong part of the model and you have to go back with you primer and re build everything up all over again.

This becomes even more of an issue when you are using zenithal priming methods as colour matching this is it's own difficulty.

From my perspective, this can in fact be a benefit. Painting in the more traditional mode, I was often very sloppy in my early basecoating, knowing that I would be safe to paint over this, but in doing so, I am not mindful of my brush strokes nor am I practising my brush control - strengthening this develops muscle memory and improves painting over all. Working with more care to keep all painting 'inside the lines' does take a little longer but is building these core skills. The time you save by effectively basecoating and washing in a single step, more than makes up for the additional time you spend painting.
Work that brush control


For those of us that are Airbrushing - Citadel Contrast paints also provide us with a something previously very difficult to find. Airbrushes can do amazing things with blends and transitions, it can take them further with the use of filters and glazing through the use of translucent paints. These can be made easily enough or Acrylic Inks can be used. The former is a lot of work, the latter is prone to a very glossy finish - this paint line is an excellent medium.
Tinting models with Citadel Contrast paints as a filter

Please note that while the translucency and colour will be conveyed in applications with the airbrush - you CANNOT apply Citadel Contrast paints through an airbrush and maintain the 'flow' properties that allow for the shading and pooling effect that they are known for. The reason for this is that the airflow from the airbrush would push the paint around the surface of the model instead of allowing it to pool naturally.

How I use Citadel Contrast Paints

At this point - I use Citadel Contrast paints on every model I paint up, from tabletop up through to competition pieces. Unless I am taking a commission that specifically needs to not used them, they will feature on much or all of my models. In addition to the method described above for airbrushing, I will often brush paint contrast paints over a zenithal prime (Black prime with a directional white coat applied with rattle can or airbrush to simulate lighting of the model). This process combines two different methods of introducing shadows on the model that compliment each other:
  1. Large volume shadows are provided through the zenithal priming, it allows you to also control the brightest parts of the model. through focus of the zenithal.
  2. The smaller detail shadows are brought out through the contrast paints which take the shape of the model to help establish these. Prior to this - an additional step of brush painting was required to reinforce these shadows from smaller details.
Simple Contrast over Zenithal

This can either be used to produce a well finished model or provide the starting point for further highlighting and shading.

- Raggy, signing out