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One of my holiday traditions has become painting a festive miniature for Reaper, and this year is no exception! This year’s new miniature is the Gingerbread Knight.
This fierce and scrumptious fellow was sculpted by Christine Van Patten. The Gingerbread Knight is part of Reaper Miniature’s Christmas Sampler for the month of December. The Sampler is a gift with purchases over $60 on the Reaper website starting December 1st, and available while supplies last. It also includes two special edition holiday colours – Ginger Cookie and Holly Berry. The Sampler is available with orders from the UK Reaper hub, and I believe also the Australia hub. (I am awaiting confirmation on that.) The Gingerbread Knight will go up for individual sale in early 2022.
The Gingerbread Knight is made in Bones USA plastic. The copy I painted is a metal master since the Bones USA moulds had not yet been completed. The Knight comes in two pieces – the main body and the arm holding the candy cane. My metal copy glued together quite easily, and that should be even easier to do with the Bones USA version. All you’ll need is a little superglue. The base he is standing on is smaller than in my version. I extended the base on my copy as I have something in mind to try that I haven’t had time to get to yet.
The 12 Days of Reaper also begins on December 1st. I painted nine of the 12 figures available this year. I will be putting up another post on or around December 1st to show larger pictures and different view angles of the figures I painted. That post will also include some information on how I painted some of the figures and some WIP pictures.
I wanted a super spicy gingerbread cookie look for the Gingerbread Knight, so I ended up not using Ginger Cookie in my paint scheme. However, I have that paint for other past projects, and it is a great colour that is popular with a lot of people. I did use Holly Berry as one of the paints on the red candy portions of this figure. Reaper has a set of holiday colours available this year starting December 1st, and I used a few of those on this project as well – Frosty Blue and Christmas Wreath. This year’s holiday paints are available as a set of 12, or four sets of triads, and includes three colours that are brand new this year – Graham Cracker, Chocolate Bar, and Toasted Marshmallow.
Recently I’ve been doing some experimenting with the effect of different types of brushes can have on the results when using the drybrushing technique. I performed these experiments on my Twitch stream show, Beyond the Kit, which airs Monday from 3pm to 5pm EST on the Reaper Twitch channel. Reaper archives all of their streams onto their YouTube channel. Archive uploads are a bit behind, so I’m not currently able to provide links to the drybrushing experiments videos, but I will be adding articles to accompany them once they are available so people can view photographs as well as the videos to assess the different kinds of brushes.
Gingerbread cookie photo by Casey Chae on Unsplash.
One of the styles of brush I tried is new to me. It’s an adaptation of dome shaped super soft bristle brushes used for makeup. It can be used in a traditional drybrushing dusting motion, or with more of a stipple motion that can create a speckled appearance. I believe Artis Opus first brought these brushes to the miniature painter market. Since I was not sure that I would use the brush much beyond the experiment videos, I opted to start by trying the brush set sold by The Army Painter.
When I studied several pictures of different kinds of gingerbread cookies, I noticed that most had a bit of a speckled look to them due to the spices included in the dough. Painting the cookie surface to look like spicy gingerbread cookie seemed like a great opportunity to try these brushes out on a real project! I used the dome brushes to build up the main areas of highlights on the Gingerbread Knight. I used a fine pointed Kolinsky sable brush to refine the transitions between the different values of highlights and add more precisely-placed stipples.
I’m a fan of the Shrek movies, so my initial thought was to paint the Gingerbread Knight’s buttons as gumdrops. Apart from bright colours, the most notable visual features of gumdrops are that they are fairly matte and dotted with little crystals of sugar, which makes them speckled looking. I had already painted a matte speckled texture on the gingerbread cookie. To paint the gumdrops in the same way would reduce the level contrast between the cookie body and the candy decorations. (If I were to paint another version of this with gumdrop buttons, I might even experiment with coating the buttons in fine pumice paste to have literal texture as well as painted.)
Photo by dhester on Morguefile.
Instead I painted the buttons as candy coated chocolates. Kind of like M&Ms, but the Canadian/UK version of the candy that I’m familiar with from my youth – Smarties. (Smarties in the United States are a completely different kind of candy.) Smarties are not quite as shiny as M&Ms. I painted the eyes as a similar type of candy, but with a little spark of white to set them apart as the eyes of an animate creature.
I decided to paint the Gingerbread Warrior in the colour of some of the darkest cookies I saw in my reference photos, in order to create maximum contrast with the icing piping and other decorations. I will include complete information on all the paint colours I used at the end of this article. The Patreon PDF copy of this article includes a dozen more WIP pictures.
I want to share a couple of WIP pictures that show how working on contrast can be a constant challenge no matter how long you’ve been painting and and working to push your contrast! There will always be times when you need to step back, take a second look, and reflect on whether you have as much as you need. The first picture below shows where I was at the end of my first session of painting the cookie body. I was trying to depict the light as coming from the side with the candy shoulder guard, and I thought I had painted plenty of contrast by the end of my painting session.
When I took a second look at the figure after a night’s sleep, I realized that it would benefit from more contrast. The shadow level was pretty good, though I thought I also needed to tweak the details of where the shadows were placed. But the highlights definitely didn’t go up high enough in value for a miniature figure to view well in thumbnail pictures or at a distance. I did a little more work and revised the cookie area as seen in the picture below. I increased the lightest value of highlights used, but also increased the area of highlights on the face to help it stand out more.
The paint colours I used on each area of the figure are listed below.
Gingerbread body colours.
Green candy button colours. Christmas Wreath is one of the Reaper holiday colours this year.
Blue candy eyes colours. Frosty Blue is one of the Reaper holiday colours this year.
Colours for the white portions of the candy cane and mint candy shoulder pad.
Colours for the red portions of the candy cane and mint candy shoulder pad. Holly Berry comes in the Holiday Sampler with the Gingerbread Knight. Lotus Orange was available to Bones 5 Kickstarter supporters, and will be made available to retail sales at some point in the future. 9321 Red Neon Glow is currently available and would work in a similar way. You can see what that colour looks highlighting some reds I’ve painted previously.
Recently we celebrated the holiday of Thanksgiving in the United States. I want to take this opportunity to say how thankful I am for all of you who read the articles I write for this site. I appreciate those of you who take extra time to comment and share your thoughts and experiences for the benefit of others. I am especially thankful for the generous members of my Patreon. Their support allows me to take time away from paid work to work on information for this site, which is freely available to all. As a thank you to them I provide occasional exclusive or bonus content, like the extra photos they will receive with their copy of this article. Patrons at the PDF level receive PDF versions of each article that have larger high resolution photos and improved formatting. If you are a regular reader, please consider joining my Patreon to help support my work.