Saturday, 18 August 2012

Figure Painting Tutorial Part One

Figure Painting Tutorial Part One

Like most people in this hobby my painting style has been influenced by others and has gradually developed over time, trial, & error. By sharing some of my painting steps with you I am not saying that they are superior to yours, they are just what I find works for me. Please feel free to take and leave whatever you like. :)

First Things

The first thing for me is the primer (unless you count the washing of some plastic figures, or the cutting back of flash, or the filing down of excess metal). I know that a lot of people use black, and I understand the reasons behind this, I too have used black as a primer in the past- especially when painting for other people & wanting to get stuff churned out in good time. Now, however, I use Grey as my primer shade of choice, and am currently using artist's acrylic gesso for this. The gesso gives a good protective coating to the figure, shrinking nicely & sealing the figure, and also giving a good "tooth" to apply paint to. I have found it to be excellent for both metal, "bendy" plastics and hard plastics.
I believe grey to be a great neutral for miniatures. Personally I think black can dull colours down and white can make them brighter than they need to be. My views on this were influenced some years ago by a master miniature painter Joe Videki and his wondrous website loaded with useful links & pictures of his own work- check it out HERE .
So grey acrylic gesso is my starting point:

In  the foreground are some figures I'm working on for a halftrack, plus a plastic Anglo-Saxon from Emhar that I am painting for my son's 1/72 Middle Earth collection. All undercoated with grey acrylic gesso.

Blocking In

My next step is to simply block the figures in with the main colours, usually the darkest shades. In the case of the British figures seen above I "blocked in " with the following colours from Vallejo:

Bronze Green- helmets; English Uniform- battledress; Russian Uniform- webbing & pack; Black Grey- boots and metal bits; Mahogany Brown- rifles.

In this process I do the flesh first, using Reaper Master Series "Bright Skin Shadow" as my base colour.
I haven't recorded what colours I used for the Anglo-Saxon figure.
Here they are all "blocked in":

The driver is from AB, the others are from Kelly's Heroes.

Having a Wash...

This next stage isn't something I picked up from reading Joe Videki, although some of the colour theory has been an influence.
I think washes are a great boon to the wargamer, and different people use them in different ways. Some people prefer to apply an overall wash of a murky brown to all their figures at the end, others just apply a subtle wash to flesh areas and still others use a wash that is a darker shade of their main colours.
My idea, influenced by colour theory picked up from Videki & glazing ideas used in fine art training, is to try and use complementary colours for shading. For an intro on complementary colours you could start by looking HERE . In it's most basic form the complementary of red is green; orange is blue; purple is yellow etc..
Now I don't have this down as a fine science, I just do what looks about right, so, for example, when I used to paint the redcoats of British Napoleonic era troops I would use something like an olive drab for my shading stage- a kind of green as the complementary for a brickish red.
For my British WW2 battledress I have settled on a dark, murky blue as a wash- I used to water down Payne's Grey acrylic paint, but now use pre-made washes for this. For the British webbing, packs and helmets I apply a brown wash- they are base coated in a green shade & so get a brown which has something of red in it.
It is worth noting that shadows are not actually black, however because the figures are tiny we still need to have visible differences between areas of light & shade. The washes are reasonably dark which helps provide contrast- contrast is really important when it comes to small scale items. If we were viewing a real person from a distance, the colours would be lighter too.
I must admit I haven't tried washing flesh with a greenyblue yet- may try that as an experiment some time. For flesh I use a fairly normal flesh wash from Vallejo:

For metallic surfaces like weapons or chain-mail I use an armour wash after base coating in something like Oily Steel from Vallejo:

P3 or Secret Weapon Armour Wash

Here's the washes that I currently use for the British Battledress:

Secret Weapon or a mix of the two Vallejo Washes.
And the washes for the webbing, pack & helmet:

Either of these will do.

Remember that the wash stage is not the last stage in my painting method, there is a whole lot more to be done.
With this stage done, here's what the figures now look like with the washes freshly applied:

That is all for the moment. A second part will follow soon - stay tuned.....

I forgot to add to my WIP last week that I also have an Italeri British 25pdr with Quad tow under construction- have finished most of the Quad & am working on the gun. This week I have made quite a bit of progress on the Scalescenes farmhouse that I am building.


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