Some Thoughts on Painting Luz – PRELUDE
Relaxed mind? Check
I’m ready for this!
Hi guys! I’m Fausto and I want to thank Jason for this opportunity! I painted this version of Lux from Nocturna Models in acrylics and brushes…ah, one day I’ll learn how to properly use an airbrush! The miniature is sculpted really well, just needed a bit of cleaning like many others and I was good to go. I apologise in advance for the lack of step by step images as I was asked to write something after the event and so the images here are all I have. I hope the explanation though will give you some knowledge and insight to help with your own projects.
I shall try to explain how I painted the following surfaces:
1 – PAINTING THE SKIN
I really LOVE painting skin! It’s so rich and full of colours, so interesting to do some crazy variations or add some texture… I think that I will never get bored of painting it! On the web you can have a lot of references. I highly recommend you study the portrait photographs by Steve McCurry, I really like them.
In this case, I used the following colours:
-skin colour ( I love the ones from Andrea Colour)
-Tank Brown (a really good brown, a bit glossy but so interesting)
-Dark Sea Blue (it seems a mix of black and turquoise, a bit desaturated…really really good for shadows)
-White (I always use it mixed with other colours. If it goes too desaturated, I can do some glazes to re-introduce the vibrancy of the colours)
-Medium Yellow (I use the one from Vallejo Model Colour…it’s quite good, I use it in a small quantity for glazes in the lights)
-Warlock Purple (Oh God… I LOVE this colour. I can use it with some black in the shadows, or for some glazes for example around the knee!)
-Snakebite Leather (it can create some great shadows and can desaturate if we need it. Great colour, I have also the Scrofulous Brown from Vallejo. It’s similar, but a bit more yellowish)
At first, I did quick sketches with the wet-blending technique with a shadow colour, a medium tone (with a little spot of every tone I will use) and one light. It helps me a lot, and can give me a quick look at the correct positioning of lights and shadows. After this quick start, all I do is refine, refine, refine and guess what? yes…refine some more!
I started with shadows…I really love to have some rich and vibrant shadows. I usually use a mixture of Warlock Purple+Black, or some Turquoise+Black. Those mixtures give me a really rich shadow colour. It’s so useful to always have the medium tone of the surface that you’re working with on your palette. You can correct mistakes, maybe blend it with shadows while the colours are drying, refine some shapes. It’s useful, like some beers with friends!
After this, I do the same process for the lights. Sometimes I like to use some white colour for the light, and avoid desaturation with some glazes. I still need to find a very good white… maybe from Golden, or Liquitex! I’ll try and tell you!
Following this I use a lot of glazes to blend it as much as I can. When I’m quite near the result that I want, I add some small textures, or spots, or maybe some dirt done with colours (I don’t like pigments on the miniature). Always be careful with the contrast balance…do some really good contrast on the face (or the focus point) because while you’re going far from it, this contrast will decrease (you can see this on the foot).
With this balance, you can lead the eye where YOU want. If you do it really really well, you can “cancel” some sculpt error, or cleaning error (ah damn!) or painting error. Use this trick sometimes, it will help you a lot if you do it correctly!
If you want to do a “master level” paint job for the skin, try to balance the gloss. If you see some skin, you can notice that is just a bit glossy. You can achieve this how you want, but I actually like to use some Liquitex Colour for the lights. They are similar to oil colours in consistency, but are 100% acrylic.
I suggest you to buy the primary colours and some white. By the way, you can mix them with Vallejo, Scale 75, Citadel, whatever you want and achieve the glossy level you prefer. If you balance it correctly, you’ll have a nice and interesting light zone! Be careful, or you’ll have something that seems like sweaty skin!
2 – PAINTING LEATHER (with TEXTURES)
I love creating textures on my figures and leather is so rich with textures! I did it quite quick but with a lot of fun!
So, I used the following colours:
-Flat Black ( I use the one from Andrea Colour. It’s really really flat, so you can control perfectly the shiny level of the shadows. It’s easier to add it than to go back to a perfectly matte surface!)
-Khaki tone ( I actually use one from Vallejo Model Colour)
-Tank Brown (I think that if God himself could choose a colour, it would be this one!)
-Brown ink (Ok, so…I use one from Pelikan Ink, but you just need to use any that is similar to the old Citadel Brown Ink)
-Dark Sea Blue (yop!)
-Skin colour (For this work I actually use one from the Andrea Skin Colour Set)
As always, a quick start with a wet blending with a basic contrast. Fast and useful, like a Bud Spencer’s slap. After this, I prepare on my wet palette a medium tone+shadow, a medium tone, a medium tone+light and a light. If you have some old brushes…man, this is the time for them. Dilute the colour a little bit less than normal and use only the top of your brushes…and try to dry it on a paper/hand/whatever you want. You must have a small quantity of colour on the brush, while it is still wet.
If you do this correctly, the brush will have open bristles. You will tap the surface really gently and fast. With the darkest colour in the shadow, with the medium tone+light in the medium tone zone and with the light within the brightest zone. You will need to use for the texture a colour that is always brighter than the surface.
You can search for some images of old leather on the web to understand better what I’m saying, or for some inspiration! At the end of this step, you will have a rough surface with a huge quantity of lines, spots and other irregularities.
You have to regain the shadow. So do some glazes, also with some ink (to add a bit of sheen), also on the lights to create some variation. After this, once again add more textures and shadows…basically it’s like a normal surface process, with the difference that you do the lights with textures.
Maybe sometimes you’ll need to do some lights in the normal way….it depends for every miniature and on your style of painting. No golden rule, never! Remember that so many Inks can be blended for a short time after they go dry (because they’re permeable)…this can help you if you forgot to blend the ink, or wanna remove some dirty spot that is too big for your taste.
An interesting alternative is to use Oil Colours. I don’t use them so much, but they can be fun. Just paint as you normally would and then apply some glazes with the colour (and thinner obviously). You can try to achieve some particular effects blending the colour directly upon the miniature, why not? You can try to add some pigments to the surface (to simulate dirt). Apply little spots (spatters) to achieve this dirty, grubby look, you can create some really nice effects with a glaze of pigments and some random spotting.
But how to achieve this? I hear you ask, this can be done in one or two ways that I particularly like!
– use an old toothbrush, or a synthetic brush. They have some very hard bristles that will launch the spatter like a catapult.
– or just charge my brush with the ink/pigment/colour and blow on it. To have some more concentrated spots you need to do it closer, if you want to create larger or less concentrated spatters, then use the process a little further away. Exactly like an airbrush.
Remember to be careful, because with this technique you’ll make so MANY (seriously guys, my desk is the proof) spots in front of you. So be sure to cover properly (with some paper for example) the surface you want to keep clean.
Do some test and then have fun!
3 – PAINTING NMM
“It’s dangerous to go alone, take this”! (The Legend of Zelda 😀 )
It’s my first time with NMM! I followed the process in the video from Ben Komets for Painting Buddha! There’re no particular secret for the NMM, other than you need to push contrast as much as possible, using some cold colours for the steel for example, or more yellowish for the gold. So, basic contrast with wet blending and then refine refine refine! You need to be really clean and smooth. I added textures at the end of the process and I like so much how it turned out.
-Caspian Blue (100% lovely colour from Scale 75. It’s like a brighter Dark Sea Blue with a bit of Turquoise. Amazing for steel nmm, you can find it in the nmm set by Scale 75)
-Flat Black (Andrea Colour!)
-White (for the NMM I absolutely use a matt white. We don’t need to do some glossy, we will paint all the reflection!)
-Tank Brown (what else to say?)
Push, push PUSH contrast as much you can. This is the only secret for NMM! Keep an eye on some metal objects to observe how they reflect light in real life. If you want you can also add some isolated white spot to add the “bling-bling” effect to the surface! Really useful, keep it in mind!
How to find harmony and balance?
I don’t know if there’s a key rule…but personally it’s just taste and experience. You need to paint and see. I use one or two colours for the shadow in every surface, and one for the light. This will really really help you produce a piece that is not too colourful. Use a limited list of colours…and learn how to mix and use them! When you do a complex miniature, you need to know where you want the focal point, what you want to be seen and what you want to be unseen, what you want as third elements in the miniature…
Really…a lot of stuff, but don’t be afraid, many of you are doing it right now, without thinking before painting. Why? Because all this can be recap in one word: TASTE. Taste is important, you need to improve it as much as possible. Once you learned how to paint clean and smooth, you need to have the best idea, the best colour choice, the best subject. This is a more complex topic, that can become really subjective…but take some minutes to think about it!
So, that’s all guys!
Best wishes and good luck!