Monday, 29 April 2013

Step by Step Guide - Painting Dystopian Wars Minis - Day 6

6. Today I’m working on completing painting the remaining areas of the Sky Fortresses’ colour scheme. On most areas I will be using a layering technique; I will also be using a block painting technique. The details of which are described in the method below.
Paints used – I will be applying the majority of paint with my trusty W&N Series 7 size 1; the deck highlights (Gorthor Brown) will be applied with a Citadel Standard Brush. The technique can be a little rough on the bristles, which I don’t want to inflict on my Series 7. All the paint will be thinned with my water/flow aid mix. The consistency of the paint mix wants to be like full fat milk. Most the paints I used for this work are from Citadel paint ranges (some are not in the current range); black and Sombre Grey are Vallejo Game Colors. Note that any areas that are to be painted in metallics will be painted Black first, at this stage. Metallics need a dark colour behind them to make them look right on the mini; light shades make them appear weaker. Also note that I will be re-painting the rotors; as they are being handled a lot, this has lead to the paint being easily removed. For the rotors I will brush on a new layer of primers before continuing work on them. Here is a list of the paints used, in the order in which they are applied to the mini. I usually use a handle to prevent me having to directly touch the mini, which I forgot to use. By handle, I mean a makeshift handle attached to the mini, which you can hold when painting. The one I used on this mini was made out of two old Citadel paint pots, with their bases super glued together and reinforced tape wrapped around them. I then place some poster tack on one end to attach the mini. Below are a couple of pics of the various other handles I use. The most common ones being wine bottle corks, with coins glued to the base for ballast. The type with wire sticking out of it, I use for things like medium bombers; I can attach in right into their flight stand. The larger ones are old spice rack bottles; these are great for larger minis.

Here is a list of the paints I will be using today. They appear in the order of their layers; so Black basecoat will have a mid-tone of Sombre Grey, highlighted with Fenrisian Grey.

Black – Sombre Grey – Fenrisian Grey

Scab Red - Mephiston Red - Evil Sunz Scarlet

Regal Blue - Lothern Blue

Dryad Bark - Gorthor Brown

In addition to these regular paints, I will be painting the metallic areas of the mini using Vallejo Liquid Gold paints. These are by far the most realistic looking metallic paints I have ever used. Most metallic paint contains tiny metallic pigments in then, to give them their distinctive shine; the Liquid Gold paints’ pigments are even smaller than most and contain even more, it’s like painting on gold leaf paint. The result of which means that you don’t need any shading or highlights, other than maybe some black lining; one coat and your done. The only downside to using them is that they are alcohol based paints. This means that if you thin them, it has to be with alcohol (Isopropanol) and use synthetic brushes. I use a 1:1 mix of paint to alcohol which makes then flow really well, I never use these paints un-thinned. The brush I will be using is a Creative Models size 1 Synthetic. The paints I will be using are Silver on the guns and Copper on the remaining metal areas. In addition, once work is completed, the brushes need to be cleaned with Alcohol, in much the same way as oil paints were cleaned with white spirits. Here is a pic of the Isopropanol I use, which comes with a handy dropper nozzle. On a note of safety, under no circumstances put this liquid anywhere near your lips, it’s not that type of alcohol and could make you extremely unwell.

Method used – The layering technique consists of applying consecutively lighter layers of paint to an area to create contrast. You start with a dark shade, through mid-tones and highlights. I will be using three layers in most areas; a basecoat, which will form the deepest shading. A mid-tone will then be painted on top, with only the deepest recesses left of the basecoat. Lastly, a highlight tone will be painted on to the upper/most prominent details. I will use a block painting technique to apply the basecoat, this basically means painting an area with a single colour, working from the edges then filling in the remaining areas. By carefully painting the extreme edges of the area your painting you ensure not to make mistakes; you can then speed up a little and fill in the rest of the area. Before starting to paint, a great tip I use is to pull your loaded paint brush across some paper towel, as you do this, slowly spin the brush. This has two benefits; it removes excessive paint from the brush, which can otherwise flood onto your mini with little control. Secondly, it will draw the bristles into a point enabling you to paint more accurately. One more tip which will improve your accuracy with the brush is not to hold it like a pen, gripping near the bristles. The grip should be about two-three inches back from the bristles, on the handle. If you’re not used to this, it will take a little practice, but will improve your work over time. These first couple of pics show the black areas basecoated; these include those areas that will later be painted in metallic paint.

These next pics show the rotors re-undercoated and ready for paint. I used the Vallejo Undercoat I initially airbrushed on, this time brushing on undiluted.

Here you can see Scab Red has been painted on. As with many of these paint layers, I have used 2-3 coats of the same colour to build up a good coverage of the mini’s surface. With each coat you can also narrow the area which you place it, to create gradually lighter highlights. On these rotors for example, the highlights concentrated around the outer edge, the shading on the inner.

Regal Blue has been used to basecoat the port holes. I Paint these mainly with the side of my brush. I place the point of the bristles in a corner of the port hole at an angle, so that bristles are resting on the rest of the port hole. I then draw it across to the other side, painting one half of the port hole. I work across a set of port holes, then flip the mini over and do the same the other half.

Gorthor Brown is carefully painted onto the decking (including those of the underside of the bridges). This is a fiddly job, as you need to get in between all those planes on the upper deck. I worked around these planes first, then around the edges of the deck; before filling in the remaining larger deck area. This way I could go slower and concentrate on not hitting the planes first then speed up to complete the work. I found if I don’t do this, I end up speeding up and painting something I shouldn’t.

With all the basecoats complete I next moved onto the mid-tones; the first being the Mephiston Red. This is my favourite colour in the current citadel paint range; it’s a vibrant deep/bright red which is full of pigments. This was painted over the Scab Red areas (leaving some Scab Red in the shaded areas) and for some decoration on the tiny flyer planes.

Here we can see the port holes highlighted. (I don’t use a mid-tone on these). I paint these in a similar way to the basecoat, with the side of the brush; this time though, the tip does not make contact with the mini. Once the tops and bottoms of the outside edges of the port holes are painted, I then use the tip of the brush to add a little highlight to their centres. The overall effect is to make them look like light is shining out of them. The cotpits of the planes also get some highlights; notice how I have left a ring of darker blue shading underneath.

Switching to the Citadel standard brush, I apply highlight to the decking. I use the damp brushing technique I used yesterday. It’s important here not to draw the bristles along any of the gaps between the deck boards, as you could remove the shading. However, a wash will be applied at a later stage, which should cover any mistakes. Also, further highlights will be added to the deck with the airbrush.

The red areas receive their final highlight of Evil Sunz Scarlet. This is applied to the upper-outer edges of the rotors and all the upper/hard edges of the other red areas. If ever you are in doubt about where to place highlighting, place your mini directly under your hobby lamp, were the light is brightest on the mini is where you should highlight. After a little practice this will become second nature to you.

The Black areas are basecoated with Sombre Grey. Then highlights are added with Fenrisian Grey (I don’t use a mid-tone on these).

Now it’s time to break out the amazing Liquid Gold paints. I will start with Silver on the gun barrels. It’s important to give these paints a thorough mixing, as their pigments tent to become separated. As with all my paints, I place a stainless steel metal ball in the pots when I buy them, this helps to agitate the paint when I shake it. Once shaken, I remove the lid (which I use as a pallet) and drop in some alcohol; mix it with my brush and were ready to paint. You will find that over time the paint will start to lose its consistency over a few minutes, at which point you should replace the cap and re-mix a new cap of paint. Hear are are a pic of the some of the completed silver areas.

Prepare to be dazzled with these pics of the Copper Liquid Gold. For me this colour goes hand-in-hand with the whole steam punk genre. With the alcohol mixed into these paints, they practically paint themselves, it goes on so smooth. As such I don’t wipe my brush on paper towel before applying the paint; I simply guide it along the area I want to cover. I really love how this colour contrasts with the blue-grey underside.

As previously mentioned, these metalics do respond well to some black lining; so after a blast from the hairdryer. I added some shadows. It was at this point that I realised I hadn’t painted the decking on the upper bridges. Here are the completed pics.

Conclusion - This concludes the penultimate stage in the work. All that remains to do is complete the deck markings/airbrush highlights, Object source Lighting on the engines, varnishing and mounting on the base. To see this final part join me here tomorrow.
As always if you would like a closer look at any pictures above, click on them. If you have any comments or would like to ask me questions or provide feedback, please fill in the comments box below (this will be moderated before being published on this blog).

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Step by Step Guide - Painting Dystopian Wars Minis - Day 5

5. Today I’ll be adding highlights to the Sky Fortress. Highlighting is the opposite of shading, but done for the same reason, create contrast. Highlights are painted in your minis brightest shades and on its highest details/edges. When done well it can help to really make the mini ‘pop’, that is to say, stand out.

The techniques used today will be repeated in later stages as more areas of colour are added. Highlighting, like previous techniques I've looked at can be done in a number of ways; one of the most popular being drybrushing. I will be using a similar technique; I will describe both in the method (below).

Paints used – Today I’m using a couple of Citadel paints. I prefer them in this situation for two reasons; they have thicker paint formulations, ideal for my technique and they are in pots, which means I can leave them open and easily use. I don’t thin the paint when using this technique, at least not with water (see method). On the blue-grey underside of the mini I used Fenrisian Grey, one of Citadel’s ‘Layer’ paints. For the top-side, another layer paint, Pallid Wych Flesh. I will be applying the paint with my trusty W&N Series 7 size 1.

Method used -  Drybrushing involves loading your brush with paint, removing most of it on a paper towel then flicking the bristles back and forth across the raised areas of the mini. It’s fast, effective, but a little messy. I prefer to use a similar technique, using a slightly wetter brush and more control, I call this damp brushing. Essentially I will only remove a little paint on the paper towel; then using the edge rather than the tip of the bristles, I will run this along the details and hard edges of the mini. This produces more controlled/cleaner results than traditional drybrushing. Before dipping the brush in the paint, I run the bristles between my lips. This slightly moistens the bristles and reforms their point. For those of you who may be concerned about this, I can only say I and many others have been doing this for many years with no ill effects. A tip I use, which speeds up this process, is to paint all the same angles at once. For example, when you look down at the mini there are edges and details running in lots of different directions. Rather than working on a section at a time and turning the mini around in my hand to paint all the details in that section; I hold the mini still and run the brush across all the same angles. The only time I turn the mini (accept to work on a new angle) is if I’m tracing a rounded edge, such as the bases of the smoke stacks. Another simple tip I use is to twist your brush from time to time so that you are always using bristles covered in paint on the mini. Lastly, for those areas that need the most highlights, give them a second coat of paint. Below are some pics showing the various stages of this work.

This first pic demonstrates the comparison between the highlighted left side of the mini and un-highlighted right.

The next few pics show the completed highlighting on the underside from several different angles

The remaining pics show the completed highlighting on the topside of the mini.

Conclusion – Most the major work on the mini is now completed, the next stages will involve painting the various other colours and metalics. I have also decided that I will re-paint the rotors. Firstly, their paintwork has been slightly chipped by the croc clips. Also, I think the overall look of the mini will be enhanced if the rotors match the red areas of the mini and their blades are a copper tone, like the engines.  I may do this tomorrow or leave it for next week, either way, thanks for reading and I’ll see you here again soon.

As always if you would like a closer look at any pictures above, click on them. If you have any comments or would like to ask me questions or provide feedback, please fill in the comments box below (this will be moderated before being published on this blog).

Friday, 26 April 2013

Step by Step Guide - Painting Dystopian Wars Minis - Day 4

4. Today I’m working on creating some deep shading on the mini. The reason we do this is really a matter of contrast. In order to enhance the shape/form of the mini, with all its fantastic detail; we need to create contrast. Look at any mini that has been painted with one colour and then contrast it with one that has good shading/highlighting; the difference is great. Take this pic of my EotBS Battleship, notice how the rivets stand out on the lower hull. The colour they are painted on is darker than the surrounding area, creating contrast and drawing your eyes the highlights. The same can be said for the rest of the mini, where there is a highlight, its contrasted with some shading.

There are several methods for adding shading, using various medium. To showcase a few of these different methods I will be painting the darker underside of the mini with an oil pin wash, the topside with thinned acrylic paint (of the same type used in the airbrush) and a black-lining (using Brown, not black paint). As only two main colours have been added to the mini, I will have to add washes later in the process. I could have waited and applied one wash towards the end of the painting process; I prefer to add several because this provides more control and can be less messy.
Paints used – For the oil wash I use Windsor and Newton Oil Paint 24 Ivory Black (see pic below). There are lots of companies producing oil paints now; I bought this as part of a box set of 10.
This is thinned with White Spirits to the right consistency. Though cheap and crude, white spirits works fine. You can buy artist versions and even odourless ones. As I have not used these I cannot comment on any known improvements. Like the airbrush mix, it’s an art getting it correct; too much paint, the mix is too thick and won’t run into the recesses of the mini. Too much thinner and it runs too much without leaving any colour. There are currently several great videos on YouTube which I watched to learn this process. I would strongly recommend searching ‘Oil Wash’ for some great visuals/advice with this.
The topside is painted with Vallejo Game Color paint 72068 Smokey Ink; this is thinned with water and some Flow Aid, ratios are detailed in the method.
Equipment used – For the oil mix there are a few tools needed. Brushes, I use a larger size 2 brush for mixing and a smaller size 0 for applying. The larger is a cheap artist’s brush, the type you buy in a pack of twenty from the pound shop. The smaller is an older Kolinsky that’s seen better days. These brushes are solely used for oil washes; it’s best to avoid mixing your oil and acrylic brushes. I also have a small container with some of the white spirits in; it’s easier to work from this then use the larger bottle. With a Pipette (again solely used for oil washes) I transfer the smaller amounts needed to a mixing pot. Left over wash can be left in this mixing pot for later use. The brushes will need cleaning with the white spirits; I do this in a shot glass before whipping dry with paper towel. The drying process will be speeded up with a hairdryer and cotton buds will be used to clean-up the mini.

For the acrylic wash, I will apply this with a Windsor and Newton Series 7 Kolinsky Sable size 1 brush. These are fantastic brushes, though more expensive than many brushes, they are far superior. Their bristles hold more paint and have greater ‘snap back’ quality. With care they can last many years and are well worth the investment. The paint is mixed in a pallet, the one shown below I searched everywhere for, finally getting one from the States, It’s made of porcelain with individual wells for each paint mix. The porcelain provides a smooth surface which doesn’t scratch and is very easy to clean.
Added to the paint/water mix will be a small amount of Flow Aid Acrylic Medium. Not surprisingly, this medium helps to make the paint flow better on the mini; which in turn helps to improves coverage, avoid streaking.
Method – The oil wash, once prepared was applied as a pin wash. This refers to the paint being dotted with the tip of the brush to the required shaded areas, as opposed to brushing all over the mini. The result being that non-washed areas don’t become as stained with the wash; although there is some cleaning-up of the mini once dry anyway.  Because the mini has been gloss varnished previously, and due to the nature of the oil wash; it will very quickly find its way into all the cracks and crevices of the mini. As a result, you don’t have to paint the wash on, just dot it in and around the cracks and crevices and the wash will do the rest.  If you’re doing this for the first time, having previously used an ink wash, it’s amazing the result you can see. Before applying to the mini therefore, it’s important to consider where the wash will run to. Practice will help with this, as will getting the mix right, as previously mentioned. One last consideration, the mix does tent to separate from time to time; keep your mixing brush handy to give it a regular mix during use. This pic shows the mini with the left side washed; note the wash is still wet at this stage. You can see how the washed side is already looking more defined that the right-hand side.
These next pics show the wash complete

The next stage is to dry the wash. This can be done simply by leaving the mini to dry naturally overnight. Time is hobby time, so I use a hairdryer. It’s important when using the dryer not to get too close to the mini or use too blustery a setting as you can blow the wash everywhere. You’re looking the heat the mini, not blow it. I allowed the wash a little time to dry naturally, especially were pools had formed on the rotors. After lunch I completed the process with the hairdryer. Here are some pics of the dried mini.

Now the clean-up stage; the aim here it to remove any dried wash from areas that you don’t want it. This is done simply by liberally running a cotton bud with white spirit over the surface of the mini. Dip the cotton bud in the white spirit, remove the excess on a paper towel, so it is damp not wet. When wiping the mini don’t go too hard as you may remove the varnish and paint underneath (see edges of rotors on pics below, were I got a little too enthusiastic). Also, avoid running in the same directions as the cracks and crevices, as this could remove wash you want to keep. You will need to use several cotton buds as they soon become saturated with wash. To get the most out of each one, twist it in your fingers to present a clean area of the bud as you work along the mini. Once you are happy with the results, run the hairdryer over the mini to ensure it is completely dry. Here are some pics of the mini once cleaned-up and dried.

Now, over to the topside of the mini for and a look at a couple of slightly different techniques. Firstly, I’m going to do a similar wash as before, but this time using thinned paint. The mixture is 1 drop of paint, 1 drop of flow improver and 15 drops of water. I paint the mix liberally on to the off white parts of the mini. Look to avoid creating pools of wash, as these can leave miniature tide marks. If a pool forms, dry your brush and soak the pool up with the dry bristles. Also, avoid bubbles in the wash forming on the mini. These can usually be removed simply by softly blowing on them. Here is a pic of the washed mini (one side) while still wet.
Before the mini dries too much, you need to complete the clean-up process. As I did with the oil wash, I’m going to clean-up with a cotton bud; this time using water rather than white spirit. I actually moistened the cotton bud with my tongue, it’s faster than dipping in water, then drying on paper towel (it also adds a little more of yourself to the mini, lol). Here are some pics of the cleaned-up mini.

The shading from this latest wash is quite subtle and I want to increase the contrast levels, especially around the rivets and gaps between armour plates. For this I’m going to use a method called black-lining. So named, because you take black paint and carefully paint the recessed lines of the mini. Because black would be a little too harsh for the mini’s off white colour for my liking; I’m going to use the Smoky Ink paint I used earlier. This time the mix will be 1 part paint to 1 part water/Flow Aid mix. The Flow Aid I keep pre-mixed in a dropper bottle for general use. It’s mixed at 20 parts water to 1 part Flow Aid. With a steady hand the paint is applied into the cracks/crevices and over the rivets. Here are some pics of the mini with the darker shading.

Conclusion – The largest areas of the mini are now nearly complete and just need some highlighting. The next stage will involve picking out these highlights, before painting the remaining colours on the mini; see you then.
As always if you would like a closer look at any pictures above, click on them. If you have any comments or would like to ask me questions or provide feedback, please fill in the comments box below (this will be moderated before being published on this blog).