Friday, 27 March 2015

Infamy's Mole - Part 3

I may revisit Mole’s troublesome trousers to push the contrast a little further but, for the time being, they are finished enough to allow me to move on to other areas. My first priority is the face. Like many other painters, I like to get the face sorted as soon as I can because it sets character of the mini. Equally it really doesn’t matter how well the rest of the mini is painted if you can’t get the face right! 

My first pass at Mole’s face was OK as a start, but the contrast was too strong and it lacked overall subtlety. So I went back and glazed over the face with colours in the mid-tone range. For the first time ever, I consciously tried out the principle of using yellow tones in the top of the face, reds in the middle and blues in the lower section. I was a bit sceptical but swiftly changed my mind on the subject. Even though I was using very subtle glazes the face really started to come alive and the flesh tones were greatly improved. I’ll put that down as a lesson learned! 

With the basic flesh tones sorted I set about refining the detail. Mole has a very distinctive face with heavy lips and fleshy jowls and it was all too easy to paint him in an overly cartoony stile. It took me a lot of going back and forth but I finally reached a result that I was happy with. I’m really struck by just how much the face on the sculpt matches the concept art. 

Mole’s Goggles are a key element of his face and require due attention. To my surprise I painted the lenses very quickly. The rest of the job was going to take more care and attention as I’d decided to use true metallics (TMM) on this mini. I’m woefully out of practice with TMM on account of my on-going love affair with non-metallic metals (NMM). Scalecolour have come to my rescue once again with their metallic paints. The word on these has been very good and they seem to live up to their reputation for ease of use and a great metallic finish. 

Once the face was done I could move on and paint the shirt. I’d decided on a simple white shirt but wanted it to look very dirty. Mole’s excavations would definitely leave a literal mark on his clothing. A combination of Petroleum Grey, Rakarth Flesh and Ivory gave me a pleasingly dirty grey/white but the colour was a bit flat and uninteresting on it’s own. Some subtle touches with GW washes livened up the colour just enough and some less subtle Gryphone Sepia in the armpits added appropriately unpleasant sweat stains! 

With the shirt now ‘weathered’ It seemed like a good time to begin adding dirt to Mole’s trousers. I mixed brown pigment powders into a stiff paste with Valleyo matt varnish. This mix was carefully dabbed onto his shoes and the bottom of his trouser legs. I find it best to build up effects like this a little at a time. You can always add more, if you need to, but add too much and you’re in trouble! I’m very pleased with how the dirt effect has turned out and I may add a little more dirt to mole’s clothing later on. But first I’ll paint the drill so that I can balance out the dirt effects over the entire mini. 

The shoulder brace & gauntlet for mole’s drill were the first significant areas of metallic I had to tackle. It probably makes things a little easier that I want a dirty and greasy look to all of the metallic areas on Mole. That said I had to proceed with caution as I was on a fairly steep learning curve. 

I picked Peridot Alchemy from scalecolour as a base colour and worked over this with a series of glazes to shade and dirty it down. I quickly realised that a mix of dilute paints and washes was more effective than washes alone. Washes made the shadows very matt which looked bad against the metallic. It also failed to look suitably greasy. This was particularly important to me as the business end of the drill will be dirtied down with pigments to give a dustier/earthier look. 

I’ve avoided inks for years. Back in the mid eighties some of my minis were displayed in a shop window. After just three days all of the ink (Windsor & Newton) had been bleached away. I lost all the shading from the best part of my entire collection! I’ve finally swallowed my fears and ordered a set of inks. This will give me more options with the level of gloss available in my glazes and I’m really looking forward to experimenting with them!


  1. After seeing your painting progress & then going back to the first post about this mini I'm beginning to think he'll look a whole lot better without all that extra equipment on him. He looks fine as he is now.

    Regarding the W&N ink's, I've heard they have that problem too, why do people still use them? Or are they designed for painting on canvas, spending most of their days indoors, out of direct sunlight.


  2. Mole's equipment is pretty bulky. I hope that once it's all painted everything will come together and be united by the colour palette. The whole point of the drill is that it's not subtle but that does present some challenges!

    Windsor & Newton inks definitely aren't designed to be kept in direct sunlight and my own bad experience with then was as a result of extreme light conditions. I still have some of my old minis with W&N inks on them from over twenty years ago. They've been stored well out of direct sunlight and the inks have held up well over the years.

  3. I've been experimenting with glazes to add red tones to the extremities of the face such as the ears and nose. The technique you describe sounds very interesting and I'd like to try it. Do you think I could apply it in addition to the reds or would the it just confuse the colours?

    1. I don't think it would cause any problems. I added extra red glazes to the ears & nose on Mole and had no problems. I think the trick is to keep it all subtle so that the colours add to the overall effect without being too obvious.