Citadel Contrast Paints with 3D Printed Miniatures (It Works)

Are Citadel Contrast Paints right for you? If you’re a new miniature painter, or simply a procrastinator who isn’t sure where to start, Citadel’s Contrast Paint line is perfect for you. If you’re wondering if you can use Citadel Contrast Paints on 3D prints, read on below.

In this article, guest writer Eleni Stamos (an artist and tabletop gamer) shares her experience painting miniatures for Dungeon and Dragons (D&D) and 3D printed objects with Games Workshop’s Contrast Paint.

Here’s a list of the top benefits of the Contrast Paint line:

  • Easy-to-use
  • Classic Citadel paint colors in see-through pots
  • Doesn’t need thinning (e.g., “one thick coat”)
  • Works well on well-prepared, high-resolution 3D prints


Read on below for more insights from Eleni about her miniature painting experience working with Citadel Contrast Paint.

How did I start using Citadel Contrast Paint?

I am fairly new to the hobby of miniature painting, but I have always enjoyed crafting and creating art in various forms. When I was in high school and college I sculpted with clay, so the idea of painting a model seemed like an easy transition.

New Painter and 3D Printing? Try Citadel Contrast Paints: Accessible, Simple, and Fun!

I began to explore the different options and paints, the brushes and palettes. The options and techniques and opinions were a bit overwhelming for a beginner hobbyist such as myself.

I wondered if I was getting in over my head, if I was even qualified to begin painting these tiny statues as realistic as possible. A part of me wanted to give up and try something else.

It was at that time that I stumbled onto a new type of paint: Citadel Contrast Paint.

I could finally paint my minis without laboring over every nook and cranny…

What is Contrast Paint?

Contrast paint is created by Games Workshop.

The paint is a highly pigmented, yet runny and settles into crevices and thins out across flat surfaces and ridges. This gives the paint the ability to create the look of highlights and shadows with color all in a single coat.

I was blown away with the ease of this paint!

I could finally paint my minis without laboring over every nook and cranny, but instead focus on the coloring and getting a gorgeous mini into our Dungeons and Dragons campaign.

No longer did I need to stress about painting and army of twig blights or zombies! It was as simple as choosing the colors and getting them onto the figure.

How to pick the best colors with Contrast Paint?

Picking the colors became my next issue.

The bottles are the classic Citadel pots. I can see the colors through the transparent containers. But, in order to give the paint its special texture, the colors aren’t exactly representative of the final result on a mini.

3D Printing or New Painter? Try Citadel Contrast Paints: Accessible, Simple, and Fun!
“Citadel Contrast Paint Skull Farm” – Artist: Eleni Stamos

Now, I’m the type of person who is a little extra. For example, I painted the tops of all my Vallejo dropper bottles with each color so I could instantly see what color I would be getting. I couldn’t exactly do that with the Citadel pots as they were so I had to get inventive.

Can you paint 3D printed models with Citadel Contrast Paint?

Recently I was given a 3D printer as a gift from my boyfriend as a way to encourage my painting hobby. We picked the Anycubic Photon as it is known for creating incredible detail in small figures: perfect for 3D printing minis.

It took me a little while to get comfortable with the fairly steep learning curve of the printer and 3D modeling, but I eventually started printing successful figures.


To solve my problem with the Contrast Paints, I decided to print miniature skulls.

Skulls seemed like the perfect shape as they’re aesthetically pleasing–I was the goth girl in my high school and that will never leave me–while they also have perfect little crevices and nice rounded surfaces to really show off this paint.

I am very pleased with the results of “my little rainbow skull farm”.

I searched Thingiverse and found these 3D printable skulls. I printed over 40 skulls, first with Anycubic’s Translucent Green Resin, then with Elegoo’s ABS-like Grey Resin.

By the way, if you’re looking for other awesome 3D printable files, check out these sculpts!

I then primed each skull with Vallejo’s Grey Surface Primer (see a review of this and other primers). After some drying time and staring joyfully at my little army of skulls, I set out to paint each skull with each color of the contrast paint set.

3D Printing or New Painter? Try Citadel Contrast Paints: Accessible, Simple, and Fun!
Artist: Eleni Stamos

Each contrast paint is definitely not created equally and I recommend anyone who wants to use them to sample each color separately.

For example, some colors, like the Cygor Brown, run very rich and thick. This makes it more difficult to get the shading and highlighting to do their thing on their own. Conversely, the Plaguebearer Flesh is very thin and very runny, so it is much easier to get an even coating over the rounded surface of the skull and self-shades with little to no effort. Snakebite Leather can look a little splotchy, if the correct technique isn’t used. So while it can shade easily, the highlighting part of it can be a little challenging.

3D Printing or New Painter? Try Citadel Contrast Paints: Accessible, Simple, and Fun!
Artist: Eleni Stamos

How to apply Citadel Contrast Paint on 3D printed miniatures?

I use a soft, sweeping motion of the brush to get an even coating.

When I painted each skull, I did not try to get a perfect paint job on each of the heads because I wanted to see the different consistencies on each of the heads. If they look splotchy, then I can discern more easily how I need to change my painting technique when I go to actually use a specific color.

After painting each skull, I hot glued each to their respective paint pots. I figured this was the most secure and least permanent way to affix them.

3D Printing or New Painter? Try Citadel Contrast Paints: Accessible, Simple, and Fun!
Artist: Eleni Stamos

I am very pleased with the results of “my little rainbow skull farm”.

With Citadel Contrast Paint, it is drastically easier to pick the colors for my future projects and allows me to better gauge what colors I will actually be using versus dipping my brush in and hoping for the best.

Can you mix Citadel Contrast Paint?

I have also been experimenting with mixing the colors and because they all use the same science to self-highlight and self-shade, this works wonderfully.

In short, yes you can mix Contrast Paint. Experiment for yourself. A nice benefit of course is that with Citadel Contrast Paints, you don’t need to worry about watering down Contrast Paints!

You can, of course, still dry brush highlight and still shade with Nuln Oil or Agrax Earthshade (a popular choice of shading figures) to get a little bit more dimension, but it is no longer as necessary as it is with your typical paints.

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Final Word

I highly recommend anyone who wants to get into the hobby of painting miniatures to give Contrast Paints a try.

You will need to practice your brush technique for each color, but that will come with time and experience. These Citadel contrast paints increase the accessibility of miniature painting by simplifying the process, really allowing anyone to try this hobby without needing to watch hours of painting tutorials.

3D Printing or New Painter? Try Citadel Contrast Paints: Accessible, Simple, and Fun!

You can see more of my work on Etsy, where I created a mimic chest and painted it with Citadel Contrast Paints (the area around the eye). Take a look here and let me know what you think!

Eleni Stamos – Guest Writer, Artist, and Tabletop Gamer

Happy Contrast Painting!

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