Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Step by Step Guide - Painting Dystopian Wars Minis - Day 3

3. Today I’m heading topside and will be painting all the off white areas of the upper deck/rotors on the Sky Fortress. As this surface fill be a lot more on show than the underside, I will be applying three graduations of colours to give a smoother transition from shading to highlights. As the underside has already been painted I will also be using some masking techniques to preserve the past work.

Paints used – The three Vallejo Game Color paints I will be using today are 72.062 Earth, this will provide deep shading. 72.061 Khaki, will act as a mid-tone, helping to blend in the highlight. 72.101 Off White, the highlight is in stark contrast to our previous two colours and complements the dark blue-grey tones on the underside of the vessel. In addition to these colours, once dry I will be applying Vallejo Gloss varnish to the whole mini. The varnish will protect the airbrush work and remove the surface tension on the mini; improving the flow of the wash, in the next stage. All the paints including the varnished are thinned 1:1 with Vallejo thinners; the pressure on the compressor is set at 15 PSI for all the work completed.

Equipment used – As yesterday the paintwork will be completed with my H&S airbrush, the varnishing with my eBay special. Unlike regular paint, varnish can ruin the insides of your airbrush vary easily if it is not fully cleaned out after use. I recommend giving the airbrush a full strip down and thorough cleaning after use. As I will need to mask my previous work, I will be using a small piece of acetate transparency. Placed correctly and held in place with poster tack, this will prevent overspray reaching the pre-painted underside of the mini. Also, I am going to need an extra pair of hands to hold the mini while I mask and paint. For these I will use a tool called ‘Helping Hand’. This has two croc clips on fully articulated arms, which can grip in any position you need. It also has a weighted base, which I improved with a heavy spanner to keep the mini steady while I work. One issue with the croc clips is they can damage your paintwork. During the first two layers of paint I solved this with a little tissue paper as padding. I noticed that the paper was starting to leave paper fibres on my paint. I later changed this padding for rolled up sections of latex glove; these worked really well. Below are some pics of the Helping Hand, including shots of it holding the mini.







Method – The main two skills additions to this section of work are getting to grips with effectively masking and making a smooth paint transition through three instead of one colour. Firstly masking, the problem we have is for example, if you took a can of spray paint and painted your window frame, you’re going to get paint on the walls and window. As I showed yesterday you can angle the airbrush to avoid areas of your mini; there are going to be times like today when angling isn’t enough and overspray will hit areas you don’t want it to. To prevent this from happening with our minis we can use masking techniques. There are numerous ways of doing this including masking tapes, paints, putties, simple card/paper or as used today acetate transparency. In addition I will often carefully place my gloved thumb over an area I want to mask.

Lastly Smooth paint transition, yesterday this was achieved by varying the amount of paint that was added to each individual panel on the mini. A similar method will be used again today, the only difference being that three colours will be used. It sounds harder that it actually is. The first, darkest colour will cover the whole panel and when the mini is finished it will only be seen in the deepest shaded areas; the majority of it being covered by the next two colours. The second mid-tone colour will be applied a little further from the extreme edges of each panel, leaving a little of the first colour showing to provide shading. The highlight colour will then be applied to the areas that catch the most light and concentrated towards the centre of panels. The result should be a smooth transition. To help you get a better understanding of this; under a light, hold your bare arm out in front of you with your elbow bent so that your arm runs parallel to your chest. Now study the transition of colour as the light falls on it. Shiny and bright on the top nearest the light, dark underneath shaded from the light and a smooth transition from top to bottom in-between. One of the keys to being a good painter is to notice how light works and copy it on your minis.

Theories aside, let’s look at some pics

This first pic shows the mini held in the Helping Hand with the acetate tacked into position along the central line, protecting the blue-grey paintwork. The angle is such that when I start airbrushing it will hit the mini and the acetate without slipping behind the acetate.

This next pic shows how I am using my gloved thumb to push the acetate around an edge on the mini, therefore extending the straight edge of the mask. If I hadn’t done this I risked the overspray dropping down behind the masking.
This pic shows the mini painted, notice that there is little paint on the acetate. I have concentrated the paint along the centre line of the mini.
 
 
Here, with the acetate removed you can see the very clean results.

 
What I’ve done here is removed the acetate and tacked it to the underside of the rotors. I can now spray down onto the top of the mini.
Here you can see the angle I start spraying at, this will avoid the paint slipping down the back of the acetate. I'm aiming to continue building the colour from were I’ve started lower down, towards the top of this section of the mini.
This side completed.
Whilst in this grip, I now turn my attention to the inside edge of the section opposite (where the tubular section meets the decking). My aim again is to gradually paint my way up along the deck line to the upper part of the tubular section (as I did on the outside edge of the nearside tubular section).
Now again from above I can work on the top of the tubular section. Note, top right of the mini on the tubular section I have kept the airbrush in one place too long and created a blotch. It’s important never to leave your airbrush unmoving in one area, as this will happen.
As you can see here the blotch has now been blended back in with several thin coats of spray. A tip to speed up this process is to dress the trigger on your airbrush without pulling back, therefore just shooting air, blow this over the mini to help dry the paint quicker. With some practice you can quickly alternate between painting and drying. The painting between these last two pics took me about thirty seconds.
Here I've re-attached the acetate under the rotors so that I can safely paint them.
Painted rotors
Moving back to the mini’s deck I painted the TFTs (planes). As this is the darkest shadow tone, I hit the planes from all angles.
This pic shows the work with the darkest tone completed.
Now onto the mid-tone; as previously explained the method follows as before, the next few pics showing the finished results

Finally, the most important and transforming part is the highlighting. As this is the paint layer that stands out most, I took most time with it, ensuring that the blending from top to bottom of the mini was as smooth as I could make it.
This pic starts us off under the rotors. I'm only going to add a light dusting here to blend in the darker tones. Directly under the rotors I will hit even less to create the look of shadows from the rotors.
This pic shows the build up of paint under the rotors.
Here without the masking you can see the nice transition of colour with a clean line between blue-grey and off white. Nice.
These two pics show the final results.

All I did next was gave the whole mini a good blast under the hairdryer, then a coat of gloss varnish.
Conclusion – The majority of the airbrushing is now complete and safe under a layer of varnish. Now even the most skilful artist would have trouble avoiding all the shadowed areas on these minis, they are so fantastically detailed. The next stage (washing) will aim to bring all the details back. So, next post I will be using a paintbrush and some new techniques, 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).

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