Thursday, 3 March 2011

Painting: thinking backwards...

I've never been one to follow the trend when it comes to painting, though I'd hardly describe my output as a particularly off-the-wall painting style. However, I do tend to have a bit of a strange way of looking at things.

Let's take undercoat as an example. The conventional wisdom seems to be white for bright colours and black for darker minis. Oddly I see it the other way around. I usually use black undercoat and like to paint rather vibrant minis. This isn't especially unusual as many painters do this but when I want a very dark result I often look at a white undercoat instead. This may seem utterly counter-intuitive and a way to make work for yourself but the advantage of white undercoat is maintaining the richness of colour in your paint and this is just as true of deep colours as it is of the brighter ones. If I want an extremely deep red or blue it's easier to get it over white. I find doing so over black just means it looks like black, maybe with a little tint. Haven't actually done this on a mini in ages so perhaps I should try painting a really dark figure sometime...

There's another area that speaks of my whimsical and experimental nature in painting techniques. It comes down to the time taken to paint a mini. I've no interest in spending 100+ hours on a single 28mm figure and so I tend to look for interesting ideas on how to achieve wonderful painting effects in less time. For this I rarely look at the techniques of display painter but look at army painting techniques and ask myself the right questions. Okay, so this looks pretty damned good for an army paintjob. The figure took 30 minutes to paint. Is there a way to use the core techniques of that 30 minute model with more care an attention to achieve a great deal more. Case in point: I have recently been playing around with The Army Painter's Quickshade dipping products. They are very interesting and give a rather more subtle and refined result than I'd have expected (assuming you use it with care and attention rather than dunking your mini in a vat of the stuff).

The lesson, I feel, is to not be constrained by what technique is meant for what type of painting but just to see them all as 'just painting' and experiment with all the painting techniques and apply them as you see fit. It's a wide world and there's no point in compartmentalising 'how to paint minis'.

So, what's next? Well, I'm messing about with underpainting techniques for quick army figures, using dips for display figures and thinking about painting a display quality army in next to no time at all. That last one could be quite an interesting trick, especially if I were able to pull a couple of Golden Demon finalists (or even trophies) out of it. It's a challenge but a fun one.

So think outside the box.

Personally, in the back of my mind, I'm playing with a few ideas for the 'fear minis' with the trick of painting a crazy scary mini in just a couple of hours and making it look great. Again, it's quite a trick but would be a laugh to give it a try...


  1. lets have a look then steve - the LOTR mini you had at GD last summer was breathtaking - i cant paint like that but there again im trying to get minis down to aslittle time as possible - ive also given up trying to be neat like eavy metal and discovered that i quite like mi dirty painterly style because it reminds me of rembrant - only discovered this recently when a friend took a photo for me - i undercoat on black and use 6 colours and 2 inks only oh and plus gold rub and buff .....

  2. Interesting read. I wish I could paint that quick, or use dipping or black primming, but years ago when I abandoned the hobby and later on retook itI stripped down to the bone the concept.

    I didn't play anymore, nor was either interested in showcasing jawdropping paintjobs thru teh internets or competitions.

    I just realised that I enjoyed painting and sculpting, so anything that saved me time (black primming, etc.) was in the way for me to reach fun.

    Like skipping sex just to have an almost instant orgasm and then have a cigarrette (you could thake the cigarrette as the sealing coat to the mini in that painting weird analogy, lol) it had little to none sense to me.

    Nowadays I'm happily filing, sanding ang going thru the most time consuming techniques (even experimenting over finished parts to dislike results and start from scratch next) just to get fairly basic results.

    I wanted to share cause the "not following the trend" motto in your post.


  3. Well I'm not suggesting for a second that there's anything wrong with taking time and doing things in those ways, just that we shouldn't assume it's the 'proper' way to do things.

    I love John's paintjobs as he has his own way of doing things. He wrote a really interesting column in White Dwarf a little while back that was a great and fun read about his painting techniques.

    Hope to show a few oddball techniques on minis before long...

  4. I think the dip will become more accepted as time goes by, I have used it to good effect resently I paintedd a WAB Celt army in 29 days.I have also seen some stunning results where painters have overpainted highlights after the dip.
    I hope that if painters of your profile are happy to talk about dip with out it being a dirty word others will follow.
    Saying that I can still paint a unit quicker to TT std without dip. But each army takes a different approach.
    Great reading your blog keep up the good work.
    Peace James

  5. im starting to use a uiversal brown artist ink wash in a similar way to dip as the shading stage - it bleeds slightly into highlights of GW colour creating something approaching blending saving loads of time and can be very effective 0 still takes a couple of hours to finish from that point tho ...

  6. With you all the way on this one.
    Too much stuff to paint to not look for short cuts or be snooty about techniques. All this blending is very nice but you can't knock out a unit in a day blending and layering.
    Love using ink washes for the shading stage.
    Love dry brushing.
    You can get some nice results by dry brushing and then using washes over the top to 'smooth' things out again.
    Picked up a couple of finalists badges with the simplest dry brush and wash.
    I love experimenting. I try new things with every unit. Always looking for a quick, effective result.
    As for undercoat ... never do the same thing twice. Black, white and sometimes even both black with a dusting of white.

    Also I am with John. Whilst I appreciate clean crisp painting. I quite like the 'arty' look some of my paint jobs give me. Blotting bits with my fingers and wiping it off with my thumb gives my Nurgle, Skaven and Undead stuff a certain feel.

  7. drybrushing has a bit of a bad name in some circles - probably because it can be used as a short cut leading to a certain pragmatic result - nothing wrong with that but it can be quite scruffy - however using a triple 0 brush with very careful focus i use what i can only describe as a cross between blending and drybrushing - ive kind of got to a place where all techniques have merged into one but there again ive been at this for 50 years - im still finding new things tho, even if mi eyes cant do what they used to ......

  8. Dry brushing has a very bad name in most circles.
    I know that feeling. Does my head in, I finally find the time to paint and I start loosing my eyesight.

    I do a similar controlled cross between blending and drybrushing ... sort of painting with the side of the brush. I also do something I call 'wet brushing' using the paint a good deal wetter than you would expect when doing something called 'dry brushing' and spending a good deal more time wiping the paint off the brush. Then paint lots of layers changing the colour very gradually. It is a bit scruffy but harder to see.

    Sometimes failing eyesight can work in your favour. You are more easily satisfied with a dodgy result.:D