Thursday, May 21, 2020

Shade or Contrast Paint?

I'm a big fan of the Contrast paint range and what you can do with them. They have so many uses, from the one thick coat application, to glazes, to using them to shade a model. This does bring up the question though of Shade paints or Contrast paints? They both cover some of the same uses, so which should you use?

The short answer is both! That's all, thank you for reading.

Of course I'll go into more detail. There's no denying that Shade paints and Contrast paints do some of the same things. I've even heard people say what's the point of Shades now that Contrast is around? Personally, I like to use both of them, often on the same model, sometimes even on the same part of the model! The most obvious use of Contrast paints is the one thick coat application that gives you your main color and your shading all in one go. While this may seem unique to Contrast, it's actually something that I had been doing with the Shade paints for quite awhile before Contrast was released. This is how the skin on my Daughters of Khaine were done with thinned down Reikland Fleshshade, and the majority of my Nighthaunt stuff is just a variation of this with a technical paint. So if Contrast and Shade can do the same thing as each other, than what's the purpose of using both?

Let's start with Contrast Paint. There are a few key differences with this compared to shade. The first most obvious one as soon as you get some out of your pot is how thick it is. Contrast paint is very viscous and also dries a bit quicker. You can thin it down with Contrast Medium or water, depending on the finish you're going for, but even so, it's definitely thicker. The way it works, unless it's very thinned down, you even want to apply it thicker. If you put too thin of a layer on it can streak and leave a very rough finish on the model. By putting it on a bit thicker you allow the paint to cover the area of the model evenly then settle into the crevices. Another difference is the vibrance and saturation of the color. In general, Contrast paints are much more vibrant than Shades. They have more pigment and will give you a more vivid color. That's part of why I used a lot of Contrast on my Snarlfangs instead of a Shade even though I was using it on top of Base and Layer paints, because I wanted the model to be very bright and colorful. Obviously, there are some more dulled down Contrast paints as well based on the color, but for the most part they're more vibrant. Lastly, there are A LOT of Contrast paints. You really have your pick of color here.

Shades on the other are pretty much the opposite of all of these points. They're very thin by nature. They're primary purpose isn't to tint an area like Contrast paint does, but to mostly just settle into the recesses and darken those down. This means they're easier to handle if you're trying to do some quick shadows in small, delicate areas. I was recently painting the Hrothgorn model from Underworlds and I did all of the initial shading on the skin with thinned down Guilliman Flesh, but when I wanted to go in and further define a few of the crevices I used Reikland Fleshshade since I had more control of it at that scale. I did the same on the cream with Aggros Dunes and Agrax Earthshade. They're also duller than Contrast paints. If you cover an entire area with a Shade it will mostly just impact the crevices, but the other areas will get tinted as well and mostly become duller. It may sound odd saying you want duller colors on your models, but lots of times you generally do. If you want some metals to look worn and aged, a coat of Agrax Earthshade will do you good. While I could use Aethermatic Blue to get a similar look on my Nighthaunt, that Contrast paint is just a little too vibrant for the finished look I was after. You may also just find a personal preference for a color or how it behaves. I for one generally like the look of a coat of Seraphim Sepia over white for a bone color compared to Skeleton Horde. The same with Carroburg Crimson compared to Flesh Tearers Red. One down side the Shades have is a more limited selection. There are a good number of them, but you definitely have fewer choices, although you do have Gloss versions of a few, which work great on metallics.

So what's my final conclusion on this? I like them both. I use both of them depending on the project and circumstances. On my Snarlfangs I used mostly Contrast paints to shade the model because I liked how vibrant they were, but I also used Shades on some of the darker leathers, bone areas, and metallics. I say it's better to have a full toolbox instead of limiting yourself. Play around with both of them and see which you like more. I imagine a lot of people will fall into the same camp as me, where you may like a lot of Contrast paints for certain colors and effects, but then still use Shades for others, even if they have a comparable color in the Contrast range.

While the two are definitely similar, they both have enough unique attributes so that they compliment each other instead of compete with each other. What are your thoughts on Contrast and Shade paints?

Until next time,

Tyler M.

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