Sunday, 27 November 2011

Deathwing - Step by Step Part 4

I've been fiddling round with lighting since I got my new desk and installed some new bulbs into my spotlights, so I have a whiter light than previously, This is still all w.i.p, but I think I'm getting there in improving my macro photography set-up.

For this stage I've been focusing on some of the details of the model, specifically the green, red and stone elements of each Deathwing squad member.
 I try to avoid making the reds on my Deathwing too bright, while still having a strong degree of contrast. I work from a very dark red base and then use a thinned Blood Angels red to create my highlights, carefully feathering on a little at a time so the highlight slowly builds up. I also try to do this so the lighting is broadly consistent with the zenith lighting on the rest of the model. I play a little fast and loose here though, because if I was totally honest to the zenithal approach I'd not paint in some of the detail.

For the greens, I start with Dark Angels green and wash heavily with black, as I did in the previous update. I then paint DA green back over the areas getting the most light, blending it back into the shadowed areas with the darker tones.

I really really want to avoid a bright highlight on the green. I have it on some of my earlier Deathwing and DA miniatures and it really doesn't work for me. So the highlight I use is a mix of Snot Green and DA Green in a 3 to 1 ratio (snot to DA). As an aside at this point, if any of you produce snot that looks anything like citadel think it does, see a doctor. Please. That's just not normal.

As with the red, the paint is thinned a fair bit and carefully feathered onto the model, gradually building up a highlight.

In the case of the Storm Bolter, I'm pretty liberal with the lighter shade on the very top of the gun, as that is being hit full on by the light source. Having said that, I try to make suure I've got the most highlight at the edges so they're clearly defined. I then feather it down into the darker tones. Again, if I were true to my zenith lighting approach, the detail on the side would be lost, so the bottom edges of the side detail get a touch of hihglight. They're not in direct light (even if it looks like they are in this photo), but without a little highlighting the side of the Bolter would look very flat.
For the joints in the armour (and arm cables), I use Reaper Master series Dark Elf Skin triad to build up contrast in the flexing of the joints, before washing them with Baddab Black. It is a little time consuming for such a small area of detail, but I like the effect and it is more interesting than just drybrushed black.
All the stone detail on the armour is next. Again I try to be consistent to my zenith highlighting. Adeptus battlegrey goes on first, followed by Codex Grey hitting most of the highlighted areas. I then wash with Baddab Black to bring out the detail and pick out the areas getting hit with the most light using Fortress Grey. Other than washing the skull and bones with Baddab Black, I've not done anything with that area yet.
Finally the eyes have it. This is a pretty basic approach, starting with a dark red, then applying increasingly small amounts of lighter tones towards the front of the eye until I finish with sunburst yellow right at the very edge. I then give the eyes a little wash of Baal Red, to blend the transitions and let a bit of the darker cooler pool into the socket. I use a very fine brush for this, either a Reaper 20-0 or Winsor & Newton series 7 000, as citadel don't do a very fine detail brush. The only thing missing from the eyes is a little refracted light blob in the corner of the eye.

All that's left to do now are the purity seals, some of the metal work, the bases and the final highlight on the bone.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Deathwing - Step by Step Part 3

I've had to change my lighting for these images, because the highlight was getting bled out by my lightsource. I really do need to sort out a proper lightbox for macro-photography, but until I get my study redone its very much a project on the back burner.

The next step (or steps as I've done a few things) is to apply the highlight to the parts of the model which get the most light. I generally work on the basis that my lightsource is more or less directly above, at a slight angle. I do play a little fast and loose with this for the sake of the mini looking good and keeping definition where I want it.

The principle of this is simple enough, in that the parts which get hit by the most light are the brighest with the colour gradually bleeding out the further you get from the lightsource or where areas are in shadow. Actually explaining how I do it is somewhat trickier. Hopefully you can see in the picture above what I mean, in particular the areas in shadow. Those areas are untouched by the highlight, most notably the vent area at the back of the carapace and the sides of the torso.
The two images above show more of the shaded areas and also the much stronger contrast between the upper surfaces of the model and those areas which are shadowed. You might also be able to see that I've washed the gunmetal parts and grey of the figure with a thinned Badab Black wash, to add some depth.

The technique for the highlighting and getting a reasonably smooth transition to the dark is a bit of cheat really. Rather than wetblend the two colours together (which takes ages), I instead thin the highlight paint a fair bit (Reaper Master Series Aged Bone) and then gradually layer that on.

Now a reasonably thinned paint behaves like a wash, so it needs to managed carefully. It also pool at the point of contact with the model, so you have to be careful not to apply too much paint to your brush. My technique involves first applying the brush to the area I want the main highlight to be, drawing the paint away a bit, then drawing it back leaving a thinned coat behind. I do a few passes, drawing the brush further away it each time, building up the top highlight while bleeding the colour out further. Because the Reaper triads compliment each other so well, this is a surprisingly fast way of getting a decent blended bone highlight. It doesn't look as good as a full blown wet blend but, doing that would drive me to distraction.

You might also have noticed that I've left the skull and crossbones on the Terminator Honours as bone. While the standard Terminator fluff is that the Honour is carved from the rock of Marines homeworld, I've never been keen on that for my Deathwing. I've done my own fluff here and drawn my inspiration from the original Deathwing novella, where the marines are a tribal people akin to the Indian tribes of North America. Part of their Terminator Honours are carved from the bones of fierce beasts they've hunted (as part of a coming of age ritual), fused with the stone cross and then covered with a protective layer of something. However, as the beasts they hunt are naturally very tough, the bones are unusually resilient anyway. The new Dark Angels novels (which are pretty good imo) have the recruits hunting down incredibly dangerous beasts on the deathworld of Caliban, so the whole bone Honours thing carries through. The trick is getting the bone effect on the Terminator Honour to look different to the rest of the armour. At this point its early days, more work to do there yet.

Finally, I've also washed the Dark Angels green on the Storm Bolter, chest Aquila and other elements of the armour with thinned Badab Black.
I've realised that I like the green on my Dark Angels to be quite dark, so making it as dark as possible first means I can avoid the fairly aggressive yellowy highlight I have on some of my earlier Deathwing minis.

Monday, 14 November 2011

After Deathwing - What next?

Despite the absence of the next part of the Deathwing Step By Step, I am making progress on the figures and should have something up tomorrow. Blogging takes time and to paraphrase Rocky Horrors' Magenta "slowly, slowly, its too nice a job to rush." The fact that I'm working on eight figures is actually pretty wearing. Yeah, doing the light highlight is fun for the first three or so figures, then it turns into a job, then back to being fun for the last couple when you realise you're nearly done.

So when I am done, I'll have brought my Deathwing force up to a sizable 20+ figures. Admitedly I need more rank and file figures in with the various character models, but I've more than enough for a robust game of Spacehulk. Throw in the Landraider and the two Dreadnoughts and I've an army for a tabletop game. One I'd certainly lose, but an army never-the-less.

I think I need a break from painting bone coloured things, which leads me to ponder what I should tackle next. I'm pondering the following.

1) Dark Angels - I've only one figure painted and he looks a bit lonely. I'm tempted to try painting Azrael with a retinue of veterans or perhaps a Devastator squad.

2) Castellan Crowe & Lord Draigo - these two are not far from finished. In fact I could probably push these two through in an evening.

3) Genestealers - I've got one test colour scheme near finished and I do need these guys painted for Spacehulk.

4) 3D Spacehulk board - I picked up some moulds at Gen-Con for making a sci-fi themed board. My plan is to reproduce, as faithfully as possible, the Spacehulk tiles as package with the new edition.

5) Nemsis Dreadknight - I got him for my Birthday, I'm toying with the idea of doing clever things with magnets.

6) Landraider Ares - I have all the parts to get one of these underway.

The problem with all of these ideas is at present, I really don't have shellspace to store anything else. I need more shelves, in the sense of I critically need more shelves.

So what I'll probably wind up doing after I've completed my Deathwing is this.

7) Go to Ikea, buy shelves.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Deathwing - Step by Step - Part Two

As you can see in the picture above, I've finished painting in the various other elements of the figure. I've painted a dark green over all the black elements I want to be green and I've painted the base Boltgun Metal, followed by a wash of Devlan Mud.

I don't know about the rest of you (because my network of spies isn't that efficient), but I really do have to be disciplined about thinking about the entirity of the composition as I'm painting, rather than focus on a bit of detail at a time. This was something my A Level art teacher used to berate me for and quite rightly too. If you don't work on a piece in its entirity, what you end up with is something that looks oddly inconsistent. But, it is soo easy to get drawn into working on the detail of particular aspect of a model up until its finished, then move onto the next part. You can create a consistent effect that way, but it is much harder and the risks of getting it wrong are a miniature that looks, at best, weird and at worst like it was painted by a few different people on different days.

The airbrushing really helps with this, because I can quickly do the early stages of the core colour scheme over a number of figures quickly and consistently. After that, it is just a case of picking which element to paint next and doing that for all the figures. Honestly, I find this can be a bit tedious at times, but I also find it the only way to create a reasonably consistent finish.

This is probably less of an issue if you're painting just a single miniature, but even then I'd still strongly advise in trying to paint all aspects of the model in stages, rather than finish one bit and move onto another. This is because getting other elements painted does change the contrast with the other paints, which in turn can parts already finished now look odd.

As I mentioned earlier, all the green bits were first painted black. I've previously tried to avoid this step as a time saving measure and, to be blunt, it doesn't work. It doesn't save time. On a miniature as lightly coloured as this, you'll have to apply multiple coats of green paint to even get the colour somewhere approaching the dark shade needed. Painting black is an additional step, but it saves time in the long run. Don't skip it.

I also want to talk a little about the paints I'm using. Above is a picture of the Bone Triad from Reaper Master Series, with paints sorted darkest to lightest (left to right).  Apologies it is not so easy to see the different tones, I accidentally spray painted the Aged Bone bottle.

By now it should be clear that I'm a fan of Reaper paints. They have great consistency, water down well so the pigment doesn't separate and the little dropper bottles are much better for keeping the paint fresh. Okay, occasionally you need a pin or something to unblock the nozzle, but that is preferable to me than having to rehydrate an entire bottle of paint. Something I have to do with the citadel paints, frequently.

The other great thing about the Reaper Master series is that the Triads have been really well thought through. The different tones work together really well and indeed, you can apply them sequentially without the need for much blending. I know citadel and other brands have all got on board the bandwagon of organising paints into triads of dark, mid and light tones, but they don't do it nearly so well as Reaper.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Deathwing - Step by Step Part 1 (now with added PINK!)

This opening image is by way of an explanation about what this little series is about. First and foremost it is about how I go about painting Deathwing. Secondly and secondmost its about how I'm going about painting Deathwing bone armour in a different way.

On the left in the picture above is my old style of painting Deathwing armour, which produced a bone effect, that was a little too warm for my tastes. Too creamy even. Although the technique isn't bad, there is scant regard on the bone armour for light sourcing. It is not a bad figure and not bad for my first year getting back into painting. There is a lot of it I'm happy about, especially as it was my first conversion. I'm not thrilled about the badly drilled gun barrels, but otherwise its ok. Apart from the gun barrels. And the bone.

Earlier this year I finished my first ever 40k tank and being fairly ambitious, I decided to start big and painted a Deathwing landraider crusader.

I took a different approach to painting the armour on this, as I figured the creamy bone just wasn't going to cut it. I used different paints, used my airbrush properly for the first time and also played around with weathering powders. I'm much happier with how the bone effect for the armour came out, I changed the colour scheme for other elements of the armour from the way I normally did them and generally had a blast.

This led to me painting the guy on the left in the topmost picture and also directly above here, the Deathwing Angelus Mortis. This was a much more ambitious conversion for me and I'm again happy with the results. The bone armour is painted with much more attention to light sourcing and is much cooler than the creamy bone. There's a lot of other elements included as well, like battle damage. They're not perfect but, it was my first attempt at doing them on a figure.

The long and the short of this is I have a new way of painting bone coloured armour and I'm still refining the approach. So lets get started.

First up we have wait we're painting, the assault squad from Black Reach on shiny micro-arts bases.  Some of the models have slightly shonky green stuff additions, which are my first attempt at sculpting extra features on armour. After cleaning, prepping and assembly, I've drilled the barrels and added a few additional features (extra purity seal and terminator honour). I've also either replaced all of the shoulder pads with those from the Dark Angels bits sprues, or moulded my own emblems using green stuff and instant mould. Basically this just an image of unpainted plastic figures. Woo, guinea pig!

Next step is to prime them with grey. I find white to be too bright and difficult to work with in the early stages and black is too dark for bone. Once they're dry, I apply a wash of Devlan Mud to pick out the details and establish some contrast. I know washing at this early stage is odd but I find it helps build up the depth as I go.

You might also notice that the squad sergeant has a helmet rather than the default bald head. This is because I really don't understand the GW convention of indicated officers or characters by removing their armour. It MAKES NO SENSE to me, so I tend to do away with wherever I can.

I then break out my trusty Badger 150 airbush and get to work on my colour scheme. First coat is of Reaper Master series Bone Shadow all over the miniatures, followed by a coat of Reaper Polished Bone. The latter is applied from the direction of my lightsource, so various parts of the model don't get hit by the slightly lighter shade.
Apologies that my macro photography is the best, but hopefully you can see on the arm how the lighter paint has sprayed onto the upper areas of the model and left underarm, back of the shoulderpad and other areas darker. The contrast is stronger than it appears here, but I still don't have an ideal light set-up for pictures so some of the colour has bled out.

I then applied another wash of Devlan mud and here things went slightly wrong and by wrong, I mean pink! Basically I used an old bottle of wash, thinned it and because the paint was old, the pigments separated from the wash and I wound up with a weird pink residue all over the model. Hopefully you can see that in the left model.

Now the pink wasn't a total disaster as in some areas it did add an interesting element of colour to the recesses, but in others I was just left with an odd, brightish, pink shading. Lots of rewashing and tidying up with Polished Bone followed, until I got to the figure on the right.
Once that was all done, I then carefully went back over the figure with the Polished Bone, applying a thinned layer to those areas that were not in darkest shadow. You can see the detail in the picture above and also areas (like the vents at the back of the armour) where I haven't applied the lighter colour. At this point the contrast isn't too great, partly because of my sub standard macro photography, but mainly because I've only applied a base tone, mid tone and shade. I've got two more tones to apply yet, the top tone and my edge highlight, at which point the contrasts should pop out more.

*edit* - I missed out a step!

After the tidying up with polished bone, I then applied a very thin wash of Gryphonne Sepia evenly over the entire model. The reason for this is because it takes a little of the coolness off the bone colour and also helps tidy up some of the transitions.

The final part of this early stage was to put my details in, to help bring the composition together. I find once I've got the basic details there, it is easier to go forward with the rest of the armour. The long standing theme for my Deathwing recognises the Dark Angels chapter, where elements of the detail are painted in green. This stems from the original Deathwing boxed set.
I've always though the green was a neat touch on these figures, as it ties the Deathwing back to the parent chapter and generally I think it looks a bit more interesting than just painting the guns red (as they are in the current DA codex) or leaving them black (which to me is preferrable to red, but not as good as green).

Pretty much all the black areas will, eventually, be painted green (accept for some areas that will stay black). Then I have red, which to me is as much a colour of the Deathwing as the bone is, as it ties back to the pre-heresy DA colour scheme. For the red I start out with a very dark tone, Brick Red from Reaper Master series, which provides a nice brooding contrast to the later highlights.

All of the skulls get a coat of foundation Adeptus Battlegrey. I used to do the skulls using the Reaper Bone tried, as it contrasted nicely with the creamy bone armour and I felt the skulls should look like skulls. However, as I'm now using the Bone Triad for the armour, that approach simply doesn't work, so I've gone with the traditional stone look. I've also painted elements of the Crux Terminatus in grey, but left the skull element unpainted as of yet. I'll explain this in due course, as the reasons are also drawn from the Deathwing background.

Getting to this point has actually taken a fairly long time (I'm actually painting two other Deathwing figures alongside these five) and the next stages should go slightly more quickly. I'll crack on with these over the week and with luck, have another update ready for Sunday.