Painting guide: British grenadiers with Contrast paints

After my previous posting showing off my latest project in which I used GW Contrast paints to complete a unit of 18th century British grenadiers by Crann Tara Miniatures, I’ve been asked by several people for tips on how I went about it. So here we go!

Undercoat

After the usual preparation involving cleaning up any flash and washing the figures in water with detergent, I spray them with GW Wraithbone undercoat. This is great fun, as it really brings out the detail.

I understand this undercoat is especially formulated to go with Contrast paints. But how much difference it would make to use another brand, I don’t know.

Equipment and lacing

When I paint with ordinary hobby paints, I usually do the coat and breeches first, then equipment and facings last.

However, with Contrast paints I find it works better the other way around, starting with the equipment and lacing, then filling in the uniform colours later. When the uniform is a darker colour than most of the equipment (eg red or blue), this technique gives a clean edge.

  • Lacing: Skeleton Horde (you might prefer Apothecary White for other regiments)
  • Belts and haversack: Aggaros Dunes
  • Cartridge box and sword: Black Templar
  • Sword handle and belt buckle: Basilicanum Grey with a second coat of Aggoras Dunes
  • Fur knapsack: Wyldwood
  • Waterbottle: Basilicanum Grey

Mitre caps and flesh

This was the part I was most anxious about. There is a lot of detail on those mitre caps, but it is all so minute. But if someone could sculpt it, surely I could paint it!

I start by giving the whole cap a coat of Apothecary White to bring out the white lacing. I then use a very fine brush to paint in the crown emblem with Aggaros Dunes, and squiggles of Blood Angels Red and Leviadon Blue between the raised white detail. This is where Contrast paints come into their own, as they flow quite easily into the gaps. I finish with the lightest of dry-brushing with normal white paint.

The backs of the caps are done exactly the same way – a coat of white over everything first, then filling in the red and blue gaps. Again, this is sort of a reverse from the normal procedure, where I probably would’ve painted the white lace last.

By the way, I use really cheap fine brushes by the truckload which a friend bought me from the online seller Wish. Although cheap and nasty, they actually work better and last longer than I expected. But when the point does get ragged, at just a few cents per brush I can simply throw the brush away and grab another from the box.

Adding the flesh is one of my favourite tasks, as this makes the figures come alive. I use one light coat of Gulliman Flesh, and that’s it. All the shading, eyes, fingers etc appear by themselves!

Weapons and boots

One of the parts I most dislike (and I have no idea why) is painting weapons and shoes. I start with the strap, then the barrel, and finally the woodwork. I add a highlight of normal silver paint to the bayonets to make them look a bit shinier.

  • Straps: Aggaros Dunes
  • Barrel: Basilicanum Grey
  • Bayonet: Basilicanum Grey with a highlight of normal silver
  • Woodwork: Gore-Grunta Fur
  • Shoes: Black Templar

Uniforms and leggings

Now at last the best bit – the uniforms. This is quite a painstaking stage, but great fun. The Contrast paint flows really nicely into all the little gaps, using a fairly small brush.

The leggings are done with a coat of Apothecary White. This makes all the buttons pop, and gives a line to the bands that I can later follow with black.

Up till now my figures have looked sort of French or Austrian. But now they are definitely British!

  • Coats: Blood Angels Red
  • Facings and breeches: Leviadon Blue with a highlight of normal medium blue paint
  • Leggings: Apothecary White with Black Templar bands

I paint the officers and drummers using exactly the same technique. The only additional task is the sash, painted first in normal violet paint, then covered with a light coat of Blood Angels Red, which turns it into a nicely shaded crimson.

And there we have it – a company of grenadiers all done!

But how do Contrast paints on a light undercoat come out versus using normal hobby paints on a black undercoat. Well, you choose! The three grenadiers on the left are Minden Miniatures painted the normal way, and the three on the right are the Contrast-painted Crann Tara figures.

8 thoughts on “Painting guide: British grenadiers with Contrast paints

  1. That’s very helpful indeed thank you. I would never have thought of painting the coats near the end. The list of colours is very useful for someone like me who does not know where to start with this new technique. Cheers Chris

  2. I have not purchased any contrast paints yet, however your tutorial was very useful and informative. Your figures look fantastic and this has encouraged me to have a go at this method of painting. Thanks for sharing.

    Willz. Harley.

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