Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tyrant Xerxis


Well, it has only been about 10 months since my last post! Some of you may have thought I died, or gave up painting, neither of which are true. Last September my girlfriend and I bought a surf shop in Sayulita Mexico, and moved down here to live the good life in a tropical paradise. It has been a long hard road to get adjusted to our new lives, but things could not be better with the business, and I am finally back at the painting table refreshed and on a mission.

This latest commission has been a long time coming, but is finally done and dusted. The tyrant Xerxis has been a favorite of mine since he was released by Privateer Press years ago. I am stoked I finally got a chance to paint him, and it was good to get to use another one of Wil Davies' excellent Voodooworx display bases.

I hope you like the finished product:

The full 360 can be found here:

Close-up shots are here:

I am often asked why I don't post WIP's of my work so people don't have to wait so long for the finished pics of my latest commission. The main reason is that I hate photography. I've never been a big fan of technology, and resisted buying a camera and laptop until just 3 years ago. Of course, since I took the leap I am now in whole hog, and could not imagine going without my internet, and am currently having a not so secret love affair with my ipad.

The other big reason is that I am always experimenting and pushing my skills with each new commission. Basically, what this means to me is that I feel like I don't actually know what I am doing, and the finished piece is the end result of a lot of trial and error. Every step looks like shit to me, but it all seems to come together in the end. It just takes a lot more hard work to get there than it should. Hopefully in a few years I will have fully developed my style and skills to a place where I am finally comfortable and efficient with my painting.

I have also been asked why I only talk about mixes, and not technique. It is easy to describe the colors used, and the ideas behind them. It is much harder to type about how I actually apply the paint and get my results. I think video is the only real way to share the technique with a brush, and there is no way I want to share the struggles and frustration I go through over the weeks I work on a single mini. By the time I am done with a mini I hate it with a passion, and never want to see it again. I am, however, always happy to see that each piece gets better scores on CMON, brings in more commission requests, and shows that I am constantly working beyond my "comfort zone".

Like a lot of painters, I have dreamed of winning a Slayer Sword for years. Since I have never really been a gamer, but have been captivated by the art, stories, and sculptures of the mini world for over 25 years, joining the ranks of the world's elite painters has always been the driving force behind why I pick up the brush. I have a long way to go, as I don't seem to be blessed with a natural talent for painting, by which I mean I struggle with the brush more than just having results unfold easily. So for anyone who has big dreams, but feels like they fail to get the results they want, it is all about hard work. No video tutorial will ever replace hours upon hours of practice.

O.K., glad I got that off my chest. If you are still with me, here are the colors I used to paint the Tyrant.

Once again, I was asked to take the Privateer Press studio scheme and recreate it. Using mostly P3 paints, I got to work.

Since the reds are the dominant part of this mini I started with them first. I wanted a different tone for the armor than I did for the cloth, but both start out the same. Over a black undercoat I started with Sanguine Base on the smooth armor plates and the cloth. Once everything had a nice smooth basecoat, I stated thinking about my light source. I decided that the light would be coming from above, but slightly behind him over his left shoulder, so that I could play with a little bit more dramatic shading and highlighting than just having an overhead lightsource.

For the armour, since I knew I would be painting shadows in, rather than just layering up to my highlights like I used to, I put down a solid coat of Skorne Red. Since this was the basic tone I wanted the armor to be I started shading, keeping the direction of my lightsource in mind. I started with a wash of GW Leviathan Purple. This enriched the red a bit, as well as running into the cracks and seperating the armor plates from the gold trim. Carrying on with the purple tint I mixed S.R. with Gnarls Green 2-1. This almost made Sanguine Base, but slightly more red. I painted this mix in where I wanted my shadows, and then cleaned up the blends with pure S.R. again. Happy with the result, I moved on to highlights. I wanted a gradual transition up until that final stark line at the extreme edges, so I used about six layers of slightly brighter tones. Starting with Khador Red Base I started to build up my highlights, being careful to leave some Skorne Red showing. I gradually worked my way around where I wanted the light to hit using a mix of Khador Red Base mixed with Heartfire, first at 2-1 K.R.B + HF, then 1-1, then 1-2 K.R.B + HF, and finally a 1-4 mix which is quite orange, but somehow more subtle than Khador Red Highlight. The last bit of highlight is more of a stark line to make things "pop" just a bit. This was a straight line of Khador Red Highlight, followed by a streak of H.R.H. and Morrow White at 4-1. Once that was all done I brought it together with a few glazes of Red Ink.

Next I tackled the red cloth. This had already been given a basecoat of Sanguine Base, so I started to build up how I wanted the creases and ridges to be hit with a 2-1 mix of S.B. and Skorne Red. The shadows were done with my 2-1 mix of S.R and Gnarls Green, just like the armor. Happy with the shadows, I moved on to the highlights. Starting with a 2-1 mix of S.R and S.B., through a 4-1 mix, and then pure S.R. layer. Next came a pure layer of Khador Red Base, careful to keep the paint thin enough to blend over the S.R. layer. Then came a layer of K.R.B. and Heartfire at 2-1. At this point, everything was basically the same tone as most of the work I did on the armor. Where I switched it up was on the final highlight, which was K.R.B. mixed with Menoth White Highlight. This gave a slightly pink color, which was toned down with a few thin layers of Red Ink.

Having painted the red flags in his back, it was time to move on to the giant bone horns/claws (?) sticking out the front. I started with a standard coat of Battlefield Brown. This was basically completely covered with a layer of Gun Corps Brown, except for some of the deep ridges along the base of the horns. Then came a layer of Hammerfall Khaki, being midfull to leave some G.K.B. as a shade under the curves at the tips to reinforce the lightsource. Covering slightly less space from the base toward the tips, came a layer of Jack Bone, then Menoth White Base, then Menoth White Highlight, and finally a bit of Morrow White. Easy peazy, but the shadow under the tips of the horns really makes it work for me since when viewed from the front it really sells the direction of the light.

Before I did the gold on the helmet, I painted Xerxis' face. Since the studio Skorne have a very unique skintone I started with Rucksack Tan as my base. To keep with the slightly purple tones in the shadows of the reds I shaded his face with a wash I made from Skorne Red and Thronwood Green in equal parts. After a little clean-up with the Rucksack Tan again I moved on to the highlights. The first layer was a 2-1 mix of R.T. and Menoth White Highlight, followed by a 1-1 layer, a 1-2 layer, a 1-4 layer, and finally pure M.W.H., gradually hitting less and less of the face except where the light would fall. The eyes where painted with pure Thamar Black, and given a white dot as a highlight, since I like the look of the glassy black alien eyes that the studio Skorne have. His lips where given a thin layer of Beaten Purple after I had picked out the teeth with a coat of Menoth White Base followed by pure Morrow White.

Now I was ready to do the gold, which is a big part of this mini. First came, as always, a layer of Battlefield Brown, then a very solid layer of Rhulic Gold. To tie in with the purple tones of the overall scheme I shaded the gold with a heavy layer of Flesh Wash(P3's version has a very purple tone). I started to highlight with  a 2-1 mix of my R.G. and Vallejo Model Air Gold. I am finally starting to get the hang of working with this very dominant gold paint. I feel the it really needs to be mixed down for the main tones as it is such a strong color. I still found my mix a bit bright, and gave it a liberal wash of GW Leviathan Purple. The highlights continued through a mix of R.G. and V.G. at 2-1, then pure V.G., and finished with a fine highlight of pure Vallejo Air Aluminium. Not very complicated, but man was there a lot of gold to paint.

There was still a bit more gold to paint in the form of the textured plates on the armor and maces. This was a much easier process since I just gave them a coat of the Vallejo Air Gold, followed by a wash of Red Ink, and then little stipple of the pure gold again.

Next up where the black bits. He has black cloth, armor bits, and gems, but they are so small that I painted them all with the same mixes, instead of trying to get different tones like I did with the reds. I started with pure Thamar Black, and a initial highlight of pure Coal Black. This was followed by two layers of C.B. and Underbelly Blue, first at 4-1 and then at 2-1. This was toned down with a very thin wash of pure Thamar Black, and then the final highlight was lightly done with pure Trollblood Highlight.

I finished by painting the steel of Xerxis' maces. I wanted to try for a heavily shaded "Demi-Metallic" look, so after a basecoat of Pig Iron I put down a heavy coat of Armor Wash. This was cleaned up with P.I. again, and then given an initial highlight of GW Boltgun Metal. To tie in with the rest of the mini, and maybe give the impression of a magical weapon, i used the GW Leviathan Purple wash again. The final highlight was Vallejo Air Aluminium.

With the mini done, it was on to the base. This is another great resin display base from VoodooworxUK. Some people have said that the base is too tall, leaving way too much black space to distract the eye away from the mini. I agree, this base could have been half as tall, but the sculpted detail on top is great. Very nice stone work.

To continue the colors I used on the mini I started with a basecoat of Rucksack Tan. All the cracks and crevices where given a heavy wash of GW Gryphonne Sepia, and then cleaned up with R.T. again. At this point I was note happy with the tone of the base, so I covered all the R.T. with a 1-1 mix of R.T. and Menoth White Base. I still didn't like the color, so I tried pure M.W.B. to see if that would do the trick. It didn't. The lack of texture and contrast was uninteresting. The solution was to shade with a wash of Bloodstone instead of sepia, as the Bloodstone is a very red-brown and matched the mini better, as well as being a richer tone. then for texture I used a piece of foam from a blister pack to stipple alternating layers of Bloodstone, Menoth White Base, and Menoth White Highlight. That did the trick. For the exposed Stone under the stippled bits I wanted a different tone, so I just washed my M.W.B. layer with Bloodstone, and then hit the edges with M.W.H. and got the result I wanted. The dirt was drybrushed with the same series of colours, but in the traditional dark to light manner. A couple coats of black around the edges of the base finished everything off, and he was ready to be shipped to his  happy new owner.

Thanks for having taken the time to read this. I hope that some of you found this write-up helpful.

I'm off to finish my next project, a plastic version of the Blood Angels Commander Dante, where I am experimenting with shading my gold using Sanguine Base.


1 comment: