All posts for the year 2015

I don’t know if I’ll be able to get back to regular tutorials, but here’s a quick one about doing glowy eyes for warjacks, or anything, really. One cool thing about this is that while I’m callng this “Fiery Eyes”, this method works for any color you want to do.

I start with a white undercoat, and lay down the brightest color. In my case, this is yellow. I start with the brightest because these warm paints are notoriously transparent, so rather than try to work up yellow over darker colors, I want to cheat and put darker colors over lighter ones.

It may take more than one coat to get solid color. I think I put down two. I’m using P3 Cygnar Yellow. I also added some lines of color to the nearby ridges, to create an OSL effect. Use the side of your brush for this, it’s a lot easier than trying to draw the edge with the point.


Next, I start adding on a darker tone. For this, I used P3 Heartfire. It’s hard to detect in the pictures, but I covered the rear 2/3 of the eye. This color needed three coats to finally show up over the yellow. This is partly due to the transparent nature of the thin paint, and partly because the two colors are very close.


For the next step, I used P3 Khador Red Highlight, which is really just orange. I kept this to the rear 1/3 to 1/4 of the eye. If this color is too abrupt, you can mix in some of the Heartfire to lighten it up, or glaze the transition point with a few layers of thinned down Heartfire to smooth it out.


To punch up the contrast, I wanted to add just a hint of red, so I grabbed P3 Khador Red, and just lined the back edge, in a V shape.


This proved to be a pretty rough transition, though, so I went back along the edges of the eye with Khador Red Highlight, to sort of outline the eye some.


Glow effects should have a nice bright center, so I used white to bruighten up the leading edge of the eye, and draw a thin line backward along the center, ending about halfway back. This is optional, but I highly suggest at least punching up the brightness of the front edge.


I then glazed this white line with yellow, to reclaim some of what had been lost by all of the layers of orange.


And thus, a Fiery Eye for this Judicator head. For those who are curious, I’m not actually painting a Judicator. I’m painting something far cooler, far more autonomous, and one-of-a-kind.

Stay tuned!

Local Warmachine player, friend and all-around awesome guy, Andrew M., recently inquired about commissioning some Khador models. He was only interested in Tabletop quality, and he had a fairly clear vision of what he wanted the scheme to convey.


Andrew’s Khador army has been dubbed, “The Shadows of the Empire”, and the scheme is designed to feel dark and imposing, embodying the unstoppable juggernaut from the frosty north. This is conveyed with dark blues for the primary color, and a very light blue as the edge highlight. Having a bit of a WWI / WWII feel was important as well, reinforcing the militaristic nature of the Khadoran Empire. To achieve that, a dark green was added as a secondary color, and white and red were chosen for iconography. Lastly, to reinforce the northern cold feel, Andrew wanted cold magical effects, so we pulled out the old stand-by for magicks, Arcane Blue.

Andrew and I spent a good long while on the scheme, but we wanted to see how it would do on an actual model.

So I painted one.


Andrew supplied the Spriggan (already assembled and primed, and I hauled in all of my painting gear, including my airbrush. I quickly ripped the spriggan off it’s base, and flocked it with my usual gravel mixture (railroad flock in 2:1:1 Fine:Medium:Coarse). After dropping a pin into each foot and cleaning the most offensive of the mold lines.

I airbrushed the main blue color (shade -> mid -> highlight), utilizing a bit of masking tape to separate the little shield over the head from the rest of the main body panel. i then two-brush blended the shadows on the more vertical panels on the either side of the chassis.


From there, I laid down the shade color for the green, and then the base color for the silver metals. Next was the brown undercoat for the bronzes. From there, I added the green highlight, the bronze main color, and the washes on both metals. The last effects were the bright edging and attaching the ‘jack to it’s base (which had been dry brushed with grey by then).

All told, the entire thing took about three hours, including the pinning and flocking.

I’m very happy with the results, which I feel firmly achieve tabletop, if not above tabletop. The main thing that keeps it on the border for me is the couple mold lines that I missed and ended up being rather obvious, so I think an extra 10-15 minutes to check for those would be worth it for future efforts. Here’s an example:


Also, I apologize for the picture quality, I only had my phone, and I let Andrew take home the ‘jack (of course). Terrible quality aside, here’s a few more shots:



Overall, I really enjoyed this exercise, and I think Andrew and I were both very happy with the result.

However, it just now strikes me that I may have accidentally used Gnarls Green instead of Ordic Olive for the green bits… Oops.

Consistently, the piece of advice I get and give out at critiques is “more contrast”. Contrast adds interest and captivates the viewer, and models that don’t have contrast seem flat and therefore boring.

I recently learned that there are several forms of contrast available to painters, but the first one that most painters conquer is light-dark contrast. In short, shadows and highlights. In color theory, this is called value, and represents the lightness of color. Not a color’s closeness to white, but it’s brightness, luminosity.

Here’s a quick method for testing the light-dark contrast on your models: use desaturated (black and white) photos.



What makes this super easy to use is that this feature is available on most smart phones. All you need to do is take a picture of your well-lit miniature, and apply a greyscale filter.



Looking at the above pictures, I see a few spots that I need to adjust. For instance, the eyebrows meld straight into the forehead. The hands

The biggest issue with this method is the finish of the paint you use. If your paints have a satin finish (slightly shiny) then the reflections of your light source may produce false light spots. Keep that in mind when photographing your models.

Prior to the NOVA Open, I delivered the last two minis in my D&D Party commission. These last two couldn’t be more opposite characters, and they were both a joy to paint for very different reasons.

First, there’s the flighty, easily distracted, icy sorceress, Kava. The mini is by Guild of Harmony, and it’s a gorgeous piece.


Kava was to be painted in blues, whites and silver (and in fact, has a silvery sheen over her skin due to her silver draconic heritage). I decided to use most of the same palette I use on the icy parts of my Aquablight. I started with P3 Coal Black, and went through P3 Meredius Blue, P3 Arcane Blue and finally P3 Frostbite as the final highlight. Each of these was run through the airbrush, but the final Frostbite was added by hand.


Her skin was described as “tawny”, so after some research, I found that P3 Khardic Flesh was the best primary fleshtone. I then highlighted up with P3 Midlund Flesh and some P3 Ryn Flesh on her face, and P3 Idrian Flesh for shadows. This was all then glazed with a very thin layer of VMC Silver.


With hair that was supposed to be such a dark brown that it was almost black, that’s essentially what I used to paint it. I started with my darkest brown, P3 Umbral Umber, and then washed with GW Nuln Oil. Nuln Oil is great because not only is it a fairly strong black wash, it’s also incredibly flat, and kills any shine from the usually satin finish of P3 paints. I then highlighted the hair with more Umbral Umber, and some P3 Battlefield Brown (which is a bit warmer than Umbral Umber), and added a second layer of Nuln Oil in some of the darkest recesses.


Overall, this was a blast to paint. I don’t often get to paint things with so many folds of cloth, and so much skin, so it was great practice at keeping blends smooth (mostly achieved through glazing).

The other mini I worked on was a half-orc warrior, named Myrawhl. She’s a very focused fighter, and cares little for flashy things. Besides a weapon and shield swap from the standard Reaper model (#60171), the client also wanted her to have a certain hair style (and there was even a reference photo!). So, I hacked off what little hair the stock model had, and sculpted a new ‘do. It took two tries to get it how I wanted, but I think it came out very well.


The client wanted her to have ash-grey skin, so I mixed a few custom colors to paint the face. I highlighted with mixtures with more green and less grey, and shaded with mixtures heavier in grey. Her hair is highlighted in greys and white, replicating the natural sheen of hair. This also helped me “draw” the hair, and help the sculpting work portray the look the client wanted.


The only other colors the client mentioned were red and yellow. Since the brass armor conveys lots of yellow, I used primarily red, using it on the cloth and shield. The only nod to yellow are the bolts. Since Myrawhl is described as a very practical person, I reasoned that her crossbow bolts might be brightly colored, so she could easily spot them and retrieve them for re-use.


So, that’s the last two models in this party, but it’s not the end of the job. The client has one more model on deck, and let’s just say that he’s not nearly as heroic as these other six. In fact, he’s rather villainous…

NOVA Open.

It’s rather awesome having such a large convention so close to home. The con takes place over Labor Day weekend every year in Crystal City, and focuses on a massive 40k Grand Tournament along with events for nearly every other tabletop system that you’ll find on a shelf at your LGS.

Killer Terrain

In fact, NOVA threw some serious money and effort at the X-Wing event this year, commissioning an LED lit, to-scale Star Destroyer for their narrative campaign:



Pew! Pew! We’ll get you, you Rebel scum! It’s really hard to not make ship noises around that thing.

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