Saturday, 8 October 2011

Painting the Corpse Cart...

Before I jump into this post I'd like to extend thanks to izeColt from the Spiky Rat Pack Blog for the excellent front view pic of the cart that you see above. Taken with his iPhone of all things. I'm getting more and more disturbed by how well that gadget can take a pic of a mini...

Check out the Spiky's blog here . Definitely a worthwhile read if you've not already found it :)

So then, painting the Corpse Cart.

After all the conversion work I had to plan how to tackle the figure. Larger figures are not my strong point so my immediate thought is always towards sub-assemblies. Basically I wanted to break the figure down into semi-built components that I could paint separately and then assemble right at the end. This gave me several distinct and smaller projects to handle and it becomes more manageable for me. One thing I was clear on was that, at assembly time, I did not want to be gap-filling. I wanted to literally glue things into place and... done. So, I made sure all the joining areas were hidden. Here we have a photo of all the pieces after a blast of black undercoat and ready for an appointment with my paintbrush...

The first thing I tackled was the base but I want to devote another blog post to that so, assume for the time being that I've already done that. As it stands it was a more complicated process than that for reasons I'll get back to in both this post and the one for the base.

So, onwards with the paintjob. I ploughed straight into work on it with a view to a fairly 'Eavy Metal' style paintjob and quickly found my painting skills had deserted me and everything was going spectacularly poorly. After a day or two of thinking 'screw this' I kind of came back to my recent skirmishes with painting in a much quicker and dirtier style. Thoughts turned towards the idea of mixing these techniques with my classic techniques and indeed playing with new techniques to see what was possible. And thus, I ventured back into the painting process...

First up I tackled the ox. Having decided that this was the main draw of my entry it felt like a good plan to get it done with quickly and while my inspiration was high. I started by layering from Chaos Black up to Charadon Granite over the fleshy areas and painted the bone sections a dull grey working around Codex Grey and not worrying overly about absolute neatness. I then started adding a mix of Tallarn Flesh and Codex Grey to the Charadon Granite for a few sparse highlights and around the edges of the torn flesh, particularly around the gaping hole in his side. I also used these concoctions to paint the exposed guts.

Things were a bit rough at this point and so I used a technique that I'd always had running about in my head but had never tried out. I call it scrub-brushing and I used Charadon Granite for it. Basically I thinned the Charadon Granite right down to a wash level. Then I loaded an old brush, blotted most of it and then proceeded to pretty much add it with a scrubbing motion rather like drybrushing but getting it into all the shading too. This has the effect of glazing all the tones, evening out the highlights and generally smoothing things out. I got a couple of odd looks at the studio when I mentioned I'd been glazing with Foundation Paints. At this point I had a nice, appropriately dull but fairly clean looking ox. I then started to look at the idea I'd had recently for painting blood.

A while back I'd played with the idea of painting blood just using the Citadel Washes using Baal Red. It worked quite well but was too pink in tone so I'd thought a 50/50 mix of Baal Red and Gryphonne Sepia might just do the trick. So, thought I'd give it a shot on the ox. I mixed up a batch and splashed it onto the ox it patches, concentrating around the hole in his side. The washes are quite subtle so I started on layer after layer and each time it worked better and better. Can't remember how many but I think it was four or five. The transparency and subtle way it settles gave me exactly the look I was going for and the reddened section around the hole is one of my favourite parts of the whole diorama.

Onto the cart itself. The wood and metal sections were all painted quite quick and dirty as I lacked much time to spend on them but I think the style works and these areas don't naturally draw the eye anyway.

The wood was basecoated Bestial Brown and roughly highlighted by adding more and more bleached bone. Mostly this was a case of not having too much paint on the brush and using the side of it to pick up the wood grain. Like drybrushing but with slightly more wet paint. Final highlights were near pure Bleached Bone and just on the edges. I wasn't worried about neatness as long as I didn't get paint on areas already painted (the haft is attached to the already painted ox in it's sub assembly). Neatness was then taken care of by two heavy washes of Devlan Mud. This deepened and darkened everything back to a nice wood effect and I then went over again with splashes of Thraka Green wash to give some tones in the wood. Two layers again but just here and there. And the wood is done.

Metals were even simpler. Basecoat of Boltgun Metal followed by a heavy wash of Badab Black. Then I caught a few edges with Boltgun to re-highlight and splashed a few areas with Gryphonne Sepia for a suble rust effect.

The golds were interesting. I generally don't use gold paint as mentioned in previous entries. I used a mix of Boltgun Metal and Burnt Umber artist's ink as a basecoat. Then a wash of Devlan Mud over this. Finally I mixed up a wash of 50/50 Regal Blue and Dark Angels Green and washed patches of this over the gold areas to add a patina. Gave a really nice finish. These areas on the figure are still quite dull but are just enough to add a little extra colour where needed. Going for the gritty and sombre colour scheme risked a very dull result I was trying to avoid.

So, onto the Corpses...

I quickly decided that the corpses should have a uniform skintone. Not realistic especially but it worked well. The basecoat was approximately a 50/50 mix of Tallarn Flesh and Adeptus Battle Grey and all clothing was painted in dull browns and fawns that would show up too much. Highlighting on the skin was added with Kommando Khaki and a few final highlights were added with a little extra white. The rats were painted in basically the same way as the ox. I then scrub-brushed the Corpses with Charadon Granite in much the same way as the ox and then they got that same blood treatment. I ended up with a fairly disturbing look I feel.

The reds on the shields and the Necromancer's robe were painted in much the same way. I started with a basecoat of Scorched Brown and layered up to Blood Red. Final Highlights added a mix of Dwarf Flesh and Bubonic Brown to the Blood red (I'd have just used Vomit Brown if I had any at the time). I thinned a mix of Graveyard Earth and Kommando Khaki and splashed it over the edges of the Necromancer's Cloak. Many layers to build up a subtle, muddy look. Then blood mix spattered over this.

The black parts on the Necromancer were simply Chaos Black highlighted by adding Dwarf Flesh (one of my pet techniques).

The Necromancer's Flesh was basically painted the same as the corpses just with a little more neatness and a little extra highlighting to draw the eye.

The parchments were basecoated Charadon Granite and highlighted by adding Skull White. The text was added with a thinned mix of Bestial Brown and Chaos Black. I finished the parchment with a thin wash of Charadon Granite to tie things together.

Well, that's the main thrust of the painting of this beast, minus the base of course... and I'll get back to that very soon.

All in I'm really happy with how he turned out though there were a number of ropey moments and I quite the project many times over the course of the process. Glad I persevered though, obviously...

I'll finish with another pic of the rear of the figure.


  1. I really love this: the Ox is superb.

  2. scarey good steve - im starting to appreciate photos more than actual seeing the real thing - this is a result of older eyes - that necros face is stunning - i shall read all this later - thx ......

  3. Again, good job Steve. I'm glad you managed to work through it and get the piece finished, though I must say, it doesn't sound like you enjoyed this project as much as others?

    Was it because you felt under pressure to get something finished for GD, or just a loss of interest in the concept after the initial surge?

    Thanks for sharing the in depth back ground on the various stages - always interesting to read.



  4. um without the layering up it sounds very similar to how i do things - its all rather hard to analyse tho as i tend just to slap paint and ink on often ' scrubbing' into wet areas - its all very fast and i think decades of experience allow mi hand and eye to just paint away with a mixture of techniques - cant do clean tho - you sir maybe a brush scrubber im a complete shabbling .....

  5. hi mr dante - i think steve was under pressure because hes in a new place - both house and full time job - plus as always any idea takes so much longer in the execution than first imagined .......... plus just sculpting the ox itself goes beyond any painting exercise ....

  6. I sort of enjoyed the project. Basically, what JB says is right. My life has had a big upheaval and I was trying to do a fairly major GD project in the midst of it. There were some very stressful times with the cart. The other thing was that I was really happy with the conversion but only had a couple of weeks of evenings and weekends to actually paint the thing. When I initially switched from Eavy Metal style to a dirtier one it felt like I wasn't doing justice to the amount of work I'd already put in and I felt like stepping away and leaving the entry for next year when I'd have time to do it right. It's a heavy conversion with sculpted bits. I didn't want to ruin my one chance to paint it.

    But it came together in the end. The last couple of days when I was adding blood, painting the wood and generally running around the figure with glazes and details trying to keep a sense of harmony to the whole piece was rather fun. I really started to get into splashing the washes on and letting go of my tendencies to over-think things. Painting the blood on the pile of corpses was a real highlight and I'm so happy with how that turned out.

  7. Glad to hear you did still enjoy it then. I had a similar experience this year with my own entry, feeling like I was cutting corners in order to get finished so I can totally understand where you are coming from.

    I wasn't sure if you would already have been settled in Nottingham or not - didn't know if the announcement of the new job had come after you had moved or not.

    How long did the ox take to sculpt by the way? It looks quite complex given the hollow insides. Brilliant job on it and the whole piece in general.

    It's very interesting seeing and hearing more of how both yourself and John paint - it's quite different from the norm out of the studio but provides a nice contrasting style that seems to embody the grim realities of the game worlds.

    Congrats again on the award and looking forward to seeing your work for the studio soon.



  8. i think one has to remember that painting for photography is not the same as creating a particular mood that is perhaps somewhat idiosyncratic and to one side of the eavy metal/competition mini - not as if i could do that stuff anyway .....

  9. Great walkthrough Steve! Highlighting black has always made me wondering what technique would work best for me. I'll definately give a try to your dwarf flesh trick...

    Painting blood is always a tricky thing; either it works or not. I think that your subtle approach works pretty well in this piece.

  10. Oh, and you're welcome :) ...

  11. Stevey-boy - great stuff! Thanks for posting your techniques :D Its always interesting to read

  12. Brilliant work Steve, and refreshing to hear of different mini-painting techniques. Although scrub-brushing does sound a *wee* bit like scumbling. :)

  13. I realize I'm posting this a *long* while after you've done it all, but I have a quick question xD

    I've been browsing the internet for hours now looking for a tree similar to the one you've used in the scene. Did you make it yourself, is it a GW model? Basically - where's that tree from? ^^

    Absurdly impressive work by the way, I think you've captured a 'mood' (spooky and 'Sleepy Hollow'-ish) more than any other scene or model I've looked at.

  14. Glad you like the tree. It's inspired by the style of the GW trees but rather smaller. Scratch built and there's a few details on the general way I made it on another blog post...

    Hope that helps...

    1. Thank you so much for the very quick reply, I'll be having a look at that post right now - thank you!