Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Vestal Face & Hair

Detailed her face and put the base coat on the hair. I was short on time tonight, so that's all I did. I'm not real excited by her face. I'll probably clean up a couple of rough transitions but otherwise leave it alone, though. There are some fairly nasty casting flaws on this figure that aren't going to get cleaned up, so the quality of the finished product is going to be iffy no matter what.

I also had a really hard time getting the hair behind her left arm there, the one with the sword. Ended up slopping a lot of the hair color on her arm and hip, and I'll have to clean that up...but probably not until I'm done with the hair.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Vestal skin & more spiders

Well, first of all I put a different brown on the spider. The orange-ish brown wasn't a good fit for the picture I'm going from. And since I had plenty of paint left on my palette, I did a second spider.

Next, I did the highlighting on the vestal's skin. I'm pretty happy with it, and I'll finish her face and move on to her hair tomorrow.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Arms and Eyes

Started bring that bone color back on the giant skeleton, starting with his arm. Only got a little way in before I had to stop. This is going to take a long time. I may completely do the arm to make sure I am happy with the results I'm getting before I move on to the rest of him.

I also worked on the vestal's eyes and cleaned up the shading on her skin a bit. Gonna have to work on her right eye a little more. It looked OK from the angle I was working with, but less so from this angle.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

More vestal and a spider

I've got 4 of these little guys that have been sitting around for a while. Though I'd start working on them, because each should go quickly.

Also shaded the vestal's skin. I think I need to fuss with it a bit more in some spots.

Friday, July 25, 2014


I finished up the pillar today. It was a quick job, but will be good enough for dungeon terrain or something.

And, since I didn't feel like doing the fussy detail work on the vestal, I grabbed this guy. Remember him? I airbrushed a base coat of bone color on him months ago. Definitely past time to finish him up. Today I slapped on a brown wash. This is a different brand than I'm used to, and it went on stickier and with more of a color change than I'm used to. I think next time I may want to thin it a bit.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Last of the Red-Headed Vestals

To continue finishing things that are half started, I'm going to paint the last of the batch of Blood Vestals that I'm going to go with the red hair/gold armor color scheme. However, since she's as barely dressed as the rest of them, first I'll show some progress on the pillar. Here I've done the dirt parts of the base and put a base coat on the skulls.

I put the base coat of the flesh on the vestal. That's RMS Rosy Skin.

I'm looking forward to finishing her. I think it's been over a year since I did the first one of the batch. :p

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tutorial: Nandi's Skirt

As promised, here's a tutorial on how I did Nandi's skirt. Here's the original::

For the demonstration version, once again I'm using Lysette, Female Elf, from Reaper's Bones line (77076). It's the same figure I used in the Nandi's Hair tutorial, which is why she has painted hair. Other than the hair, she has a base coat of Brown Liner to make her easier to photograph and to make the detail on the figure more apparent.

I stared by putting a nice opaque base coat of RMS Yellowed Bone (9143) over the whole skirt. That gives me a smooth base to start from.

Next, I'm glazing the orange on to the bottom half of the skirt. I'm using VMC (Vallejo Model Color) German Orange (805). I thinned it down to a glaze consistency. Also, since the Vallejo paints tend to dry kinda shiny, I put in a drop of RMS Anti-Shine Additive (9215). I made sure my brush strokes went from the top of the orange area, near the center of the skirt, toward the bottom of the skirt. I want the top part of the orange, where it's supposed to fade smoothly into the beige, to remain light and kind of transparent, but the bottom to be opaque. So, keeping the brush strokes going from top to bottom, that will push the pigment toward the bottom of the skirt.

Now, some people would say that if you keep doing enough layers of that with the very thinned orange, it'll build up to the opaque color at the bottom with the nice smooth gradient going from the beige to the orange. Well, that takes a lot of layers, and I don't have that kind of patience. So, I got some more of the orange and thinned it less so that it'd be more opaque and put that along the bottom.

That's better, but now the transitions are awfully chunky. So, I'm going back with the very thinned orange and also some of the base yellowed bone, again thinned to a glaze, to smooth out those transitions. During this step I also make sure that the transition starts where I want it on the skirt, and that it's at a consistent level all the way around.

Now I'm going to start shading the orange. I mixed in some RMS Blood Red (9003) with the German Orange. I pulled this shadow up into the transition areas between the orange and the beige, though I left it less opaque than in the orange. I will also bring the shadow color for the top down into that area also, so that the shadows will also be blended between the two shades.

OK,but it needs darker shadows. So, the next mix is mostly Blood Red with just a bit of the German Orange.

There we go. Now on to the highlights. I mixed a bit of the German Orange into RMS Lemon Yellow (9009) for the first highlight.

Then for the brightest highlights I used pure Lemon Yellow.

Next, I shaded the top part of the skirt. For this I used RMS Ginger Cookie (9659).

Last, I highlighted the beige part of the skirt with RMS Linen White (9061).

And that's it. It's not that different from painting any other kind of cloth, except you have to shade and highlight separately for each base color. The only other trick is to keep your transition between the colors smooth.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Quick Interlude

First, the tutorial on Nandi's skirt is coming, I promise. I'm still working on it and making steady progress. A couple more days and I should have it up.

In the meantime, I am also working on this. It'll be a quick piece, just to get moving again.

I'm probably going to glaze down the 'texture' colors on the stone. The ground will be brown dirt, the skulls at the base will be bone, and the plaques and decoration on the pillar...not sure. Maybe gold. Maybe I'll try making it weathered bronze.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tutorial: Nandi's Hair

This is a tutorial on how I did Nandi's hair. This is the original figure:

I was using the character Nandi from the Firefly episode Heart of Gold. Nandi was played by Melinda Clarke. You can Google the actress or the character for pictures of the original. In the episode, her hair was mostly dark brown, but under any kind of light the highlights went to red. So, I was going for brunette with a lot of red in it.

The technique I used for her hair is based on what's taught by PaintMinion, Sue Wachowski. Last I knew she still teaches at conventions occasionally. If you have a chance to take her class, by all means do so! You will do better getting it from her directly than my version.

Here's the figure I'm using for demonstration. This is Lysette, Female Elf, from the Reaper Bones line (77076). She's been given an overall base coat of RMS Brown Liner. Some people recommend doing this with the Bones figures to help paint stick more evenly when thinned and to help make the fine detail stand out more. Also, since I'm only going to be painting the relevant parts of this figure, I think it'll photograph better this way than if I'd left it white.

Now, on to the hair. Since I was going for 'mostly brunette with lots of red', I started by giving her hair a base coat of Reaper Master Series Blackened Brown (9137). This is a dark brown with a bit of red to it.

I decided I wanted a more reddish cast to the hair. So, I pulled out RMS Auburn Shadow (9241) and thinned it to a glaze. I went over all the hair except the places that would be in shadow. The result still reads as brown, but a redder brown. By not applying the glaze to the shadow areas, I've left the Blackened Brown as my shadow color.

Next, I went back to the Blackened Brown. I thinned it some; not as far down as glaze consistency, though. I went back and carefully put the thinned Blackened Brown between some of the locks of hair, putting some shadow color in those spots to create some depth and definition between locks of hair. In the next picture, arrows point to where I've put in these shadows.

And that was it for shadows. Next, I went into building up highlights. For this, I went back to the Auburn Shadow. I thinned it a little less than I would for a glaze so it would go on a little more opaque. Then I put this on where it looked like highlights should go. As I do this (and in all steps following this), I am using brush strokes going in the same direction as the strands of hair. I am not moving the brush across the strands of hair.

So then, how do you choose where the highlights go? Well, here are some rules of thumb, assuming your light source is overhead.

  • On the crown of the head. This ends up being the 'halo' highlight around the top of the figure's head. That's the one that I have the hardest time getting to look right.
  • Where the hair curls convex, arcing outward, at the highest part of that arc facing your light source.
  • Where the hair curls concave, arcing inward, at the lowest part of that arc facing your light source.
So you can see on her, there's a highlight around the crown of her head, another across the back where the hair curves away from her head and neck, another under her left shoulder where the hair dips down, and another under her right wrist where the hair curls back up.

Next, I brought in a brighter layer of highlight using RMS Highlight Orange (9243). These are the same highlight areas, but this band of highlight is narrower.

Now, the edges on that highlight are a little sharp. So, I went back with my Auburn Shadow to blend them in better.

Then I went in with the final highlight. This is the brightest, shiniest spot, where the reflection off the hair is almost white. I used RMS Creamy Ivory (9144). 

This highlight should be very narrow. I never manage to make it narrow enough and blend it in smoothly, so I make it a little wider than I want it and come back with the previous highlight color along the edges. I also usually glaze over it with a very thinned mix of the previous highlight, again to help blend it in but alsoto make it seem more part of the hair than just some paint laid on top. After the glazing, I will often hit a few of the strands with just a touch of the top highlight (in this case, the Creamy Ivory) to put back those very fine brightest highlights.

And that's the end. There is a fair bit of back-and-forth while getting the highlight layers blended in, which can be time consuming. But I think even if you don't want to do all that, there are a couple ideas that are valuable regardless of how you choose to implement them:
  • Don't be afraid to go very bright with your lightest highlights. Healthy hair is shiny.
  • Highlight placement - crown of the head and on the curls, both locks that curl in and that curl out. 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Some things that worked, some things that didn't.

Well, Nandi went through a few iterations today. I started with finishing the shading and highlighting on her skirt and bodice. I started by making the reddish shadows a little deeper Then I fought with the cream part of the skirt. I initially tried shading it with a lightened Ashen Brown, but that ended up looking dirty. So I went back and forth a bit and ended up using a darker cream. I was afraid I'd really messed it up with the ashen brown, I'd pulled it down into the orange area of her skirt, so I had to try to fix that, too. It was a mess, but I think I managed to mostly recover. So then I moved on to highlights. I mixed yellow into the orange to get the highlight color for the bodice and lower part of the skirt, and used Linen White for the highlight on the upper part of the skirt.

Then I tried two or three colors on her gloves before I settled on making them orange as well. I'm still using Ashen Brown; that's what on the leather bits on her hips and shoulders.