I chose to paint the limited edition version of Abalam wearing a helmet. To be honest I wasn't a fan of the small spikey crest on his helmet, so I've gone for something a little more OTT. His armour has a clear samurai influence so I’ve added a bladed crest to the helmet. After a little research, and a rummage through my spare bits, I decided to try using the head off the statue of Khaine from the GW Cauldron of Blood kit. In the first instance, I thought to use only the blades; but then I decided to try and incorporate the entire head as a crest.
Purists will be pleased to hear that I also primed the model prior to painting. Although I don’t usually prime my minis I’ve found it essential with larger scale pieces. This turned out to be a very good decision as the model was going to come in for a lot of handling!
A dark and moody feel seemed like the right approach for this model, so I’m working it up from an almost black base colour. The use of a dark base colour for the flesh, in particular, was a major departure for me as I normally use Rakarth Flesh for this. The overall colour palette for Abalam’s flesh tones was fairly uncomplicated with a range of warm flesh tones enhanced by the addition of blue, red and ochre glazes. I blocked in the lighter areas over the dark base colour before further refining with glazes and highlights.
For the highlights, I decided to follow Ben Komet's lead and try using tubed artists acrylic. I’m not sure if it made that much difference to the overall result, and I think I prefer ivory as a highlight colour, but it’s worth further experimentation. Working with tubed artists acrylic was nostalgic if nothing else. This is the type of paint I used when I first started painting minis!
Another good reason for having a dark base colour was my decision to use a lot of metallics on this model. I’d considered a highly decorated, lacquered look for the armour but, as the painting on the face came together, I decided to go for a more brutal look to the overall model. I want the metallics to look really ancient, but not heavily corroded, with a heavy patina.
I used scalecolour metalics and they continue to impress me with the results they give. I used a lot of layered glazing to build up a patina making sure to add some scratches and stippling in between the glazes to create a worn look.
The brown splotches on the gold areas are done using washes. I apply a blob of wash (slightly diluted) and then start to dry it off with a hair dryer. Once the edges have dried, I take a clean damp brush and wipe away the un-dried wash leaving a tide mark in the shape of the original blob. There is then a bit more glazing and stippling with the wash to tie it all together.
I’m really pleased with Abalam’s face and the metallics are getting there although the gold needs more work – it’s too green at the moment, and I want a more nuanced look to it. But when I painted the face on the helmet’s crest I loathed it with a passion!
I had a very strong reaction to it, a case of the head and the heart not agreeing. On one level I can see that the face wasn't a total disaster but I really hated it! In addition I was not 100% sure that the overall proportions of the crest were that great and the style of the face didn’t seem to belong with the rest of the bust. It just felt wrong to me so I decided to try to change it.
What I’ve gone for is something more abstract. I feel that the new crest is a great improvement and closer to what I initially intended.