The basic way that contrast paint works is that the medium tints all of the figure but is a much darker shade where it pools. As it pools in the cracks and crevices to a greater degree than it does on flat surfaces, it naturally shades the model, much as their earlier washes were designed to do.
So what is the difference between a wash/shade and a contrast paint? Well the tinting of the underlying base color is supposed to be stronger with a contrast paint. But in both cases the color underneath can change the final shade once you put a wash/shade or contrast paint on top.
To show this effect – and to help me decide on how to paint my Orks' skin – I decided to take some old Gretchin models (space goblins) that I collected from Warhammer 40,000 Second Edition boxed sets. (No one wanted Orks or Gretchin back then except me, so I picked them up for practically nothing. They were still laying around unpainted some 20+ years later.)
I started by using Citadel Corax White spray paint, which is a cool off-white tending towards gray, to prime them. This is a recommended, and hence expensive, primer for those using contrast paints. I can tell you that it is a better primer than, say, acrylic inks when it comes to contrast paints. Acrylic inks can cause the contrast paints to bead, so if you are going to prime with that, you need to shoot it with matte varnish afterwards.
I basically had three greens on hand to try out: Plaguebearer Flesh, Militarum Green, and Ork Flesh. There are at least three others, Dark Angels Green, Creed Camo, and Warp Lightning but my FLGS did not have them. If anything, Creed Camo is the one closest to my idea of what Ork skin color should look like, but I did not have access to it. (I could complain about COVID-19 closing down the shops, but honestly, if it were not for the closing of the shops I would probably not be painting.)
I started with Plaguebearer Flesh alone, as an undershade to the other greens, and as an overshade to a brown (Aggaros Dunes).
|Paint combinations with Plaguebearer Flesh|
|Paint combinations with Aggaros Dunes|
|Paint Combinations with Militarum Green|
|Paint Combinations with Ork Flesh|
For Orks tending towards a yellowish skin color I preferred Plaguebearer Flesh over Aggaros Dunes. Neither of these contrast paints are particularly strong in their covering power.
|Best Yellow – Plaguebearer Flesh over Aggaros Dunes|
|Best Green – Ork Flesh over Plaguebearer Flesh|
Let me know if you are not interested in seeing painting discussion. I know I am usually a gaming blog with an emphasis on rules reviews, but there are really four aspects of my hobby (making, painting, gaming, and gaming with computers) and I have been focusing on the latter two for a while now. I have shied away from painting for some time mostly because I feel like between my back and my eyesight I cannot accomplish very much volume and what I can accomplish is always pleasing to my own eye. (I am very critical of my painting because I used to paint very well for an amateur.)