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).

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