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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!