GW’s Contrast Paints: How They’ll Really Look On Models

By Wesley Floyd | September 13th, 2022 | Categories: Citadel Color Contrast, News / Rumors, Warhammer Community

Citadel contrast color new paints games workshop buy lineupDon’t miss how all the new Citadel Contrast paints really look on models with each of the new primers from Games Workshop!

We’ll be covering how models actually look with just contrast paint because so often they are used with tons of other layers, making it hard to tell exactly what they look like on their own. Then, we’ll even cover how to make your own, what type of value there is, and more. That way you can decide if spending those hobby dollars on the paint is worthwhile.

If you didn’t know, the paints are supposed to help get your minis painted quickly and with some, you guessed it, decent contrast! While they won’t do everything for you, they will make your painting go much faster! Let’s first answer some quick questions, then take a deeper dive.

Questions About Contrast Paint

contrast size pots

  • The first question always is, do they actually help you paint faster and get decent results? Short answer, yes!
  • Will these give you high-level paint jobs on their own? Not really, they will give you a tabletop standard very quickly, however.
  • Can they be useful for high-level paint jobs? Of course! They can help take your paint jobs to a new level when used with other paints and techniques.
  • Are they worth it? This is a tough question, they are expensive, but do give good results. You can also make your own or find alternatives that are similar and cheaper.
  • Can you make your own Contrast style paints? Yes, but obviously it takes time!
  • How hard are they to use? Not very hard once you get the basics down.

Now, let’s take a deeper dive!

Contrast Paints Pricing

new paints from Games Workshop

Contrast paints are sitting at $7.80 each per 18mL pot. These are somewhere between a layer and a wash in consistency and if you’re going to be covering your entire models in these, the paint is probably going to go fairly quick. It may be a good idea to grab a few bottles of the same color if you plan on painting your little rank-and-file guys in your army.

Now that you’ve seen the colors and price (don’t worry if it’s too expensive, we’ll show you how to make your own as well), let’s look at how paints will look with different rattle can primers.

Rattle Can Primer & What Color You Need To Choose


The new primer shades that are designed to work Contrast are going for $19.50 per can. These will have a more neutral-light tone that gives contrast paints a perfect backdrop to bring out the paint color. The primer color you choose is important on how vibrant of a color you want your minis to look.

Here’s a table from GW Clemsford of certain primers used with the same Contrast Paint:

contrast primer 1

Obviously, Grey Seer is the more grey primer, Wraithbone is a bright tan, and Corax White is the purest white you’ll find among the paints.

contrast primer 2

You can see that generally speaking, the Grey Seer primer puts out a darker hue, while Corax White has the most vibrant and bright color. Of course, that leaves Wraithbone in the middle of the road.

contrast primer 3

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contrast primer 4Hopefully, this side-by-side comparison of primers and the Contrast paints has helped you decide which primer you should go with as well as maybe what Contrast paint would look best for your minis!

Our Favorite Contrast Paints So Far:

citadel contrast paint games workshop

Here are my top 5 Contrast paints that I love, and may be perfect for you as well!

  • Skeleton Horde
    • This paint is great for doing all sorts of bone color and if you want to make them stand out from one another try various kinds of washes on it to make them stand out. For death armies, or those with lots of skulls and bones though this is a lifesaver in terms of time and how good it looks.
  • Snakebite Leather
    • I always struggled painting leather and so when I picked up this paint I was hoping for a miracle and it provided one. This looks so good over any of the base coats, and it looks like leather. Personally, I like it over Wrathbone white, then shaded using Agrax earth shade to make it really pop.
  • Talassar Blue
    • I love the richness of this blue and first tested it out on a lot of blue horrors I painted. It goes on smoothly, and the coverage is nice. Along with that, it has a deep richness that would look good as clothing, banners, etc. for any army.
  • Black Templar
    • Painting black can be hard and this offers a really good solution to getting something black but then showing you where to highlight. I like to edge highlight the brighter areas on this either in a grey or dark blue, but on the stone, you could get away with dry brushing I would think.
  • Apothecary White
    • Painting white is hard, this makes it so much easier. If you have a bunch of guys you want to paint up in white this paint can work wonders for you. The nice grey shading is perfect for the white color that can help anyone get the tone of white they are looking for.

How to Make Your Own

Rob walks us through how to make your own! Either check out the video above or our steps below.

Matte medium



We’ll use these mediums and some Airbrush Flow Improver as the primary solvent. Which medium you wish to use is solely dependent on the effect you are aiming for.  Rob thinks he got the best flow using the regular old matte medium (right), that can be purchased in bulk (above).

Vallejo Flow Improver

Combine whichever medium you prefer in a half and half mix with flow improver to create your own “Contrast thinner”.

Contrast Paint Color Comparisons

COntrast compare

For a quick comparison, the left model was made with the normal Contrast Paints and the right model was made with the samples Rob mixed together. Other than minor color differences that can be fine-tuned, the properties of the paint can be seen and they are almost identical in that respect!

Rob suspects that the Contrast uses super high pigments (like inks) to make those vibrant colors, so try experimenting with some of those for similar color pops!

COntrast latern

The way we handle these mixtures is simply by placing some of our 50-50 medium/flow improver mix and the paint we want to use on the palette and mixing them a little bit to create the consistency we are looking for.

In the glowing green above, we see the GW Contrast on the top coils, with Rob’s mix on the bottom ones. Other than the color, the “pop-iness” and general characteristics of the paints are very similar as we can see!

Rob says there are about 7 “must-have” Contrast paints for his hobby toolbox. With this DIY Contrast thinner, you can make any other color you want by mixing it with washes, acrylics, and even inks.

Is the GW Contrast Paint Worth it?

Honestly no, at least not all of them, not with other alternatives for half the price out there that work better, like the Army Painter Speedpaint. However if you need them for a specific paint recipe or this is all you have access to, they will work.

GW contrast paint is too inconsistent and unpredictable to use across the whole range. It almost seems like these were initially supposed a different product entirely.

Update: New Citadel Color Contrast, Shades & Spray Paints From GW

New GW PaintsRevealed on June 13th, 2022 new Citadel Contrast and colors paints are on the way There are a lot of new Citadel colors, however, we think a lot of folks were looking for something a bit different. Still, if you love GW’s paints and contrast more specifically, this could be really good.

New GW Contrast Paints

New GW Paints 2

Now it’s time to take it to the next level. 25 new Contrast paints are expanding the range into a whole new realm of vibrant colours. These new paints unlock wilder colour palettes for your armies, meaning they’ll stand out even more on the battlefield – painting mind-blowing models will be easier than ever! 


New GW Paints 3

25 new paints is a lot of colour to cover, so we’ve split the range into four simple categories to help you get an idea of what they look like. These new colours run the gamut from bright and bold to grimy and eerie – whether you’re painting a tank turret or a raging Endless Spell, there’s a pot here for you.


New GW Paints 4There really are some cool colors being added which should make painting a wide range of minis fairly easy. Plus, we won’t complain about new paints, let’s just hope the new line doesn’t raise the prices of the paints once again.


New GW Paints 5

The Mortal Realms and 41st Millennium boast countless creatures with a touch of the dark, as well as warriors clad in weathered armour and solemn robes. Plus, every miniature needs to stand on something – like a solid, dependable hero rock. 

New GW Shades

New GW Paints 6


These Shade paints are designed to provide instant depth and easily create stronger shadows, speeding up the process of creating great-looking models. While Contrast paints are designed to tint surfaces and give an intense finish, this new formulation ensures that Shade paints will settle more effectively into the recesses of your miniatures – while leaving the raised parts of your models relatively untouched.  

They have seven new colors but it also looks like all the shades will be redone, so again, let’s hope this doesn’t raise prices for the new formula.

New Spray Paint

New GW Paints 7

White Scar is designed specifically for use with Contrast paints, to sit alongside the cool Grey Seer and the warmer Wraithbone sprays. There’s nothing stopping you from using it with our regular Citadel range, however. It’s great for creating punchier colours from a brighter undercoat – you can even try using our reformulated Shades on it for bold new results.

The new spray is cool but honestly not the craziest thing out there. Still, if you use contrast paints, this could be a good addition to the line.

Stop Spilling GW Citadel Color & Contrast Paints: 3 Steps to Move to Dropper Bottles

Transfer your GW Citadel Color and Contrast Paints to dropper bottles in 3 quick steps to stop spilling, keep them from drying out, or taking up too much space!

dropper-bottles-games-Workshop-miniature-paint-decantPeople had been petitioning GW (literally there was a petition going around) to transfer their paints to dropper bottles. But it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen after ther recent announcement, so it’s time to take matters into your own hands!

That’s why today we are going to show you one of the easiest ways to get the most out of your hobby paints.

Transferring your Citadel color and contrast paints into dropper bottles, which you can grab here, will make painting a breeze. Grabbing a set of 50 won’t set you back much hobby dollars-wise, and it can save you big on paint! Sure, maybe they should come like this in the first place (as thousands of people have been saying for ages), but they don’t.

You can watch Rob’s video to see how to do it or read our highlights below. Let’s learn how to make our own Citadel GW Paint dropper bottles!

You’re a strong independent gamer who doesn’t need to buy GW-produced dropper bottles! But before we get into the process of switching your Citadel paints over to easy-to-use dropper bottles, here’s what you need:

A bag of 50 dropper bottles from Amazon is perfect to get you started. 15mL is a great start but can be a little small when transferring Citadel Contrast paints, so if that’s the majority of your collection you’ll want the 30ml droppers. The 15ml is the standard Vallejo and Army Painter dropper bottle size, so if you don’t feel like doing this, just go grab some of their paints!

The dropper bottle kit from Amazon comes with the bottles, nozzles, and tops, so you are ready to start transferring right out of the box.

Step One:

The first step to start transferring your paints is to snip off the plastic lid on the Citadel Paints. Carefully use your hobby clippers to snip the plastic, no need to waste paint on the first step.

Next, grab a dash of Flow Improver to help ease your transfer and add a few ball bearings to get things moving inside the pot. Give your paint a good shake to mix the paint and Flow Improver.

Step Two:

Now, gently pour your paint from your Citadel pot into your dropper bottle. Don’t rush here and take your time, with the flow improver and metal balls it should go smoothly.

If you rush here and spill all the paint, it was all for nothing! If you have a hard time with your pour, try using a funnel used for pouring booze into those tiny metal flasks. A little excess paint might remain in the pot after transferring, so keep that in mind. You can let it rest and then repeat the process to get that last little bit of paint out.

Step Three:


To seal the deal, peel off the label from the Citadel paint and add it to your dropper bottle. Might as well know what each paint is if you’re going through the trouble… Or you can just guess and make painting all the more fun!

Final Thoughts:

GW Dropper BottlesIt can take 3-4 hours to fill 50 or so dropper bottles with paint if you’re being careful not to make a mess and such. Still, not that long when you consider how much paint and hassle it will save you in the future!

Transferring your paints into dropper bottles will help step up your hobby paint game. No more spilling or wasting of paint with these bottles! Stay tuned for more hobby hacks and tutorials, and make sure to watch the full video above for all of Rob’s insights!

Click Below To Get the Supplies to Transfer Your Paints:

15ml Dropper Bottles

30ml Dropper Bottles (for contrast and large pots)

Vallejo Flow Improver

The Army Painter Mixing Balls

Have you been adding the Citadel Contrast paints from Games Workshop to your arsenal? 

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About the Author: Wesley Floyd

Imperial fanboy, tabletop fanatic, King of sprues.
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