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Non-Metallic Gold and Painting Patience

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I had some thoughts about painting patience while I was painting the non-metallic metal gold on the Christmas Hugs figure that I wanted to share, along with my colour choices and some tips for painting NMM. Also if you’re trying to paint your own copy of Christmas Hugs and finding it challenging to identify all the gift items on the base, I’ve included a guide to what and where things are are near the bottom of this post.

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The Patience of Painting

If you’ve been painting miniatures for any length of time, you’ve probably had non-painter friends and family look at your work in amazement and declare something like “I’d never have the patience to paint something small like that.” I’ve never really understood that remark. While the tools and techniques may differ between different art forms, the kind of patience it takes to sit quietly at a desk seems similar whether you’re painting a tiny dragon or a large canvas, and similar to lots of other creative hobbies, as well. 

Xdrag back

However, I definitely have found that different painting tasks require different kinds of patience. I’ve also found that it’s helpful to be aware of that and try to keep it in mind as you work. I think patience and expectations can get us into trouble with certain kinds of techniques. With many kinds of painting tasks, things start to look better pretty quickly. If you apply a wash and/or drybrushing to an area of texture, you can immediately see more detail and depth and it looks better. When you start layering or wetblending shadows and highlights onto matte materials like cloth and skin, you see results pretty quickly. A given area might look even better if you added more contrast or detailing or something else, but doing anything is an improvement over leaving it a flat coat of colour.

Xdrag faceI love this adorable little dragon! Julie captured so much joy and personality.

This is not the case for all types of miniature painting tasks and painting effects. Some effects do not look very good until you’ve done a lot of painting. I talked about this last Christmas with my experience of painting the source lighting effect on the Ghost of Christmas Past (below). I was painting the illusion of light being cast from a candle to the side of the figure, while I was looking at the figure under light falling from my ceiling lamp above. The figure looked wrong when it was only half painted because the appearance of the painted light on some areas contradicted the appearance of the room light falling on the unpainted parts. The contradiction prompted my brain to tell me to make changes to what I had painted. That would have been a mistake. I needed to resist that urge until I had painted most of the figure and could assess the appearance of the painted light over the figure as a whole. Once I got to that stage I was able to see that my mistake was in not having painted the effect of the light strongly enough. Giving in to the urge to tone things down in the early stages would have been a mistake on multiple levels.

Xm past bk front full

The Mental Challenges of Non-Metallic Metal

Non-metallic metal is a similar sort of effect. You cannot really tell how well it’s working until you get enough painted that you have some quite dark sections and some very light sections. The main visual properties that set metal apart from other textures/materials are that it appears shiny and reflective. Extremes of dark and light, particularly in proximity to one another, are a large part of what creates the illusion of a shiny surface. 

If you’re used to painting textures and effects that start to look better as soon as you apply paint, it can be very difficult to make the mental shift when you start to work on effects that don’t come together until after you’ve put on a lot of paint. It can be difficult to force yourself to be patient when you start to experiment with more advanced effects like source lighting and non-metallic metal. After all, if you don’t have a lot of experience painting NMM, how can you tell if you’re doing it ‘right’ but you just need to get more paint on it, or if you’re doing something wrong that you need to change? The answer is that you don’t. So my advice is go through the process you’ve decided to follow at least once without making major changes while you paint. Then assess the end result and see what you think. If you identify problems, consider what changes you might make to the process to resolve those on your next attempt.

I sometimes find it challenging even as an experienced painter who has been painting NMM for years. As I mentioned in my recent article on painting succubi wings, my patience has taken a hit in this unusual year. I have had fun painting things that are relatively quick and simple, and have found some high level display stuff to be a mentally exhausting slog.

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With Christmas Hugs, I started by painting the gifts on the base. Some people might look at all that detail and not be too excited about the prospect of painting it. I found it perfectly suited to my current state of mind. It was a lot of little things I could break down into easily achievable goals. It didn’t require fiddly blending that takes forever. I have good light, good brushes, and a lot of practice painting details. I’m not saying that there weren’t parts where I had to position carefully or control my breathing to paint precisely. But painting the details went fairly quickly and I could see tangible progress hour by hour to have a sense of completion and accomplishment. 

That all came to a screeching halt when it was time to paint the dragon. The Reaper Christmas dragon collection already has two red dragons and one green. Given the amount of red and green I’d used on the base, I didn’t think either was a good choice to make sure the Christmas Hugs dragon stood out against her base. I often use warm gold as an accent colour for the Christmas colour schemes, so I thought that would be a good choice for the dragon, and I busted out my favourite warm gold NMM paints. 

Xdrag front

Knowing it might take a few sessions to paint, I also busted out my ceramic welled palette and sponges. I often use a wet palette during a session of painting, but I don’t find that it preserves the paint in good condition to paint over several sessions. I know lots of people use it that way, but it just hasn’t worked well for me. I can use it for small touch ups, but not for extended painting. When I want to use paint over an extended period of time, I use this porcelain palette with small wells. (Small wells reduce evaporation speed.) I fill the wells at least three quarters full. I add water to the paint as necessary for the opacity that I want, usually a drop or two. If it’s very dry, I might add a little drying retarder. I add water to sponges to the point where they’re not literally dripping wet, but they will expel water with any squeezing. When I’m not painting I put the sponges over the wells of the palette, creating a sort of ‘reverse’ wet palette. Even while painting I will often put a sponge over one side of the palette if I’m not using those colours to help slow evaporation. I tend to put shadows on one side of the palette and highlights on the other partly for this reason. Every now and then I check on the consistency of the paint and add a drop of water as necessary, and I reload the sponges with water once a day.

Succ2 skin paletteI bought mine at Cheap Joe’s, but sometimes I see similar palettes for reasonable prices on Amazon. Lab spot plates are similar.

Painting the hide of the dragon felt like much more of a slog than painting the tiny details. I had hoped to finish the dragon up in a relatively short amount of time, but as I started the second session, it became clear it was going to take me longer. I don’t know if that was a question of being out of practice with fiddly blending, the knowledge of the looming deadline, or just not being in the frame of mind to want to do it. All I can say is that it was aggravating. I spent a lot of time feeling like it just didn’t look very good at all. I questioned whether I should have started with a lighter midtone, or did I need to change something else I was doing? Luckily I have had enough experience painting NMM to know that sometimes it doesn’t start looking right until pretty close to the end of the process. I was able to refrain from making sudden poor choices during painting and instead convince myself to just push through and see how it looked at the end.

There are two suggestions I can make to help with the patience part of painting NMM. One is to paint a small area completely. This gives you an idea of how your colours are working with one another and what it looks like when it all comes together. Once you have that small part looking good, you can refer back to it to remind you what the end result will look like! I did this with Christmas Hugs. I started painting the dragon’s hide late in the evening, so I just mixed my paint, painted the end of the tail, and then headed to sleep. I had that end of the tail to look back at when I was questioning whether my colours were off or if the overall effect would work. While this trick works for NMM, note that it doesn’t work as well for all effects, like source lighting.

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The second approach is to quickly sketch in the light and dark areas with your paint. You can do this with rough layering, quick wetblending – whatever works for you. The idea is to paint in the major shadow and highlight areas where they need to be. The transitions between shadows and highlights might look rough, but placing them this way should allow you to get a good idea of whether you are getting a ‘shine’ effect and if your colour choices are working well. It gives you a quick way to judge whether you’re putting things in the right place, and to determine whether you’re using enough contrast between your darkest shadows and brightest highlights. This approach helps you avoid getting something that looks like stone instead of metal! I definitely recommend trying this approach if you’re newer to painting NMM and have been finding it frustrating. You can see an example of me using this technique to paint Caerindra Thistlemoor. This approach works well for a wide variety of effects, like source lighting, though often you’ll need to sketch in all the large areas of the figure not just one section like I did on Caerindra’s metal.

In this approach the second step is to refine the transitions and rough application, and then add smaller detail elements. This can still require patience, but you at least know you got things right in the big picture, which makes it easier to avoid the temptation to change something that doesn’t need changing because you’re afraid it isn’t working. In this approach, as you can see in the pictures of Caerindra, I don’t bother with small details like rivets until the refining stage of the process.

Xdrag nmm comboThe middle picture has shadows and the first few levels of highlight on the back plates, but it doesn’t look right because the lighter layers of highlights aren’t painted on yet. So for 80% or so of the time I was painting, things looked not great to me. I had to have faith about where I was going in the end to keep on with it.

The main point I want to make is that as you stretch your painting wings and move into painting intermediate and advanced techniques, your relationship with your inner critic might need to become a little more complex. Your inner critic is that little voice in your head urging you to tweak something a little lighter, add some of this colour over here, that kind of thing. It can you make decisions while you paint. But sometimes, particularly when trying something new and different, it can lead you astray.

It’s important to understand that your inner critic is calibrated to assess how your work is going based on your usual techniques and approach. It can be actively unhelpful when you’re trying to stretch to paint new effects or try new techniques. If you usually paint fairly matte textures with a low range of contrast (which is how most of us paint in beginner and early intermediate stages of painting), your inner critic makes suggestions based on how your work should look using that approach. It’s going to tell you that painting NMM with high contrast looks wrong and urge you to tone down your shadows or highlights. If you’re trying a new paint application technique, it will make suggestions based on your experiences with familiar techniques that could hamper you learning and understanding the new one. So if you’re used to drybrushing and trying to practice layering, it might prompt you to use types of brushstrokes or thicker paint or something that works better for drybrushing but isn’t great with layering.

It’s kind of like that saying about if you only have a hammer, you treat everything like a nail. Your inner critic is used to using a hammer. It can fight you when you’re trying to acquire and learn how to use a wrench. Sometimes it will tell you to use the wrench just to hit everything, like you do with the hammer. 

The ability to look critically at your work and be willing to make changes as you paint is an indispensable tool for improving! But sometimes what you need to do most to learn is figure out how to mute or ignore your inner critic while you’re trying something new. Try to just follow the tutorial or the process or your new idea through to the end as you originally planned, and resist the impulses to deviate that spring to mind while you’re painting. Then once you’re done, go back and look at your result and review the process you used to get it, and consider how you feel about both. Actually, I recommend that you wait a few hours or even until the next day to do the assessment. You can usually see things much more clearly once you’ve had a break from painting. Then you are in a good position to make decisions about whether you didn’t get it quite right and how you might need to shift or change things.

Non-Metallic Gold Recipe

People often get quite caught up in trying to find the ‘perfect’ colour recipes for NMM colours. I think that’s a bit of a red herring. I recommend you not get too distracted by colour recipes. The perfect colour for something can vary quite a bit depending on the colours used elsewhere on the figure. The gold I painted on this dragon has a lot of reddish tones in the shadows. It looks good with the rich green and red colour scheme of Christmas colours. It would look overpowering next to the muted colours I used on the succubi. The colours on the pillow in this post are similar to the colours used for the NMM on the succubi. The pillow has more brown tones in the shadows, and weaker yellow colours than the dragon. I used some of these same paints in the gold NMM I painted on the Christmas dragon and on Ziba the Efreet, but the gold recipe for Ziba used purple in the darker shadows to tie into shadows used on the rest of the figure, as well as some different paints in the highlights. 

IMG 0201The gold on the dragon is more vibrant. It would draw attention away from the faces and skin if I had used this recipe on the succubi.

IMG 0198

Usually any issues with non-metallic metal not looking correct has to do with values and colour placement. In theory, you should be able to use neon pinks and paint something that looks shiny and reflective like metal, though it might not make you think of a knight’s armour. ;-> Successful NMM requires a large range of value, with areas of dark shadow and bright highlights. Where you place those values is also very important to the effect. Our eyes are more likely to perceive something as shiny if we see dark shadows adjacent or near to light highlights. Not all shapes reflect light in that way, of course. Rounded areas like the dragons wings and knees (or round helms and shoulder plates) reflect light differently than sharper planes like the scales on its back (or swords or armour plates). Shiny surfaces reflect light differently than less shiny ones, so to really pull off the effect well requires studying the light reflection and understanding how it works on different shapes. But you can get a pretty convincing and attractive look even without that understanding if you use value extremes and judgement about where you place those values.

IMG 0192The paint colours I used. I didn’t use the 9256 Blond Shadow on the dragon. The 9071 Chestnut Gold paint I used was recently discontinued. 9256 mixed with 9071 Chestnut Brown would work as a substitute for 9073 Chestnut Gold.

Gold nmm paintsThe paint mixes I used. Unnumbered mixes are a combination of the colours to their right and left. 9073 Chestnut Gold is discontinued. Beneath that section you can see a swatch of 9256 Blond Shadow and a mix of Blond Shadow and 9071 Chestnut Brown that I think would work as a substitute.

One of the paints I used in this recipe (and on Ziba) was recently discontinued. I just did a test with another colour that is still available. It’s not quite as rich, but I think it should give a pretty similar end result used in combination with the other colours, as you can see in the photos above.

Identifying the Gifts on the Base

Julie Guthrie did an amazing job cramming a lot of fantastic geek-approved gifts into a small space on this base! When I first started prepping the metal figure and even after priming, I had trouble identifying what some of the objects are. Certain things can look a little confusing if you’re looking at the wrong angle. To help you avoid that frustration, I’m including some pictures with a guide to what each object is to help you out when you’re painting your copy of this fun figure.

There are several toy animals on the base. I chose to paint the bat and the dragon as if they were pewter miniatures to go with the brushes and paints, but you could paint them in any number of ways. There were a few small things that I weren’t entirely sure what they were and chose to paint as holly leaves.

IMG 0462

1. A pair of socks, a very traditional Christmas gift.
2. A toy bat. I painted this one to look like a pewter miniature.
3. 3d6 (or toy blocks if you’d prefer, the numeral is painted not sculpted.)
4. A toy cat.
5. Several paint brushes in a box.
6. A sock monkey.

IMG 0463

1. 3d6, or toy blocks if you prefer.
2. Three paint bottles.
3. Two more paint brushes.

IMG 0461

1. The tops of the paint bottles.
2. A large sack. For dice, maybe?
3. A small sack. For smaller dice!
4. A Thingmaker Mini Dragon. This was one of Julie and Bob’s favourite toys when they were children. I painted it as a pewter dragon though.
5. A Mr. Bones stuffy!
6. Delicious candy canes.
7. The top of the sock monkey’s head.

Miniatures Shown in this Post

The Christmas Hugs dragon and the Ghost of Christmas Past are both limited availability holiday miniatures. They are part of Reaper Miniatures 12 Days of Reaper promotion, which is running until December 8, 2020. For each $40USD (or equivalent) you spend at the Reaper store, you can choose one of 12 different holiday figures, or a Reaper ornament. So if you spend $80 you can pick out two, and so on. This stacks with the usual monthly promotion, so you also pick out one of the monthly figures per $40 you spend, so you’re getting two free metal figures with every $40 purchase.

I shared a post with larger images and links to painting info for the 10 options I painted. After December 8th, the remaining stock of figures will go up for sale individually.

12Days 2020 2 copy

Starting December 1st, if you spend $60USD or more, you will also receive a Paint Your Krampus kit that I wrote, while supplies last. The kit includes four paints, detailed instructions, and a Bones USA Krampus figure produced in Texas.

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12 Days of Reaper 2020

Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Yule, or just the annual bonanza of sales, the holiday season is upon us. As I’m sure is the case for many of you, some of my traditions are having to be put to the side in this unusual year. One tradition that has remained the same is my annual last minute crunch to paint some of the Reaper holiday miniatures. I’ve painted one or more of the holiday figures since 2015, and pulling out the red and green paints to paint as fast as I can genuinely is a part of my holiday season now! 

12Days 2020 2 copy

This year’s 12 Days promotion features a lot of the miniatures that I’ve painted over the years, as well as a couple of great new ones. I thought I would share photos of them in a single post to help people get a better view of the figures from different angles. I’m also hoping to write a couple of posts about the new figures with some insight on painting those that you might find useful in painting yours. 

The 12 Days promotion runs on Reaper’s site from November 27 to December 8, 2020. This year you can choose any of the 12 Days miniatures for each $40USD of purchase, or the ornament. This is cumulative, so you can choose two different figures (or two of the same) with an $80 purchase, and so on. It also stacks with the usual free figure of the month promotion, so you’re getting two free figures for each $40 of purchase. Remaining stock of the figures will go up for direct purchase after December 8th.

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This year I worked on an additional holiday project for Reaper! Starting December 1st and for as long as supplies last, each $60USD purchase will receive a Paint Your Krampus mini learn to paint kit that I wrote. You need to supply your own brushes and black and white paint, but everything else you need is included in the kit. The Krampus figure is made in Texas from the new Bones USA plastic.

But enough of all that, let’s get to pictures of the charming holiday figures!

First up one of the new figures this year – Christmas Hugs. I love Julie’s holiday dragons, and this one was extra fun to paint due to all the great geek gifts on the base. I’ll post in a day or three with a ‘map’ of the objects on the base to help make it easier for you to paint a copy of your own. In the meantime you can check this Facebook gallery for more views and info on the base.

Xdrag frontSculpted by the Dragon Lady herself, Julie Guthrie.

Xdrag back

The other figure that is brand new this year is the Mistletoe Goblin. Worn out shoes and a half eaten box of chocolates haven’t stopped this optimist from looking for love. More view angles available in my Facebook gallery.

Xgob frontI believe this was also sculpted by Julie Guthrie. If not it was her other half, Bob Ridolfi.

Xgob back

One of the first Christmas dragons, this one has a little hoard of presents that I wouldn’t mess with if I were you. I wrote a post describing how I painted the wrapping paper and with more views of the figure

Xmas dragon face fullSculpted by Julie Guthrie, of course!

Xmas dragon2 wings full

Tinker the Gnome is doing his best to get everything ready in Santa’s workshop. You can see some additional angles in my Facebook gallery.

Xgnome front fullSculpted by Bobby Jackson.

Xgnome back1 full

If dragons get into holiday mischief, imagine what cat dragons can get up to… I have a post with more pictures and some background on painting the figure.

Catdragon left fullSculpted by Julie Guthrie. And you can tell she’s lived with a few cats over the years!

Catdragon right full

This little Stocking Dragon is very excited about what treasures might be found in the stocking. I wrote a post describing how I used the sketching or blocking in style to paint this figure.

Xdrag face2 fullJulie Guthrie once again had the honours on this one.

Xdrag back full

A fun twist on classic Christmas characters – the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future. I have a post on how I painted the light effect on Christmas Past. I answered some questions on how I painted Christmas Future’s black dress. There are individual photos and more angles in my Facebook gallery.

Xm ghosts bk fullBob Ridolfi did a wonderful job sculpting these very characterful figures.

Xm ghosts bk back full

And one more cat dragon. Painted to resemble one of my cats. My cat doesn’t actually mess with the Christmas tree, but he gets himself into trouble in lots of other ways, so he was definitely the right cat for this modelling job. If you’d like to paint your cat dragon with a pattern, you might find this post on painting fur patterns handy. You can see more angles in my Facebook gallery.

Xm cat bl face fullJulie Guthrie sculpted this. I suspect Julie may have lived this.

Xm cat right2 full

And lastly, a couple of pictures of the Krampus I painted for the Paint Your Krampus kit. Ron Hawkins, the art director at Reaper, did a wonderful job laying everything out so it’s clear and easy to follow. The copy I painted was a metal master, but I have since seen the Bones USA version and it looks fantasy. A slotta-base version of this figure is available in metal if you’d prefer it in metal or the kits run out. This is a different Krampus sculpt to the one in the Bones 5 Kickstarter.

Krampus blue front fullKrampus was sculpted by Jason Wiebe.

Krampus blue back full

I hope those of you who celebrated Thanksgiving recently enjoyed your holiday despite the changes and challenges, and I send my good wishes for holiday fun to come.

The Succubi Finally Spread their Wings

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Way back in April through June, I was working on a set of three succubi from the Bones 5 Kickstarter. And then I wasn’t. And now I’m done! These succubi figures are available through the Bones 5 Kickstarter late pledge manager in the Demonic Temptation add-on. The add-on includes three incubi. I haven’t yet received those to paint, but I’m including pictures of the incubi sculpts near the end of this article)

Succ blue front

These are links to the previous articles I’ve written about the painting process for these figures, including lists of paints used for various areas. When I finish my current painting crunch I’ll be assembling all the succubi painting articles into a single PDF for patrons at the Fill the Feeder level on my Patreon.

Article on the skin for the kneeling succubus.
Article on the skin of the seated succubus.
Thoughts on freehand and painting the pillow.
Article on the skin of the standing succubus and a bit about painting the transparent cloth.

I had a few people ask me if I planned to write an article about painting the wings. Now that I’ve finally finished the painting, here is that article! I will also be writing a little bit about the experience of getting side-tracked and roadblocked on projects and trying to get back on course.

Succ blue back

My overall painting vision for the succubi figures was to paint them as individuals, but also as members of a set of related figures. Partly I worked on those ideas by using a set of colours, but incorporating the same colours into different sections on each of the figures, as I’ve discussed in the previous articles. But I also planned to paint the wings on each in a similar way to help tie them together even more.

My first challenge with the wings was figuring out which colours to paint them. I’m going to run through some of the factors I considered as examples of things you might consider when you’re wrestling with choosing colours, which can often feel as if it gets harder to do the further into painting a figure you get. I’ll include additional pictures of the completed figures to break up the text a little.

Succ kneel front

My initial considerations related to the nature of the characters. These are succubi. They’re seductive, yet also demonic and a little creepy. Demon wings are typically patterned on bat wings. Even those few characteristics of the sculpts and character type suggest or argue against a lot of colours or types of colours. Lizardy skin green would fit the style of wing sculpt, but not the seductive demon qualities (at least not with the colour palette I already had in use). Brightly saturated, cheery, pastel – most colours with those kinds of characteristics are going to be unlikely to fit well. 

NOTE: It is totally possibly and okay and cool and creative to choose atypical colours for things. I’m not saying to always fall into stereotypes! But it is a reality that we associate colours with certain emotions and activities, and it’s not weird to be working with your viewer’s expectations and assumptions a lot of the time. Making atypical choices is something that is best done consciously and as part of an overall vision for the work. It’s going to be tricky if you have typical colours on a lot of the miniature to then introduce atypical colours on just one or two areas unless you’ve planned for that in advance to create a particular mood or effect. I’m making the suggestion to think of the character type when choosing colours because some of us don’t. I personally am sometimes really bad about not always thinking about character and story enough!

Succ stand face

With those ideas in mind, I considered the choices from the perspective of trying to paint something that was visually effective. The main focus of these figures is their faces and bodies/skin. Secondary areas of interest include the complex jewelry and their hair. Everything else is more background. If you think of it in terms of a movie or a play, the face and skin are the main characters, the jewelry and hair are supporting characters, and the wings, clothing, bases, etc. are background scenery and bit parts. 

We have to paint everything on a figure. It took me a long time to understand that we do not have to paint everything on a figure in exactly the same way and to exactly the same level. And indeed we should not paint everything on a figure in the same way and to the same level. Some areas should stand out to the viewer as the most interesting thing(s) to look at. If everything is painted the same way, it’s like standing in a room with a bunch of screens all showing something different – it’ll be hard for you to decide which thing you should be watching and even harder for you to keep your focus on it.

Succ sit front

So how does that work in practice when painting a miniature? I talked about some choices related to this in the article on painting the freehand on the pillow. The colours I chose and the decision to use a simple pattern were made with the idea that it is a piece of background scenery. Does that make that choice the right answer for every figure every time? Alas it does not, or figuring this stuff out would be a lot simpler. ;-> If the character with the pillow were some kind of noblewoman, a more elaborately decorated pillow might be the right answer to help illustrate her rank.

Consider the figure below, which is from the George R. R. Martin collection at Darksword Miniatures. She is a handmaiden, a servant waiting on someone of higher rank. If I wanted to emphasize that characterization I could paint her clothing and accessories in more subdued colours and as plain, simple fabric. And then also paint the piece of clothing she is waiting to hand the noble with rich bold colours and/or an elaborate pattern. (This would be a good approach particularly if this were used as part of a scene that included the noble being attended.)

Handmaiden

In the case of the succubi, their wings are also more background character than starring role. They are important to establishing the type of character these are. But they already demand a certain amount of viewer attention by virtue of being a large area in proportion to the figure. They are not small details that might need to be a light or bright colour to stand out and be visible. What I really want is for them to act as a sort of frame around the part(s) that I have painted as the focus. Two of the succubi have medium to fair skin. Using a darker value for the wings would literally work well as a frame. The third succubus has darker skin, but it stands out by virtue of being more saturated than most of the colours used on the figures. So in a similar way, using a darker but less saturated colour on the wings would likely work well to frame her, as well.

Succ stand frontExample of what I mean about the wings acting as a ‘frame’ for the skin and faces of the figures.

Since there were already a fair number of paint colours in use on the figures, a logical third consideration was to choose or mix a colour from the paints I was already using on the figures. Once you have colour on a number of areas on a figure, it is often a better idea to work within the set of paints you’re already using than to introduce new colours. It helps things look like part of a cohesive whole. It can help avoid a look that is too busy or confusing. For example, when doing highlights on stone or earth on a base, you can use the same light colour you used to highlight the skin (or horns, or bone). You can mix darker colours you used elsewhere on the figure into your shadows for other middle value or pale value objects. Colours will appear a little differently if blended from darkest up to lightest than they do blended midtone down to shadow and up to highlight, so you can vary the appearance of colours by the way you apply them as well as the ways you mix them. Or you can mix slightly different colours that are still harmonious by using the highlight from one area and the shadow from another.

There are a variety of ways to mix and shift colours from a small set so you can get more mileage out of them on a figure and not have to add a new colour into your set. Working with a smaller palette of colours in this way tends to create a visually attractive result. It’s also more realistic than you might think. When light bounces around it absorbs and reflects colour from surrounding objects. 

IMG 0811The reflection of the green shirt in the shadows of my husband’s skin is very apparent. It isn’t always as immediately obvious to your eye, but this kind of colour reflection is happening to everything around you all the time.

When looking through the paints I had used on the succubi, I wanted to stay in the same colour family as I had used on the skin tones. I came up with two main possibilities for wing colours. I decided it was worth a little time to do a test of both of those colours before painting the wings. I found another figure with wings and painted one in each proposed colour scheme.

IMG 0131I had already used this figure for some skin tests at the start of the project.

Once I had the wing tests complete, I could hold them up behind each of the succubi to get an idea for whether one of the colour schemes worked better than the others. (And I also took pictures for you to see how that test worked.)

Succ1 wingtest 500

Succ2 wingtest 500

Succ3 wingtest 500

With all three cases, when I look at the test wings, the more pinkish wing on the right is the one that draws my eye as being more vibrant and more interesting to look at. That’s a good thing, right? We want our work to pop, we want to paint things that are visually interesting. I picked the colour scheme on the left precisely because it didn’t draw my eye as much. The pinkish one draws my eye, but it draws my eye away from the main areas of the figure that I’ve decided are the focus. It’s a less extreme version of costuming one of the extras in a movie scene in bright red when all of the main characters are wearing grey and blue. Viewers are going to look more at the red background character than you want them to.

Succ kneel wing2 cu

That doesn’t mean I was sloppy or quick about the painting process. I had hoped it would take a night of painting to finish all three sets of wings. It ended up taking more than three times as long as I had estimated. Since the wing sails were sculpted with a few striations to help give them a leathery look, I chose to emphasize that by painting the highlights on with vertical brush strokes. The subtle texture would be a lesser element of contrast with the super smooth painting on the skin that I hoped help emphasize its smoothness. My primary goal was to bring out the three dimensional form (shape) of the wings with placement of lighter and darker areas, but I applied these with a lot of overlapping brush strokes. To do that I used a Kolinsky sable brush with a fine point. (In this case a Winsor & Newton size 0, but there are lots of similar brands that would work.)

Succ sit wing1 cuTo add a little variation and match the pinker skin tone on this succubus, I used a pink glaze to tint her wing sails.

I did the colour selection test back in June before I stopped working on these figures. When I got back to them, I realized there was an additional colour/approach decision that I hadn’t initially considered. Like bat wings, these wings have well defined wing bones. On bats these often appear a different colour than the membrane area, usually paler. I didn’t like that idea on the succubi for a couple of reasons.

One was practical expediency – I didn’t want to have to paint it. A lighter colour would be more fiddly to paint. That would add time when I was trying to crunch and get these finished ASAP. It would also be challenging to do since I had glued the wings to the figures on by the time I thought about this. It would be tricky to get my brush everywhere it would need to be for precision painting.

Succ stand wing2 cu

The second reason I didn’t like the idea of a much lighter colour on the wing bones goes back to pulling focus. Lighter sections on areas darker wings would create a fair amount of contrast and more visual complexity, making them likely to draw the eye more than I wanted. I did an image search of succubus art, and I didn’t see very many pieces of art that depicted them with pale wing bones, so I guess a lot of other artists have come to similar conclusions. I saw many artists use darker wing bones rather than lighter. (Even on a bat’s wing, if the wing is viewed with a light source behind it, the thin membrane will appear lighter and the wing bones will look darker silhouetted against the light.) I chose to paint the sections of skin stretched over the wing bones as a slightly darker value, and with a smoother texture, though not quite as smooth as the skin. The wings are the demonic creepy part of the figures, not the attractive woman part. 

Succ kneel face

One final colour consideration related to how to apply my colour choices in light of the shape of the wings. We paint shadows and highlights on miniature figures to bring out the three dimensional form of objects. The wings of all three tended to be a little (or a lot) curled over to be concave when viewed from the front and convex when viewed from the back. The wings overhang themselves so that their front sides are largely in shadow. For this reason, in a typical overhead/diffuse lighting scenario, the fronts of the wings should appear darker in value than the backs of the wings, particularly on the seated and kneeling succubi. This ends up working pretty well with the idea of focus. It was most important for the wings not to compete with the face/skin in the front views of the figures. There’s no face on the back views. In the back view angles, the wings take up more real estate and even partially obscure other areas of the figure. So the wings actually need to be a little more interesting and attention-drawing viewed from the back. To accomplish that I used a higher range of value between shadow and highlight colours, and emphasized the streaky striation texture a little more than on the front.

Succ kneel back

Finally I was down to one last bit that needed painting – the horns and wing talons. Typically I would paint these in a bone/horn colour. I considered using some of the colours I had used on the non-metallic metal areas. But in light of all the similar considerations I made on the wings themselves, I decided to go with a dark colour instead. Certainly there are animals with black or dark horns, so it’s reasonable enough on that front. I wrestle with whether I think the horns on the finished figures fade from view a little too much, but overall I think it works more than the alternatives would have.

Succ sit face

One thing I want to make clear is that I do not always think through my colour/technique selections in such a rational and deliberate way as what I’ve described here! In fact I would say that I very often do put enough conscious thought into these kinds of choices. It took a long time to type it out and for you to read it, but this kind of thought process is not necessarily time consuming. I think it has been helpful for me to think through this process to describe it to you so I can try to be more conscious of it as I make choices for painting figures. I’ve also made a note to myself to work on a more general colour/technique choice article at some point in the future.

Succ sit back

Apart from these figures, the bulk of the painting that I have done this year has been more tabletop or tabletop plus. I’ve been painting for class examples, quick turnaround projects, or just to try to get the dust off my brush before going back to working on something like these. I haven’t done a lot of high pressure competition/display level painting for a while. And I found myself just not very in the mood for it when working on these. I’m happy with the results, and there are parts I enjoyed painting. But often I found it tedious or a little stressful, and it seemed to take forever. I think a lot of that is because these are difficult times of stress and strain. (Aka 2020!) I have more trouble than usual keeping focused, and it’s particularly difficult to work on projects that require sustained focus over a series of days or weeks. (And I wouldn’t say I’m great at these things in usual times!)

Succ stand back

I put aside working on the succubi in early June to work on the Reaper figure of the month for July. (Asandris Nightbloom.) It was a nice change of pace. But somehow I just never got back to the succubi. I got distracted by preparing for online ReaperCon, working on traditional art studies and challenges, designing a mini learn to paint holiday kit for Reaper, and just trying to get though another day of bad news.

There was one additional mental roadblock in getting back to painting the succubi, something that might have been an issue for me in any year. I had stopped at exactly the wrong moment for me. I have had my share of bad luck in gluing and assembling figures.  Enough bad luck that I dread these tasks and often put them off. (The wings of this one fell off almost immediately after I took the picture. Here’s a link to buy.) This happens to me even though I usually use five minute epoxy, not just superglue, and I use pins, thoroughly clean joins, etc., etc. I put the date on my glues after I purchase them and buy new every two years or so. In my early days of painting I had a figure I tried to glue the arm on three times – with a pin, epoxy glue, and filling the gaps with greenstuff, and after the third time it fell off I gave up painting it and turned it into my sealer spray test figure. Maybe it’s just a personal curse. ;->

Succ sit left2

When I put the succubi aside I was pretty much done apart from gluing on and painting the wings. I would think about doing getting back to them, then get nervous or superstitious and just put it off some more. Believe me, I know how lame that sounds! I also know that I’m not alone in getting in my head that way, and hopefully it will help some of you to hear that you’re not alone, either. My one consolation is at least I heard about a better superglue than I had been using in the meantime. (Loctite Ultra Gel.)

I am very happy that I finally got back to these and finished them up in time for people to see painted versions before the Bones 5 pledge manager closes. I definitely recommend grabbing a set of the Demonic Temptations! Gluing will be much simpler on Bones compared to the metal masters that I was working with, and the metal figures keyed together very well. Here are what the incubi that come in the set look like. I hope to have a chance to paint these one day, too. I think I would use similar muted tones for their skin colours but with more bluish colours.

Incubi Standing

Incubi Reclining

Incubi Sitting

 

Below is a picture of the paint colours I used for the wings. I used the Gothic Crimson as a glaze on the wing bones of all three sets of wings. The Cactus Flower was glazed over the wings of the seated succubus. Regrettably all of these are discontinued or special edition colours except for 9066 Blue Liner. I believe Drow Nipple Pink and Cactus Flower will go on sale on Black Friday from the Reaper Miniatures website as part of a special edition paint set.

Wing paints

Here’s a look at the colours I used on the wings swatched out. The top bluish row are the mixes I used on the horns and talons, which were mixed from 9066 Blue Liner and 6118 GREL Flesh. This gives you an idea of the value and saturation levels of the paints.

Succibi wing paints

 

The articles linked at the top of the page include information on the paint colours used for each of the different succubi skin tones. I’m going to finish up with a few more view angles of the finished figures. If anyone has read this far, thanks for sticking this out with me!

Succ kneel right

Succ sit right

Succ kneel left

Succ stand wing1

Succ grey forescale front fullOne last picture with Sir Forscale. Note that the standing and seated succubi both have additional levels on their bases. Sir Forscale is not sure where he can safely look and stay a gentleman.

Paint Properties in Practice and the Great Goblin Debate

Would you like to support this blog and receive a PDF copy of this article? Check out my Patreon!

I recently painted the goblins from the Dungeon Dwellers expansion in the Bones 5 Kickstarter. (Late pledge here.) The first half of this article is a discussion of my colour scheme choices and paint process for painting the figures, with some work-in-progress pictures. The second half discusses making paint choices based on paint properties other than colour alone, and why just adding white to your midtone colour isn’t always the best way to make great highlight colours. 

Gobs blue front full

If you just want to see closer up views of the finished figures, scroll down until you see more pictures on blue backgrounds. Members of the Fill the Feeder level on my Patreon receive PDF copies of my articles that include larger high quality photos than I can provide here.

Also let me know which side you take in the great goblin colour debate!

Gobs grey back full

Typically I paint one figure at a time, and approach each as an individual character. This painting project required working on a group of similar characters, while still trying to give each a bit of individuality. I have tremendous respect for all of you who paint armies and units, or just paint high volume to get a lot of cool looking figures on the table. It is not easy to do! You have to balance time investment and colour and technique choices to get the best result possible in the shortest amount of time.

Gobs grey front forscale fullSize comparison shot with a standard heroic gaming scale figure in the centre.

I used the start of the project as an opportunity to practice with the Vex airbrush. I primed the figures black with the airbrush, and also did the initial lay-in of the skin colours with the airbrush. Since I am not very practiced yet with airbrushing, I started with the two figures that are already available in metal. Anne Foerster had already painted up great versions of those, so if my initial attempts went very wrong or I ended up not having time to finish all of them, Reaper would still have painted versions of those two.

Doing a test figure or two can be very helpful before working on a group like a unit or army. It gives you a chance to discover non-optimal choices at a stage where they will take much less time to change or redo. With these figures I learned that I preferred true metallics to non-metallic metal at an earlier stage than having to repaint the whole group. This is also the stage when you might discover that a particular colour is more challenging or time-consuming to work with than suits this kind of project.

IMG 1589

These were the figures after my initial skin airbrushing session. The complete set of paints used on these two was: 9492 Wyvern Leather, 9457 Goblin Skin, 9247 Saffron Sunset, 9234 Bright Skin Highlight (discontinued), and then a light spray of 9417 Void Blue in the shadows. (Skin colours used on all the goblins are discussed later in the article.)

IMG 1590

I wasn’t sure I was 100% happy with them. When I posted them for feedback in the airbrush class channel, Aaron Lovejoy suggested that I work up the rest of the figures at least with base coat colours to be able to better judge the skin. This is very good advice. It’s often hard to judge things in isolation. So I worked on them a little more.

IMG 1594

IMG 1595

I still wasn’t sure these were working out, or if they were a little too dark and murky. It can be challenging to paint figures that both stand out on the table, but also look suitably dungeon dweller disheveled. I thought it would be a good next step to paint in the metal areas, since those would be among the brightest spots on the figures. Trying to judge whether colours are working before at least some of the lightest and some of the darkest colours are in place can be difficult. I initially chose to use the non-metallic technique, which is my usual choice for figures with smaller metal areas and those primarily intended for photography. I did some work on the base stones as well.

IMG 1596

IMG 1597

These two goblins were largely done apart from a few details, but I still wasn’t quite feeling it. I now knew for sure that I needed to go back and work on the skin a little more, but I wasn’t sure if they were working overall apart from that. I decided to start on the rest of the group and circle back to these two if time permitted. I don’t have many WIP shots of those, but I do have one I took to test my new phone’s camera.

Gobs wip1

I took a slightly different approach with the skin of these. I again laid in the foundation of light and shadow with the airbrush. Though I forgot about using Void Blue in the shadows like I had on the previous pair! Then I went back over them with my standard brush. They’re small figures and my airbrush skills are nascent, so I wasn’t able to be as precise as I needed to be to establish all the shadows and highlights. I used slightly browner shadows on half of them and redder shadows on the other half, but I’m not sure that the subtle difference is noticeable after the final stages of reworking and adding glazes.

I also worked on detailing the eyes and teeth at this early stage, instead of leaving them for later as I had on the initial two. Partly this was because a few of the figures had bows near their faces that would make the details more challenging to paint if I waited until the end. Partly it was because I enjoy painting figures more once the faces are at least somewhat detailed and and they have a little personality.

Gobs wip2

Then I worked on getting the bulk of the other areas on the figures painted so I could decide whether I wanted to stick with non-metallic metal and add more contrast, or whether I wanted to switch to metallics. The picture above was a comparison of the new batch with the original two before I enhanced the skin of the first two.

I wanted the skin to be the focus on these. Most of them aren’t wearing a lot of gear, so they have large areas of skin. Bobby Jackson sculpted some fun anatomy on them. They have wiry ropy muscles and little pot bellies and man boobs. I also love how much individuality there is in their faces. One is battle berserker crazy, another is world-weary, a couple look kind of derpy, etc. 

To play up the orange of the skin, I used a complementary colour scheme on the first two goblins with the chest armour. Complementary colours sit opposite one another on the colour wheel. So their cloth is blue, and there’s a little bit of green in their leather straps to complement the red in their shadows. The goblin with the shield in the image below has this complementary colour scheme.

Gobs group2 combo

With the rest of the goblins, I used more of a split complementary colour scheme. In a split complementary scheme you use the two colours to either side of the complementary colour. So in the case of these goblins, rather than blue, I used blue-green and blue-violet. Each of the goblins had cloth painted in medium values of one of those colours, and then highlights on their dark leather accessories painted with the other colour. So the fellow on the far right of the top row above has a blue-green loin cloth and blue-violet highlights on his black leather, and the goblin on the far left bottom row is the opposite.

IMG 0444

Since these are goblins and not wealthy nobles, I didn’t want the blue-green and blue-violet to be too saturated and rich looking. I added grey to my mixes when doing the initial painting. My final stage of painting was to add some earth tone glazes to deepen or unify shadows and add weathering. Then I used some weathering pigments to add a little more weathering and colour variation. Both of these tools further desaturated the richer colours. I was aiming to strike a balance between being true to the character and nature of the figures, but keeping them interesting to look at. I used earth tone colours lower in saturation for their for wood, rope, and leather accessories. Too much colour can be overpowering, especially for this type of character.

Gobs group1 combo

A quick note on the wolves two of the goblins are riding. In game terms these are wargs, and I wanted them to look suitably fierce and unpleasant. I also wanted them to be mounts/companions, not become the main characters in their pairings. I chose to paint them with an overall dark value for those reasons – it fit the characterization, and it complemented rather than distracted from the more vivid goblin skins. I did want to give them some visual interest and personality, though. To do that, I variegated the fur colour a little. I used orange-browns on the heads and manes to echo the goblin colours and frame their faces. I used warm greys on the rest of the fur. I put my focus in detailing on the faces, and used more saturated colours in the noses, lips, and eyes. (The eyes are also a little nod to one of my high school French teachers who had creepy pale blue wolf eyes, and was well aware of it.) I used the weathering powders on their fur as well as their bases to add some additional colour variation and grunginess.

Gwolf1 left front full

Paint Properties

I have written a previous article where I talked about the properties of paint, and another discussing properties of colours. Some of the choices I made on these goblins create an opportunity for me to discuss a real world example of choosing to use paints based on their properties as much as their colours. Miniature painters, particularly those newer to the hobby, often want paints that are as uniformly matte and opaque as possible. You’ll hear reviews that emphasize the importance of uniformity in a paint line or suggestions that a paint company must be ‘cheating’ their customers if this colour or that doesn’t cover opaquely in just a coat or two.

However, in watching videos and reading articles from some of the most talented miniature painters working in the hobby, it is clear that many take advantage of the differences between paint brands or pigment colours in opacity, sheen, or other elements in their painting. I make no claim to that level of ability, but I used that idea in two ways on these figures.

First, prior to working on the weathering steps, I had to make a decision about how to handle the metal items on these figures. I decided to switch over to using true metallics. I did not feel that the NMM was providing enough contrast and visual interest. These figures are fairly small, and the smaller a figure, the more contrast it needs to read well to the viewer and pop on the table/shelf. I had painted the NMM on my test pair somewhat lower contrast to try to keep them looking like gritty dungeon monsters. It did not pop enough, but I was concerned that adding more highlights would result in a type of NMM that wouldn’t fit the character type. Plus metallics just seemed like the right choice for some old school Dungeon Dweller figures! The unique properties of the sparkle and sheen of metallic paints contrasted with the matte paints on the rest of the figures seemed like the answer to what I needed here. (Note that I used the shaded metallic technique and applied shadows with matte paints.)

Gobs blue wolves front full

My second decision based on paint/colour properties was using a somewhat transparent colour to highlight the skin – Saffron Sunset. Saffron Sunset is a yellow-orange colour. Burnt Orange was another colour I considered. I could also have just have mixed a warm white like Linen White or Mold Yellow into the Goblin Skin orange to make highlights. All of these share the properties of being lighter value colours in the same colour family as Goblin Skin with the potential to work as highlights for that colour. But they differ in certain properties that made me more inclined to choose one than another.

9247 Saffron Sunset is a rich colour without being a fully saturated true yellow-orange. It is also a slightly transparent colour.  9111 Burnt Orange is similar in hue, but duller in saturation and a little more opaque. 9201Orange Brown is a nice rich colour, but it’s darker in value. It’s too close in value to 9457 Goblin Skin to really work as a highlight. Mixing in a near-white colour to make my own highlight creates a much more opaque colour, but also a much duller colour. (If you look back at the Saturation section here you can see that adding in white, grey, or black desaturates colours.) The skin of these goblins would look much duller if I had highlighted their skin with either of the examples below that were mixed with near-whites. The Goblin Skin paint colour mixed with near-whites actually created colours that are pretty close to normal human skin tones.

The following are painted swatches of these colours to help you visualize what I’m talking about. The black line was drawn on the paper with a Sharpie prior to applying any paint. This is a common technique in traditional painting to be able to easily assess colour opacity from painted swatches. The larger squares were decent amounts of paint applied with a large brush. Since that isn’t really how we paint miniatures, I also added smaller stripes of paint with a miniature painting size brush loaded with a more moderate amount of paint. The small stripes give you a much more accurate impression of the coverage levels of each of the paints.

Goblin paints

I added a couple of other swatches at the end. Second from the right is a mix of Goblin Skin with Candlelight Yellow, which is the rightmost square. This mix is very similar to Saffron Sunset in both property and colour. It’s a much brighter and more transparent highlight colour than the ones mixed with near whites, and it’s a little more transparent than the Burnt Orange. If I had mixed my own highlights, using Candlelight Yellow would have been a much better choice than white. Using yellows to mix highlights can also be more effective for red and green colours. (Experiment with your yellows. Candlelight Yellow here probably wouldn’t work as well with greens as with reds.) Premixed colours help me paint more quickly and easily, so it’s worth it to me to have the Saffron Sunset in my collection. If you enjoy colour mixing or prefer to keep your collection of paint compact, make sure you have a yellow or two in your collection for flexibility when mixing highlights.

IMG 0109The colours from my sample test swatches above. See picture below for the paints actually used on the figures.

Where the transparency comes in is that I was using this for highlights. People who get frustrated about transition lines in the layering technique typically have more trouble with highlights than with shadows. This is partly because many dark colours are not super opaque. Lighter colours often contain white, which is a very opaque pigment. Colours containing white often look streaky or show a lot of transition lines when used for painting in the layering technique. It can be challenging to thin them down to the correct opacity for layering. So using a slightly transparent colour like Saffron Sunset made things a little easier and quicker, and well as creating a more vibrant look that I liked. For the top highlights I did mix in a little white, and those lighter highlights did have a few transition lines I had to clean up at the end of painting.

(Fun fact – red is the first practice colour in the Layer Up! learn to paint kit for precisely this reason. Reds and oranges are somewhat transparent, so they’re easier to blend via layering than many more opaque colours.)

Saffron Sunset is also a great colour for glazes to enrich or shift colour. Sometimes when I paint blond hair or non-metallic metal gold it comes out looking a little too cool and lifeless. It needs a touch of yellow, but just a touch. I thin Saffron Sunset down to a glaze consistency and apply it over the area and it adds a little warmth and richness to the colour. Colours that are highly saturated and at least somewhat transparent are the easiest to work with for glazes used in this fashion.

IMG 0439The goblin painted green is from the Goblin Skirmishers pack.

Great Goblin Colour Debate and the Bones 5 Goblin Skin Paint Colours

My first exposure to Dungeons and Dragons was back in the early 80s via the red box set. Either I didn’t pay attention at the time or forgot in the intervening years that Dungeons and Dragons goblins are described as red-orange-yellow in colouration. Thanks to the influences of World of Warcraft and Warhammer, goblins are now often thought of as being green. Let me know in the comments which you prefer and why!

Below is a photo with the complete list of colours I used to paint the skin on these goblin figures. (I forgot to add the bottle of 9417 Void Blue that I used in the shadows of the two with breast plates.) If you don’t have Goblin Skin or Saffron Sunset, I think you’d get something close with Orange Brown and Candlelight Yellow. For shadows any warm reddish-brown should give a similar effect to the Minotaur Hide or Wyvern Leather. Options include 9071 Chestnut Brown or 9241 Auburn Shadow.

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Patron Spotlight: Brian Reichert

This blog is made possible thanks to the generous support of my patrons. The Patron Spotlight is an opportunity for me to share their work and philosophy with the world! From Brian:

 

About 2 years ago my wife and I were gifted a game called Mansions of Madness.  It’s a Lovecraft horror based co-op game and it came with a bunch of models. After a few months of playing grey I got tired of the bland models and decided to try my hand at this “miniature painting thing”.

Brian reichert4

After a bunch of research I eventually discovered the Learn to Paint kits and worked my way through them both. That along with tons of help from the Reaper community and I’ve managed to paint all of Mansions of Madness plus several expansions, totalling about 100 figures and I’ve got more games to go.

Brian reichert2

My goal isn’t to be a competition level painter. At this point I just want to paint my games and have them look OK on the table. To that end I’ve been keeping a photo gallery of things I’ve painted so I can look back and see how I’ve progressed.

Feel free to skim if you want, there’s some stuff I’m proud of in there and some I’m not so excited about but it’s there. Warts and all.

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To contrast, I painted the running girl in February of 2019. She was the very first thing I painted on my own after the Learn to Paint kits. The others are just some of the ones I’m most proud of.

Brian reichert1

Thanks to you and the Reaper Community for all the help so far. I’m proud of my progress but I’m also humbled to know there is no end game in this and will be learning for years to come.

Brian reichert3

Upcoming Online Classes – Fur, Feathers and Scales

I will be teaching two online classes this week as part of CYBËR WÅRS, an online convention! The classes will air on my Twitch channel. They should remain available for viewing for two weeks on Twitch. I will be recording the classes to make the videos available to members of my Patreon in thanks for their generous support of this blog and my general teaching efforts.

Fur class

Painting Fur
Thursday, November 12, 2020 from 8pm to 10:30pm Eastern

Fur is found not only on miniatures of animals and monsters, but also as part of clothing and accessory items on figures. I will demonstrate several different techniques for bringing out the sculpted texture of fur. I will also discuss tips for colour selection and referencing real life to help achieve attractive and realistic results.

(I probably will not talk much about detailed fur patterning. I have two previous articles on that topic though! Article one, and article two.)

You are welcome to paint along during the class! Suggestions for good practice miniatures, paint colours, and other supplies are included below.

NOTE: I will not start the class material until after the Reaper Live Twitch stream concludes to give people an opportunity to attend both. I will take painting questions from the chat for the first 10-20 minutes until we begin the main class subject. So this is a great opportunity to corner me and ask me questions on other painting topics. ;->

Feather class

Painting Feathers and Scales
Saturday, November 14 2020 from 2pm to 4pm Eastern

There are several different techniques you can use the paint the sculpted textures of feathers and scales. Which is best to use depends on the time you can spend on the miniature, and the level of results you’re looking to achieve. I’ll demonstrate various techniques and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each. I’ll also discuss some thoughts on colour choices and research and reference.

(I have a couple of articles available about painting a scaly hydra – article one, and article two.)

You are welcome to paint along during the class! Suggestions for good practice miniatures, paint colours, and other supplies are included below.

Class Materials

My goal is to share general techniques and information you can use to paint a variety of texture types in the colours of your choosing. Please don’t stress out about whether you have the exact same supplies as I do. The following are suggestions for figures and tools to get the most out of the class. 

Class Materials: Miniatures

For both classes, aim for figures with well-defined sculpted texture. Try to choose something at least 28mm humanoid size or larger. You can use some of these techniques with tiny familiar size figures and small areas of texture, but it will be easier to practice on something larger, especially if you want to paint during the class. Here are some photo examples of options that are better and not as good for both topics. These are all Reaper Bones figures, but you’re welcome to use whatever figures you have on hand and would like to use.

For fur I will probably use the large wolf in the centre and the fur cloak figure on the far left.

Fur practice good

Fur practice bad

For scales I will probably use the cobra on the far left, and the angel second from the left at the front. I may switch to the griffon wing if people are having trouble seeing what I’m painting onscreen. 

Feather practice good

Feather practice bad

Class Materials: Paints

My goal is to demonstrate general techniques that should work with just about any colours. To follow along in the class it is much more important to try to match the value of the colours I’m using rather than worrying about whether you have exactly the right colour. Value is how light or dark a colour is. 

I’m going to use a range of grey and brown paints. Aim to have on hand a range of lighter, medium, and darker grey and/or brown paints as well as white and black, and you should have little trouble following along with what I do in the class. 

The following is a scan of some suitable paint colours from Reaper Miniatures with their product code numbers. You do not need to have all of these paints or even any of these exact paints! These are just examples of the colours of paint I will use so you can try to find something similar in your collection.

These are examples of greys and browns of various values. The far left column are true neutral grey examples. True neutral greys do not look as natural as warmer greys, but if you find the chart confusing you might find it easier to just use simple grey paints during the class.

Each row is an example of browns and more natural greys that are similar in value to the example on the left.

The top row includes examples of light colours you could use. Try to have one of these plus white on hand.

The second and third rows are examples of medium value colours. Try to have at least one of these available to use.

The fourth and fifth rows are examples of darker value colours. Try to have one of these available.

The bottom row is an example of very dark colours – black or nearly black. Have one of these on hand to use.

Paints rectangle

Class Materials: Brushes

I will be using a selection of round and flat brushes. The picture is examples of brushes I might use. As with paints, I don’t expect you to have all or even any of these exact brushes to be able to follow along! They’re examples to help you find a few brushes in your collection that should work for the class.

Try to have a medium to larger flat or filbert brush. Also a medium size round brush that forms a smooth end without a lot of stray hairs sticking out to the sides. Have on hand whatever brushes you feel comfortable with for doing base coats and washes.

If you have a brush with a fine tip like a Kolinsky sable, that will be useful for lining on scales and feathers. You don’t need something super tiny like the two second from the bottom in the picture, just brushes that form a nice sharp point. The two second from the bottom in the picture are what I would use to paint faux fur texture on smooth surfaces. There probably won’t be time to demonstrate that, but I’ll have them on hand just in case.

If there is time, I want to experiment with a few different brushes for drybrushing to give you an idea how different ones work. The three brushes at the top are super soft makeup brushes. The green handle one just below it is a similarly soft brush I got from the art store. I have really enjoyed working with these for drybrushing lately.

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I hope that I’ll see some of you on Twitch in a few days!

I am pretty busy right now, so I’m not able to spend the time to round up links to every miniature and product mentioned in this post. If you need to know the name/product code for a particular miniature, let me know in the comments and I’ll find that info for you.