Another “one coat painting solution” enters the market. But are The Army Painter’s new Speedpaints really as good or even better than Contrast? I received the Speedpaints Mega Set early, and here are my thoughts about them. Plus: a hand-painted comparison chart of all 24 Speedpaints.

The Army Painter sent me the upcoming Speedpaints Mega Set with all 23 Speedpaints, Speedpaint Medium, and a free brush. The Speedpaint Starter set will be released on February 19, 2022, so I guess the Mega Set will follow after that, I heard in March. Like Contrast, individual Speedpaints contain 18 ml of paint but come in dropper bottles with two mixing balls pre-installed. They are priced very competitively and are more than 30% cheaper than Contrast paints.

Update February 2022: An expanded version of this review has been published here:

Speedpaint Mega Set from The Army Painter

This item was provided by The Army Painter. Thoughts and opinions are our own.

Contrast has changed my painting quite a bit, even though I never actually use it for painting whole miniatures as advertised. But to save time on organic textures and smaller details like all those pouches and belts that won’t catch your attention, they are fantastic. They’re also great for thinning into washes or glazes. I used Contrast glazes to shade this classic 2nd Edition Ultramarine, for example.

But we all know Contrast isn’t perfect. Some colours do exactly what they are supposed to, like Blood Angels Red and Iyanden Yellow – base colour, shading and highlights with one coat. Other colours are quite thin and feel more like washes, like Aethermatic Blue and Gryph-Charger Grey. And many of the darker colours are rather flat and hardly create any highlights, like Dark Angels Green and Cygor Brown.

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The Army Painter promises that Speedpaint is a real “one coat paint” and provide a consistent feel across the range. You can see it in the paint swatch below – the results of Speedpaints are more homogenous, whereas there is a broader distribution between light and dark in Contrast paints.

Features

Let’s take a look at the individual colours. The Speedpaint palette is very similar to the Contrast palette, even though there are only 24 paints (including Speedpaint medium), whereas Contrast has 35.

Let’s start with the warm colours. Zealot Yellow is a little more orange than Iyanden Yellow, Fire Giant Orange a little more tomato red. Blood Red and Blood Angels Red are almost identical. Slaughter Red has slightly more prominent highlights, whereas Flesh Tearers Red is a little darker. Purple Alchemy is clearly darker than Volupus Pink and should perhaps be thinned with a little bit of Speedpaint Medium. Hive Dweller Purple is also slightly darker than Shyish Purple, but dries much less patchy.

Magic Blue is a little darker and more intense than Talassar Blue, but with a little thinning it would be very similar. Highlord Blue is a little lighter and more of a prussian blue than Ultramarines Blue, while Cloudburst Blue is very similar to Leviathan Blue. In terms of turquoise, The Army Painter only has a single colour, Plasmatic Bolt, which is similar to Aethermatic Blue, but much deeper and darker.

Paint swatch with Speedpaints from The Army Painter and Citadel Contrast
For this review I painted Contrast, Speedpaints, Instant Colors, and Antithesis paints on this sheet of plasticard that I primed with Corax White primer. I photographed them under 5500K neutral light to reproduce the colours as authentically as possible.

For greens, we have Malignant Green, a light yellowish olive green that is quite similar to Plaguebearer Flesh. Camo Cloak is similar to Creed Camo, but a bit darker, Orc Skin is like a mix of Warp Lightning and Orruk Flesh. Absolution Green is similar to Dark Angels Green, but the highlights are more visible and the result is smoother.

Let’s move on to brown and bone. Pallid Bone is a bit warmer and softer than Skeleton Horde, Hardened Leather is very similar to Goregrunta Fur, while Sand Golem is a warm light brown. Dark Wood is like a mix of Wyldwood and Cygor Brown. Crusader Skin is a bit more reddish than Guilliman Flesh.

For greyscales we have Holy White, which is a bit darker than Apothecary White but has softer shadows. It’s quite grey, so you might want to thin it down with a little bit of Speedpaint Medium. Runic Grey is very similar to Space Wolves Grey, while Gravelord Grey is darker than Basilicanum Grey. Grim Black is a bit darker than Black Templar, and has a slightly cool black hue whereas Black Templar has a slightly greenish black hue. 

Field test

The Army Painter recommend their Matt White Colour Primer, but for better comparison with Contrast I used Greyseer Spray Primer for both models, which is a light grey primer with a satin finish. The smooth satin finish allows the medium of Speedpaints and Contrast paints to spread more evenly. Nevertheless, the many flat areas of the Intercessors’ power armour will present quite a challenge for either paint. 

Primaris Intercessors basecoated with Greyseer primer

When applying, I noticed that Speedpaints are a bit thinner and runnier than Contrast, and the medium pushes the paint into the recesses more aggressively, which helps to create a smoother result even on flat areas. On the other hand, I found Contrast paints slightly easier to control because of their lower viscosity. I felt it was easier to put them on smaller details without accidentally spilling into adjacent areas.

With both Speedpaints and Contrast, you’ll get the best result when you apply them generously, wait a little while for them to settle, and then soak up any excess with a damp brush where too much paint has gathered. This way, the medium can do its job and you’ll get a smoother result and more pronounced shading.

Comparison between Speedpaint and Citadel Contrast, front view

Here is the result. The red armour looks quite similar on both models, though there is a bit less pooling with Blood Red Speedpaint. The blue helmet looks much better on the Speedpaint version, and I also think that Grim Black Speedpaint looks slightly better than Black Templar Contrast on the bolt rifle. Zealot Yellow Speedpaint is a bit more orange than Iyanden Yellow, but adds more definition to the chest eagle.

Comparison between Speedpaint and Citadel Contrast, back view

On the back, you can see that Basilicanum Grey Contrast on the undersuit looks more like a black wash, while Gravelord Grey Speedpaint adds more of a grey tint. The pouches painted with Cygor Brown are quite dark with only subtle highlights, while the ones painted with Dark Wood Speedpaint have more definition. So you can argue that Speedpaints produce more consistent results.

The Army Painter Speed Paints bleeding through the upper layer
Blood Red bleeding through Greyseer paint on top

However, one thing I didn’t like about Speedpaints is that they can reactivate when you paint over them, similar to alcohol based washes. Here are some spots I wanted to touch up with Greyseer, and even though I applied multiple coats, the Blood Red keeps coming through, turning the Greyseer pink. I think this might be due to the more aggressive medium containing isothiazolinones. Notice that it doesn’t happen with all Speedpaint colours, but it does with most, and definitely with Blood Red. I found that one coat of varnish helps to fix the problem, but it’s still a bit annoying because it’s not an issue at all with Contrast. I will investigate this issue further.

Update February 2022: A more in-depth review about the reactivation issue can be found here:

Value

The exact unit price of Speedpaints isn’t yet known, but it will be slightly more expensive than regular Warpaints and will be somewhere around 4 pounds/euros/dollars. 

The Speedpaint starter set with 10 colours and a free brush is already available for pre-order at our partner store Wayland Games and costs 32.63 pounds, including discount. With an RRP of £36.45 we have a unit price of around £3.65, which comes in significantly cheaper than Contrast paints, which have a unit price of £4.75 and contain the same 18ml of paint. In Euros, the saving is even greater, where the set has an RRP of 39.99 Euros, coming down to one paint for 3.99 Euros, whereas a single Contrast paint costs 6.30 Euros. The Mega Set has an RRP of 89.99 Euro for 24 paints, so the saving is even higher with a single paint coming down to 3.75 Euro.

If you would like to support Tale of Painters with no extra cost to you at all, check out our partner stores Wayland Games and Element Games, which offer Speedpaint at additional discounts.

Initial verdict

So far I am happy with the Speedpaints from The Army Painter, except for the small constraint of needing to seal them with varnish to paint over them. The colours are nice and vibrant and the flow properties are slightly better than Contrast. For me, they are the only real “one coat paint” alternative, since Antithesis paints from Warcolour and Instant Colours from Scale75 didn’t convince me 100%, as I pointed out in their respective reviews.

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I will continue to experiment with Speedpaints, test how they perform on metallic colours, zenithal highlights, and applied with an airbrush, and will then share my final verdict in a detailed video review, which will be released in a few weeks on my YouTube channel and Tale of Painters. Until then, stay tuned 🙂

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