Griff GlowenUnited Kingdom
I don’t own the core set of Harry Potter Miniatures Adventure Game but last year my FLGS sold off a few packs cheap and I bought some just out of curiosity and because I assumed I could always sell some painted minis on EBay.
Unfortunately the options were limited so I ended up with three packs of Harry Potter Miniatures Adventure Game: Slytherin Students Pack (which I figured I could batch paint for speed) and one Harry Potter Miniatures Adventure Game: Remus Lupin & Werewolf Form.
Review of the minis
The minis have good fine detail which is really nice. They do require a bit of clipping and glue but that doesn’t bother me. Unfortunately I did find the mold lines quite bad, and they have lots of annoying extra bits of the mold attached that need cutting off - in some cases it was hard to do this cleanly:
Also slot bases are annoying. I hate the gaps they create in the base:
I used Vallejo plastic putty to fill the wholes but it’s hard to make it smoothly fit in with the rest of the base.
Some of the pieces that need gluing on are very small and I was SOOO annoyed when I lost one of my Malfoy’s wand hands and had to fashion a crude replacement using blue stuff which didn’t work very well:
Cloaks - I used GW Black Templar contrast for the cloaks - it is just difficult to resist such an easy win for nice smooth black contrast. For the Green hems I mixed VMC jade green with an old pot of GW snot green, add and used VHC blackgreen for shades, and mixed in VMC glacier blue for highlights. Glacier blue is a great colour for mixing to create a cold highlight tone.
Skin - for Crabbe & Goyle I used the GW standard cadian fleshtone, then fleshwash (I could have used GW Reikland Fleshshade but actually I used Army Painter which is very similar). Then I highlighted with some more of the cadian, and mixed in increasing amounts of Kislev flesh. I used a little Bugmans Glow in some of the recesses. For Malfoy I wanted a more pallid Skintone so I used Vallejo flat flesh, fleshwash, and highlighted with Val light flesh.
I think the eyeliner (Rhinox Hide) was a bit excessive and Malfoy especially had a very cartoony look:
The greeny grey sweaters were done within VHC heavy grey, VMC green-grey, then mixing in GW Fenrisian blue
Trousers - AP dark stone mixed with black, then mixing more dark stone, and eventually adding GW steel legion drab.
The base was done with VMC stone grey, GE agrax earthshade, and finished with spots of green:agrax mix to create some tonal variety
Lupin’s clothes were painted with VMC green grey then highlighted by mixing VGC heavy khaki. I finished it off with some agrax earthshade.
I’m also having fun trialling a new clip-on micro lens I bought for my phone. It only works for extreme close-ups (so often can’t capture whole minis). In this photo you can see how the legs aren’t in focus because the lens can’t keep both the torso and lens in focus together:
but has helped me get some photos of close-up details that just aren’t possible otherwise
I did a zenithal prime, follows with a thinned shyish purple GW contrast paint. This is a strong dark colour so it needed a lot of thinning.
The eyes were GW retributor gold (which I often find works well for yellow animal eyes as the metallic gives them a shine and so long as the eyes are quite small then they don’t look obviously metallic).
Similarly the Claws & nose were based in black before adding a very light coat of VMA black metal to give them a shine.
I wanted to do a simple forest base so I covered up the stone slab base with some forest basing, then to fix it down I used ‘wet water’ which is a dilution of mentholated spirit which helps the watered-down PVA glue I applied next to spread throughout the whole base and keep it all together. I then used some washes to add depth :
This blog shares my only painting journey from first steps in August 2018. This blog is intended to inspire others new to the hobby to have a go, to help others learn from my mistakes, and to encourage others that some good results can be achieved even with little experience. The later posts will naturally be a little more advanced than the early post as I have gradually expanded my range of tools and techniques, but I rarely attempt anything that could be described as truly complex or advanced partly to keep this blog accessible but mostly because it just suits my own painting style.
20 Oct 2021
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21 Aug 2021
I had great fun painting the Nemesis alien intruders - see my earlier post Nemesis #1 - Aliens and Having Fun with Custom Sci-Fi Bases. The great thing about painting creatures without equipment is that the whole mini can often be done quickly with just a few colours/washes. Unfortunately this isn't the case with the Crew who each have lots of detail and equipment.
I had already done the bases for these minis at the same time as doing those for the intruders and the details are given in my previous post. The main metal paint used was P3 Pig Iron. I think the only missing detail is the fire for the Scout's base, which was done with Vallejo plastic putty simply dripped straight from the bottle onto the mini and then pulled backwards to create the fire shape.
On each mini I made an effort to add small areas of a secondary colour, usually the complementary colour of the main colour (i.e. the colour on the opposite side of the colour wheel). In hindsight I wish I had planned the bases with this in mind. For instance, the green slime does not really fit the colour scheme of the blue character.
These minis were my first major opportunity to try my new Vallejo Metal Color paints as recommended by Vince Venturella's YouTube channel:
These metals have a wonderful shine which far exceeds anything I've seen for GW, P3, Scale 75 or other Vallejo metals. It's more obvious in reality than in this photo:
The range has dozens of varieties of silver metal but they are quite expensive so I have limited myself to just four. Like most silvers they work much better over a black undercoat (especially a glossy black undercoat). They are super thin and don't obscure details, but have good coverage. It's very important not to have too much paint on your brush though otherwise all the medium will just run off onto the mini.
I also bought some Scale 75 Black Metal recently which comes highly recommended but I found it rather disappointingly dull compared to Vallejo Metal Color:
I ended up sticking with my Vallejo Model Color Air Black Metal for the armour on the purple character, but I am tempted to buy the Vallejo Metal Color Gunmetal to try that.
Inspired by Vince, as well as other YouTube videos by Ninjon and Trovarian, I wanted to try a few new things with these minis:
1. using colour inks/washes over metal instead of the normal black wash I have used in the past to make the metals more interesting. For the blue, purple and green characters I wanted a cool colour ink so used Daler Rowney Payne's Grey. For the red and yellow characters I wanted warm rusty shades so I used Burnt Umber ink.
2. black lining the metal areas by outlining each detail with ink (not necessarily black, sometimes dark blue or dark brown/red) to make all the details stand out boldly on the tabletop. This feels a lot like I am drawing the details as I would with a pen and paper.
3. adding further contrast by making the recesses less shiny than the highlight areas, not only with a wash but by adding ordinary acrylic paint in the recesses (such as reddy/orangy browns for the armour of the red character). The idea is to obscure the metallic metal paint with ordinary acrylic colours not only for contrast, but also for more colour-interest. For instance, on the red and yellow characters I added brown/red/orange paint in the recess areas.
I made sure to highlight all the metals, mostly using Metal Color silver. All these steps are totally optional and purely done for the interest of trying something new. I could have just based them with a metal colour, used GW Nuln Oil wash and called it a day.
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It's been a little while since I finished painting Mansions of Madness Investigators.
Now it's time for the Mansions of Madness: Second Edition monsters:
I held off painting the monsters for a while, partly because the mini sculpts are only "ok" with lots of bendy plastic and not fantastic detail, and partly because the detachable bases are super annoying. The monsters are really hard to keep on their bases and I can see why others have swapped these for glued-on transparent bases.
I kept these paint-jobs super-simple, mostly using a single base colour followed by an Army Painter Quickshade dip wash followed by matte varnish. On some models I added a few small highlights as a final step, particularly to add more shine to metals dulled by the matte varnish.
I started with painting the cultists, and when it came to varnishing I made an error by using spray-varnish at much too high a humidity.
The result was terrible frosting all over the mini. I tried revarnishing with gloss and then again with matte varnish but frosting remained. What worked very well was rubbing the minis with cooking oil then rinsing them. You can see the before and after here:
I then sprayed some more matte varnish in better conditions.
Deep One Hybrids:
This chap whose name I can't remember:
For the ghosts I used a zenithal prime of necrotic green, with white from the top. Then I added GW Hexwraith Flame:
For the Star Spawn I was inspired byNicklas LundkvistSweden
I used a different approach for the Deep Ones and Hunting Horrors as I wanted uses washes to create shifting colour patterns similar to fish scales etc. For the Deep Ones I used Payne’s grey wash over Army Painter Necrotic green primer. Then a Red:blue ink wash, dry brush violet red, dry brush verdigris especially on the extremities and inner body, green wash, then highlight with violet with increasing amounts of white.
For the hunting horrors I started with the same Payne’s grey wash over green primer. I then used a dark green ink wash, dry brush verdigris, more Payne’s grey ink on the underside, highlight with a glaze of Jade green glaze, then Verdigris/white. Unfortunately the photo didn't work very well here:
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07 Aug 2021
After my success in selling Star Wars Legion models (see my earlier post) I decided to have a go at CMON's A Song of Ice & Fire: Tabletop Miniatures Game – Sworn Brothers.
I picked up a cheap second hand copy of some Sworn Brother's of the Night's Watch for my first attempt. These gave my lots of experience painting different shades of black!
I didn’t want the models to look too uniform so I used several different types of black (listed below) but applied them randomly to coats, trousers, robes etc. All of them used thinned black ink as a finishing touch to make sure the colours register as black. I took a similar approach to brown leathers.
Here is my paints list:
- Black 1 - AP necromancer cloak, nuln oil, mechanicus standard grey, codex grey, thinned black ink
- Black 2 - black ink mixed with nuln oil , more nuln, mechanicus standard grey, codex grey, thinned black ink
- Black 3 - homemade black contrast (see previous post), P3 coal black, dark reaper, fenrisian grey, thinned black ink
- Black 4 - dark stone, nuln, dark stone, stormvermin fur, thinned black ink
- Leather 1 - blend black ink, black leather, bone white, thinned black ink
- Leather 2 (most boots) - dryad bark, hl umbral umber, nuln oil
- Leather 3 (straps) - umbral umber or rhinox hide,
- Furs - mechanicus, strong tone, zimmerit ochre, bonewhite
- Wrappings - heavy sienna then try saddle brown
- Skin 1 - heavy Skintone, flesh wash, cadian, kislev, flesh wash, Kislev:bone white glaze, red wash on nose
- Skin 2 - bugmans glow, soft tone, cadian, Kislev, flesh wash, Kislev:bone white glaze
- Sword hilt - Balthazar gold, strong tone, sycorax bronze
- Sword grip - doombull brown, strong tone, fur brown
For the big tray base I added sand & rocks using superglue. Then wet water and PVA (see earlier post) then primed it. Then Army Painter Dark stone. Db Codex grey and finished with a brown wash. I then added some GW Valhallan Blizzard and some tufts
Unfortunately some of the swords for a bit bent so had a rather unsuccessful attempt at using Blue Stuff. This Blog is called a Beginners Painting Blog and Blue Stuff isn’t really a beginner tool - not because it’s complicated but because it just isn’t really necessary for most painters. But generally in this blog I’ve been sharing my own painting journey, with whatever tools and techniques I have been trying myself as I discover and attempt them.
For those who aren’t familiar with it (as I wasn’t until now) this is a firm plastic which melts into a goop in hot water
In this goop state you can press in a model and then leave the blue stuff to try into a solid creating a mould.
I then pressed ‘Green stuff’ into the mould, clamped the blue mould firmly around it and left it to harden.
Unfortunately the end result was far too bendy
I tried using fine milliput which is stiffer instead of green stuff (as well as a mix of both) but the end result was either too bendy or too brittle and quick to break.
It was also hard to get to newly moulded swords thin enough despite squashing the blue mould as best I could.
Blue stuff is really cool and the first time you use it you immediately think of all the cool things that could be done with it. But unfortunately I don’t think it’s going to be very easy to make something as thin as a sword so in the end I just straightened the bent swords as best I could by dipping the models in hot water
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02 Aug 2021
I had lots of fun painting the Ram Clan from Blood Rage: 5th Player Expansion. Simply because I’ve had my experience since I first painted the other clans, these ended up being far better and my clear favourites. Unfortunately since I already have the Stag Clan from the Blood Rage: Promos Box with all the bits necessary to play 5 player I decided to sell the Ram Clan once painted.
Of course the main colour needed to be green. The complementary colour of green (the colour on the opposite side of the colour wheel) is red so I chose that as my secondary colour along with some purple, as that should add some nice visual interest and really being out the green. Its important when using a these opposite colours not to allow it to dominate the model otherwise I’d lose the overall green scheme. That can be done either by keeping the red in very small areas or by keeping it quite desaturated (or not too vibrant). In this case I tried to ensure my secondary reds and purples were nicely desaturated. I also made a lot of use of black ink to darken areas of the minis to give better contrast and avoid having the reds and purples dominate.
I was inspired by Vince Venturella to add some colour on the horns, so used oranges to add more vibrancy that a simple brown/cream scheme.
I enjoyed using flesh wash on the golds rather than normal brown washes like agrax earthshade - this helped maintain the reddy shades, and made the golds more interesting.
On the bases I made an effort to achieve contrast between warm reddy/purple browns and cool bluish greys.
I did a simple dark green wash on the clan tokens and a simple brown/cream skull on the glory marker. I decided to sell the Mystics with the clan even though I now have an incomplete set of Mystics.
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I've heard lots of good things about Nemesis but haven't yet had chance to play. However, this gave me a good chance to get the minis painted before play.
Prepping the minis
These minis are nice but they do have some significant mould lines, and in some cases gaps in the minis. I could have just left these but I decided to fill some of the bigger holes with putty
There is also some flash on the alien's mouths and it's hard to tell if this is intentional-but-badly-done teeth, or whether this is intended that I should cut this off.
I often sell my painted games/minis and I have found that a bit of extra effort in the bases goes a long way to improving sales. These bases are already nice with textured grills and rubble giving the impression of a retro grimy spaceship. But I decided to add some extra elements.
There’s no need to buy anything expensive for this. I used a combination of bits of sprue for pipes,cut up credit card for panels, sewing mesh for protuding floor grates, fire shaped with Vallejo plastic putty, copper wire, cut up cables, and putty for slime:
For the slime I used putty with bubbles done with silicone beads (like those than sometimes come in a little pouch in some board games):
I then zenithal primed all the minis by spraying them black from below, then grey from the side and white from the top.
I painted the base-grates with P3 pig iron followed by nuln oil. I then added typhus corrosion and ryza rust. After the final varnish I drybrushed the pig iron again to help differentiate the grates from the other base elements.
The pipes were done with Scale 75 decayed metal, then typhus corrosion and a wash of cryptek armourshade. This was my first time using the cryptek, which has a nice oily glossy finish. I then drybrushed with sycorax bronze and added a little Vallejo verdigris.
Rubble was similar to pipes except the bas ecolour was runelord brass and I washed with a mix of nuln oil and cryptek armourshade.
I wanted the protruding mesh grates to look like they had burst up from the floor. In hindsight I perhaps should have filed away the original grating effect underneath them so the floor level would be lower underneath these areas. Instead I just added some plasticard underneath them which I hoped to paint black to resemble a whole in the floor. Unfortunately the card is obviously higher than the level of the grate which rather spoils the effect. So I decided to instead paint it as a puddle of oil. Originally I tried Vallejo Oil Spills which looks nice but is much too transparent to cover the base colours to look like a puddle. So I instead applied lots of Tyhpus Corrosion as a base colour for the puddles, followed by the oil effect.
For the slime I painted the bubbles yellow, with brown rims to help them stand out from the grey slime. I had planned to then simply paint Nurgles Rot over the whole lot but this technical paint turned out to be too transparent to blend the yellow bubbles with the grey slime so I began with a thin layer of deathworld forest over all of it before the Nurgles Rot.
The fire was done with a heavy goldbrown base. I then wet blended AP Phoenix Flames with old GW Blood Red and some Vallejo smokey ink.
Aliens (aka Intruders)
I looked at lots of different approaches to painting the aliens. I really liked the menacing darker colour schemes online, but I suspect these look better in photos than as usable gaming pieces. Strong colours usually work better on the tabletop.
After zenithal priming I then drybrushed the whole models with ulthuan grey (using a downwards brush stroke to lighten the upper surfaces), followed by runefang silver. I then washed them with a mix of contrast paint akhelian green (which is really a blue) with lots of AP dark tone and a little green wash. I then drybrushed more runefang silver in the areas I wanted to look most metallic and gave them another light wash. Teeth and claws were done with more runefang silver.
For the queen I added some red ink to the above mix.
I wanted the big Breeder aliens to look somewhere between a queen and a regular alien, so I used the alien wash first, then added a thin oat of the queen's wash on top.
I didn't want to skin to be too vividly pink so I just used my homemade flesh contrast (see my previous blog post) and then highlighted with a little bugmans glow and old GW Tallarn flesh, with some AP fleshwash to finish. This skintone was also used for the baby aliens.
I then varnished with a coat of gloss varnish followed by a coat of satin varnish. All that then remained was to add plenty of Nurgles Rot to the baby aliens and the queen, plus a healthy application of Blood for the Blood God.
I wanted to use some OSL on the aliens with fire on their bases, so I added some thinned black ink to the side facing away from the fire, and added some thin yellow followed by a drybrush of gold.
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23 Jan 2021
Following my fun with GW contrast paints in my last post, I wanted to take the opportunity to try making my own contrast substitutes whilst I had access to the borrowed set of official contrast paints to compare against.
My tools were mostly inks (Vallejo Game Inks, Scale75 and a couple of old GW inks), medium (Vallejo matte, and Liquitex gloss), and flow improver (Galleria flow improver diluted according to the bottle instructions). I also had all my ordinary acrylic paints. I also had a handful of empty 12ml dropper bottles. Many youtubers recommend using artist inks for this because they give exact details of the colour pigments they contain - I can see this would be helpful.
Whilst I'm not averse to buying a few useful contrast colours, the price of a whole set is eye-watering and I can't help feeling guilty about all the nearly-full inks, acrylics and mediums I already have. Time to see whether these products can be combined to make a working substitute for expensive GW contrast paints!
One of my favourite contrast colours high on my list of possible buys is the sepia Skeleton Horde, but I noticed how similar it was to vanilla sepia ink (vallejo):
Obviously the sepia ink was far stronger and more saturated, so I wondered if I could achieve Skeleton Horde simply by thinning the ink with GW contrast medium. The results were encouraging!
My pot of contrast medium is also borrowed so I was pleased to see that simple flow aid seemed to do the trick, as I didn't want to buy and use large quantities contrast medium if I could help it, since that would significantly increase the cost of these homemade mixes and at that point I may as well just buy the contrast colours.
This one off the shopping list as the thinned sepia ink works well enough.
My next favourite contrast is the black, and here I was initially comforted by how similar Black Templar is to simple Vallejo black ink. In this case there wasn't even much need to thin it:
However, tests on my cloaked nighthaunts revealed that the black ink (both Scale75 and Vallejo) not only had a slight colour difference from the contrast but worse were much rougher than the smooth contrast paint (although Vallejo ink was better than Scale75):
If the colour I was emulating was more transparent then I could solve this problem by adding medium, but unfortunately gloss medium didn't help here:
I had actually made an attempt at mixing black contrast a few months ago, this time with black Vallejo ink, equal quantity medium and two drops of neat undiluted flow improver. The result was a failure because the neat flow improver caused the paint to contract away from raised surfaces entirely leaving just a gloss behind:
I came back to this old homemix bottle now and added some ordinary black paint (to reduce the flow). I then tried lots of experiments with this mixture to try to achieve the Black Templar combination of smooth shading, deep black shadows, and cool slightly-blue-grey highlights - I tried applying the mixture over gloss varnish (it flowed far too much), I tried adding a little white to raise the highlights (the shades quickly became grey instead of black)
I added a little bluegrey paint and blue ink (this was ok, but I couldn't make much impact without turning the whole mixture overly blue).
The middle fig below is my final result, which isn't very different from neat black ink :
This black mix may work well in some situations, particularly on rough texture, but I wouldn't want to rely on it for painting cloaks and other smooth recessed areas. I will probably still pick up a pot of Black Templar.
Wyldwood is an excellent rich dark-brown excellent for the background features of a model (leathers, boots, belts, scabbards, trousers etc).
(right to left: Wyldwood, old GW brown ink, a mix of black/brown ink with a little medium, then the same thinned further with a mix of medium and flow improver)
I'm going to take this off my shopping list as the figure second from the left looks close enough to me, so I made up a dropper bottle of this mix.
I had an advantage here - a pot of old GW Snakebite Leather acrylic. However, it quickly became clear that the old pot was not a colour match for the new and was much more yellowy than the modern contrast. I therefore had to add a large quantity of old GW brown ink, a little black ink to shade and desaturate it, plus some matte medium and flow improver. In the end I fiddled a little more, adding small amounts of yellow ink (probably because I added to much black and brown) and a little sepia until I reached this:
It was tricky to achieve both the deep brown shade with the bright yellowy highlights, so my end result is a little too brown, but close enough. Another colour removed from the shopping list!
This a nice colour, half way between Skeleton Horde and Iyanden Yellow. The desert themed-name very much fits the colour, as it has the feeling of a sun-bleached desert uniform.
Sepia ink got me close (thinned to a lesser extent than for Skeleton Horder) but by adding some yellow ink and Army Painter Light Tone I was happy with the result:
Yellow was a disappointment, mostly because I simply couldn't figure out how to achieve the deep rich-coloured shadows simultaneously with the crisp white-yellow highlights. The colour difference between the shades and the highlights seems to be greater with Iyanden Yellow than with any other contrast colour, and yellow ink mixed with reds and orange tones couldn't achieve it:
The Gulliman Flesh and Fyreslayer Flesh are pretty similar so I didn't feel the need to focus on one of them specifically. This turned out to be a very tricky project, and continually adding more additives to the bottle caused me to eventually transfer to a 30ml dropper bottle!
The right hand fig is gulliman on top, and fyreslayer below. My mix was made from old GW flesh ink (a very browny tone) with red ink, bugmans glow and emperors children to add the necessary pinky/reddy hues, together with a LOT of medium.
Clearly my mix is still a lot more opaque than the contrast colours, so I may need to thin it more, but for the time being I decided to leave it as it is as I could always thin it on the palette (and did I mention I'd already used a LOT of medium)
I decided to create a green contrast but in this case I was less bothered about achieving an exact colour match. I started with old GW dark green ink. In fact, I started off trying to emulate Militarum green (below) and added brown ink, sepia ink, GW Deathworld Forest, Vallejo Heavy Khaki and yellow ink (as well as medium) but the dark green ink proved to be so dominant that I simply couldn't achieve the yellow/brown tones of militarum within a single 12ml bottle. I therefore settled for something close to Creed Camo:
My homemade mix runs into recesses more than this photo shows, but still I may add a little more of the green ink to help it along. My greens are still works-in-progress more than other colours above because they are less widely-used colours in my projects so I will wait until I have a project to use them before I refine them further.
I began by syphoning a small amount of my creed camo mix above into a new dropper bottle, and with more space to play with I added LOTS of khaki as well as a little of my home-mixes of aggaros dunes and snakebite leather to boost the yellow/brown tones. After a little black ink and plenty of medium I was happy with the result:
Like with creed camo, this isn't as a close a match as some others and like the flesh mix I may need to thin it a little more (with medium as it is already flowing a lot) when I come to use it, but I am glad to have a good generic military-colour mix to work with.
Like the black above, I actually tried this a few months ago using old GW chestnut ink as my base. I bought a pot of Gore Grunta at the time so I didn't see the need to return to this particular colour now:
(Right to left - Gore grunta, neat chestnut ink, 50:50 ink:medium with a couple of drops of neat flow aid, lastly ink heavily diluted with medium and dilute flow aid)
Just like the black above, I regret using the neat flow improver as it causes paint to behave very strangely.
That will do for now, partly because I have run out of dropper bottles!
All in all I am happy with the results but even in the best cases I have only managed to match the colour and general shading effects of the contrast paints; invariably my home-mixes feel far thinner, runnier and generally harder to use with precision than the contrasts. They also feel a little less smooth and 'rougher round the edges'.
I learnt a lot about mediums and flow improvers in this project. Inks are extremely potent, but also very thin and quick to flow and pool in recesses, often dripping off the model entirely. Some mediums are thinner than others but both the vallejo matte and liquitex gloss are quite thick, whilst also increasing transparency. This meant that both medium and flow improver could desaturate an ink, making them less potent and more transparent, but flow improver would keep the mixture thin and flowing into recesses whereas mediums would thicken it and reduce the flow so that more of the colour remained on the raised surfaces (adding an ordinary acrylic paint would also have this effect). If I wanted to increase transparency without altering the flow too much I would use a mix of both medium and flow aid (which seems to be similar to adding Contrast Medium).
The biggest obstacle was replicating any strong saturated contrast colours. My method relied on adding products to ink, all of which would reduce its potency. Maintaining potency whilst gaining the other qualities of these products proved difficult. I suppose the only possibility would be to add ordinary acrylics to ink so as to keep the strong colours whilst trying to gain the flowing qualities of the ink.
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12 Jan 2021
I got the chance to borrow a big range of contrast paints from my brother which is an excellent chance to test out these paints without committing to the high price tag!
First came some tests using my ever-useful old army soldiers. I wanted to test the contrasts over different primers. In each photo, the left is a sand-colour primer, the middle is wraithbone (which I had to brush on as I don't have the spraycan), and the right is corax white:
I initially liked using the sand-primer a lot for the rich effect it gave, but it also dulled many of the contrast colours considerably so in the end I decided against using it.
As many others have said online, the lighter contrast colours are far less impactful than the darker colours and feel more like ordinary washes. Both Magos Purple and Aethermatic Blue needed a second coat in these photos, and these colours certainly didn't work well over the sand-primer. I can't help feeling I could achieve similar results with washes, so probably wouldn't buy these colours.
Armed with these tests it was time to try these out on the five minis in my Christmas game Clank!: Legacy – Acquisitions Incorporated. Since I will never be able to sell this (as it's a legacy game) I felt more comfortable doing a quick and dirty paint job on these. The box art clearly anticipates that each mini strongly represents a player colour (green, blue, purple and yellow):
And here is the result:
The first problem I had was that I only removed mould lines after the priming was done (since they are more clearly visible then). This probably isn't ideal even for ordinary painting, but for contrast paints it was a big problem because removing the mould lines results in a line of dark bare plastic running through white primed areas, and those dark lines are still clearly visible after the contrast is applied. This is partly because contrasts are quite transparent, and partly because they are hopeless at adhering to unprimed areas. It is absolutely essential to make sure ever part of the mini is primed, otherwise there will be gaps in the final colour.
However, my biggest regret here was using harsh black-to-white zenithal priming (although I did add a bit of sand primer to the yellow dwarf, and necrotic green primer for the elf). The problem was that many of the contrast paints simply could not cope with the black areas of the mini, or even the dark grey areas. The result was much darker, dirtier looking minis, and I had to spend extra time trying to fix this with drybryshing bone colours over the darker areas, and additional coats of contrast.
This was especially problematic on the faces. They ended up looking horribly gaunt, with extremely dark shadows of near-black adjacent to bright areas of flesh colour. Despite my efforts to rectify the faces, I am still not entirely happy with them and wish I had simply done a solid bright primer colour. (FYI the green elf's flesh was actually done using ordinary acrylics not contrast)
To see what I mean compare the zenithal (right) against a plain white primer on these army soldiers:
There is clearly a big risk that using zenithal will make the finished mini much darker. In future, if I was using zenithal I would not use anything darker than a mid-grey. It would probably be best to avoid greys altogether and use a sand-colour as the shadow, with a bone colour zenithal.
One of the positive effects of the transparent nature of contrast paints was that I could brush highlight and shade undercoats (without too much effort to blend them) and then apply the contrast over the top. I tried this on the green elf's robes. Obviously, the more transparent the contrast colour the more visible the lines between the shade and highlight undercoats will be (and the more work will be needed to blend them before applying contrast).
My final note was that it was extremely difficult to lighten the purple character's cloak once I applied the dark shyish purple colour. I wanted to raise the highlight areas to a lighter, redder purple, but applying Magos Purple made no impact, and even Volpus Pink (which is a nice strong colour) had very little effect. I would recommend always starting light, and darkening the shadow areas rather than the other way around. Wet blending would probably work well, but bear in mind that the darker colours will dominate the lighter ones when mixed. In the end I had to add more bone-colour to reset the undercoat and apply the lighter colour onto that.
All in all though I can definitely see the appeal of these Contrast Paints. They are excellent for quickly bashing out tabletop-standard minis, and the various online tutorials demonstrate that there is plenty of room to develop additional techniques etc to make sure you don't plateau in your painting skill whilst using that. That said, I won't be immediately buying a full set partly because of the hefty price tag, and partly because I feel I need to get more use out of all the paints I already own before I buy similarly-coloured contrast paints. However, next time I am planning a particular project I will certainly consider picking up one or two useful contrast colours for the job. I can easily see lots of use for the browns (Wyldwood, Snakebite Leather, Gore-Grunta Fur), Black templar, and Skeleton Bone in many future projects.
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21 Dec 2020
I had some fun in the run-up to Christmas painting some wooden peg dolls to turn them into characters from my 2-year old's favourite book The Gruffalo. I saw someone selling a similar set on Etsy but they were quite small so I decided to buy bigger pegs and paint them myself.
I've never painted wood so I researched how to prep it, and I'm glad I did as apparently it's essential to seal the wood before even priming it to make sure the wood doesn't either leak moisture into the paint, or suck paint into the wood and decolour it. I took this excuse to buy some Liquitex gloss medium (which is the same product as the old 'Gloss Medium & Varnish') which I applied in 2-3 coats.
I then primed the pegs with a cheap hardware store spray, drew the details in pencil (and then pen), and touched up the white with an ancient pot of old GW Smelly Primer.
Obviously my paints are more expensive than I really needed for painting wooden toys and if I was doing this often I'd go and buy some cheaper paints, but no need for a single project.
Here is the finished result, with lots of varnish as they will take a lot of use! I think she'll love them.
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I have never played Star Wars Legion but always been a fan of the franchise and thought it would be fun to paint something up. Since I am likely to sell these after painting I decided to buy a new release box thinking it might receive more interest on sale. I picked up Star Wars: Legion – Inferno Squad Unit Expansion
First thing to say is that these are lovely minis, with good detail and few mold lines. However, I have heard that Legion is a more budget-friendly game than Warhammer, but £35 for 7 minis seems very steep!
Here is the professionally painted squad shown on the box which I followed:
I am very pleased to finally have a chance to base some minis that don't come pre-attached to their base. That means I can try some verticality for a change rather than being stuck with adding basing materials around a mini's feet (or cutting them off their bases and risking damage)
I decided to use a desert base, mostly because I know that one of the famous Star Wars planets (Tatooine) is a desert so I thought this would be attractive to a future buyer. I added verticality with some cork sheet, added Vallejo white stone paste and pumice to smoothen the rocky cork with some variety.
I was keen to use some cracked desert effects and did some trials of the effects of adding GW cracked texture paints on top of wet Vallejo pastes for greater cracking results:
After doing tests here are the actual bases for two of the minis using Martian Ironearth over wet Vallejo paste, plus some rocks:
I then added sand and grit, leaving some areas unsanded. I used superglue instead of the normal PVA, although I did finish it with drops of ‘wet water’ (water with mentholated spirit) followed by watered down PVA.
I then primed with a zenithal:
For colours I started with XV-88, then wet blended heavy goldbrown, old GW desert yellow, buff, ivory with some brown ink and AP Light tone. I then dry-brushed sand yellow, light sand and ivory. To add some variety I then dry-brushed some AK Interactive Zimmerit Ochre on the rocky areas
I now had the challenge of painting distinct types of black for the armour, the jump suit, the leather gloves & boots and the guns.
Star Wars armour doesn't tend to have a glossy metallic effect and is usually dull, so contrary to normal I decided to make the jump-suit glossier with more emphasis on highlight and light reflection, and make the armour a dull matte.
The leather was done with AP necromancer cloak, nuln oil, then a mix of necromancer cloak and dryad bark, then AP Dark Stone and GW stormvermin fur highlight.
The funs were done in a dark drey base followed by a drybrush of a mix of ironbreaker and necromancer cloak.
For the jump suit I used a clean-black effect using a black-blue mix, then nuln oil, then P3 coal black, dark reaper, and fenrisian blue.
I was a bit concerned that my highlights seemed over-done so I added a mix of black ink, matte medium and flow improver. I had mixed this originally to try to simulate GW Contrast black with only some success:
However, it did work well to dull down my highlights a little but still add a glossy effect:
For the armour I used a dark grey base, nuln oil, mechanicus standard grey, then edge highlighting and some glazing with ulthuan grey.
The squad leaders have red stripes on their armour - I used sanguine base, mephiston red highlighted with AP Mars Red as well as a little red ink. I used the same for the helmet lenses and gun scope except I added a little sun-yellow as an extreme highlight, with red ink glaze, as well as a white reflective dot. On the gun scope I added gloss varnish to finish.
Skin was done with cadian fleshtone, AP fleshwash, then various thin coats of flat flesh, kislev flesh and basic skintone with further targeted layers of fleshwash.
Fantasy Flight doesn't sell decals for Legion but the professionally painted minis on the box have emblems. I therefore bought some homemade decals on Etsy.
These some in both red and white varieties:
I used gloss varnish first, then applied the decal with vallejo decal fix followed by water-based decal softener. Only after purchasing these did I realise that Vallejo sells two alternatives to the water-based softener I had used - alcohol based softener, and alcohol-based decal medium. These seem to be far more prevalent online, but nonetheless the products I had worked fine.
The white decals had transparent backgrounds which worked well. The red came on black backgrounds which necessitated some grey paint adding.
I was pleased to be able to borrow a much better camera (with a macro lens) from a friend to photo these minis, and this makes a HUGE difference to the final photos:
(it's a shame the face on this chap didn't come out so well as the above - this was a result of adding further glazes to the skin when the underlayer wasn't fully dry. Also too many attempts to improve the eyes has lost some of the detail there)
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