Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Zombie Skin Tones -- First experiments with GW's new Contrast Paint


as many other people, I as well have been very excited about GW's new Contrast Paint, maybe not so much about the promises they made but rather to try some new type of paint and what kind of effects one can (ab)use it for!

The large amounts of Zombicide zombies roaming my house in search for blood (or better some colour) are the perfect test subject for these colours.

Usually I prime my miniatures black (maybe with some zenithal white highlighting) and then paint the colours up from dark to bight. However, this approach does not work for the Contrast Paint, does it? But then, I did not totally want to give up on the dark (pre-)shading in the recesses. Therefore, I decided for the following approach:

First, I primed with black from below, and then with white from the upper angles. I used the black and white acrylic-polyurethane surface primers from Vallejo applied un-thinned by airbrush. The result looks like this:

Admittingly, the transitions are a bit rough despite using an airbrush. I think for "en-mass" miniatures (i.e., not characters), this is totally fine. For special miniatures one might want to do an in-between tone, i.e., grey before the white for smoother transitions.

Now, I applied the Contrast Paint un-thinned directly from the pot in one thin layer:

On the left: Gulliman Flesh and on the right Skeleton Horde.

On layer of thin Gulliman Flesh results in a relatively pale but rather alife (healthy?) skin tone. The dark pre-shading leaves heavy contrasts.

Interestingly, the Skeleton Horde leads to a little green hue, owing to its beige tone over the black in the recesses. This results in a rather sick, deseased skin tone. Maybe exactly what you want to zombies? I might reserve this one for the toxic zombies in fact.

Next, I experimented by mixing the Gulliman Flesh with either the Skeleton Horde or a bit of Aethermatic Blue. I chose the latter to give the "healthy" tone of the Gulliman Flesh some dead/cold tone (also in absence of any other blue or green contrast paint in my inventory).

Left: 1:1 Gulliman Flesh & Skeleton Horde. Right: ~3:1 Gulliman Flesh & Aethermatic Blue

Left: ~3:1 Gulliman Flesh & Aethermatic Blue. Right: ~2:2:1 Gulliman Flesh, Skeleton Horde & Aethermatic Blue

I have to say that I quite like all the results and it is difficult to me to choose my favorite for "typical" zombie skin. Certainly all of them would work well, in particular with the pre-shading. Here a comparison of all variants:

In general, this way of painting is very different from my usual paint style with rather opaque layers or saturated colours, highlights and shading but I very much like it! It is a bit like aquarelle to impressionist painting.

In this case at least, I applied only one layer of paint over the primer(s), and I would consider the skin done at a good tabletop level (no extra highlights or shades needed). So it is quite fast and well suited for painting many miniatures in a reasonable amount of time.

One thing to notice though is that if I would want to continue painting the rest of the miniature with contrast paints as well, the over-painting, i.e., mistakes due to non-clean appliance of the skin tone would become possibly a problem. In particular for other light colours. In other words, if you want to do this (one-layer) contrast painting style, you have to paint very cleanly, which again slows you down and also requires quite some practice (I still can not paint clean after 20+ years ;-)). Repairing previous mistakes will also be difficult with the black&white pre-shading.

So in summary, I am still excited about the new Contrast Paints and consider these first experiments very successful. More on this soon!

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