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Category Archives: Tutorials

Make the dead glorious again (11) – painting dark female skin

‘Til Tuesday ‘Voices Carry’

It’s been a while since the last update, as I was ill for a couple of weeks. However, I’ve finished the majority of the Arabian rider – with just the freehand designs, flame, and an ornamental dagger remaining.

I thought it might be helpful to demonstrate how to paint dark female skin; as it can be a difficult effect to achieve. Dark skin is a challenge on miniatures, because if it’s too dark then it will lack definition – which is especially important when painting faces, as they are the focal point of the figure. If it’s too light though, then it defeats the purpose. Female skin is tricky in its own right, as it needs to be much smoother than the male variety, otherwise it looks too masculine.

These were the colours used:

Base – Cadian fleshtone + Mournfang brown (1:1)

Wash – i) smoke + black ii) smoke:

Unfortunately, I forgot to take photographs of the subsequent stages (I really was unwell); but to continue:

Layer i) – Cadian Fleshtone + Mournfang Brown (1:1)

Layer ii) Cadian Fleshtone + Earth (1:1)

Highlight by adding increased amounts of Ushabti bone to the above mix, over successive layers. Use pure Ushabti bone as a final highlight raised areas.

Glaze the whole skin area with smoke, which will unify and darken it slightly.

For eyeshadow use Cadian Fleshtone + Regal Blue around the eyes.

For the lips, basecoat them with a dark red; highlight by adding Cadian Fleshtone; then glaze with baal red.

The finished effect:

The skin required a bit of experimentation – and it’s still a bit paler than I hoped it would be; but I’m not too unhappy with the result. I had originally tried to paint the skin dark by using an ‘Eavy Metal guide – that is, rhinox hide, tau light ochre, and khaki – but it looked a bit ghastly:

I’m going to paint the cloak with a Mehndi design – but it needs planning out properly first.

Make The Dead Glorious Again (8) – painting freehand banners

The Three O’Clock ‘A Day In Erotica’

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:

I added a scroll:

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:

 

Make The Dead Glorious Again (5) – painting dark red

Alice Donut – In My Head

Red isn’t really my favourite colour to paint, as it’s a difficult colour to highlight properly without turning it into pink. However, to paint a dark red, I used these paints:

 

Basecoat – Rhinox Hide:

Layer – Rhinox Hide + Burnt Cadmium Red:

Shade – i) Rhinox Hide + Black (all over) ii) black (recesses):

Layer – Burnt Cadmium Red (I added a small amount of Rhinox Hide to this, to make the transition smoother; but it’s not vital):

Layer – Burnt Cadmium Red + Red Gore:

Layer – Red Gore:

Layer – Red Gore + Red:

Layer – Red:

Edge highlight – i) red + Troll Slayer Orange ii) Troll Slayer Orange iii) Troll Slayer Orange + Goldbrown. To paint rips/tears – use black + Rhinox Hide; and then edge highlight these with the aforementioned mixture:

To finish the red, glaze with smoke.

It looked a bit plain at this stage; and the outside of the cloak doesn’t lend itself to freehand – as you can see, the holes and the deep recesses leave very little of the surface area flat enough to paint a design on.

So, I painted a glow instead, using green:

I will have to work on removing the glossiness. The colours came out slightly better on the rider’s body:

The underside of the cloak lent itself a bit more easily to freehand work:

I haven’t painted a submerged pattern before (i.e. the white crosses); and I’m a bit ambivalent about the results here – so we’ll have to see if it can be improved.

Make The Dead Glorious Again (4) – painting bone

In Bed ‘Happy’ 

Given the complexity of this model, I thought it would be best to break it down into stages. So, how to paint the bone areas of the horse.

The main colours were Rakarth Flesh and Khaki for the bone colour itself:

To make a generic wash for the whole model, including the bones, I made a mix of black + smoke + tank brown; and added matt medium, as vallejo paints can sometimes be glossy:

Basecoat – rakarth flesh:

Apply the shading wash – several thin layers are better than one heavy application:

Layer – Khaki:

Highlight – Khaki + rakarth flesh:

Highlight – pure rakarth flesh:

I added chips and cracks using dark brown; then edge-highlighted these and the rest of the bone areas with rakarth flesh, plus a small amount of white:

It’s important not to use pure white on the horse’s bones, as the rider will be the focal point of the model, and so needs to be slightly brighter than the horse. An additional layer of highlighting will accomplish that.

Finally, glaze with a thin layer of smoke to unify the bone areas:

Done.

To be honest, painting larger models this way can be quite tedious, as each layer of paint is very thin; meaning that several coats of each colour need to be painted on. Drybrushing is a faster method; and will give a good bone effect, if you lack time/patience for painting lots of layers.

I did try this initially:

Unfortunately, with this being a heavily converted model, it had to be painted fully-assembled; which made drybrushing the recessed areas impossible.

I will make tutorials on painting the metal areas next; and then the freehand elements – which I still haven’t figured out yet.

Make The Dead Glorious Again (3) – how to use crackle paste

Sixpence None The Richer ‘love, salvation, the fear of death’

Following on from the last post, I thought it may be helpful to demonstrate how to use crackle paste. This can be very expensive – whether it’s sold as crackle paste, or crackle paint, so it’s best to shop around; but it creates much better effects than crackle medium.

Basecoating with textured paint aids adhesion – by its nature, crackle paste can flake off from sheer surfaces. So, I used red oxide paint here:

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Crackle paste:

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Apply with a spatula, or something similar, as the paste is very sticky and doesn’t apply well when brushed onto surfaces:

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Cover the base – I made slight variations in thickness, as the thinner the coat of paste the smaller the cracks are, while a heavy application results in larger cracks:

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As it begins to dry, cracks appear:

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Nearly there:

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Done – although it’s best to leave it overnight, just be sure. Once fully dry, it can be painted over:

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The base itself is pretty much finished, though I intend to mount it on a board when the diorama itself is complete:

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I was going to paint the eagle up as an albino bird, to contrast with the carrion crow; but thought that a phoenix would make for better symbolism, and look more colourful:

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The colours were based on the phoenix birds, from the portal of Nadir Divan-Beghi madrasah.

Night Goblin shaman (2) – painting magic effects

Dead Can Dance ‘American Dreaming’

It took a while to devise a colour-scheme for the base that I was happy with. I had thought about making the object source lighting effect the main feature; but this would have dominated the whole scene – as you can see from the preparatory experiment:

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It would have meant having to paint the goblin shaman in exactly the same colour, probably in its entirety; which wasn’t really what I had in mind. So, I decided to keep the light effect a bit more subtle.

The base was painted as fairly standard mossy grey stone:

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These were the colours used to paint the glow effect:

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Object source lighting is, to all intents and purposes, extreme highlighting; designed to create an optical illusion. There are numerous methods for achieving this effect – in this case, simply blending up from dark to light; then smoothing the effect out through a glaze.

Basecoat – olive green:

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Layer – olive green + snot green:

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Layer – snot green:

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At this point, I applied a thin wash of olive green over the snot green areas, to give them a bit of definition.

Layer – snot green + scorpion green:

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Layer – scorpion green:

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For the final highlight, mix scorpion green + yriel yellow + white; dot this on the tips of each ball:

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Finally, apply several thin glazes of thraka green:

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Glazing will darken the overall effect slightly – if you want to make the finished effect brighter, you can reapply the final green highlight; but I wanted the green areas on the base to be slightly darker than the OSL effect I’m going to paint on the goblin, so that the goblin stands out from the base.

The colours haven’t come out so well, unfortunately, as my camera isn’t great at photographing anything dark – but on a more positive note, I decided that I will add a pair of spiders to the base: they have the right combination of creepiness and coolness.

Night Goblin Shaman (1) – making a magic base

My Vitriol ‘Safety Zones & Crumple Zones’ 

I want to make this a kind of flip-side to the mountaineer piece – which was intended to have a cold atmosphere, with muted colours. I like the magic bases that MassiveVoodoo and Sproket’sSmallWorld (amongst others) have created in the past – so thought I would try something similar.

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Materials used

Cork:

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I made flagstones by using a modelling knife to cut up a small sheet of super-sculpey. If you haven’t used this before, it’s a type of clay which needs to be baked; rather than air-dried. These were made a long time ago, so were already to hand; but you could use Milliput, or any similar material – including plasticard – instead:

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To make the magic effects – I kind of experimented a bit here, using a broken plastic flying stand, heated over a tealight candle and stretched out, to make some larger stalagmites (best to ensure health and safety with this stage, as melting plastic has some obvious risks):

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Then cut into shape:

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These can be very brittle, however; and it’s difficult to trim them into small pieces without breaking them. So, to make smaller stalagmites, I used the same method as for making icicles.

Attach small shards of transparent plastic to a spare piece of sprue, using water effect:

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Coat with several layers of water effect:

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Once dry, cut from the sprue:

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I also used various balls of different sizes – ones made from greenstuff, the others were microbeads:

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Wood-putty, PVA glue, water effect:

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Wood-putty isn’t strictly necessary, as you can used textured paint instead – or even PVA and sand to texture the rocks; I just like buggering about, really.

I made a mock-up of the base, but it didn’t really look right – even for a miniature, the goblin is a small model, and was easily overshadowed by the base:

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So it was adjusted slightly – I used a coping saw to remove the corners, and created a sort of dais for the goblin:

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Coat the cork with wood-putty, using an old paintbrush:

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Begin to attach the flag-stones, and the stalagmites – use PVA glue for the flagstones. You can use PVA to attach beads/balls, as well; but I find water effect is easier. If you use the white kind, it’s easy to see where you’ve placed it, and you will know when it has dried.

It’s best to glue the stalagmites into place first, then assemble the flagstones around them, rather than vice versa; because that way you can raise the tips of the stones, to make them look like they’ve been pushed up by the stalagmites. It doesn’t matter too much, though:

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This stage finished:

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Now the tricky part.

I drilled small holes into the greenstuff balls, as they are a bit heavier than microbeads – they were then slotted onto the tips of the stalagmites. The microbeads were simply attached by dotting water effect on the tip of each stalagmite, and then placing the beads on top:

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To be honest, this stage is very fiddly – there’s probably a much easier way of attaching the beads than using a pair of tweezers to put them in place, one at a time; but that was what I did here, at least:

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You can see how the different types of ball create different effects:

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Ready to paint:

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Well, just about. I haven’t quite figured out a colour scheme yet. I might also add some spiders to this – but we’ll have to see.