A brief guide to painting - my way

Monday, 3 May 2010 , Posted by President Evil at 11:03

I got my first blog comment! Thanks realgenius for your compliment. I was asked for a bit more detail on how i painted my pathfinders.

Find that post here.
But before i do that, i feel i must first explain a little about how i paint in general.
There is 1 tool that i simply cannot do without when painting - miniatures or canvas.
That is the wet palette.
Basically its a fairly shallow plastic tub (tupperware style) preferably with an air tight lid. The sort that is normally used to store food. The plastic tubs that often contain takeaway meals (here in the u.k) are a cheap substitute.
The bottom is lined with an absorbant medium. Some people suggest kitchen towel/roll and this works fine, toilet tissue is ok, but not really ideal. Personally, i like to use something re-usable, that doesn't fall apart or get stuck to the bottom of the tub. I find an absorbant cloth or sponge ideal. With the absorbant material in place it's time to add water. Saturate the cloth with a generous helping of water, but only enough to keep the excess water in the tub to a minimum (pour off the extra if there's too much.
Heres mine at this stage:


With this done lay a sheet of Paper over the water. This needs to be paper that wont absorb all the water. People may know it as different things but Greaseproof, parchment, oven paper whatever, its basically the paper you use for baking. This stuff works great. I also have loads of tracing paper and this seems to work ok too.
What i actually use is this 'pallette paper' thats used for oil painting, but only because i was given a load, i wouldn't say it's worth hunting down especially.


Basically thats it. Mix your paints on the paper. With the lid open it will stay wet anywhere from a couple of hours to a whole day. If you put the lid on when you're done, it can last over night, even a few days. Leaving that carefully mixed blob wet for long enough to finish a squad and also saves a ton of waste. Avoid leaving it under a desk lamp, as that will dry it out much quicker.


So i consider myself quite an instinctive painter. This probably comes from a background of traditional painting rather than modelling. Using the Pathfinders as an example.
once the model is built and cleaned up, its primed. I basically have, white, black and a few grey shades. The undercoat is less to do with the final colour and more about the style of model. I think the undercoat very gently affects how the final colour looks, so as i wanted my pathfinders to have a duller, grimy look i used black.
Alot of my eldar were actually done white before a blue basecoat to give a brighter, bolder finish. After being left overnight to dry i production-lined the basecoat for the whole squad. Cloaks & guns were graveyard earth, armour mordian blue, helmets iyanden yellow, backpacks dark angels green and pouches i tried to vary - desert yellow, scorched brown - something like that.
After this stage almost everything is blended. Basically i dump a blob of my chosen 'main colour' onto my pallette. Then a darker and lighter colour each side. then blend the clours into a gradient from dark to light. This way you have your shade, highlight and everything inbetween, you can fine tune the colours to get the perfect shade. For example, the blue armour on the pathfinders (and all my eldar) goes from midnight>enchanted>Ice blue, never actually using the pure colours at either end of the gradient. This enables you to do as many layers of successively lighter hightlights as you wish, working up towards your 'light' colour. Applying these as a light glaze each time gives you a natural highlighting effect, and you can always pick out sharp edges with the extreme light colour for more definition.
So with that in mind:
Helmets: Snakebite leather>golden yellow>sunburst yellow.
Cloaks: Graveyard earth>kommando khaki>bleached bone
Guns: Kommando Khaki>bleached bone>skull white
Armour: midnight>enchanted>ice blue
Leather: scorched brown>bestial brown>snakebite leather
backpack: DA green>Vallejo yellow olive(similar to catachan green)>desert yellow
you get the idea.
I will try to do batches of 5 or so at a time, painting the same part on each model before i start again with a new part on the first. This works for me because i basically apply the shade, main and highlight colour all in the same stage.
Freehand details are painted after. Freehand is something i try to include on all my models. It adds a personal and individual touch to your models that makes them stand out on the tabletop. I'm not sure what advice i can give on this other than practice, practice, practice. Spray up some spare shoulder pads and practice your chapter symbol, even do it small on paper, over and over until you dial it in. when it comes to the actual model try and lightly line it out in 'rough' it doesnt have to be totally perfect, but equally don't make too much of a mess that it will become a pain to touch up after. Then paint it in and tidy up the design with the colour behind the freehand. Another reason the wet pallette is good... you should still have your colour gradient nice and wet enabling you to pick out the required shade to fine tune your freehand. On the pathfinders i wanted them to have 'camo' but not a 'human military style, but a more elegant eldar style so i went with the vines & leaves you can see in the photo. This was scorched brown for the dark ones and bleached bone/rotting flesh for the light. I don't use a particularly small brush, but a totally precise point is vital. I like to have new brushes reserved for freehand, and as they get older a new one will take its place and the old one get relegated to less and less precice tasks over time. This way i have a sort of brush rotation. Be very careful not to use your freehand brush for anything other than freehand and look after it really well otherwise you will go through brushes very quickly.
Weathering. I good meathod for adding mud (like on the bottom of the cloak) is to mix pigment powder with PVA, this creates a gloopy, sticky mud-like consistancy that you can dab on where you need. I also used some 'neat' weathering powder on this model to mimic dirt and grime, as the pathfinders are scouts and spend most of their time on foot sneaking through undergrowth.
Washes. I do use washes, but not always. They are a good 'trick' to make shading easier, but if used too much i think they look a little un-natural IMO. I find them useful for bulding up layers of colour on a model. I will use them after basecoating, but before the main coat goes on, but ONLY where i feel it is required. Again i think this is somewhat instinctive. I tend to use it for armour, but not fabric. Mainly in areas of heavy shadow - in vents, overlapping armour plates etc. often it will be a mix of my 'shadow colour' and a dedicated wash, for example - Gryphonne sepia & snakebite leather for my alaitoc yellow (maybe 2 or 3:1 and a dash of water) this prevents the wash from standing out too much, or being too shiny.
I also use washes to 'knock back' my highlights if i make them too bright. you can use a thin layer of wash to dull the colour before attempting blending again (remember to let it dry properly!). Sometimes you can use a standard wash out of the pot or sometimes a heavily watered version of your main colour will work depending on what colour you require. Thats basically it. I'm not really sure how unorthadox this technique is, but i do know that no-one in my gaming group paints like this, or even knew what a wet pallette was before i showed them, so hopefully from reading this you will have a new technique to try that might help with your painting.

Currently have 1 comments:

  1. RealGenius says:

    Excellent write up and explanation of your technique!

    Wet palettes are very popular once you get past gaming quality miniatures. We actually just had another discussion of them on The Painting Corps here: http://thepaintingcorps.blogspot.com/2010/04/how-to-simple-wet-palette.html

    Many of the commenters use your style of closed container wet palette.

    I look forward to seeing more of your work.

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