Lost in Transmission
Feb 23, 2019 by John
I have just received a substantial job consisting of a large number of Fire and Ice miniatures for a regular customer and thought I might add a blog or blogs on how I am painting them as I think these are probably pretty popular miniatures. Certainly, if I was still a Wargamer I would be into these in a big way. As far as I am aware the main factions currently available are Starks and Lannisters obviously, but also Night’s Watch and Free folk. The free folk giants are worth buying into free folk all on their own.
Clearly, as readers of the books will know, this is potentially just the start with Daenarys’ mob, House Tyrell, and the Greyjoys all having excellent design potential without even considering the ‘minor’ houses.
However, the current commission involves all the faction boxes available at the start of 2019 and I will be working through the Lannisters and allies, then the Starks and finally the Night’s Watch. Today we have the Lannister Guard in their finery.
Having undercoated I airbrushed the miniatures with model air red and then highlighting with scarlet. Then to provide a bit of depth they were washed with Army Painter red. This tones down the Scarlet and gets into the shadows in a nice smooth way.
These miniatures are not sculpted with heavy folds in the cloth to give depth as in the manner of GW or even Bolt Action so a bit of shading adds this in a naturalistic manner.
Having darkened the overall figure I then went back and airbrushed Scarlet again into the areas I wanted to highlight specifically the bottom of the tunic at the front, the top of the tunic at the back between the shoulders and a sort of quartering effect on the shields.
The faces where visible were also painted at this point and a thin line painted in eyeslit of the helmet for those figures sensible enough to have their helmet down.
This was the end of the airbrush contribution until varnishing, now it was time to lay down the rest of the colours starting with the Lannister armour which I had decided will be brighter and shinier than other factions to emphasise their wealth. The first step was to paint in black all the metal areas which were to be metal armoured and once a nice flat base established a mix of gunmetal and silver (but mainly gunmetal) was applied.
Next a mix of gunmetal with quite a bit more silver was applied with a sort of stripe down the middle of each shoulder piece – Pauldron. This gives the effect of light reflecting better than actually painting the whole Pauldron bright. This is clearer in the final photographs than the WIP shot.
Once again though this was then toned down a tad with a thinned wash of Nuln oil to avoid them looking like they were armoured in mirrors. The vanbraces on the forearms were painted black but left unhighlighted as yet as I suspected I might mess them up yet.
As the lions of Casterly Rock icons were to be painted yellow I painted them in now with a Vallejo Dark Sand as a base on shields, breastplate and banner. This makes painting the yellow a million times easier later. I was going to use yellow for these to add variety as the edging of the uniform was going to be in Brass and it could all get a bit red gold samey otherwise.
Happy with progress so far the backs of the shields were filled in. Literally nobody pays any attention to the shield backs as they are mostly invisible or cast into shadow so these were painted desert yellow with a wash of brown and job done. If you look carefully you can see the interior of a couple of shields in the photo below looking satisfactorily woodish.
More importantly all the leather parts were now to be painted of which there are lots here and need to done in a variety of leather colours to look natural. To start all were basecoated with German camo dark brown which is nicely dark and gives good definition. The swordbelt and pouch were then highlighted with flat brown as I see this as a unit. The scabbard was edge highlighted with a much lighter verion of the dark brown, a bit of desert yellow mixed in. The gloves were earth brown with finger highlights again using desert yellow whilst the boots were burnt umber lightened up in parts again with….desert yellow. This gives a worn dusty appearance to the boots which I prefer to parade ground black or brown.
None of the leatherwork stands out but the little metal reinforcement strips on the sword provide a bit more interest.
Approaching the home straight now it was time to do the faces where they were visible. Having painted the flat flesh in earlier and popped on a flesh wash the faces were highlighted in flat flesh on nose cheekbones and chin/forehead when visible (which wasn’t much). This was further lightened with a bit of whiter flesh colour on the nose. The faces are a bit flatter featured on these models than the usual 28mm miniatures I imagine in keeping with the more naturalistic approach. Drops of stronger wash were applied into the eyesckets for depth then a final thinned flesh wash added to tie it together and get rid of the stage make up effect.
Plumes were drybrushed red which was a pity as there is an awful lot of red already but on the box they are red - so there you go…cant have too much red apparently. Lastly it was yellow and gold time. Yellow was applied to all the lions except the banner which was painted Vallejo brass with the curved uppy folds having silver added in to mirror the highlighting of the red cloth. Then the same brass was used to edge the tunic and gorget and finelined around the shields. Some of the shields had small lion heads in the top right corners and a few had lion heads on the front all also painted brass. All the brass was washed with soft tone then re-highlighted with brass and a bit of silver.
The pictures below are included as they show the quartering effect on the shield quite nicely as well as the shiny pauldron effect. The highlighting of the brass colour on the banner doesn’t show as well for some reason to do with the lighting. They also show the two tone effect on the swords where the upper surfaces of the blades are painted a brighter silver than the lower. Lastly the airbrushing of the red is shown nicely on the completed miniature with the lower front and upper back being lighter.
This is the approach I will use on all the Lannisters for coherency and consistency. As I complete more I will post on my facebook page and on flickr .
Feb 10, 2019 by John
WW2 British Infantry are some of my favourite ww2 figures to paint both because of the aesthetic and the challenge. The aesthetic is that their uniform is frankly dull and designed to be that way. It was a uniform without frills built for function rather than form and as it continued throughout the war and into the 1960s with only small changes It obviously did the job. There are no high leather boots or shiny leather here, just a khaki coloured workmans clothes with webbing designed in the same way. If you were giving style points for WW2 uniforms the Germans would win and US uniforms run them close but for practicality and sheer uniformity the battledress takes some beating and as James Holland points out in his The War in the West trilogy substantially cheaper and less resource intensive.
The challenge part is in making figures in a uniform designed to be dull and workmanlike look good and visually interesting on the tabletop. In some ways its like the challenge of painting camouflage uniforms which is to make the figure stand out – the opposite of the point of camo! Here we have a monocolour uniform whose colour is dull – how can we make this interesting? Given lots of time im sure better painters than me can do wonders but here I will show how I do it to turn out numbers of figures at the same time to look good if not medal winners.
Undercoated in Vallejo grey which looks white but is a light grey. If I was using a brush I might use black to get some inbuilt shadow but with the airbrush its going to be quicker to cover the lot in English uniform.
Step 1So here they are sprayed with a dark shade of English Uniform with a bit of German Dark Brown added. As British uniform is all variations on Khaki this is a good base.
As part of this phase I then also do a bit of highlighting with the airbrush using normal English Uniform, more for my benefit to see where the highlights will be.
Step 3I wash the whole figure with a thinned version of something like agrax earthshade or army painter strong tone (in the little bottles – not the dip). This is useful on a monotone uniform to increase the contrast and visual interest. I thin it down as I don’t want it to darken the actual figures too much, you may prefer it unthinned.
Step 4Because I’m an idiot I forgot to take any more pictures on the original batch which is why these guys are in different poses but the process is the same. This step was all about the uniform and brushing in the English uniform on all the jackets and trousers. I used it thinned a bit so it didn’t entirely obscure the existing shading and left the darkest creases untouched. In the highlight areas I added Desert yellow to the mix.
Step 5All the webbing was then painted using Khaki Grey mixed with white for highlights. The previous wash left some nice ready made creases and edges so some care was taken. The Gaiters were also painted at this time but with a tad less white. This gives a decent degree of contrast with the uniform, like me you might think its too much so add another thin wash of Agrax/Soft tone if you do.
Step 6The skin was painted first using basic flat flesh with a thinned wash of mixed agrax and flesh wash from gw. This provides the depth in eye sockets and between fingers to then allow the use of Flat flesh over 90% of the raised areas and then highlights with a bit of white added to nose, fingers and cheeks etc. I never paint the eyes for 2 reasons, firstly I think it’s unrealistic. 28mm figures at arms length represent a man at about 30m away. If you can see his eyes in the shadows of his eye sockets you are called Steve Austin and you are the world’s first Bionic man. If you don’t believe me get a 28mm figure and hold it at arms length and match it up with someone in the street. Secondly to get eyes painted right takes bloody ages and would increase the cost of the figure I’m selling out of the price bracket I’m selling to.
Step 7Next up are the weapons which are painted dark brown then highlighted with flat brown, metal parts are black highlighted gunmetal then gunmetal with silver.
Helmets were painted a mix of military green and black to get a darker green than absolutely necessary, then drybrushed with khaki for the netting and strips of cloth.
Lastly thinned washes were painted over flesh and the webbing to just tone it down a little. Red shoulder flashes were added to the shoulders. These have the regimental name upon them however at this scale its pointless to try and paint letters. I also add stripes for NCOs in light khaki on dark khaki. Unit badges such as 5oth division could be painted on but limit use for the pedantic….Basing is the usual builders sand on pva, desert brown and dark sand drybrushed over.
Feb 3, 2019 by John
Painting the figures from Scythe was a new commission and one I enjoyed due to the variety within the 7 figures. Each also required that the base edge remain unsullied and that the clothes were colour coordinated with the base colour without looking ridiculous and finally there were a set of animals to paint.
Animals are harder to paint realistically than humans and even moreso when the animals’ proportions have been changed to fit the base size by the designer. In the case of the scthye figures the monkey and eagle were fine in proportions but the tiger, bear and the musk ox were a bit squashed. This isn’t a problem if they are to remain unpainted but once you try to paint them realistically the foreshortening became apparent.
The second problem is that we as humans carry in our heads a shorthand image version of what each animal looks like and these are very poor guides for painting as I discovered with the tiger first time through. My version of a tiger and an actual tiger are as far apart as tigger is from a Bengal tiger… Fortunately Google exists and I used for all the animals except the eagle and should have done there.
Next problem was the mould lines on the models. I swear these grow during painting. Having used a scalpel to carve away every mould line before undercoating I was amazed to see more seem to appear at every stage of the process though few escaped until the end. They are very annoying.
Firstly the base edges were masked off as I would be spraying a lot in the early stages then the figures were undercoated, all except the yellow and white based figures in blacky grey then with a sort of top down spray of white as if from above the right shoulder. This gives an idea of where your shadow areas - which will be darker - will fall on the finished model.
Here you can see the effect quite well as well as the rough work on the Grey Wolf from Google.
Next step was to airbrush in the large areas of cloth bearing in mind where was to be lighter and darker. In the photos the mini is lit equally from both sides so if you compare the area above right shoulder with the area near the wolf by his left leg that difference is painted not lighting.
At this point all the other base layers are painted in by brush. In this case I was using German WW2 colours of feldgrau and german grey.
Once all the base layers were neatly in place it was time to use various washes.
I have the set of army painter dropper bottles which I use to mix and match different washes for different base colours and also thin them down as a sort of glaze if the highlighting looks too harsh. Im not a fan of the dipping one colour fits all but used with a bit of thought they provide a nice base for the next stage. When thinned you can also use them to emphasise shadowy areas.
Highlighting varies from colour to colour. For example on the coat which had its shades airbrushed in its only on the creases and edges of cloth whereas for the face it’s the whole face except the eye sockets, creases etc. As already mentioned when the highlights jar you can easily glaze them back down using the army painter or just Vallejo colors with medium to thin.
The finished article. As you can see I added some highlights to the face and the piping on his field jacket then glazed him down. The basing was common across the figures using pva and builders sand which is then painted with cheap emulsion and drybrushed desert yellow and dark sand.
This figure isn’t the best example of the airbrushing – the Japanese figure below shows it better while the tiger below that is my favourite googled Siberian Tiger!
Beginning as an amateur over 20years ago, painting figures for myself, I now provide small batches of high quality painted figures.