A new miniature painting could be an alternative to Games Workshop Contrast

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Games Workshop surprised the miniature painting world in 2019 with the introduction of Citadel Contrast Paints. The new and unusual wording caused a bit of controversy at the time, but the line has become incredibly popular among amateur and professional painters alike. Now The Army Painter is getting in on the action with their own version, called Speedpaint. The first retail samples are just getting into the hands of YouTubers, and the results are very exciting.

Contrast Paint is a proprietary formulation, so only Games Workshop knows for sure what’s inside each jar. But the concept is interesting. While traditional acrylic paints have a very thick formulation with lots of viscosity, contrast paints are much thinner. This feature allows you to create opacity on 3D models much like using watercolor on paper. But contrast paints also tend to stay where you put them, much like the opposite of a wash. This makes painting some very detailed miniatures much easier. Applied heavily, it also forms its own highlights and shadows, especially when used with a heavily shaded black and white undercoat (also called zenith undercoat). The long and short of it is that with smart brush application, it can save you time and improve your results.

This Space Marine Heavy Intercessor was painted using Citadel Contrast Paints applied with an airbrush, using a technique shared on the Cult of Paint YouTube channel.
Photo: Charlie Hall/Polygon

With an airbrush, however, the techniques really open up with Contrast Paint, which behaves more like artist-grade ink than paint. I started using several shades of similar colors to blend highlights and shadows on my base coat, which gives me a much more interesting surface to add detail. Contrast paints are now a powerful tool in my toolbox, and I wouldn’t want to go on without them.

The Army Painter’s Speedpaints, on the other hand, are marketed in a very different way. The company calls it a “one-coat paint solution” that lets you create “tabletop-quality miniatures in no time.” If this sounds a bit like a brute force fix, that’s because it is. Army Painter is also the same company that sells a line of miniature Quickshade dips, where you simply dip everything into a canister of goop, let the excess drip off, and then call it a day. So maybe a thick coat of paint is the company’s idea of ​​subtlety.

Regardless of what these paints say on the tin, YouTubers are putting them to the test with techniques they’ve perfected over the past few years with Contrast Paints. The most in-depth review comes courtesy of Brent Amberger of Goobertown Hobbies, a professional painter who also happens to be a chemist. The 16-minute video includes samples of each color in the line applied in multiple ways, and even ends with a high-res slideshow of each color once dried.

The verdict? Amberger is sold, it seems, especially with the way the thick layers dry in the recesses of his 3D-printed miniatures. The result is a much more intense shadow line and a more consistent result, he says, than when using Contrast Paints.

In Europe, Emil Nyström and the staff at Squidmar Miniatures are much less enthusiastic. They’re just not impressed with The Army Painter’s color gamut and downright disappointed with the paint’s overall performance.

However, you can’t beat the price, which is about half the cost of a comparable contrast paint. Add to that that these come in a dropper bottle with a metal mixing ball already inside, and you have great value for money.

Polygon contacted the company for samples. Keep your eyes peeled for new techniques and use cases from The Army Painter’s new line of Speedpaints, and we’ll be doing the same.

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