The eyes have it!
I’ve been painting minis for the best part of 37 years now and I get the same pleasure and satisfaction from it at the age of 51 as I did when I started at 14! I like to think that, as I’ve grown in experience, I’ve been able to develop and refine my technique to the point where my painting skills are the best they have ever been.
However not everything gets better with age alas! I’ve gradually been finding it increasingly difficult to hold focus on my minis as I paint them. I first noticed it while I was painting my Plague Marine but recently it’s become a serious obstacle to my painting of Horticulous Slimux! Put simply after a short time painting my focus slips and I can’t see what I’m doing. Oh the joys of being middle aged!
Thankfully the remedy is simple enough. I’ve had to admit to myself that I’m no longer 25 and get a stronger pair of painting glasses. Much relieved, I can now focus on the mini for long enough to refine the textures and colour transitions to my satisfaction.
As a result of all this, and the fact that it’s half term, I’ve not made a massive amount of progress this last week. However I’m very pleased with what I have achieved. I’ve refined the green plant growth on Horticulous and painted the flesh tones on one of his legs. I’ve also been able, now I can see them, to go back and refine those areas I’d already painted.
Although my colour palette is very different, my technique for painting the flesh tones is a more polished version of the one I used for my Plague Bearers. I paint a base coat of Rakarth flesh then I glaze over this with my mid tone and shade colours. These colours provide an element of saturation to the, otherwise neutral, flesh tones and glazing over a light base colour gives them a feeling of depth and luminosity. The result is colorful but messy.
I then build my highlights up, with a series of dilute layers, over the glazed layer. These are created using my neutral flesh tones. Although I’ve used Ivory for the extreme highlights the majority of the highlighting is created using Flayed One Flesh. This has a warmer yellower tone than the ivory and gives a softer look to the flesh. It’s during the highlighting stage that I create the texture by building up areas of stippling and, in this case, wrinkles.
At the same time as I build up the highlights, I glaze the red, yellow and blue tones back in, if an area becomes too pale or the highlights too harsh. This is a very organic process with a lot of going back and forth between glazes and highlights until I’m satisfied with the result.
Coming back to the topic of eyes, I’ve had a lot of requests for a tutorial on Horticulous Slimux’s blind eye. But I’m not going to do one as such! The reason being that the technique really doesn’t merit it. The eye was painted with very basic glazes of desaturated blue/grey and red/grey tones. The pupil was then glazed on with a darker grey tone making sure to keep it soft and undefined. The whole thing was then finished off with a strong white highlight on the top surface and a softer highlight along the bottom edge.
The real secret to painting the blind eye was that I found good reference material. In the end an image of the old faun from the film ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ gave me what I needed. The trick with using reference material is not to simply copy without thinking, but rather to study and then apply what you have observed to your mini. In the case of the eye, I looked at the overall colour and transparency of the eye paying attention to how the light reflected off the surface while also penetrating partway into that surface. I also studied the pupil and how it looked diffuse as a result of the cataract.
Using reference material to help inform you painting choices can make a huge difference to the final result. As I said in my first posting for Horticulous Slimux, I’ve sourced pictures of slugs, snails, frogs and caterpillars and I think they are going to be a great inspiration when I get round to painting Mulch!