Monday, July 27, 2009

41 - Blood Ravens Sternguard Tutorial Part IV

After laying down the Opaque Red basecoat, I proceeded with painting in the details and fiddly bits. The picture on the left shows what the model looks like after one thin layer of Delta Ceramcoat Old Parchment on the helmet, the shoulder pad, and the purity seals; Americana Antique Gold on the chest design, the belt skull, and the purity seal medallions; Delta Ceramcoat Bridge Gray on the belt, the joint connection bits, and the pneumatic chords on the power fist; and Delta Ceramcoat's Christmas Green on the tiny electrical wires scattered throughout the power armor and eye lenses of the helmet. As usual, all of the paints were thinned with Flow Aid until the consistency of skim milk. This first layer of detail work took about 10 minutes, after which I placed the model aside for about 5-10 minutes in order for the paint to dry.

The detail work is actually my favorite part of painting models. Oftentimes, the basecoat is already prescribed for you - an Ultramarine will have a blue basecoat, a Blood Raven a red basecoat, a Cadian Guardsman a green and khaki basecoat, etc. It's the fiddly bits, however, where one's creativity is challenged. You get to decide, for instance, what color you want to make the wires or the purity seals or the lasgun casing or whatever. Now, you can't just willy-nilly apply a rainbow's worth of colors to the details because that'll just result in a cluttered, motley appearance to the model (which doesn't usually work unless you're painting up Eldar Harlequins, I guess). Rather, your color scheme has to not only reflect your own personal creativity, but also honor reality to a reasonable extent.

The picture on the right is of the model after 3 layers of thinned paint on the detail bits. Practically done - total painting time about 1 hour if you count the intervals waiting for the paint to dry. The basecoating of the detail bits usually takes less coats and time because of how little surface space is involved. You want to be sure, though, that your paint is thinned down even more when you basecoat because of how easy it is for the paint to creep into the really fine detailed and textured areas and clog up the works, leaving you with a shapeless mess.

As an aside - I use a Size 1 Round paint brush for both the basecoating of the large areas of the model and the detailed areas. The only times I switch to a larger or smaller brush are if I'm priming (whereby I will use a Size 4 Flat brush) or if I'm painting tiny, tiny areas like eyes and jewelry (whereby I'll use a Size 00 Round). I've yet to invest in a truly great brush (like a Kolinsky Sable) because a) I just don't think my skills are at that level yet (which is also why I'm still working with craft paints) and b) I'm terrible when it comes to keeping my brushes clean. I mean, I'll swirl my brush in the water glass after every 2 or 3 dips of the brush head into paint, but after I'm done for the night, I very rarely thoroughly clean my brushes. So until I become more conscientious about that, it's $4.99 cheap brushes for me.

At this point, the model is practically ready for shading via Citadel washes. I still have a couple of decisions to make though. For instance, what color do I want the knee pads to be? (I'm leaning towards just painting them Opaque Red, but a part of me wants to do them in Old Parchment like the helmet and shoulder pads.) Also, the Antique Gold studs on the Heresy-Era shoulder pad seem to blend too much into the Old Parchment - I think I'll actually paint the studs Black. Finally, what else do I want to add to this figure? I've got 2 tabard pieces ready to be primed and glued on, the right arm with the Sternguard bolter, the backpack, a banner possibly, and maybe the Dark Angels helmet wings. I'll leave those decisions for Part V.


AoM said...

"I've yet to invest in a truly great brush (like a Kolinsky Sable) because a) I just don't think my skills are at that level yet (which is also why I'm still working with craft paints) and b) I'm terrible when it comes to keeping my brushes clean."

This is one of the saddest things I hear. That's like saying you won't eat a steak because you don't think you're good enough at eating a hamburger yet.

Buy some good paints (Reaper Master Series, Vallejo MODEL Color (Game Color isn't worth shit), or P3), and buy some nice natural brushes. You can get great brushes from Cheap Joe's or Dick Blick's online, Reaper puts out nice brushes, and even the new GW ones are getting better in quality.

You'll see the improvements very quickly. Using tools made for the job instead of just ones that are "close enough" always makes a job easier. I used to paint with craft paints and synthetic brushes that would hook withing a month or two. Eventually, I got pushed into getting new paints and new brushes. My painting improved dramatically.

Craft paints are great for terrain, but that's only because you need more paint for less money there. Paints designed for miniatures have more pigment in them than the craft paints. There's also more body there since the binder is better (matte medium is essentially acrylic paint w/o pigment, after all). Even when thinned, your colors will remain much stronger.

The same can be said for working with green stuff. Working with your knife, a paintbrush handle, an a toothpick will get you pretty far, but adding in some nicer tools like clay shapers and few specialty tools will have you seeing your GS work improve by leaps and bounds.

Also, whether you're using a W&N Series 7 for $11 or an American Painter Golden Taklon brush for $3, proper brush care is one of the most overlooked parts of painting. Keep your tools taken care of, and they will take care of you. Swing by an art store and pick up some Masters Brush Cleaner or some Pink Soap. Your brushes will thank you.

Paul Wu said...

@ AoM:

You're absolutely right. In the very near future, I'm going to start replacing my cheap craft paints, bottle by bottle, with dedicated miniature paints. While I think working with craft paints was a very cost effective way to learn the basics of the hobby, there is a definite limit to what they can do.

The same goes for the brushes, although I think the primary reason why I'm so bad at keeping them clean is because I primarily paint very late at night (after the wife goes to bed), so by the time I'm done painting, I just want to jump into bed and sleep.

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