Sunday Paint Splatters

Still struggling with the 2-brush method, hoping it was just an off-day Sunday, because I was pretty sloppy. I fixed a couple blends, but when I went in to bring up the highlights, I slapped several areas of shadow with it.  But the real problem is the paint is drying on the mini before I can get the blending brush to it. I’m sticking with the method for this mini, but I’m considering going to layering thinner paints instead.

On the upside, I’m digging the skin tones. Once I get the undersides of the arms shaded I’ll update the WIP properly. Basically all I did yesterday was fix existing blends and add some bone white to the mix for the final (?) highlights. Looks good when the blends worked, though.

OH! And I put together a crappy wet palette. Version 0.1 gave me a couple hours of open time which was pretty awesome compared to the porcelain plate I had been using, but it dried up when I closed it for dinner. I put some more water in it with a new parchment and it seemed ok a couple hours later. I’ll tweak it so hopefully I can get a few hours between sessions, but having the open time on my mixed paints up into the hours range is really nice.

Blast from the past

Now that I have a cheesy light box set up, I decided to run through my old painted minis. While the chunkier Drone model holds up to the white background, this thinner minotaur gets blown out by it. Having a warm bulb and adjusting the white balance doesn’t help, either. I’ll live with it until the budget allows a real setup!

This guy is the very first mini I remember painting. I probably did some in the 80s, but I don’t own or remember them. I was just trying to copy what my buddy was doing, so it’s a base coat + wash + drybrushing, done in Floquil Polly S fantasy colors.


Slight delay as I had to tear apart my den to fit in my new desk, which will be the permanent painting station. I also want to get a light box for photos set up and I’m broke from all these kickstarters, so here’s my first attempt (corrected in Gimp) at that.

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Should be ok when I add another layer of tissue paper to reduce those hotspots on the arm; and when I get three lights that are in the same color temp range…

Back to painting this weekend!

To skin a drone

I’m struggling with this new two-brush blending technique. The paint edge was dry before I could get the blending brush down, and sometimes the middle wouldn’t be, and I’d have to go retouch that section (though that was easy enough given is was surrounded by the proper color). I was thinking I’d need to put in some slow-dry retarder into the mix, but I could try with thicker paint. I’m only adding a drop of my water/flow improver mix (10:1) to between 5 drops of paint. My concern with using thicker paint is obscuring detail and the flow of the paint as it goes on.

I also need to get a proper camera setup. I do have a tripod I’m using (the first images came out good, I got lulled into a false sense of accomplishment! All the base coat pics came out blurry (too close with camera zoom, I think) or with way too much light on them. So we’ll just have to skip to the shaded and highlighted skin shots, such as they are. All paints are Vallejo Game Color. As more paint was added, I’d add my water mix to keep it around 5:1.

For the base coat, I used 3 drops of [40 Leather Brown] +1 drop of [43 Beasty Brown] + 1 drop of [45 Charred Brown], with a drop of my water mix. I am pretty happy with the way that came out, wish the pics had survived! A nice warm brown with the charred knocking back the yellow just a bit. My first mixed color! Previously I had only used black or white to mix (mostly just white mix for drybrushing).

For the shading, I went with base + 1 drop [43 Leather Brown] +2 drops of [45 Charred Brown]. Gave it a nice tone that didn’t seem to jarring off the base coat. Going off the suggestion for putting a cool tone into the deepest recess, I added just a hint of Ultramarine Blue to the shading mix. That is my favorite part of the mini thus far, it really adds a depth and complexity to the color. I /never/ would have thought of such a thing, and it works so well!

For 1st highlight, I used the base + 2 drops of [36 Bronzed Flesh]. A bit of a yellow cast to it. Not horrible, not great. Wasn’t sure how to tweak it, and since I didn’t hate it I went with it. For the 2nd highlight I added 1 drop of [41 Dwarf Skin] and the 3rd highlight (just a dot, really) I added another large drop of [41 Dwarf Skin].

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The right bicep is a ‘known issue’. The poor blending really got out of hand over there, but it shouldn’t be too tough to fix.

Drone WIP 1

These blog posts will more or less follow the WIP thread I’m posting at the Studio McVey forums, I’ll try to keep them edited to some form of sensibility. One thing I forgot to note – the wash pictures are shiny, as the wash hadn’t fully dried yet.


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Assembly. A bit of mold line to deal with, but not bad at all. Very rusty with the xacto, so I did nick a few spots, I think this drone might get practice for a wound on his arm…

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After that I glued him into the slottabase and instantly didn’t like it, my aversion to slottabase took hold. I went into the garage, grabbed a hacksaw and off goes the tab! A bit of filing of the soles (A bit of filing is good for the soul, my mother always said, but she’s a secretary). Then I got to try out my brand new pin vise! Found a bit that fit a paper clip I had lying around, a bit of drill, glue and snip later and the Drone was mounted on stilts. Popped him on a cork and primed him with Army Painter white primer. Of course, not feeling the greatest yesterday I forgot to photodocument all this.

I mixed up some wash per Ali’s post. Throwing in a hint of Les’ wash recipe, I used (10:1 distilled water:flow-aid)+matte medium mixed 1:1 with two drops black and one drop brown. I then went over the hard spots/boots/etc but it seemed a bit subtle. So in a bit of haste I added another drop of black, it may have been a bit too much.

So here’s the Drone pinned, mounted, primed and washed:

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I also missed an assembly detail, forgot to connect the hose from the gun to the backpack! So /after/ priming, I maneuvered it more or less into position and glued it in there, which accounts for the poor adhesion of the wash around that join. Hopefully it will be easy to fix later.

A final note – This was the inaugural duty of my new W&N 7 #2 brush. I was skeptical as I’ve always used 5/0 as my main brush. As soon as I opened the package and saw the pinpoint at the end of the bristles, I had a serious grin. Love the way the reservoir holds the paint. I’m a big brush convert and I haven’t even begun actually painting!

Welcome to the future!

Ok, since we’re caught up, here’s a ‘what’s up’ post.

Some friends tricked me into evil kickstarter, so I have a pile of minis coming thanks to Sedition Wars, Red Box Games and Reaper Bones.

Prior to getting into the Sedition Wars thing, I noticed a great tutorial on two-brush method of painting minis by Ali McVey. A couple weeks later I got into the kickstarter and realized the connection. Then a member of the Studio McVey forum had a great idea of running an informal painting competition to get people warmed up for the Sedition Wars pile’o’minis coming in November.

So I decided to combine the two, learn the two-brush technique and enter the mini into the informal competition. WIP to follow.

I’ve also done a bit of supply ordering, from pin vice and drill set to new brushes, so I’m much more comfortable with decent kit to support the hobby.

Catching up

Well, you know how blogs go. Typical. So, here’s the wrap-up to my last post, a montage image of the finished gnoll. Technically my “first” mini, of this new era of painting, anyway.

Cribbing notes from a forum post, so they might not make sense in this order!

I had begun painting him more or less like the old ones, but with better color selections. Then I looked at some AD&D gnoll pics, saw one drawn like a hyena and spent some time looking over hyena pics. Gave him more of a yellowish cast and some spots/dark muzzle. Just those little tweaks, poorly executed as they are, got me excited again. Especially when I consider the older gnolls I’m comparing him to were more like the fourth or fifth I painted back in the 90s, so hopefully this time I’ll jump a couple minis ahead in skill vs my old minis, at least until I catch up to those space wolves I posted (my last few paintjobs in the 90s).

Got in a session last night. I think one more session will finish this gnoll.

Took a while just touching up from the skin, and doing the leather bits. All I have left is the scale mail highlights, eyes and mouth, jewelry, base and digging up the weapon sprue from somewhere (so maybe two sessions if I go with a shield).

As I said, still trying to remind myself this is my first mini in over a decade. The skin turned out cool with the hyena effect, but a last minute wash lost some of the shadowing (I think it just needed a bit more thinning). The blending on the leather ended up pretty bad, but I decided I’m not going to bother fixing it. It’s fairly messy and for some reason I missed on glaring dark wash water mark on the leg from washing the boot (I might fix that with a line of flesh tone, but it might make it worse).

The leather shading wash was too dark or I needed to work up from darker shades after the wash. I’m working on mixing but I’m not real happy with the results, they just tend to be washed out odd colors yet. The leather has very dark recesses and when I was trying to work up the highlights (using a GW mixing chart and GW to Vallejo conversion chart), my nice red leather looks oddly yellow at the last couple shades.

Working on thinning paint, I’m starting to get a better consistency but I think I’m going to move to a flatter palette, I used to use a flat palette and right now I’ve got a rounded one. But with the thinner paint, I’m finding it difficult to hit the sweet spot between overloading and underloading the brush. I’m mostly avoiding having it overloaded to the point where the paint runs into the crevices (happened about four times last night while I worked on thinning, though) but still it usually pools a bit or I get so little I only get a stroke before having to reload. I’m spending more time trying to get the right load on the brush than actually painting 🙂

I’m also struggling with the brushes I got. I bought about ten brushes, a 2, couple 0, couple 2/0 a 3/0, couple 5/0 (my old ‘main’ size) and a couple 10/0 and a 15/0 (all but one are red sable). The smaller brushes have better points but don’t hold crap for paint and I have to keep going back for more. The bigger brushes are exhibiting pretty much every bad point issue I’ve seen (one with a split, one with a bend, I’ve trimmed the two with straggler hairs which are the better brushes I’m mostly using).

All this is making it tough to just practice being accurate, but when the stars align, I have a decent pointed brush with a proper load of paint at the proper consistency, I am actually seeing decent improvement in accuracy.

I chipped the stupid base paint when I took it off the paint pot it was glued to  Ohhhhh, I see. Not exactly a masterpiece, but it looks better in person. Also, a few things here and there really helped me get back into the swing of things a bit and in some ways it’s better than my older stuff. The scale mail in particular looks way sloppier in the photos, ohnoes!

Ok, so there. Now we’re caught back up to modern times!