Horrors in the Night – Using Fluorescent Paints to Achieve Light Effects

It seems like I can’t stop painting in light and colour or at least I keep coming back to it. Well to tell the truth, all painting is either in light and colour or monochromatic, but I tend to make pieces that somehow emphasize the light and colour, where the light sources themselves are the main characters. Here I have composed a little tutorial on creating a night scene only lit up from within by colourful light sources using slightly Fluorescent Paints.

Using Fluorescent Paints to Achieve Light Effects with your Figures – the Prelude

After a conversation with a friend about my use of Fluorescent Paints to pick out certain details and create glow effects, I decided to try the effect on a bit of a bigger scale and do a whole miniature in the fluorescent paint. In that case the figure needed to be the light source itself for it to make sense. It is not like the fluorescent paints actually  glow in the dark but they have a strong response to light, they reflect more light so photographing with flash or strong photo lamps really sets them off as does displaying them in good strong light. Strangely when you look at something painted like this in a very poor light, the stronger reflection comes into play again and the colour stands out much more than a normal paint would and looks quite beautiful. That last can be perceived as a little bit of actual glowing in the dark, but I think it more comes down to the fact that the paint reflects much more light than normal paint does, thus showing its colour in far less light than normal.

I decided to do a pink horror of Tzeench, as this is a crazy demon capering around and quite capable of lighting up the place all by itself. This is best for demons, ghosts or other magical creatures or creating magic effects in themselves. I love these old pink horror models and happened to have some lying about stripped of paint from 20 years ago and waiting for some love again, once I found the time… This was it then.

My idea was clear; this pink horror is haunting this old temple ruin at night, capering around spawning little nightmares for the nearby villagers. He is not a permanent residence there, just passing through causing terror in whoever sees him. He may be called forth by some memory of ancient sacrifices made in the fane. He would devour the soul of anyone happening upon him.

So Pink Horror capering around laughing maniacally at night in the ruins of an ancient temple out in the forest. To accent my light effect, I would need to build up a little scene around my demon and not just make a flat base, I needed some surfaces to reflect the light in order to make my illusion work.

The humble beginning of a new project. All the parts I think I’ll need for this one have been collected.

 

Preparing the model

Pink Horror ready for assembly

Even though I had cleaned up and assembled the model back when I did it the first time 22 years ago I think, there is for some reason still a need to clean up the model! It never ends. I guess I am a lot more thorough with this now than I were then. I found some mold lines and rough spots that needed scraping, cutting and sanding. Once that was done I drilled 1,5mm holes in his fingertips to make them like the suckered tubes of Adrian Smith’s drawings from the same period. This model is from 1988 according to its tag, so either Adrian Smith’s drawings in “The Lost and the Damned” from 1990 are based on the miniatures or the drawings are slightly older and have informed the miniatures. That would be interesting to find out one day.

Fingers done, I glued together the body and the legs, then cut off the tag from under the feet so I could place him freely on a sculpted base. Lastly I filed the bottoms a little so any trace of the tag was gone and his weird double feet were a little bit more flat.

 

My main tool for bases

Building a base

I found a suitable raw wooden plinth in my box of plinths. These simple wooden plinths either square or round, I cut from lengths of wood I buy in a DIY store. I usually cut a batch at a time.

I needed a natural sloping top to display my miniature properly and to have space to build up some groundwork without making a mountain on top of my base. So I took my good old Dremel to the base as I most often do. I chucked in a large round grinding bit and started to dig at the wood. It is important to grind away at the material bit by bit and to try to create random natural shapes in the surface and once in a while measure it up with what you plan to place upon it to see if it looks ok. My bit was old and dull, so it burned the wood a little when I ground away at the plinth, I had better buy a new one soon. Be careful when you use tools like the Dremel, they are quite powerful and you don’t want to hit your fingers with such a bit at full speed! And wear safety glasses as well that sawdust is everywhere. I am lucky I have a little garden and I can go outside on the porch to do jobs like this, I would never do it inside or my wife would kill me, such grinding is dirty work.

Shaped naturally on top

Starting to build up my base. I found a resin bit of some decorated stonework, that would do for a piece of toppled over wall from my temple ruin, a remnant of an old civilization. Under that I put some gears in the ground!! This is to depict Tzeench, the patron deity of this type of demon. Tzeench is the changer of the ways, he is betrayal and development, he is the schemer, he is behind all the machinations of the world. He would literally change the geography mechanically where his power is manifest. Crystals and cold lights are also symbols of Tzeench as well as time, hence gears inside a clock… Such amalgamation of nature and inorganic things were sometimes found in old chaos art work.

I put some small pieces of bark on as rocks, flooded them with superglue. Sculpted a little more ground and rocks in Milliput, pushed bits of bark into the Milliput to imprint a natural rock like texture in the surface. I Used Milliput to fill gaps and to make custom parts of the base that was supposed to fit certain other parts, like between the wall bit and the bark and most importantly under the feet of the demon. I pressed the demon gently into the Milliput so the two would fit perfectly together.

As mentioned I would need something a bit taller in the background to sort of frame the figure and provide surfaces to reflect the light from the figure itself. I had

Fitting things together

some leftover putty flagstones from an earlier project. These were essentially bits of putty rolled out thin, baked then smashed to pieces with a hammer, so they had natural random fractured edges, perfect for flagstones and all sorts of debris. These flat stones were stacked and superglued together, so they looked a bit like they were floating on the magical energies of my demon. I made two simple wire trees as well. I had some sprigs of dried lavender, so these came on as some big and weird chaos flowers.

Small trees showing up, the one on the right will need trimming

I smeared some Milliput on the wire trees, brushed it with water and scratched the surface with a tooth pick to make it look a little like bark. I superglued some soil to the base for … well earth texture. A bit of thinned white glue to mount a little static grass and a couple of bits of fencing from Busch for a little fiddly detail. Lastly I glued some foliage from Mininatur on my little trees. When I am about to paint a piece like this where the coloured light is going to define everything, I always mount all plants and leaves before paint so I can paint everything in and tie all colours together.

 

All done and ready for paint

Painting the Demon

Priming this fellow was a bit trickier than usual as I wanted the figure to stand out brighter than the base he was going to light up, as well as I was going to use a lot of magenta and pink which would have bad coverage and need a bright undercoat. I primed the base black first, then sprayed it from above with a light grey primer, I primed the figure with the light grey before giving it a generous blast of white from above, so only a little of the grey was visible in the deepest recesses.

After priming Note how much brighter the demon is

I did not glue the figure to the base, so I could paint figure and base separately with full access to all areas. Whenever I have complete access to a figure, I glue it to the base, so I can paint it as a whole. At least I was going to paint base and figure at the same time here.

To begin with I prepared my wet palette with some Vallejo Magenta Fluo; my fluorescent magenta paint. Some Vallejo Burnt Umber, Schmincke Titanium White and

Making the pallette ready

Schmincke Prussian Blue.

I base coated the demon Magenta Fluo, this paint is gloss and semi-transparent so it had a very poor coverage. I think I painted 4 layers before I got a decent coverage. On the other hand this gave me a lot of this fluorescent paint to shine in the finished result.

I painted the base using a wet in wet technique. I mixed some Magenta fluo and Prussian Blue in my Burnt Umber, these colours would be repeated throughout this project, Magenta in the lights and Prussian Blue in the shadows. So I had a colour harmony all the way. When this purple-brown colour was all over the base, I mixed in more blue for the shadows and a little white and more Magenta in the light areas. I found a medium grey and mixed in a little of the brown/magenta/blue mix and painted the floating stones with that, more magenta in the light areas, more blue in the shadows. The same purple-brown went on the tree trunks. The leaves got a mix of Schmincke Phtalo Green and Prussian Blue, more blue mixed in in the shadows and some Titanium white and magenta in the lights. In the area close to the Magenta light on the leaves I added a lot of extra Prussian Blue, effectively turning the leaves purple in the transition between the green and the magenta. In this way I avoided making this ugly complimentary colour clash, where green and red would mix, the purple colour in between is a bridge colour that enables me to make an otherwise impossible transition between complimentaries. I set the base aside as it was now one big happy wet mix of colours

Nice mess of colours on the base and a good foundation of magenta on the demon

Now it was time to start shading my little demon. I introduced some Vallejo Blue Fluo on my palette. I mixed some of that in my magenta fluo, thus creating a fluorescent purple, which I applied to the shadows and… well a little all over the legs. I painted this purple in lower recesses and all lower surfaces; under the head backs of thighs, inside hands underside of upper arms etc. etc. Now I had a bit of a zenithal light situation going, but that was mainly in order to interpret the volumes of the model, it was NOT to be over-emphasized because the demon was to provide most of the light to the scene.

Introducing Blue Fluo on the pallette

At this point I started to refine the base, Painted in some more highlights, corrected some messes and mistakes, though it needed to be spontaneous and mixed together all over. I glazed in some more Magenta on the trees. Highlighted edges that was turned to the light and at last painted some of the leaves pure titanium white in preparation of Magenta Fluo, so some of them would reflect the demons light very powerfully.

Starting the shadows

I deepened most of the shadows in the figure by adding a little Prussian Blue to my fluorescent purple.

On the Base I painted Magenta Fluo directly on the leaves I had painted white first. I also highlighted a lot of the other leaves Magenta Fluo, but because they had not been painted white, they came out in many different shades thus creating a realistically random varied look. I deepened the shadows of the base with a lot of Army Painter Strong Tone and Blue Tone. I started adding small white highlights to some of the most prominent edges of the base.

 

Shadows done, now for highlights

These Vallejo Fluo colours are quite gloss and my little demon had a rather unseemly shine to it after the many layers of basecoat and more fluo in the shadows. I airbrushed it with matte varnish before continuing, so I got my control back.

I started to highlight by gradually adding Titanium White to the Magenta. As a rule I glazed it in nicely and smoothly blended, nut I also would apply some of it in small dots and lines to create texture, I imagine these monsters has this fungus like spongy soft texture, I wanted that to come through in a subtle way.

First highlights

At this point the base has been subtly drybrushed with a mix of Titamium White and P3 Menoth White Base, followed by a couple of glazes of the Magenta Fluo.

Still doing small dots and lines as well as nice blends, I pushed the highlights on my pink horror all the way to pure Titanium White.

The base got some more Magenta glazes, now I really define all the areas getting hit by the pink light of the demon. A few white edge and point highlights as well. Note the small gears I have put in between the branches of the trees, they are more visible now that they have got some shade and light. They are directly inspired by one of the very old chaos pictures by Ian Miller, where he made a tree with gears and faces. I think that the perfectly normal trees are getting affected by the nearby demon, starting to mutate a little…

Pushing the highlights all the way to white

 

I picked out the teeth and the nails.

Teeth and nails

 

In order to really push the light effect, I airbrushed the base and the demon with thinned down Titanium white. I did this in the most intense areas only. It comes on almost like a glaze turning everything lighter, nut if done carefully it does not obscure what I painted beneath and it is a simple matter to just pick things out again and thereby getting an extra level of highlight and purity of colour. It is a technique I often use to make my models pop.

I followed up immediately by glazing on some Magenta fluo to keep my colour modulations in play.

Airbrushed white highlights

Adding final details and adjusting the airbrushed highlight

 

The figure got some last white highlights. I painted the tongue purple, highlighted it with Titanium White. Picked out teeth and nails again with a bit of pure white, leaving a lot of magenta in between, hinting at light and energy seeping from the creature.

A couple of magenta glazes saw the base finished.

The figure mounted on the base, almost done!

Now the figure has been mounted on the base. I painted the eyes a fluorescent yellow with a little orange at the edges. I painted slitted pupils, catlike and evil. Gloss varnish in the eyes and the mouth.

Mat black on the plinth. When I mounted the figure to the base, I noticed that I had not painted the light effect on the tree far enough forward. I glazed in some Magenta Fluo in the area that needed more light, then highlighted more powerfully locally, painted some of the leaves white before more magenta end lastly airbrushed a magenta glaze with a little mat medium added and it all fit in.

Filling a gap

 

The right foot had a bit of a gap, I think that all of the paint, I had put on the base skewed the fit a little. I corrected this by adding a little PVA glue, soil and static grass. Once this was dry I painted it in the same grey/brown/magenta colours as the rest of the base. It is quite common to have to correct such mistakes. Here’s a little pro tip: It is next to impossible to match the colours 100% instead just paint some of the mix you make to correct this on the surrounding area. Make sure you blend it properly and in the end they will match.

Brimstone Horror

To cap this project off and add a bit of spot colour I made one of those small Brimstone Horrors. I painted him using the same technique as om the pink horror, just in blue and turquoise tones instead. I airbrushed turquoise glaze in the areas that the little one would light up, highlighted by gradually adding Titanium White, in the end edges in pure white.

That’s it, a night scene lit up by Tzeench’s madly capering, insanely laughing harbingers of change.

 

Done!

“In the lands next to the cold north, the farmer Tam peered into the forest. He thought he had heard laughter in the otherwise deep quiet of the night. There it was again a light flickering between the trees, still a way off and a faint sound of laughter borne on the wind.

Tam moved closer, sneaking quietly between the trees. A lifetime in this land had taught him to move without a sound stealthily through the night and the forest. It was up at the ancient temple ruins, a place the nearby villagers shunned because of some old curse or superstition. The weird pinkish light kept flickering between the trees accompanied by a mad laughter often echoed by tiny voices as well.

He crept closer holding his breath. He came to the small clearing where the small overgrown temple ruin stood. There was the most strange and terrifying creature he had ever seen! It had only one big head, no body. Legs growing out of the bottom, impossibly long arms waving above, ending in large hands with big tubular fingers that looked like they could suck the life itself out of a man. It had intelligent yellow catlike slitted eyes, gleaming with madness and evil intend! It danced and strutted around going left and going right spinning in circles shouting curses and gibberish all the while laughing madly. It dripped liquid fire, sometimes that liquid fire would coalesce into tiny daemons of blue flame echoing the big horrors words and laughter with tiny angry voices before going out, just to be replaced by another one.

“Must be one of them Pink Horrors” thought Tam “The harbingers of madness, schemes and change, the nine-fold killers, the eaters of souls the bringers of despair and lunacy” He had heard the stories from old preachers, never believing such nonsense. He stood rooted in place, could not take his eyes of the horrible creature. He kept staring at it with perverse fascination while every nerve in his body screamed at him to run as fast as he could. He kept staring mesmerized.

Suddenly the evil eyes of the pink horror caught Tam’s eyes, there was contact. The daemon started towards Tam never letting go of the eye contact still laughing like a madman. Then Tam knew terror as his bladder let go and his heart gave out, but at that moment he was already lost”.

I’ve always been a sucker for that old school chaos stuff by Games Workshop. It represents much of my initial attraction to this hobby and I just keep coming back to it. I am currently working on a big Nurgle project heavily inspired by the book “The Lost and the Damned”. That book deals with the two Chaos powers Nurgle and Tzeench which are kind of opposites and definitely each other’s mortal enemies. I think that inspired me subconsciously to take this foray into the madness that is Tzeench. I’ve always loved Tzeench models as much as Nurgle models they go crazy and where Nurgle is all about subdued decayed and often desaturated colours, Tzeench is all about pure vibrant strong colours though they tend to be a little cold, they sure are opposites. I think such moving around in related material is very healthy for the creative process and it was definitely fun doing this one.

 

I hope you found inspiration in these lines and hopefully a little enlightenment… Painting miniatures is all about enjoying the ride, so don’t be afraid to give these techniques a try it might turn out just fine.

Thanks for reading.

Until next time

-Kristian

Kristian Simonsen

Award winning miniatures painter and modeler. An avid reader of fantasy, SciFi, art and history, this reflects more and more on my painting. I occasionally teach painting and modeling to people and I am here to do just that as well.

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