Friday 23 June 2017

Painting the Abyssal Warlord - resolving the overall colour palette

I’ve spent some of my recent hobby time finishing and refining the areas of the Abyssal Warlord that I’ve painted so far. For the most part that’s involved picking out details like the rivets and chains and working some painted texture into the skull and loincloth. I’ve also painted the back of the legs prior to attaching the cloak.

Although the cloak covers up most of the back it is possible to see between it and the warlord, so those areas need some attention and I’d decided it would be easiest to treat them as sub-assemblies. This also gave me the chance to paint the inside of the cloak.

Once this was done it was time to take a deep breath and glue the cloak onto the body. I’ve used a rapid epoxy glue for this as it gave me a strong bond between slightly ‘gappy’ parts. Making sure that I’m fixing bare metal to bare metal, I like to apply glue to each surface and let it become tacky before bringing the parts together. It also helps to lightly score the metal surfaces with a craft knife as this provides a better grip for the glue. Once the glue has set there is just a little gap filling and fur sculpting using green stuff to finish the job.

With the cloak now in place I’ve been able to resolve the overall colour palette. The fabric parts of the cloak are painted in a dark turquoise, Despair Green from Scalecolour’s Fantasy Games range, to match the loincloth. More importantly I’ve used the same colour as the blue/green tint in my blacks. This turquoise is the most saturated colour in my palette and provides a contrast to both the steel and gold tones in the armour. It also helps to bring something of an under-sea or ‘abyssal’ atmosphere to the model.

Despair Green is an interesting colour to work with. I’d normally choose that old favourite Dark Sea Blue to bring a blue/green tint to my blacks but I decided to experiment with a more saturated colour. As it turns out Despair Green is a very saturated and highly pigmented colour!

This means a little can go a very long way and it will easily overpower other colours when mixed with them. A good example of this is on the loincloth where I mixed Dryad Bark and Despair Green for the shadows. The dark brown desaturates and darkens the green but the result is still very much a shade of green. I think Despair Green will prove be a useful colour and I’m looking forward to experimenting with it further.

Overall I’ve gone for a palette of relatively cool colours on the Warlord. It’s worth noting that to contrast with this I’ve used a warm base colour (Dryad Bark). It’s role is quite subliminal in the finished effect, as it features mostly in the shadows, but it helps to unify the other colours.

The gold areas of the armour provide a bold colour contrast with the other parts of the model. I decided on gold quite early in the project but it was clear that I would have to experiment with the colour. A ‘traditional’ warm gold would not work at all on this project. Furthermore, a warm gold would be out of place in the palette I’m using and it would also feel out of place for the atmosphere I’m trying to create. What I needed was a cold sinister looking gold!

As it happens the colour mix for this type of gold is very simple, deceptively so! It’s possible to create a very effective NMM cold gold using just three colours: black, yellow and ivory. I’ve also included a little Dryad Bark in my mix to tie the gold into the overall scheme.

The yellow I’ve chosen to use is Sahara Yellow from Scalecolour. This is a relatively desaturated yellow ochre with the slightest hint of green to it. That greenish tone is the thing that gives the gold it’s cold and sinister quality.

Strong contrasts are vital to an effective NMM effect and the gold incorporates tones from pure black to pure ivory. The tricky part is getting the saturation right. Both the black and ivory will serve to desaturate the yellow and this is exactly what often happens. It’s important to keep the extreme ends of the tonal range to a minimum and use the least amount of black and ivory you can get away with.

It’s in the mid tone areas that the saturation is created. I find it’s almost always necessary to first establish the extreme ends of the tonal range and then go back and forth to balance out the mid tones and saturation. Considering that just three colours are involved in the mix it’s a surprisingly tricky balance to achieve. The Abyssal Warlord is progressing nicely and the addition of his sword and shield will see the model completed. I’m working out my ideas for a base but before I make that there is the matter of painting a freehand design onto his shield. That’s something I’ve not done for a long time and I’m very much looking forward to it!

Friday 9 June 2017

Sproket's Painting Masterclass at Element Games

The last few weeks have been a pretty intense time for me hobby wise and I’ve been left feeling a little tired, but very inspired.

I like to sit back and take time to reflect after a painting competition. But as soon as this year’s Golden Demon Classic was over I had to knuckle down and finish preparations for my Painting Masterclass at Element Games in Stockport. Although I’d painted enough of the Abyssal Warlord to serve as a reference model, I wanted to spend a little extra time refining the content and structure of my workshop. In addition to that I had to prepare a presentation for the ‘seminar’ being held on the Saturday Evening.

This was my first trip to the Element Games Gaming Centre and I was thoroughly impressed with it! It’s a great venue for a painting workshop with a very friendly and relaxed atmosphere. There is plenty of space and the facilities are excellent. There were HD screens linked up to a web cam for a close up and personal view of the painting and, later on, to display my slides for the evening seminar. The centre also has a bar and a well-stocked ‘Aladdin’s Cave’ of a shop, so all the necessaries are catered for!

I’d realised while working on my Megaboss that the combination of non metallic metals (NMM) and stippling I was using could form the basis of a painting workshop. The Megaboss himself, though a brilliant model to paint, is just a bit too complicated to be a good workshop model. I wanted an armoured fantasy miniature that would be relatively quick to assemble and feature plenty of easily accessible surfaces. The Abyssal Warlord from Scale 75 proved to be perfect for the job!

While the main focus of the workshop was on specific painting techniques, it was important to provide some structure and context. Most of all I think it’s important to demonstrate how they could be used to play their part in an overall paint scheme. To that end, alongside the stippling and NMM, I also incorporated topics such as planning, colour theory and contrast into the weekend.

The practical focus for day one was on painting a NMM steel effect that transitioned from warm shadows to cool highlights. The colour palette we used works very well as it is tried and tested and this enabled everyone to concentrate their efforts on learning the stipple technique of painting. I prefer to get everyone painting at my workshops as quickly as possible. I think the best way to learn is by doing and I wanted everyone to have enough time to get comfortable with the ‘new’ technique they were learning before we went on to explore some potentially trickier colour palettes during day two.

By the end of day one everyone had gained in confidence and experience with stippling. I‘d stressed that speed came with practise and as the afternoon progressed this became very apparent! Many of the attendees found themselves able to do in 15 minuets what had earlier taken them a couple of hours.

Although a part of the whole weekend Masterclass evening seminar also functioned as a stand alone event and this gave me the opportunity to open things up. Titled ’10 Top Tips, Tricks and Techniques’ I presented a selection of my favourite techniques and materials and showed how I had used them in my work. It’s probably no surprise to anyone that microbeads featured!

For day two we turned our attention to painting first a cold gold tone and then black metal. Both of these use simpler colour palettes than the steel we’d painted the day before but, as I mentioned earlier, they can be tricky to get right. It’s necessary to carefully control both the hue and saturation of the colours in these palettes as even subtle variations can alter the finished effect dramatically!

I’d made a point of putting the NMM colours in order of increasing difficulty. I wanted to present a challenge that would push everyone out of their comfort zones, but not traumatise them. It was hugely rewarding to see how everyone got to grips with the challenges, were able to resolve them, then move on and cope with the increasingly difficult colour palettes. I’d expected that by the end of the weekend there would be in a great variety in the results achieved. While it’s true that some painters got more of the model covered than others they all demonstrated a solid grasp of the techniques we had covered over the weekend. Everyone had reached the point where they will be able to take what they had learned over the weekend and apply it appropriately to their own project. I really couldn’t have asked for a better result!

I also have a partially finished Abyssal Warlord to attend to. I’d considered keeping him as a work in progress to use in teaching but after the workshop I’m feeling too inspired to leave him as he is. During the Masterclass we had some very useful discussions about how the Warlord could be completed and I came away with some great ideas for my own take on him.

Things are going to get very ‘Abyssal’, there will be tentacles and microbeads … Watch this space!