Saturday, July 17, 2010

Heralds of Light Space Marine Captain


Today I would like to talk about painting my latest finished commission mini. Sadly, I'm not nearly as good with the camera as I would like to be, but my rubbish pics will have to do.

A lot of people seem to struggle with painting White. I am still learning a lot of lessons with each new paintjob, but I don't find White to be any more difficult than any other color. The most important thing that I have learned about painting is patience. It takes patience to apply all the smooth, thin, layers to get a nice solid color, and to make all the mixes that give the smooth transition from dark to light. It also takes patience to wait for a layer to dry fully, so you can see what the color actually looks like (since colors dry a little different from how they go on wet).

Enough rambling. On to the pics, and then the build/paint write-up.

The Heralds of Light is a Space Marine Chapter that was created by  a guy (Codex Grey) over on the Bolter and Chainsword forums. The idea is that, although there is a Chapter symbol, each Company has a unique set of Heraldry. In this case the Chapter symbol is on the right kneepad (the star), and the Company symbol  (the flaming tower) is on the shield and shoulderpad. 

When I was asked to do this job, the first thing the customer specified was that he wanted the Captain to be armed with a Power Sword and a Stormshield. He wanted to use the Warhammer Fantasy Empire shield, and he wanted the tower and flame symbol sculpted on.

After drawing up a few sketches of different tower and flame options, we settled on a design. I had originally planned on sculpting the stonework and flame, but when I got started, I realized that I can paint much finer detail than I can sculpt. I'm not much of a sculptor yet, as this is only my second attempt at anything beyond filling gaps, so I just sculpted on two flat towers, and would come in and paint the rest of the details freehand.

I chose to use the Bionic Arm that wields a Chainsword from the Captain kit. The guard on the hand seemed to make a nice base as a grip for the shield. After gluing the shield to the hand, I sculpted a few powerlines for the Stormshield on the inside, to give a bit of a Sci-Fi element, and glued a Purity Seal on, further reinforcing the 40K element.

The shoulder pad that I chose to sculpt the tower onto is from the new Blood Angels. It already had a purity seal on it, but it was designed for an arm the is hanging down. Since this guy's arm would be horizontal, instead of vertical, I had to cut the parchment off and sculpt one that is hanging more naturally. This was my first time trying to sculpt any flowing paper, and was a bit of a scary prospect. In the end, I'm happy with the result, even if it is a bit big;).

After all was said and done, here is the arm I ended up with.

The Sword was one I had left over from cutting a Sanguinary Guard arm up for a Death Company Tycho sculpt I will be working on next month. It's fuckin' huge! Nobody seems to mind that this guy is wielding a sword as big as himself with one hand, so it's all good.

Everything else is just a straight build using the Space Marine Commander kit. The entire mini is plastic, or Greenstuff, and he sits on a resin base from Dragonforge Design. He's as light as a feather!

Now that I had built him, it was time to slap some paint on. The color scheme had, for the most part, already been worked out, so I dove right in. Unless I'm working with glazes I like to start from a Black undercoat. Since this guy had a lot of metals and dark Blues, I only had to worry about how to build up a nice White over the Black. P3 paints have some wonderful coverage, I wasn't too worried.

To start, I painted all of the armour Greatcoat Grey. This is one of my favorite P3 colors, and covers Black easily. Next I painted everything Ironhull Grey, being careful to leave the Greatcoat Grey in the cracks to act as my liner. From there I started to slowly build up my White by mixing Morrow White with my IG. After each layer was complete, and dry, I would add more White to the mix, until I worked up to pure White. The ratios were 1-1 MW and IG, then 4-1 MW and IG, then 6-1 MW and IG, then 12-1 MW and IG, and finally pure White. By building up each layer slowly, and using thin paint, I achieved a smooth White with no chalkiness or half-ass coverage. Usually the first layer of each new color would have a little of the last one showing through, and look a bit patchy. Two coats of each mix did the job though.

The main thing that I learned painting this White is that the lighter each successive layer got, the darker my previous layer looked in comparison. My Greatcoat Grey now looks like Black in the cracks, and my pure Ironhull Grey shadows looked way too dark as well. I had to fiddle with things a bit, and ended up using my 4-1 mix as my main shadow color. It was still a bit stark in places, so I gave the shadows a fine glaze of 6-1 mix to help the transitions a bit. It really is amazing how light colors make your darks looks so much darker. This was a learning experience to be sure.

The Golds are my standard recipe. The first layer over Black is always Battlefield Brown. This is an easier color for the Gold to cover, and keeps me from having to lay on the Gold too thick. Next is a solid layer of Rhulic Gold. This was covered completely with a mix of Rhulic Gold and Vallejo Air Gold in a 2-1 ratio. Vallejo Air Gold is a very strong color, but I like the way the Rhulic tones it down a bit. Next came a wash, to shade, with P3 Flesh Wash, which has a nice Purpleish hue that I like my Golds to have. The first highlight is pure VAG, and the final highlight is pure Vallejo Air Aluminium.

The Blacks are all done with my standard recipe. First a layer of Coal Black to establish where I want the light to reflect. Then  a layer of Greatcoat Grey, and then a layer of GG and Trollblood Highlight mixed 1-1. Simple.

Soft armor joints are done the exact same way, but I skip the Coal Black step, as it won't  show up anyway.

For the Blues, I knew I wanted to have a few variations in tone. The leathers would be the darkest, with the tassles being the lightest, and the cloak somewhere in the middle. I started with a layer of Exile Blue on everything. Next came a layer of Cygnar Blue base, followed by a layer of Cygnar Blue Highlight. I used both of these colors only on the raised edges of the leathers so they would retain a very dark look. The cloak and tassles got broader coverage with these colors to brighten them up a bit more. Next I painted the edges of the cloak and the tassles with a 1-1 mix of the CBH and White. The tassles were then given a final highlight of White and CBH at a 2-1 ratio.

When it came time to paint the towers, I wanted to experiment with the sponge stippling technique a bit. I started with a solid coat of Greatcoat Grey, and then stippled a 1-1 mix of GG and Trollblood Highlight. This was hit again with a pure layer of TH. This gave a nice textured stonework effect. Then I painted fine lines of GG to create the stone blocks. The windows were painted in with Black, to give them more depth that the stone block lines. Finally, each block was highlighted with pure White to complete the 3-D illusion.

The glowing eyes, flames, gems, and power effects were all painted with Arcane Blue. To start I mixed a color with a 2-1 ratio of AB and Coal Black. This created a nice color for covering Black, but wasn't too harsh of a jump in tone. Next came pure AB, followed by a mix of AB and White. I don't remember the exact ratios, but it was definitely heavier on the White. I just played around until I had a look that I liked. I'm still new to any kind of OSL effects, so it was fun to experiment. I will definitely be playing around with this effect more in the future.

The freehand Chapter symbol, and the eagle design on the back of the cloak, were done with the same mixes that I used for the White armor, but I stopped at the 6-1 ratio, instead of going up to pure White.

The Purity Seals are done with my standard recipes. The seals are based with Sanguine Base. While the parchment is based with Battlefield Brown. The seals are given a coat of Sanguine Highlight, being careful to leave the SB showing in the deepest recesses. They are finished off with a highlight of SH mixed 1-1 with Menoth White Highlight. The parchments are worked up through Gun Corps Brown to MWH, and the very edges highlighted with pure White. The text is done with scribbles of thinned Black.

Finally, for the base I wanted to play with the sponge some more. I layed down a basecoat of Bloodstone, and started washing it with multiple layers of GW's Ogryn Flesh wash. Then I started mixing Jack Bone with the Bloodstone and sponged that on. I alternated between adding more JB to the mix, and washing over each layer with the OF to bring it all together. The effect was a bit subtle for the camera, but has a nice stone texture to the naked eye. Definitely a technique I will use again.

I tried a lot of new stuff on this guy, and learned a lot throughout the process. Now it's time to take the lessons learned, and apply them to my next commission.

I hope that you have found this write-up useful, and that it will push you to try new things as well.

Thanks for looking.



Wednesday, July 14, 2010

What the hell happened to June?!?

Well, everything I touched turned to shit last month.

My plastic Commander Dante Mini, that I was painting for ebay, decided to assault the vacuum cleaner, and lost. He will live to fight another day, after some minor repairs, and hopefully see the light of day by the end of the month.

Everything I tried on June's commission mini went wrong, at least twice. The heatwave we had here in Portland didn't help with trying to finish off the fine freehand detail, in white. Thanks Mr. Sun. Jerk.

I pushed on, and finally finished him. The customer is very happy, so I can't complain.

I will have a painting write-up for him in a couple days. Until then, here's a little teaser, and the voting link.


Thanks for looking.