Paint a Kangaroo, Help a Kangaroo

Updated 4/15/2020: Reaper’s relief fund for animals impacted by the Australian bush fires was a rousing success and raised over $30,000 for the RSPCA of South Australia. The fund raiser has now concluded. The figures are still available for purchase.

I’m going to talk about painting the kangaroo, and also provide links to videos and at the bottom of this post I’ll information links to videos and other information for painting the other cool critters.

Fund raiser pack options

The male koala with the fireman’s axe is named Courage. I had hoped to paint him and do a bit of a step-by-step, but life has intervened such that I’ve barely been able to do any painting for the past couple of months. One issue has been a back spasm. Finally it’s improved to the point where I thought I might be able to paint for a few hours. With only a few days left I didn’t think a mini requiring assembly was a good idea, but I thought I could manage to finish the kangaroo. 

I’m going to share some tips and work in progress photos for how I painted this kangaroo in case anyone would like to paint theirs in a similar way. Working last minute also reminded me of some of the issues that can crop up when you’re doing rush last minute painting. (As is very common with painting contest entries!) So I’ll also talk a bit about that.

Kangaroo photo by Paul Copeland from the Morguefile sitePhoto by Paul Copeland, from Morguefile.

When painting real life animals, or even fantastical creatures that incorporate elements of real life animals, I find it very helpful to study some reference of real creatures. A simple Google search will suffice unless you want to share the photos like on this blog. Then you should look at sites like Morguefile that have pictures available for public use. Since I was tired and in a rush, of course that is not what I did. :-> So I actually used a couple of photos I found on Google, but the kangaroo pictured above has the same general colouration.

Looking at the above photo I can see that I made a more important research error. I thought about but did not take the time to look for photos that showed the back of this kind of kangaroo’s head. I assumed the ears would mainly be the reddish colour. It turns out I was very wrong! Painting the back of the ears like in the picture above would have added some points of interest to my kangaroo figure when viewed from the back.

Next I assembled a selection of paints I thought would work to paint the main colours of the kangaroo – dull oranges and orange-browns for the darker fur with some red-brown for shading, and cream and blond colours for the light fur. You can also see areas of ‘black’ and ‘grey’ in the reference  photo. Natural objects are very rarely true neutral black, grey, or white, so using true neutrals won’t look very natural. I picked a very dark brown, Walnut Brown, for my black, and mixed ‘greys’ by mixing it with one of my cream colours.

Kanga palette

You can see the palette I used above to get an idea of the colours. The card at the top of the picture is a grayscale card. It is true grey, with sections of true white and true black. So you can use it to colour balance photos in a photo editing program (which I have done with this one). I left it in the shot as I think it might help you judge the values (darkness vs lightness) of the colours I used. I don’t think you need the exact paints I used to get a similar result or match a reference, although I will list the paint colours I used in the work-in-progress steps below. What is more important is to use paints of similar value for similar functions.

Now I’ll run through some work in progress shots for the main body of the kangaroo. All paints I reference are produced by Reaper.

Step 1: Block In
I roughly blocked in the main colours on the body. You can see that this is indeed rough. I don’t care that I’m slopping paint on areas I haven’t painted yet. This photo also shows that this first coat was not enough coverage as you can see my grey primer showing through in several areas.

Colours used: 9144 Creamy Ivory, 9110 Oiled Leather, 9136 Walnut Brown.

Kanga wip1

Step 2: Block In Better
I did a second coat blocking in my colours. With this coat I also took a second look at my reference and was more exact with the position of each the colour areas. So this next photo is not wildly different than the first other than exactly where one colour ends and the other begins has shifted slightly, and now the coats of colour are solid with no grey peeking through.

Kanga wip2

Step 3: 
I did some rough wet blending and layering to blur the lines where the colours meet. This is imperfect. I tend to be the kind of painter who overcomplicates their life, and in the past I would have agonized over this for another hour or so. I reminded myself of a few things: this is fur, which is textured, and I still had to paint highlights and shadows. Both of those would mean the blends would change. They might look better as I added in fur texture and more colours, or there might be new poor transitions created that I’d have to fix. So why go too nuts on it at this stage? All I needed to do now was get rid of sharp looking transition lines.

Colours used: I mixed the two colours to either side of a line to create a transition colour to aid in the wetblending. For the Walnut to Creamy Ivory blend I used 2-3 transition mixes.

Kanga wip3

Step 4: The Light Fur
Now I added shadows and highlights to the light fur areas. Adding shading to the areas that curve downwards or away from the viewer on cylinders like the arms and tail, and highlighting on the plane facing up helps the viewer see those areas more as rounded cylinders. The shading brings out the musculature that Andy Pieper sculpted on the legs, much of which is not visible at all with the flat cream basecoat. Shading the stomach and inner legs pushes those areas back so they appear to be in shadow (as they would be) and don’t jump out and steal the viewer’s attention from looking at more interesting areas of the animal.

Apart from the tail these areas were sculpted fairly smoothly, as they have finer fur than the main body of the kangaroo. You can see the difference between the body fur and the limb fur in the reference photo. But since it is still fur I did a lot of my blending with small parallel strokes and I didn’t stress about getting super smooth results. It looks more like fur being less super smooth.

Colours used: Midtone of 9144 Creamy Ivory. Shadow of 9142 Stained Ivory, and then some 9199 Russet Brown mixed in.

Kanga wip4

Step 5: The Brown Fur
The brown fur was a little trickier as I wanted to capture some of the notes of oranges, browns, and deeper reds from my reference photo. So there was a little more working back and forth and adding hints of colour here and there. But the basic process was the same idea – place darker colours where areas curve away from the light and place lighter ones where they are facing the light to help bring out the forms and make it look more three dimensional. I used short parallel brushstrokes in the direction that the fur was sculpted.

Colours used: Midtone of 9110 Oiled Leather. Shadows mixed with the midtone and 9070 Mahogany Brown with a tiny bit of Walnut Brown for darkest shadows. Highlights mixed with midtone and a mix of 9201 Orange Brown + 9144 Creamy Ivory, then 9256 Blond Shadow, which was lightened with 9061 Linen White for top highlights. I went over some of the highlight areas with thinned Orange Brown to keep the colour more saturated. This sounds fussier to paint than it was.

Kanga wip5

Step 6: Painting the Head and Base
I did not paint the head at the same time as the body. One issue is that colouration on the head was a little different. The other is that although the process would be pretty similar (block in, rough transitions, add shadows and highlights, clean up transitions), it would be taking place on a smaller space. Also a more important space, since the face is the focal point of the miniature. I decided to paint it at the end when I’d have all my colours mixed and on my palette, and focus on it completely. I also used a smaller brush for this smaller space.

I painted the base with mixtures of colours used on the main figure. This helps everything look as if it is in the same kind of lighting. My aim was to mix colours a little darker and duller than those used on the main figure. The brown has a little grey mixed in, and the grey has a little brown mixed in. (Or glazed over or just dotted over, it doesn’t have to be super complicated and annoying to do this kind of thing!)

Colours used: Rock greys were mixes of 9136 Walnut Brown and 9144 Creamy Ivory, with touches of 9010 Mahogany Brown in the shadows and 9256 Blond Shadow in the highlights. The earth was Russet Brown, with Walnut added to darken it and Blond Shadow added to lighten it.

Unfortunately the time was growing late, and I was not able to keep taking work-in-progress pictures. I finished up here. I wasn’t really happy with the face, but it was very late and I had to get to sleep. 

Kanga wip6

When I woke up, I was still pretty unhappy with the face. I wrestled with whether to change it. I wanted to work as fast as I could to get this finished and published while the fund raiser is still going. It was decently true to the reference. So what is the problem, and was it worth changing? 

The problem is that the head as painted does not act well as a focal point for the miniature. Your eyes are much more likely to go to the contrast between the dark paws and light arms or the bright spot at the end of the tail. This is one of the issues we have to wrestle with between making something realistic and making something viewers enjoy looking at, and why the answer isn’t always to be as realistic as possible. I had tried to fudge a little when I painted the head originally, but it didn’t work that well.

Unplanned Step 7: Fixing the Head
I decided it was worth taking a little extra time to fix the head. Since this wasn’t a contest I didn’t have a hard deadline where I just had to live with it, and I thought it would also help improve this blog post to take the effort. I studied the head and decided it would be more effective to paint the center area of the head in the brighter more saturated colours of the main body, even if that wasn’t 100% true to the reference. Further, I decided to try the same approach I used when painting a Hydra and make the head a little more saturated as well as lighter than the main body area.

Colours used: Midtone 9110 Oiled Leather + 9201 Orange Brown. Shadows in small areas with just Oiled Leather. Highlights mixed with the midtone and up with mixes of Orange Brown + 9144 Creamy Ivory, then add 9061 Linen White and a touch of 9095 Clear Yellow.

The head still isn’t grabbing quite as much attention as I’d like, but I think it’s an improvement, and now time really is growing too late to fiddle much more!

Kanga left full

Kanga face full

Kanga right full

 

Lessons for Deadline Painting 

My experience with this offers some parallels for the risks of painting contest entries right up until a deadline. If you start contest entries well in advance of a deadline, you have a lot more time to do research and discover things like what the back of the ears should actually look like. If you are mostly finished some time before a deadline, you have time to sit with the figure a while and study it. You need both time to spot areas you might not like, and time to figure out how to improve them. You might end up making changes like I did with the face of this kangaroo. Or find areas where you need more contrast, or left stray brushstrokes you need to clean up, or any other number of things.

More than once I have taken an entry I slaved over up til the deadline to a contest thinking it was really quite well done and addressed the major flaws people have with my work. Some of those entries did not make much of a splash, and when I looked at them again a few weeks or months later, I could see all kinds of issues with them I didn’t realize were there in the frenzy of trying to get something finished by deadline.

So if you want to get a kangaroo of your own or just help Australian wildlife relief efforts, what can you do?

Reaper’s fund raiser has ended. You can still donate to the RSPCA of South Australia directly.

The figures are still available for purchase. 

Hope

If you buy Hope, pictured above, you can enjoy a video series for how to paint her by Reaper’s talented Anne Foerster.
Koala fur and face video
Hope’s cloth painting video
Painting the accessories and some detailing
More accessories and detailing
Finishing up Hope the Koala

Kanga pack full

The two figures pictured above are available in a pack that also includes an aardvark. One of Reaper’s paint mixers, Sadie, is brand new to painting. She’s been working her way through the Learn to Paint Kit: Core Skills in her videos, but she took a break from the kit to paint up the koala from this pack

Courage

I’m not aware of any learn to paint articles or videos for Courage the koala, but there’s a great version you can look at for inspiration painted by Mini Wizard Studios.

How to Paint Fur Patterns – Again

One of my first posts on this blog was a look at how to paint animal fur patterns. This is helpful to know not only for painting animal figures, but also for painting clothing or scenic elements made from fur. I recently finished painting another personified tabby cat figure, and I took some in progress pictures to talk a little more about the process I used for painting the fur.

Korben front view

Korben back view

The warrior cat above is an anthropomorphic imagining of one of my own cats, Korben. It is one of a line of terrific anthropomorphic animal figures from Dark Sword Miniatures. Korben is a large and beefy cat and a deadly hunter, so he was envisioned as a burly, but mischievous, fighter character. Once the concept artist and sculptor finished their fantastic work, it became my job to bring my orange tabby goofball to life. One important part of that was to study photos of the real Korben to determine good colours to use, where there were variations in his fur colour, and where to place the stripes.

Korben looking innocent. He's not.

One thing that’s apparent from these photographs is that the lighting conditions can have a significant appearance on the colour of objects. The fur appears more red/auburn in the first picture than the one below. I aimed for something in between the two in the painted version of Korben.

Korben profile2

I tend to start by painting the lighter colour(s) on an animal with patterning. It’s usually easier to paint a darker colour over a lighter colour than vice versa. Let’s study the lighter areas of the fur on my reference cat. One important element to note is that the lighter areas of fur are not uniform in colour. The variations are affected by several factors:

Natural Variation
The fur is a lighter colour in some areas than others. Most notably, the lower jaw, the tip of the tail, and narrow stripes under the eyes. The fur is almost white in places. It is very common for animals to have lighter coloured fur on their bellies than they do on their sides and backs.

Skin Showing Through
The number of fur strands is much less dense in the areas in front of the ears and above the eyes. More white skin shows through, which makes the fur appear lighter in colour here.

Light and Shadow
The way that light falls on the animal creates shadows depending on the shape of its body and limbs. Areas of fur will appear lighter where they are facing towards the light, and darker where the forms of the animal curve away from the light and create shadows. On the full body picture of Korben, you can see a dark ridge of shadow on the lower side of his flank above the tail, and quite a dark shadow under his jaw. 

His chest fur appears darker where it curves down towards his belly. This can create one of the challenges of painting animals. As mentioned above, fur is often lighter coloured on the underside of an animal. But in most poses this is also an area that is facing away from the light and thus shadowed. Where this occurs you need to paint the fur the shadow colour of your lighter belly fur colour. You might have belly fur that would appear pure white if it were viewed in good lighting, but you will need to paint it more of a tan or grey because it should appear as if it’s in shadow.

It can be difficult to depict both the natural variation of fur AND the play of light and shadow over the fur simultaneously in a way that makes sense on a small miniature figure. Sometimes you need to make choices about which aspect is most important to your vision for that figure.

In the case of Korben the miniature, my thinking was along the following lines. The lighter areas of fur on his face are part of what makes Korben look like Korben, so they are important to include to capture the likeness, even if I have to sacrifice creating the three dimensional form a little. Luckily those areas are mostly in the light, apart from the lower jaw. The colour shift of his tail from light to near white is interesting and also a distinctive feature of his appearance, so I wanted to capture that, but still add some shading throughout the tail to make it look round.

On the arms, the emphasis of the sculpt is on Korben’s muscular strength. (He is a mighty hunter!) In terms of capturing the vision for the figure, accuracy of the fur patterning or even whether the stripes are very visually apparent is less important than bringing out the rounded curves of the muscles so those are very visible to the viewer.

For the purposes of painting a more effective miniature, I increased the level of contrast between his light and dark colours of fur. Miniatures are small (even though this one is super sized compared to the other anthropomorphic cats in the Dark Sword line!), and a lot more of the body area is covered than in an unclothed cat. So it seemed like a good idea to exaggerate the contrast a little to ensure that the tabby patterning would be easy for the viewer to see in the display case at a busy convention, since that will be the function of this miniature.

I did a quick test of some colour options on another figure. Doing tests like these might seem like wasted time. But it is more efficient to spend a few minutes working out my colour choices on a test figure than to it would be to try something, discover it doesn’t work, and then have to spend a lot more time repainting the main figure. If I were not already practiced at painting stripes from painting anthropomorphic Archer and Ella, I might also have spent a little time practicing the techniques I planned to use to make the stripes look less painted on. The one downside of this test is that now I’m trying to resist the urge to paint this as a Pippi Longstocking wolf…

Korb wolf test photoI love the Bones figures from Reaper for quick tests like this. No prep or primer needed, just grab the fig and start testing. 

The following is a picture of what the Korben figure looked like after I finished painting the areas of light coloured fur, including the shading and highlighting as well as the areas that appear lighter due to other factors. Normally I would have finished painting all of the fur areas before painting his gear and weapons. In this instance I circled back to the fur later when I had time to take photos for this article.

Korben light fur before patterning

Now it was time for the stripes. How did I approach painting those, and how did I make them look more like natural fur stripes rather than painted on? I discussed some of this in the previous fur post, but it’s worth talking about again with some additional examples.

Manmade pattern examplesExamples of painting insignia and other manmade patterns.

If you think of the symbols on traffic signs, or many clothing designs, or other examples of patterns of that type, the edges of the elements are crisp and well-defined. (There are a few softer spots on the punk rocker’s t-shirt above, but I was trying to create the impression that it was stained and worn.) These symbols and designs are painted with hard edges in traditional drawing terminology. In your mind you might think of the stripes of a tiger or spots of a leopard as being pretty similar, since the patterns are well-defined, but if you take a closer look, you’ll see that is not the case.

Tiger and Leopard larger viewTiger photo by William Low. Leopard photo by Uriel Soberanes. Both courtesy of Unsplash.

In the photographs of a lion and a leopard above, you can see that their stripe and spot markings are very clearly defined. But even at this distant size/scale, the edges do not have the same kind of sharp definition as you would see on most printed or painted designs like signs and logos. Let’s take an even closer look at these animal markings.

Tiger and leopard markings close upTiger photo by William Low. Leopard photo by Uriel Soberanes. Both courtesy of Unsplash.

In a close up, it’s easy to see that the edges of the markings are not really sharply defined. There are light hairs that poke into the areas of dark fur, and dark hairs that push into the light fur sections. The overall shape of the stripe or spot is well established, but the edges of them are more diffuse. In traditional art terminology this is a firm rather than a sharp edge. That’s the end result we want in a miniature, but how do we get there?

I think sometimes we can make our lives as painters more difficult by trying to accomplish the end result immediately in as few steps as possible. A lot of effects and techniques actually benefit from breaking things up into steps, and that is what I did with the fur pattern here. 

My first step was to start laying in the darker stripes. My goal here was to focus on the placement of the stripes. I studied photos of his face very closely to determine where to place the stripes, and the same with his tail. I got a little more creative with placement on the arms since the anatomical structure of the limbs between the actual cat and the anthropomorphic cat is fairly different. When I say my focus was on placement I mean that my aim was to paint a stripe of roughly the correct width and length in the correct location. I didn’t worry if I had excessively sharp edges or even if the paint was streaky, I didn’t worry about highlights and shadows. Step one was just looking at my reference and placing stripes as accurately as I could. Mostly I used one colour of paint for this stage, but there were a few shadow areas where I used a slightly darker mix to make sure I could see where I put the stripes.

Korben stripes layin frontInitial lay-in of the stripes.

Korb back wip2 700h

You can see from the above photos that my stripes are a little rough. Some have edges that are way too defined. Some are wobbly. Some don’t have full coverage of colour. My next step was to correct any placement issues, clean up the wobbly lines, and make sure that the centres of the stripes have a solid coat of colour. I also added some shading and highlighting to the stripes, and made them a little darker in the centres. 

The next step in my process was to work on softening and diffusing the edges of the stripes so they looked more like natural fur and less like something I painted on. I mixed a colour in between the light fur colour and the darker stripe colour. Using a small brush with a very fine point, I painted tiny lines and dots along the edge transition to blur it. In essence, I’m making strokes to create the light bits of fur on the close-up photo of the tiger stripes above. There were times when I overdid it and needed to tidy a little with either the darker stripe colour or lighter background fur colour, so I kept both those paint colours to hand on my palette.

Striped tail painting process

The above photos demonstrate the three stages of the process I used to paint the stripes. The top photo is what the tail looked like after the initial stripe lay-in. In the middle of the tail on the bottom, you can see where I painted in some extra coats of paint on the stripes to build up the colour coverage. I have started the process of diffusing the harsh edges of the stripes on both ends of the tail in the bottom photo so you can see what that looks like in areas of higher and lower contrast between stripes and background colour. 

Korben face stripes work in progress

The photos above give you an idea of how the process worked on the smaller stripes on the face. The picture of the face on the left is the initial lay-in of the stripes. In the picture on the right, I have corrected the placement of the stripes on top of the head. I also realized that I had made the area of lightness above his eyes too large and dramatic, and I toned that down a bit, as well as painting the ears to better match my reference photos. The picture on the right was taken mid-way through the process – I still had a bit of work to do on softening the stripes on the cheeks and chin. 

This is just one method for painting fur patterns! If you’re not painting a larger figure or one intended for display, you might be more interested in one of the other methods I described in my original post about painting fur patterns.

Thank You Dark Sword Miniatures!

I would like to say thank you very much to Dark Sword Miniatures for adding our third furry goofball to the anthropomorphic critters line up! Now he definitely feels like he’s a part of the family. We only planned to have two cats, but when we realized that the friendly orange cat that had been hanging around the neighbourhood was a stray, how could we resist? Little did we know what we were getting ourselves into!

Archer bl front 500Our tyrannical overlord, Archer, depicted as a grumpy warlock. He’s a lot skinner now that he’s quite an old man cat. We think he’s working on becoming a lich.

Ella front 450Our second cat, sweet Elasund or Ella, depicted as a rogue. She could also have made a good cleric, she’s the only creature in the house with a high Wisdom score. (But very low Int.)

Korben family 1000The whole furry family. You can see that Dark Sword went the extra mile to capture the true scale of Korben the Warrior.

Korben v archer1Real life size comparison of Korben and Archer.

Figures Featured in this Post

Korben the Fighter is available from Dark Sword Miniatures

The test warg is available in Bones plastic, or in metal

Inspector #3 from Heresy Miniatures

Inspector #2 from Heresy Miniatures

Sid the Rock Star from Reaper Miniatures

How to Paint Hair

My first ever how to paint video is now available! You can watch my Reaper Toolbox segment on how to paint hair on miniature figures on YouTube. I thought it might be helpful if I posted some pictures of the figures from the video for people to reference as they practice painting hair. I’m also going to include the paints used and links to more Reaper Toolbox how to paint goodness. I’ll post the pictures roughly in the order they were presented in the video, with the colour recipe and links at the end.

At the beginning of the video I shared a couple of miniatures I’d painted from the Reaper collection. These demonstrate two very different approaches to sculpting hair, but I used the same basic approach for painting both of them. Unfortunately both of these were limited edition figures and are not currently for sale. The shirt featuring Sophie (which I am wearing in the video) is still available though!

ReaperCon 2018 Sophie hair exampleI visualized the light coming from the upper left in the front view picture. The figure has wings, so the back of the head is quite shadowed. 

Tristan hair exampleOn this figure I visualized the light as coming from the upper right in the front view.

Hair is sculpted with a strongly defined texture. Washing and drybrushing techniques work well to bring out sculpted texture, and can look pretty good used on surfaces like woodgrain, chainmail, and feathers. These techniques do not tend to look as good when painting hair, however.

Example of drybrushed hairI started with the same basecoat colour as for the rest of the demonstrations, and made a wash out of the same shadow colour. I drybrushed the strands by starting with the basecoat colour and moving up through the highlight colours. (I demonstrated this on only half the head, and have blocked out the other half.)

The fact that hair is made up of thousands of strands does not strongly affect how the surface of hair appears to us visually. Individual strands are barely visible if you’re standing even a foot or two away from someone. Do an image search on the word ‘hair’, and look at some examples. You’ll see that the way light and shadow falls on the hair is not vertical like the strands, but rather appears more in horizontal bands based on the shape of the head/body that it is draped over, and the shapes of large waves and curls.

Hair example from pexels.comThis photo from pexels.com illustrates how you perceive the horizontal bands of light and shadow on curves and curls more strongly than the strand texture of hair.

Example of painting blonde hairThis is an example of painting hair focusing on the larger shapes of the waves and curls and visualizing the light as coming from above – the shadow colours appear most on the underside of the curls, and the highlight colours are strongest on the tops of the curls.

Since it can be hard to get a good look at where people have placed various levels of shadow and highlight mixes if the blending between layers is fairly smooth, I also created a black and white example to help you more easily see where to place the highlights and shadows. This is just one interpretation based on a light source coming from above. Deciding where your light source is and which areas of your figure are more strongly lit or more darkly shadowed is where miniature painting gets more artistic, personal, and fun!

Black and white example of shadow and highlight placementI think some of the highlights are a little too far down the curve of the upper curls, but hopefully it helps you see the general idea.

On the video I demonstrated an alternative to drybrushing that is still quicker for tabletop use, but which follows the principles of where to apply the lights and shadows that I described above. This alternative is something many people call ‘dampbrushing’. When dampbrushing, you remove excess paint from the brush, but still leave it moist. Apply the brush perpendicular to the hair texture pulling it down or up the texture to pull paint off the brush on the raised areas, but leave the depressions shadowed. 

In the video I mention that I normally wear a magnifier and hold the figure a lot closer to paint, and you’re about to see an example of why I have to do that!

Dampbrushing example of painting hairThis example shows the basic idea of dampbrushing, but I could definitely have done a better job with this. The principles I describe work, what I needed to do was another layer or two of the original basecoat colour, and then I think I did need to use an additional transition mixes and work up a little more slowly. This looks choppy because the jump to the top two highlight colours is very sudden. I needed to build up more midtones with the Blond Hair colour and a mix between Blond Hair and Blond Highlight. 

This is a picture of the figure I painted on camera in the video. Once again you can see why I use a visual aid when I’m painting! If you are having difficulty getting the brush where you want it when you’re painting, sometimes the issue is as much to do with your eyes as your hands. Make sure you’re painting in good lighting. Some people use two or even three lamps in addition to the ceiling lights of their painting area! You can also use magnifying lenses. I recommend dual lenses rather than a single magnifying plate. Viewing objects through both eyes helps us best visualize their location in space. With just one magnifier, you will have more trouble getting the brush in the correct place on the miniature. If you don’t wear glasses, all you need is a pair of cheap reading glasses from a drugstore. If you do wear glasses, I highly recommend the OptiVisor brand of magnifying visors.

Comparison of reference example and on camera versionHere’s a comparison of my reference example and the one I painted on camera. This quick version painted without my magnifier doesn’t look as polished as the finished example, but I think it looks a lot more interesting and more like hair than the drybrushed example!

These are the colours used to paint the hair examples in the video. You can buy all of these from Reaper Miniatures online as well as in many retail locations. But as hair comes in a lot of different colours, you should be able to find some similar paints in your collection that you can practice with if you don’t want to buy more paint. The key to a natural blond hair look is to not use a lot of strong yellow colours.

IMG 8299

I’m including some additional angles of both the full colour and black and white versions of the figure in case anyone wants to reference these while practicing. The figure used in all of the examples from the video is Sarah the Seeress. She is available in both Bones plastic and in metal, and she is a terrific figure to practice painting hair on.

Colour example back view

Colour example back side and front view

Colour example top views

B&W example back view

B&W examples front and back side views

B&W examples top views

Reaper now has a playlist for all the Toolbox videos so they’re easier to find.

Reaper’s paint maven is doing live stream videos on Wednesday afternoons on Twitch. These are also posted on YouTube once completed. Anne is starting off by painting a black dragon. Watch episode one, or episode two here.

And in case you missed it, Reaper has announced that Bones V is coming – September 5, 2019.

Winter Elf – 12 Days of Reaper

Before I highlight the next of the 12 Days of Reaper miniature that I painted (and my grayscale priming example of it), I’d like to talk about a limited time opportunity to own a very special miniature for a very good cause.

Jason Wiebe is one of the sculpting greats of the miniature industry. He does a lot of work for Reaper Miniatures, but has also worked for Dark Sword and many other companies. He’s suffered some health problems recently that required several major surgeries. He’s on the mend, but now his wallet is hurting badly. Bobby Jackson, another sculpting legend, has created a wonderful dwarf miniature that bears more than a passing resemblance to Jason. Reaper has cast 1000 of these in metal, and Trenchworx is working on some in resin. The metal copies are up for sale right now, and Reaper will put the resins up for sale next week. 100% of all monies received from this miniature will be sent to Jason Wiebe. Hop on over to the Reaper website if you’d like to get a copy for yourself and help out a sculptor in need.

http://www.reapermini.com

Johun rumblegutsJohun Rumbleguts is a proud dwarf, though some of his fellows find him odd for preferring cider over ale.

And now on to the 12 Days of Reaper figure for December 14. This figure premiered as a 12 Days figure last year. Bob Ridolfi did a lovely job with this one. I really enjoyed painting her with a bit of a twist on the traditional colour scheme by making white and blue the dominant colours, and the red, green, and gold accent colours. I won’t lie, the white is a little frustrating to paint at times because it takes quite a while to get smooth shadows on such a pale colour, but I loved the way it looked so much I didn’t mind. I have a small display wall shelf unit in my home, and she just glowed in there even though the light isn’t the greatest in that room.

Winter Elf front

Winter Elf back

This is another figure that I started off with grayscale primer. I used mixes of white, black, and gray brush-on primer to block in my areas of shadows, highlights, and midtones. And as usual, my focus is figuring out the big picture for those things. I’m not worried about blending, and I’m not worried about details. I think the following pictures are a pretty good example of how little I’m worried about those things. I’ve put in the highlights and shadows on her gold bodice piece, but completely ignored the stitching. The top half of her face is bright highlight colour, with no regard for smaller elements like the eyes and eyebrows or her forehead jewelry. And you can see just what I mean about rough blending on the back view.

Winter Elf grayscale back

Winter Elf grayscale front

Reaper Miniatures is running their 12 Days of Reaper promotion from December 5  through December 16. During the promo, one special holiday figure of the day is included free with every purchase of $40 or more from the online Reaper site. And for the first time ever, they are making the 12 Days figures available for purchase separately, for two weeks following December 16.

The 12 Days promotion stacks with the promotion to include a free Dungeon Dweller of the month with each $40+ worth of order. So for every $40+ you order at this time, you’ll receive two free metal figures. And if your order totals more than $65, you also receive a Christmas Sampler package that includes Bones miniatures, candy, a postcard with cool art by Talin, and a naughty or nice surprise. There are a fixed amount of Samplers, so those are while supplies last.

Here is the schedule of figures for each of the 12 Days of Reaper. 

12 days promo

The Dungeon Dweller of the month is Caerindra Thistlemoor. I posted pictures and information about her last week, including some work-in-progress shots with lighting reference pictures and some information on how I rough in the lights and shadows. You can read that here: https://birdwithabrush.com/2018/12/03/caerindra-thistlemoor-roughing-in-lights-and-shadows/

 

You’ll find the Reaper website here: http://www.reapermini.com/

Dragon and Stocking – 12 Days of Reaper

Next up in the 12 Days of Reaper is a figure brand new this year – the Dragon and Stocking. He is the figure free with $40 purchase for December 10. I love Julie Guthrie’s sculpting on this, he has such a mischievous expression. In my mind he’s not filling up or handing out that stocking, he’s pilfering it for his tiny hoard of Christmas goodies!

Dragon and stocking, front view

Dragon and stocking, face view

Dragon and stocking, back view

Dragon and stocking, second face view

As I have been doing with a lot of figures lately, I started by roughing in my shadows, highlights, and midtones with mixes of grayscale brush-on primers. This allows me to concentrate on where things should be darker and lighter based on my light source as a separate step. I was aiming to paint the light as coming from above and to the left when we’re looking at him in front view. (I discuss this and other approaches to painting with more contrast in this post – https://birdwithabrush.com/2018/10/16/how-to-paint-contrast-hands-on/)

Stocking Dragon grayscale primer front

Stocking Dragon grayscale primer, back

Stocking Dragon grayscale primer left

Stocking Dragon grayscale primer right

My next step is to begin to apply colours over that value map. I work wet in wet drying to make rough blends. So I’ll place a shadow colour in the correct location, then a lighter shadow or midtone next to it trying to blend a little, and then the next lighter colour, etc. Sometimes with a little more back and forth than that. At this stage I am concentrating on the big picture only in considering where things should be lighter or darker over all. Look at the shoulder of the wing and arm on the left side of the front photo as an example, and compare with a a later step and the end result. At this point I’m just blocking in a light colour green for highlights over the entire shoulder and neck area since the light would be falling strongly on that section. I’m not worried about the shallow crevices or the small mounds of individual muscles. And similarly with the shadows that become darker under the shoulder and where the wing is slanted downwards. Since green is a somewhat translucent colour, I needed to do two or three passes of block in to build up the colour.

Stocking Dragon colour block in front

Stocking Dragon colour block in, back

Stocking Dragon colour block in, left

Stocking Dragon colour block in, right

Only once I have those big picture shadows, highlights, and midtones in place do I start to worry about pulling out detail and refining the appearance of the blending on the figure. Compare the shoulder and neck in the following pictures to the ones above. I’ve added additional highlighting on the curves of the small muscles, and a little shading in between the muscles to add definition. And a similar process on the wing. In these photos I’ve just worked on that shoulder/neck/arm area, and the back of the wing. The detail is applied on top of and in a way that supports the big picture shadows and highlights.

Stocking Dragon refining step, front

Stocking Dragon refining step, back

This last set of photos is what the entire green area looked like after I had finished the refining and detailing stage.

Stocking dragon completed greens, front

Stocking Dragon finished greens, back

Stocking Dragon completed greens, face

Stocking Dragon completed greens, right

Hopefully that gives a little insight into the process I’m using when I do a grayscale underpainting in primer.

Reaper Miniatures is running their 12 Days of Reaper promotion from December 5  through December 16. During the promo, one special holiday figure of the day is included free with every purchase of $40 or more from the online Reaper site. And for the first time ever, they are making the 12 Days figures available for purchase separately, for two weeks following December 16.

The 12 Days promotion stacks with the promotion to include a free Dungeon Dweller of the month with each $40+ worth of order. So for every $40+ you order at this time, you’ll receive two free metal figures. And if your order totals more than $65, you also receive a Christmas Sampler package that includes Bones miniatures, candy, a postcard with cool art by Talin, and a naughty or nice surprise. There are a fixed amount of Samplers, so those are while supplies last.

Here is the schedule of figures for each of the 12 Days of Reaper. 

12 days promo

The Dungeon Dweller of the month is Caerindra Thistlemoor. I posted pictures and information about her last week, including some work-in-progress shots with lighting reference pictures and some information on how I rough in the lights and shadows. You can read that here: https://birdwithabrush.com/2018/12/03/caerindra-thistlemoor-roughing-in-lights-and-shadows/

 

You’ll find the Reaper website here: http://www.reapermini.com/