Contrast Paints Review

I’ve avoided writing up anything about GW’s Contrast paints after viewing them at Warhammer Fest as I knew that it would just be another post in a polarising release. I wanted to avoid the patter back and forth about them so I could approach my thoughts on them without influence from others. 

Now as many have said, this isn’t a new thing for many hobbyists, nor is it necessarily cheap at £4.75 a pot. The principle has been around a long time and you can make up any colour yourself simply using water to thin your paint, or with mixes of mediums, flow aid and what have you; though your initial outlay for this method may cost more dependent on a variety of factors and availability in your area. 

I’ve been using Wyldwood and Skeleton Horde on the various wooden and metal sections of my Warcry terrain. Currently the results are positive, but not without issue. 

For clarity, while I did pick up a can of Wraithbone Spray to use with the Contrast paints, I used Hycote Grey Primer (My go to for priming most projects) on my terrain as it worked as a base for the scheme I wanted. 

Application wise I used both paints straight from the pot (well, from the palette) and they go on as well as any other GW paint. The thickness really does change the tone, so while I tried the “One Thick Coat” method as advertised, I ended up moving it around a lot to thin it down over a larger area, as it was far too dark. So if you want a thinner more even coat, either spread it thoroughly or use the medium for a thinner smoother coat.

Results wise it did what GW said it would do; pooling in the deeper areas creating a contrast against the raised areas. With a simple dry brush and a thin wash of Nuln Oil or Agrax Earthshade over the lot it will give me the look I’m after on the wooden parts of the terrain. So thus far, I’m very happy.

But there is a small issue. Contrast paint rubs off very easily, which is a problem for terrain and areas of a mini that get held a lot. And I don’t mean from a lot of contact, just picking up a piece once 24 hours after drying led to some raised parts rubbing off. So if you are painting a mini, be careful while handling it and make sure it gets a good coating of varnish to lock it all in at the end. With the terrain, I had to give it a dusting of matt varnish before I did anything else for fear it would come off during later stages. But now that’s done I feel far more comfortable handling it.

Overall I’m very happy with the results, even with its issues. While I’m very comfortable making my own mixes, I’m not unhappy about having something consistent that I can use straight from the pot. It certainly won’t replace my custom mixes, but It doesn’t hurt having something else in the tool box to play with. I can also see them being helpful not just for newcomers, but also disabled hobbyists that may not be able to spend time creating custom mixes for whatever reason. If I had had access to these prior to my transplant I would have been over the moon with the time and energy saving nature of them compared to making my own. They are a tad pricey per pot, but for the day to day painter or the hobby novice I can see a pot lasting a while, though less so if you are doing a lot of large scale stuff. I’ve used half a pot of Wyldwood on the terrain so far, which is quite a lot comparatively. 

I’d certainly recommend giving the Contrast Paints a try, particularly Skeleton Horde (I can see it getting a lot of use), having a play around and making your own mind up.

Thanks for reading ~ Mark

Nazgob Triumphant!

A bit of an indulgence away from the usual stuff.

My local GW store, in Milton Keynes, had it’s anniversary today. Along with all the usual goodies and special edition models, they held their store competition. And I did pretty well with Nazgob as my entry, nabbing the award for best converted mini. 

Needless to say I’m pretty chuffed. It’s a huge boost to my confidence in my skills, particularly sculpting and converting. So much so that I’m considering a few endeavors that I’m hoping will come to fruition next year, so watch this space!

~ Mark Talmer

Building Yss

I felt it was time to build a new gaming board that could be used for AoS (and occasionally for Historicals). I’ve spent about six or so months looking up youtube tutorials and educating myself on various techniques and materials in preperation for the big build. 

Board wise I contemplated a number of options and their pro’s and cons, before settling on a modular system which I could add scatter terrain to. In the end I went for Sally 4th’s Terra-Former Tiles, a well rounded range of MDF frames with a magnetic locking system. The frames themselves are well designed and do pretty much what they say on the site. The neodynium magnets really lock them together really well and the frames are nice and sturdy. I used superglue to put mine together for speed and efficiency, but woodglue would be perfect if drying times aren’t an issue for you.

The frames require some form of polystyrene filler, either the simple jablite stuff or the lovely pink insulation foam. I went with jablite for affordabilities sake and ease of access. While jablite isn’t my first choice for terrain building it is fine for this, as it will be covered up with filler and pva to strengthen it. To save time I whipped up a template to help with cutting out the inserts. Having to hand measure each one prior to cutting would have been labourious and tedious. With the template it was barely a twenty minute job to cut all of them out and fit them. Make sure you use a nice sharp blade to cut them, I used a snap off knife with the blade extended all the way to cut mine clean through.

Then it was a case of gluing and adding detail. The cliff faces are made from discarded slate shards I found in the fathers hoarded building material pile. I just stacked them up and glued them in place. I used PVA which I regretted, as it didn’t really stick them down all too well, it was the filler that really secured them in place. Next time I’ll use the hot glue gun. 

Then it was on to adding filler. I used plain old polyfiller. I did start putting it on with a spatula, but it started looking unnatural, so I slipped on some gloves and applied it by hand. It’s helped maintain a natural look and allowed me to get the filler into all the nooks and crannies around the cliffs and into the stream bed.

Once dry, I added some citadel trees and textured the board with coarse and light sand, along with aquarium gravel for smaller rocks. The larger rocks were either slate or decorative garden stones. When applying the sand I used a watered down mix of pva with a little flow aid added.

Then I painted it all. A black undercoat on everything, with some zenithal highlights of a medium grey on the trees, cliffs, and rocks, along with some splashes on the dirt. Then I added a chocolate brown emulsion, and once dried I used a large make up powder brush to drybrush the whole board with Buff Titanium from Daler Rowney. It took about thirty minutes to drybrush the whole board. I’ll be buying more make up brushes from mini painting after seeing how effective it was, after a quick wash it was good as new with zero wear. If I had used my usual choice it would have killed the brush and only been good for rubbish jobs after. 

Flocking was fairly easy, I used the same watered down pva mix with flow aid to spritz the sections. Then I went along the edges of each section with the mid green flock so as to prevent strange lines cutting off between sections. Then I gently added light and dark tones before giving the whole thing a hit with mid green flock. I simply sprinkled everything on, as just chucking on the flock creates a lot of waste. 

After this I started detailing….

Some links for folks.


Sally 4th, suppliers of the Terra-Former Tiles.

Arcane Scenery, suppliers of the various flocks, foliage etc. 

B&Q, for the polystyrene, woodglue etc. 



Lukes APS

Nazgob, Iron Moonz Shaman

Across Yss many orruk and grot shamans receive powerful visions from Gorkamorka, driving them to seek out the Toof beneath Skartoof Peak. These shamans cast off their loyalty to their tribes and make the long pilgrimage to Skartoof Peak in order to join other afflicted greenskin shamans to guard and tend to the Toof and the flora and fauna that thrives there.

Nazgob, Iron Moonz Shaman

Very few shamans have ever managed to gain control of the visions and leave the mountain. The last shaman to do so was Nazgob. Nazgob remembers little of his time at the Peak, and nothing of his original tribe. The only thing he could remember was his name and an urge to seek out a Megaboss named Urzod. It took months of wandering for him to find Urzod and the Iron Moonz. Nazgob offered his loyalty to Urzod upon meeting him, saying that he was there to assist Urzod in fulfilling his vision. Nazgobs presence was challenged by Urzods shaman Bogrot immediately.

Urzod quickly ordered them to duel to see who was best suited to serve him. Before Bogrot could get a word out, Nazgob had crushed him into a bloody paste beneath a colossal amount of Waaagh energy, along with a number of Bogrots grot assistants, which caused Urzod a great deal of amusement. Nazgob was welcomed into the fold thanks to his prodigious display of power and his cunning. Nazgob has held the position for three decades now, helping to oversee numerous victories and advising Urzod when needed. He has met numerous challengers and vanquished them all.

As time has gone by, small snippets of fleeting memories come back to him of his life before, of great hordes, empires of men, of blood and fire. Each time a small piece of the puzzle gets filled in of what feels like a distant memory from somewhere else…….

~ Mark Talmer

The Kingdom of Esel

The Royal Flag of the Kingdom of Esel, featuring the Black Stag of the Hirsch family and the Fulminous Crown.

Current Head of State: King Bastian Otmar-Hirsch III.

Government Type: Absolute Monarchy

Capital: Esel-Din.

Religious Beliefs: Sigmarism.

Esel, like the rest of the nations of the Grunvale and the surrounding regions, was colonised by one of the many tribal groups displaced during the Age of Chaos. The survivors carved out their kingdoms in the relative safety of the Grunvale, it’s fertile land and abundant rivers nourishing the new realms being forged within.  Esel in the modern period consists primarily of the lands settled by the Erseven people and their allies following the free peoples victory at Hathenspeer.

For much of Esels history the kingdom was a fairly prosperous but unassuming realm, with good relations with the other kingdoms of the Grunvale. A country which embraced religious freedoms and folk of all ilk. While Sigmarism was the primary religion, as it is in many human kingdoms, offshoots of Sigmarism and the worship of other deities were readily accepted. However with the death of King Dietmar Solgwin-Hirsch things began to change. His son, King Hadda Solgwin-Hirsch embraced the mainstream Sigmarite church with fervor.

King Hadda was not a skilled military man, nor a statesman. A number of losses to raiding forces and diplomatic faux pas’s had damaged his reputation amongst the nobility and the peasantry, with whispers of coups and uprisings brewing in the court and the back-alleys of Esel-Din.  Seeking council he turned to the young head of Esel’s Sigmarite Church, Arch Sigillite Alwin Zier. Zier was a strong headed puritan, suspicious of any divergent Sigmarite cults, and disdainful of non humans. Zier encouraged Hadda to let Sigmar fully into his heart and let him guide his actions, both in times of peace and conflict and that his previous failing were a test of his character. He also suggested that part of his failing may have been, at least in part, caused by malcontents and deviants that were intent on their own plans. Hadda, having found the words to sooth his nerves and reinvigorate his resolve, began pushing his and the churches will into every facet of society.

A sweeping reformation of Esels military and religious institutions was enacted. Military units were formalised and equipped with standardised gear emblazoned with Sigmars sigils and signs, replacing the localised gear supplied by the nobility. The church did the same, garb amongst the clergy and reading material was standardised. Deviation from prescribed texts and ritual was dissuaded with a variety of methods. Alternative sects and cults dedicated to other deities were driven from  Esel, or wiped out all together. And non humans were “encouraged” to leave Esel. Of course this purge took many years, all of Hadda’s reign and much of his son Aldmar’s reign too. At the heart of the Reformation was Zier, constantly at Hadda’s side, and then overseeing the young heir Aldmar. While Hadda had embraced the church in desperation and to seek answers, Aldmar was moulded by it and breathed it, its righteousness and power hammered into him by Zier over the years.

Hadda and Aldwin were the instruments of the Sigmarite Reformation, but Alwin Zier was the one wielding their power.

His council to a desperate king transformed a moderate peaceable kingdom into a puritanical military powerhouse. Future generations of the Hirsch bloodline and Arch Sigillite Ziers successors would carry on this drive, leading to centuries of conflict and expansion in the region. The conquest of Deira and the Mere March, the Wars of the Brightwater, The Pilgrim War, the fanatical crusades named after innumerable fanatical Sigillites, the Reaving of Nordbek, and a slew of other bloody actions.  

However, all things must end, and after centuries of conflict Esel started to falter, its hold and power waned. Four hundred years ago Deira liberated itself from the rule imposed upon them via mendacious claims of blood rights and the tip of a sword. A century later the Mere March managed a devastating victory over Esel, their hold over what they considered to be nothing more than swamp dwelling sub humans was shattered and their spirit broken, and in doing so unified a disparate kingdom. And barely sixty years ago ancestral borderlands held by Esel on the Brightwater fell to forces from the Republic of Fyrdhathen after years of proxy wars and skirmishes.

In recent years Esel has been far more consolidatory and diplomatic with its neighbours. King Bastien has shown statesmanship far superior to many of his ancestors, being far more amenable and far less choleric than any that had gone before him, though still maintaining a puritan streak. He has also shown his skill at arms, leading and organising his forces so as to hunt down fel raiders and reavers that have beset the countryside in number since the latter days of his father’s reign. There are some that think Bastian to be a new kind of king for Esel, others wonder if he is merely biding his time to take back lost lands and enact a measure of vengeance on old enemies. Time will give us a full measure of his character and will………     

~ Excerpt compiled from “The Fulminous Kings: The Concise Lineage of Esel’s Royalty” by Jhez Al’Waide.

Army Suggestions.
Force Suggestion: Eselian Royal Army/Eselian Nobles House Guard: Free People, Celestial Wizards.
Alternate Force: Purification Warband: A religious themed force filled with flagellants,
priests, and witch hunters under a Sigillite leader.
No gunpowder weapons preferring crossbows and bows fashioned after those used by the Stormcast (Cannons could be replaced by lightning infused weapons created by Esel’s ancient order of Storm Wizards and Master Weaponsmiths).
Esel strongly mirrors the Stormcast due to them being Sigmars’ divine warriors, so lots of lightning bolts, sigillite markings, comets etc.
The Royal Army will also include lots of Stag emblemology, often fused with Sigmarite imagery.
Plate armour for the nobility, sallet helmet with Stormcast-esque faceplates, lancers on horse
and Demi-Gryphs.
The higher the rank, the smarter they will look. Not that the Men-at-Arms are shabby. Think
Greatswords without the puffs and frills, open sallet helmet. Spears, axes, halberds, swords etc all with a similar design to those carried by the Stormcast. Appearance is everything to the Eselian military.
Colours: Blacks and Deep Reds with polished metal armour for the Royal colours. For one of the noble houses, indulge. Reference medieval schemes, old Bretonnian colours, Empire etc. Many of the house will try and tie themselves to a Stormcast Chamber, often appropriated colours and some flimsy pretext for doing so, despite Stormcast being a rarity in Yss.

~ Authored by Mark Talmer, edited by Phillip Starr.

An Invitation…….

So the Lore of Yss project is just over two years old formally (Previously it was just “The Grunvale” till we expanded it), but far older in concept. My friend Phil and I started it properly so we could take advantage of the clean slate that the Age of Sigmar offered, allowing us to explore old concepts and build something that we could blend into the larger universe. The freedom to theme armies and realms was delightfully refreshing and we quickly came up with reams of background, armies and kingdoms in our heads. So much so that we are still trying to get it all on to paper so we can share it. Much of what we started was centered around a single region and its kingdoms, The Grunvale and the metropolitan city of Fyrdhathen (Fairhaven as it was). Once we established the core kingdoms, numerous others started forming and growing, their politics, their themes, and how they all interplay with each other. Naturally this has made writing down everything even more complicated.

Despite all of the kingdoms we’ve created, we have yet to actually make anything from those kingdom for the tabletop (bar a few rpg characters), instead focussing on Urzod’s mercenary greenskins, Budahks herd, and some of the Revenant forces that roam Yss. We may get round to making skirmish groups and RPG character for these other regions, but we may not. However, we want to share everything that we possibly can. So we plan on writing up some descriptors and army suggestions for the kingdoms we have so far in the hope that we, but more importantly so others, can potentially use them as guidelines and build one of the many and varied forces that inhabit Yss. I hope that some of you will at least take some inspiration from the forthcoming scrawlings and ruminations, and doubly hope that some of you may wish to join us in building Yss and a community around the concept.

The first three kingdoms we will cover will be the core ones that we have built up the most, The Kingdom of Esel, The Republic of Fyrdhathen, and the Mere March.

~ Mark Talmer & Phillip Starr