Roman Red Head-to-Head

This article was written in partnership with Michigan Toy Soldier Company who provided the four red paints. You can find more fantastic hobby content at News From The Front – The Michigan Toy Solider Company Blog.

I have started collecting, building and painting a Late Roman warband for SAGA. Within this warband I have a number of Footsore Miniatures Late Romans all sporting rather impressive cloaks. I want these modes to pop on the table and knew I really didn’t have a choice for color. After all, these soldiers are ex-Roman Legion and there is only one appropriate pick – red.

With the color selected it is now time to experiment! Over the last year we’ve seen a wave of new “contrast-style” paints from various companies. In this article we are doing a direct head-to-head comparison between four of the red options out there. All from a different company, all promising single-coat coverage.

1CitadelContrast Flesh Tearers Red
2The Army PainterSpeedpaint Slaughter Red
4Scale 75Instant Color Life Red
5Green Stuff WorldDipping Inks Red Cloak
Yep, I skipped 3 and went right to 4. I apologize for the confusion!

Step 1

Over a basecoat of Citadel Mechanicus Standard Grey I put one layer of red on each of the four models. Both the Flesh Tearers Red (1) and Slaughter Red (2) had excellent one-coat coverage. The Life Red (4) and Red Cloak (5) need further coats. As you can see, the red on models 4 and 5 is not strong enough after this first pass. Far too much of the grey undercoat is visible.

Step 2

With the Life Red and Red Cloak completely dry, I added a second layer on the same area of coverage as the first. The Life Red (4) is almost to where I need it to be, but the Red Cloak (5) needs at least two more layers.

Step 3

A third coat of Life Red (4) and Red Cloak (5) is going down! Now the Life Red looks good. It has solid color and coverage. After the third layer, the Life Red is now the same level of intensity and coverage as the single layer Flesh Tearers Red and Slaughter Red. The Red Cloak is still not rich enough and needs one last layer.

Step 4

One final layer. After the four layers fully dried, the Red Cloak is where I want it to be. Quick recap: to achieve the richness and depth of color I am looking for it took one coat of Flesh Tearers Red and one coat of Slaughter Red. Life Red needed three coats and Red Cloak needed four.

Unlike traditional acrylic paints, all four of these “contrast inks” are incredibly quick to apply. The paints are easy to control and have a lovely flow to them. I found it easier and faster to get this basecoat down compared to a Citadel Base paint.

Step 5

With our four red basecoats down, the glazing, highlighting and weathering of the cloaks can begin. I started with a thin glaze of Citadel Mephiston Red on all the raised areas as the first highlight. It’s a fairly thick highlight on the first pass. Once the first coat of Mephiston dried, I applied a second, thinner, highlight.

I used the same process and the same color on all four of the different res. After this fist highlight it’s looking like Flesh Tearers Red (1) Red Cloak (5) as the most effective base to layer and highlight up with Mephiston Red.

Step 6

With the glaze dried I moved to a thin edge highlight and some scratches/weathering using a slightly thinned Mephiston Red. I focused on the bottom sections of the cloaks for the dots and scratches.

Step 7

As a final highlight I went for a glaze of Citadel Evil Sunz Scarlet. This highlight was applied in the same areas as the Mehphiston but in a thinner line. Even though it’s a glaze, I still worked to apply with control and focused on the highest areas.

At the end of this final step I was thrilled with the Flesh Tearers Red (1) and Red Cloak (5) results. I think those two ended up looking the best. The highlights on the Slaughter Red (2) and Life Red (4) are a bit too stark for my liking. But that’s a result of not adjusting my color selection or process once the basecoats of red had been applied.

Step 8

For only the Slaughter Red (2) and Life Red (4) cloaks I went back and did one all over glaze with the original red. This step tied all the highlights together and produced an all-around smoother look. Now I can call these complete!


My objective was to test four different reds and find the most effective method to create a rich, deep crimson cloak – true to the Roman fashion. I did not alter or switch up my color choices or techniques once the basecoat was applied. Looking at the four completed cloaks, the Citadel Contrast Flesh Tearers Red (1) was both the easiest to apply (one coat coverage) and provided the most concentrated basecoat to build up further layers.

Green Stuff World Red Cloak was a total surprise. At first I was unimpressed. The coverage after one layer was, well, bad. Far too much of the grey basecoat showed through. But after a few additional coats (four total to be exact), I am very happy with the red itself and how well it turned out after the additional painting steps.

As I was working the red cloaks I painted the rest of the models. Although the basing still needs doing – I’m thinking snow – I am very pleased with the final result. The red is rich and bold. It adds a certain level of flair to these otherwise relatively drab models (that is by design). There wasn’t a ton of color on the “uniforms” of many Dark Age soldiers and it’s fun to add some pop.

3 thoughts on “Roman Red Head-to-Head

  1. Nice comparison post! I’ve found the GSW Dipping Inks to be quite nice and finish more matte than the Citadel Contrast. They also don’t reactivate, unlike the AP Speedpaints. I think if you’re painting an army though, the Contrast might be the winner because it won’t take as many coats.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. With the red, you might also try a light cream base. The dipping ink would probably look more natural over the top of that and take fewer coats/less highlights. But then you probably have to do something different with the armor. That’s where I usually struggle with the speed paints, they might work well in one area but not so much the other.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s