Freehand designs can be a bit daunting. Rather than be put-off, however, if you approach them methodically, they become more straightforward.
It’s helpful to draw a sketch of your design before painting it. I would also recommend using a wet palette, as it delays the drying time of paint; and therefore makes it easier to maintain its consistency – as you don’t need to keep adding water to it at intervals. I find this especially beneficial when painting finelines.
Paint the background – in this case, red and white stripes:
This was shaded with a fairly generic black+brown wash:
Use dots to plot-out your design:
Add plot-lines to help structure the design:
The same method of dots/lines was then used to paint the overall emblem:
Fill the lines in with grey:
I used this coat for the body, but painted the crown, claws, and shield their base-colours (I painted the tongue last, as I wasn’t sure what colour to use at this stage):
Shade with the same black+brown wash as before:
Paint the details as you would any other miniature – highlighting and shading as normal:
Painting lettering is very painstaking, and I’m not especially good at it – my handwriting is dreadful; but it’s beneficial to begin in the middle, which helps you to space the letters out evenly:
Then paint the letters at the furthest edges:
Before painting the remainder:
At this stage, it’s good to tidy-up and sharpen any areas which need refining. The photo reveals a few misplaced brushstrokes, which I hadn’t noticed – so I will re-touch these. I finished by glazing the whole banner with a very thin layer of brown.
However, no matter how complex a design is, as long as you break it down into small stages, it should look effective once finished: