All posts for the month March, 2012

As I mentioned earlier in the week, I had the awesome opportunity to learn from a master painter, Meg Maples.  Of the several things she covered, one was faces.

For the flesh color palette, she started with a basecoat of Midlund flesh, and then shaded with Khardic Flesh.  Her second shade was Khadric Flesh with some Sanguine Base added.  The highlighting was done by adding Morrow White or Menoth White Highlight to the basecoat’s Midlund Flesh.

Colors used for standard Cygnaran flesh

Obviously, you darken or lighten the shade depending on what sort of tone you want the flesh to have.  For a Mediterranean, olive toned flesh, you’d add Ordic Olive to the mixtures.  For lighter (female) flesh, kick everything up a level by basecoating with the Midlund Flesh / Morrow White mixture, and don’t shade with nearly as much Sanguine Base.

For black flesh, start with a basecoat of Battlefield Brown or Umbral Umber.  For shading, look to blues or purples, made from a mixture of Sanguine Base and Exile Blue.  For highlights, add a flesh tone to the brown basecoat to lighten it up.

Colors used for darker flesh

Meg painted the face using glazes.  These are essentially super thinned down paint.  I’m used to using mixing medium to make glazes, since it makes the paint translucent without loosing the consistency of paint.  Meg just mixed in lots of water on her wet palette, and then applied that directly to the model.

When I painted my Nemo’s face, I used my standard formula of basecoat, wash, highlight.  This was as much about speed as it was my complete lack of ability to make a glaze that worked.

The placement of the highlights and shadows is incredibly important for making a believable face.  The hollows of the cheeks, eye sockets, insides of the ears, bottom of the top lip and the bottom of the bottom lip are all places that should be in shadow.  The cheekbones, brow ridge, nose, top of the upper lip, top of the lower lip, and chin should all be highlighted.  The stronger the shadows, the more hollow the face will look.  The brighter the highlights, the healthier and younger the face will look.

When we covered hair, the technique Meg showed us was simple, but incredibly effective.  You use a wet brush, with not a lot of paint loaded.  The brush bristles should be 90 degrees to the direction of the hair, and then you essentially slide the side of the bristles along the raised strands.

Proper brush direction for hair

This allows the raised portions of the hair to be painted, without pulling any unnecessary paint out of the bristles, and accidentally filling in the valleys between the hair.  I hope that makes sense.  The brush bristles are perpendicular to the hair, but the motion of the brush is *with* the direction of the hair.

For Nemo’s hair, I based with Ironhull Grey, then I did my first level of highlighting with GW Codex Grey.  This was followed by a layer of GW Foundation Astronomicon Grey.  The last bit of the hair was pure GW Skull White.  Each layer on the hair moves further and further from the roots of the hair, highlighting the outermost strands.

One important thing Meg discussed with hair was the use of cool and warm colors.  Use a cool color for the basecoat, since it’s supposed to be in shadow.  Then, use warmer colors for the actual strands of hair, since they’re part of a living thing, and they are in the light.

Nemo's Closeup

The last interesting tidbit Meg shared with us had to do with facial hair (eyebrows and mustaches).  Hit each with the hair’s basecoat, but only highlight the mustache.  Eyebrows are almost always darker than head hair, and if you highlight it, it has a tenancy to get lost among the brighter flesh.  I disregarded this last bit, I couldn’t help highlighting Nemo’s bushy eyebrows.

Anyway, that’s faces and hair.  Next time, I’ll cover glowy bits and some basic Object Source Lighting (OSL).

I assembled the new Gorax last night (it’s an awesome model) and there’s an annoying gap between the head’s hair and the big metal collar. I thought this would be a fantastic opportunity to show you some basic gap-filling. Unfortunately, my camera decided to loose half the pictures I took while working on the hair, so you’ll have to suffice with mostly text today. Sorry.

The problem with a gap in something textured like hair is that it’s very unnatural. It’s incredibly noticeable, and can ruin an entire model, no matter how nicely it’s painted. It must be fixed! Luckily, hair is one of those crazy, never symmetrical things that’s fairly easy to sculpt in small amounts.  For reference, this is the tool I used to sculpt the hair:

I have no idea what it's called or where I got it. I think it's a dental pick of some kind.

Start with a small blob of greenstuff placed over the gap.  Don’t worry about using too much or not enough, you can always add more or cut some away.

The BlooOOOoooOOooooob!

Push the majority of the blob into the gap, filling it in.  I pulled some of the putty up to the jaw line to help fill in there too.  You also want to pull the putty up onto the top piece (the head) so it has a chance to blend into the existing hair.  Once you have the putty spread around, use the edge of the tool to pull the putty in the same direction as the hair you’re emulating; in the direction the hair is flowing.  In the Gorax’s case, I pulled the putty down, away from the crown of his head.

Here’s the result:

Finished Hair

The other side works the same way:

Other side of the head

The back of the model needed just a little help.  There was a small void in the hair that would have been pretty obvious.  A small bit of putty filled the void, and I was able to sculpt a small strand of hair over it.  This helped tie the head to the rest of the body, blending it into the model.

The seam on the back

And that’s gap-filling hair.  It’s useful for Circle models, who tend to be hairy, as well as any sort of cavalry.  I’ll be showing some painting techniques as I work on the Gorax, so we’ll see how effective this hair is once some paint lands on the model.

Last weekend, I attended a painting class led by Meg Maples, a studio painter for PP. She  covered some great painting techniques like: 2-brush blending, OSL (glowy bits) via layering and glazing, faces & hair, shading metallics and how to do leather.  This post will focus on 2-brush blending, and the other subjects will be covered in later posts, so stay tuned!

All 9 of us in the class were painting the same model, pNemo 2010, because he has lots of cloth, armor, glowy bits, some crazy hair, etc.  He’s a great model to learn on because of all the different textures, and has been chosen as a model for several painting competitions.

PP Studio Model

The day started off with lots of witty banter while we assembled and primed our models.  Some folks primed white, others primed black.  When we asked Meg what she does for primer, she said she usually primes black, unless the model is mostly flesh.  Once my model was primed, I got organized and ready to paint.

My Painting Setup

Once we had all basecoated our models, Meg showed us 2-brush blending. The theory is fairly simple:  Put a dot of your shade or highlight where it’ll be the darkest, then quickly switch to a brush loaded with spit and feather the wet dot of paint out, so it’s thinner and thinner.  This creates the gradient effect, and creates a smooth blend between the colors.

There are several youtube videos that show the technique, but my favorites are the ones by McVey and Ghool.

Meg explained that there are several ways to do 2-brush blending, everyone has their own trick, or subtly different way to blend the paint.   If you watch the McVey video, it shows you the basic technique at the beginning of the video:  put down a spot and then “squizzle” it so it’s a smooth blend.  The brush moves perpendicular to the direction of the blend – back and forth, leaving less and less paint behind.  Ghool does essentially the same thing, but he does more pushing and pulling of the paint – moving the brush in the same direction as the gradient.

Meg does 2-brush blending like the McVey video, moving the brush side-to-side 90 degrees to the direction of the fade.  That tid-bit didn’t click for me until I saw it in person.  Once I had that in mind, I was far more successful with my blending.

I used GW Enchanted Blue as my mid-tone (the basecoat), and I started shading the blue with P3 Exile Blue.  Nemo’s cloak was the best place to learn this, so that’s where I started.

First Shading Attempt

Meg’s feedback was “more contrast!”  This sparked a discussion about shading, and how to pick (or mix) a good shade color.  This is a choice based entirely on your base coat color, but the go-to shade colors are Cryx Bane Base or Umbral Umber for a neutral, Coal Black for cool colors, and Sanguine Base for warm colors.  Since Exile Blue is already pretty dark, she suggested adding some Umbral Umber to the Exile Blue.  It certainly gave the shadows some needed depth.  Meg discusses lots of this in her PP Insider, here.

To highlight up, the simple solution was to mix some Frostbite into the base color.  A roughly 50/50 mix was used, but only on the armor.  I was too scared to try to blend highlights into the cloak, and by putting the highlights only on the armor, it helped differentiate the cloth as a different material.

Highlighted Armor

My Cygnar scheme has white accents, and the cloak border was perfect for this.  I started with Menoth White Base, and wanted to shade down to Umbral Umber again.  It’s a fantastically dark color that somehow maintains it’s richness despite being so dark.  I at first tried blending straight from MWB to Bootstrap Leather, but was having some trouble.  I just couldn’t get a smooth blend.  After discussing the issue with Meg, it was decided that the jump in color was too strong, I needed an intermediary.  Hammefall Khaki was perfect for this.  I blended the Hammerfall Khaki into the MWB, then the used a 50/50mix of Bootstrap and Hammerfall to get all the way to pure Bootstrap.  From there, I was able to get the deepest section of the fold to be pure Umbral Umber.  It was quite a few steps, but I think it worked out great.  I then highlighted the outermost edges of the folds with Menoth White Highlight.

Shaded Cloak Border

Whew!  The cloak border took almost as much work as the rest of the cloak!

The rest of the model uses different techniques, so that’s it for now.  Be sure to check out the videos on 2-brush blending, and leave comments about your experiments with the technique!

Freehand painting is when you paint a design or picture on a flat surface on a model.  Usually you can rely on the 3-dimensional detail of the model to help you paint on shading and highlights.  However, most banners, cloaks and shields have big flat surfaces that are ideal for some neat designs.  You often see things like scripting, greek keys, or magical arcane runes!.

In this tutorial, I’m going to cover how I painted a dragon on the bare surface of a High Elf shield.

I first went in search of source material. When doing something like this, having a reference handy can be immensely helpful. Luckily for me, the GW website has a set of shields you can buy for your Lothern Sea Guard.  Those would be a great idea, however, I really wanted to try my hand at freehand painting, and this gave me a great way to show you how simple this can be.

First, here’s my source material:

Games Workshop Studio Shields

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Here’s the long awaited third installment of Mugu’s Templecon Picture Extravaganza.  Looks like he has a bunch of games he’s going to discuss!  Enjoy!

I'm powering my way through the next 100 games....

Hello folks!  Welcome back to the last of my TempleCon 2012 posts.  While I didn’t grind through a ton of games like some people did at TempleCon, I did get in about six games that I clearly remember most of and another handful that I only vaguely recall.  Of course, I realized when I started taking pictures in my first game, which happened to be against my friend Ken when I forgot something…

Me: Cool!  My first TempleCon game! I’m just going to snap some pics…
Ken:  Good idea.
Me:  Yep, made sure to bring my camera so I could take lots of pictures.  It’ll also make it much easier to remember my games.
Ken:  That’s a good idea.  I brought a small notebook to write notes from my games in.
Me:  Ah, crap……I knew I forgot something.

Or so the conversation went.  I hadn’t planned on bringing you all full fledged battle reports, but I did want to have a bit more than just pics, so I’ll be going by my fragmented memory of what I do recall with the pictures.

The First to Fall

I had high hopes that my first game at TempleCon would be a crushing victory, setting the tone for the rest of my games at TempleCon.  It did set the tone, but the majority of my games (at bit over half to be fair) were losses.  There were a few things going against me this game, first was that up until this point, I have had zero experience playing against Retribution and second, I totally forgot about the scenario rules for the game.

Sneaky Angry Elves, oh my!

The first game was on the Scrap Yard themed board.   I thought I was doing fairly well in this game until Ken (who remembered the board rules) pushed one of the cars full of scrap through my unit of mechanithralls, killing all but one of them.  I spent the rest of the game chasing his warcaster around the board while slowly losing models in my army.

And lurking around the corner

Team Game versus Cryx & Menoth

Yes, someone’s clearly confused here. 🙂  Ken & I got a team game where he and I teamed up against two nice guys who were playing Cryx & Menoth.  The cavern board was easily my favorite board that I played on.  It had enough fun rules that added fun to the game without detracting from it.   Easily one of my favorite parts of this game was a ghostly Phoenix walking through a cavern wall into an unsuspecting enemy deathjack.   Ken and I came very close to winning this game.

Be wary of Gypsies!

Versus Khador

I managed to finally play one of the Lost Hemisphere crew by the name of Gypsy.  He wanted to try out his army for the Midnight Madness tourney that night and I was more than happy to oblige him.   And when he set his army on the table I couldn’t help but laugh at he slaughter that was about to commence…..all of it his.  The game was essentially Ulhans versus soulhunters or light cavalry versus heavy cavalry, take your pick.  I lasted until turn 3 before this happened:

add lance to face

So, yes, it was easily the most crushing defeat I had all con.  It just proves that you’re bound to run into the one opposing army that’s going to crush yours and this was mine.  He ran circles around the deathjack, rode down my soulhunters, and applied lance to the faces of my coven.  However, he was *the* nicest guy to play against, though he honestly didn’t have any tips on how I could have done better against him other than to swap out the deathjack for something else, but even he admitted that it was just a bad matchup on my side.  I wonder how he did at Midnight Madness?

Should I be concerned?

Versus Skorne

I played a very intense guy who caught me as I was about to call it a night and we played a 25 point (IIRC) game back on the Scrap Yard board.  I was hoping for a different outcome, but it wasn’t to be.   I have to be honest, once I saw this –


– I thought I had the game in the bag….and then Master Ascetic Naaresh killed them all.  He used a lot of fury to do so, but it was slaughter all around.  As it turned out, I was his 83rd opponent of the con.  It turned out he was trying to get enough Iron Arena points to trade in for one of the nicely framed art prints, which he eventually got, after 100 and some games.  If I hadn’t been so tired, I would have loved to know how I could have done better against him, but all I wanted to do was sleep after that.

Just another day in metropolitan Corvis

Versus Cryx & Menoth

One of the last games I played was a team game with Ken again versus two of my local players Danny (Cryx) & Jeff (Menoth), though thankfully (for us) the game went more in our favor and we pulled out a win.  Unlike most of my games, my dice were rolling really well that game.

Bane Thralls FTW

This was the only game where I didn’t already have a premade army list, which is why it was the only game where I brought bane thralls and my beloved bloat thralls.

Even when I lost, I had a great time playing all my games.  I never once encountered someone who was a bad player (though a few could have benefited from a shower or two).  In the end I managed to get a Cryx faction patch and some TempleCon dice with my points.  Thank you all for following along through my TempleCon posts!

Did I play against you?

How many games do you usually get in at a convention?