Tuesday 6 October 2020

Project P30 - Part 6. Back to business.


It’s been just over a year since I last posted anything about my Nurgle Tank Project. I had, of course, no idea of just how turbulent and troubled that year was going to be and all my, and everybody else’s, plans were turned upside-down! However the Tank was not forgotten and the project was on hold while other things took priority. It’s been sat on my desk all that time and I’ve often given it some serous consideration. Not least while painting the Kastelan Robot because I can now confess that the focus on extreme dirt, damage and decay that I put into the Kastelan, was in preparation for painting my Tank.

But before I can get (finally) down to painting the Tank I have to finish building it. This involves resolving the back of the model and, although I had a vague notion that it would involve chimneys and an engine, I was uncertain of exactly how to proceed. In truth I was dithering!

The answer was to break out the blu tack and experiment with the parts I was considering. My initial option was to have two chimneys bursting out of the Tank’s back as shown below. I liked this very much but it didn’t feel quite right. 

I definitely wanted to use the chimneys but I also wanted to have a bit more of an engine element to the rear. My gut feeling was that, in addition to the chimneys, I wanted some sort of exhaust and something that looked like it might be a fuel tank or boiler. So I continued to experiment with a combination of elements some can be seen below.

The part I chose for this was a section from a dome in the Alchomite Stack kit. I’d considered this part right at the start of the project but thought it too big to use. Now, with more of the model constructed, I could see how it would perfectly match the existing curvature of the body I was building. But with this element selected the chimneys would now be far too big and bulky. The solution was to cut the chimneys down into smaller elements. 

The cut-down chimneys are, in my opinion, a better fit with the new back section. The two large chimneys have become three smaller ones and I prefer the asymmetrical arrangement, which creates a more interesting composition of the elements at the back of the model. Three is, of course, a very Nurgle friendly number!

With my choice finally made I got on with the job of putting everything together properly. To do this I had to cut away a large section of the back using my Dremmel. This was an unpleasant job and had to be done very carefully to avoid cutting away too much material. However, the cautious approach paid off because I managed to achieve a near perfect fit.

Rather than trying to create some sort of smooth transition between the flesh and the metal, I decided upon a bubbly molten sort of texture for the flesh where it’s engulfing the engine section. This matches other parts of the model and keeps to a consistent palette of textures.

 That’s where I’m now at with this model. The next step is to incorporate the chimneys and, although it’s likely to be a fiddly job, I’m looking forward to it. After a long hiatus Project P30 is rolling forward again!

Monday 21 September 2020

Basing the Kastelan Robot… oops I did it again!

The Kastelan Robot was painted as a demonstration model for my new weathering workshop. As such I hadn’t planned on basing the model. However, as the project progressed the model was turning out very nicely and it seemed like a wasted opportunity not to put it onto a base. So I began to consider my options and in the end I came down to just two:

  1. Fix the model onto a plain plastic gaming base, possibly with some minimal terrain detail. This basic option would serve the models function as a demonstration piece; or,
  2. Build up a more elaborate base to create an environment and narrative for the model. This would have the added advantage of turning the model into a potential competition piece.

Let’s be honest option two was always going to win out as that’s what I always end up doing. But I did seriously consider option one.

I think it’s best practice to consider your basing options right at the start of a project. That way your ideas for the environment and narrative can play a part in the development of the overall scheme. However, though not perfect, it is possible to paint a model and then think up a base for it.

The model had been painted to demonstrate weathering so I wanted to continue with this approach and feature some heavily weathered architectural elements on the base. I decided to build the majority of my base using Games Workshop’s Sector Imperialis Administratum kit.

My starting point was one of the broken columns and I built out from this using a selection of other ruinous elements. I wanted to have the Kastelan Robot framed by a combination of broken arches and windows. By using one of GW’s own kits I would also be setting my Robot in an apropriate environment.

Instead of using a plain gaming base I chose one of the Sector Mechanicus bases and then built a raised floor above this to give the base some extra depth. The entire base was then finished off with some dirt and rubble.

I was quite pleased with the resulting base. But please take note of my use of the word ‘quite’. I had a few doubts about the overall proportions and composition of my base. This is in no small part down to the base being something of an afterthought to the painted model. However, I went ahead and began painting.

As usual I painted my base using the same palette of colours as the model but switched around the proportions of those colours. For example, I used a base/shade colour of Rhinox Hide but switched around the green and off white so that, on the base, the green was a dominant colour while the off white would only feature on the scattered skulls.

Painting was off to an OK start but my nagging doubts were now in full flow! Something about the base just felt wrong to me. It was time to stop work and think very carefully. If you are a long time follower of this blog you’ve probably guessed exactly where this is all going because we now get to the ‘oops I did it again’ bit.

The overall composition was too busy, obscured the Robot from several angles and was in danger of overpowering the model. In addition the design looked slightly clumsy and inelegant. I also felt that my decision to use pre-made building elements was a bit lazy and had influenced my design choices too much.

My solution was to start over again. This time I would construct a far simpler base that was less reliant on the Sector Imperialis Administratum kit. Construction began in the same way as the first base with a column. But the new base would not feature any of the wall or window elements. Instead I used plaster and Milliput to build a surface of broken slabs and rubble. I used a few bits of window frame from the building as further wreckage that, along with the column, would frame the Robot.

Straight away I was much happier with this more streamlined approach and, once I began painting, I found a whole new energy and enthusiasm for the project.

After painting the base, I pinned my Kastelan onto it and began work on the finishing touches. These consisted of the inevitable skulls and grass tufts but also some barbed wire to help give the base the feel of a warzone. The very last thing was the addition of some fine dirt and rubble around the feet and some subtle brown washes on the green slabs.

So once again I went over the top with my basing plans and then had to rein my ideas in. This doesn’t bother me too much because I think it’s preferable to tone down an OTT design than it is to have to go the other way.

The finished base feels like the same sort of environment that I tried to create with my first attempt; but it’s now done more simply and I think it’s more effective for it!

At the start of this post I mentioned my new weathering workshop. Sadly the current situation with Covid-19 means that I’ve had to cancel all of my workshop dates this year. I thought very hard about this but with the best will in the world, and as I have asthma, there is no way I could deliver a workshop to the standard I expect while keeping socially distanced.

Hopefully we can all get back to meeting at workshops and competitions some time next year but, in the meantime, let’s keep safe and keep painting!


Tuesday 4 August 2020

Weathering a Kastelan Robot – Part 2.

When lockdown started I assumed it would result in lots of painting time. But that isn’t the way things went for me. In reality navigating life in lockdown was a lot more complicated than anticipated and the past few months have seen a mix of highs and lows.

I decided to forget any pretentions of deadlines or schedules and take time out from blogging. I’ve spent my time reading, cooking, gardening, building Lego and (when I fancied it) painting my Kastelan. All in all it was a time to pause and reflect. However, as lockdown has eased and the pace of life has picked-up a little, I’ve begun painting more often and that has had results.

The Kastelan is finally finished and it’s about time too! I’ve very much enjoyed the process of painting this model. It’s given me an opportunity to develop my own approach to dirt, damage and corrosion. I started working on the Kastelan in March but it feels like I’ve been at it far longer. On top of that I painted this model during a difficult time in my life so it’s very rewarding to bring things to a satisfying conclusion.

As this stage of the project comes to an end I’ve been able to start looking forward and, in my head at least, I’m getting my future hobby schedule sorted out. The Kastelan needs a base and I’ve already begun to work on it so I can, hopefully, keep the momentum going. I will be posting a series of detailed tutorials on the painting techniques I used to create the dirt, damage and corrosion.

But before anything else I must write and post the third, final and, (in my view) most important, part of my series on creating a colour scheme. In  part one I looked at what to do with colour via an understanding of colour theory. In part two I showed how to do it by creating a colour palette. But now I need to talk about the rationale behind why we do those things. The reasons can be varied and often hard to pin down but without them all the theory and technique is meaningless!

Thursday 14 May 2020

Creating a colour scheme. Part 2 of 3.

In Part One I wrote about colour theory, first taking a look at the values, or characteristics, of Hue, Saturation, Tone and Temperature. An understanding of this is key to building a successful colour scheme using colour contrast.

This time I’m taking a look at colour schemes and colour palettes and how, from my point of view, they differ from each other. Then I will describe the different roles colour can play within a palette.

What is a colour scheme?

When I talk about a colour scheme I’m referring to the overall visual impression created by the colours on a model. There is no limit to how many, or how few, colours can feature in a scheme; but you should be able to understand a colour scheme at a glance. An effective colour scheme can be described in fairly simple terms.

If a colour scheme is complex you should still be able to understand its overall nature at a glance with the nuances becoming apparent when you study it more closely.

Let’s look at some examples.

My Abyssal Warlord has a desaturated blue and yellow colour scheme.

Although not directly opposite one another on the colour wheel, blue and yellow are hues with a strong degree of contrast. I have lessened that contrast by desaturating the hues. I further adjusted the nuances by using a relatively cool yellow as it has a slight green tint. Similarly, where I’ve used a more saturated blue it has a greener hue and a darker tone.

By adjusting the characteristics of Hue, Saturation, Tone and Temperature, I’ve controlled the colour contrast between the blue and yellow and balanced my colour scheme.

Gutrot Spume has a saturated green and red colour scheme.

This is a bold complementary colour scheme. As I showed in Part 1, I’ve adjusted the saturation and temperature of my colours to bring balance.

Another vital element of my scheme are the neutral colours. These help by providing a low contrast backdrop for the reds and greens.

My Isharan Tidecaster has a scheme of dark, saturated blue/green with contrasting yellow details.

The (analogous) blue and green are the main or primary colours of this scheme. The dark, desaturated, yellow is a secondary colour.

My Sloppity Bile Piper has a yellow and purple colour scheme.

Yellow and purple are complementary colours. Again, by making adjustments to their characteristics, I’ve controlled the nature of their contrast. In addition, yellow is clearly the primary colour in this scheme. Creating a hierarchy of primary, secondary and (sometimes) tertiary colours is another way to bring balance to a scheme.

In all the examples above you can clearly see that I’ve used additional colours to those I’ve mentioned but, although they all have a part to play, they are not dominant colours in the scheme, and they are less apparent in the overall visual impression.

Colour hierarchy.

In Part 1 I described how having hues of equal saturation and tone will create a clashing effect. Similarly having equal quantities of different colours in a scheme may make it visually confusing.

By creating a hierarchy of colours that features a main, or primary colour, in contrast with secondary and tertiary colours, you will create a visually clearer scheme.

Your choice of these colours will greatly affect the nature of your scheme. Colour contrast is dependent on context, so the same primary colour may look very different against different combinations of secondary and tertiary colours. Understanding the characteristics of a colour will greatly help in your choice and use of it.

Deciding how the colours in a scheme fall in the hierarchy will also alter the final result. In the following illustrations I’ve used the same red, blue and green colour scheme but, in each example, I’ve switched their positions in the hierarchy.

Used in equal quantities the three colours are rather garish and clashing.
Red (primary) with blue (secondary) and green (tertiary)
Blue (primary) with green (secondary) and red (tertiary)
Green (primary) with red (secondary) and blue (tertiary)
Although it wasn’t my intention, taken together, the three illustrations feature schemes that could be used for Khorne, Tzeentch and Nurgle themed models, even though they all use the same three colours! This shows just how much colour hierarchy can change the overall appearance of a model.

What is a colour palette?

When I talk about a colour palette I’m referring to the actual colour of the paints I use on a model. The colour palette for a model will be closely related to its colour scheme but they are not the same thing! A colour palette is the physical medium I use to create a colour scheme.

A palette usually contains more colours than a scheme many of which may not be apparent at a glance. This is because the colours in a palette often have a specific role and may be hidden in the mix of colours or, in the case of a base coat, underneath other colours. Even though they are not always immediately obvious, the colours in a palette should all contribute to the final look in one way or another.

Building a colour palette.

The combination of roles within your palette can vary from model to model, but the examples below are those I use most often in my own work:
  • Base colour,
  • Shade,
  • Highlight,
  • Mid-tones,
  • Spot colours,
  • Nuance colours,
  • Metallic colours,
  • Neutrals.
There are no rules about how many, or how few, colours you can have in a palette, however, it’s easier to create a clearer and more cohesive colour scheme if you try to limit the number of colours. To achieve this, it’s helpful to remember that many of the colours in a palette will be suitable for more than one role.

Once again I’m using Gutrot Spume as an example! Although the colour scheme is a simple red/green contrast, the palette is one of the most varied I’ve ever used. There are many colours on Gutrot that add extra nuance and visual interest to the model without altering the overall scheme.

In truth another reason for the huge range of colors is that I was using Scalecolour paints for the first time and was experimenting with unfamiliar colours. Some of the colours above were picked out but hardly used. There was one additional colour that played a major role that isn’t shown, but I will come to that later.

In the picture above you can see the palette of colours I used to paint my Rockgut Troggoth. Like Gutrot’s, this palette may seem quite large but it includes all the colours used on the Troggoth, the base and the Goblin.

The top row shows the colours used for the Trogoth’s flesh tones. The second row shows additional colours used for the rock and dark cloth. The third row is for the metallic colours and washes used on the Goblin’s sickle. The final row shows the colours used for the Goblin’s flesh tones and some of the greenery on the base.

That’s the palette but I would describe the scheme as a red/brown and blue/grey scheme with a green spot colour, featuring an overall warm/cool colour contrast.

Choosing a base colour.

A base colour is quite literally the foundation of your paint job and your choice of base colour will have a massive impact on the final result. If your model features light and/or saturated colours, a lighter base colour may be the best option. If you want a dark moody feel then a dark base colour will help. You approach to painting is also a factor, for example, do you prefer to paint from dark to light of vice versa? Or maybe you prefer to start with a mid-tone and work out to the shadows and highlights at the same time.

I used a light base colour for my frog from Squarg the Frog Rider. I painted the flesh with a series of glazes and the base colour reflects light through these translucent layers. The base is a warm neutral colour (Rakarth Flesh from Games Workshop) which is in harmony with the overall naturalistic colour scheme.

My Farseer has a dark, almost pure black, base colour. I decided to paint the majority of the Farseer by going from dark to light and, in addition, the dark base created a helpful deep shadow in the hard to reach recesses. When I paint a dark base I usually use the same colour as my shadow colour.

The base colour for my Troggoth is a mid-tone but, equally important, it is a warm pink hue. This warmth underlies all the flesh tones and adds greatly to the finished look. I’ve also used the base colour in the mid-tones.

If your model features areas of strong colour contrast you may want to use a different base colour for each area.

Using global highlight and shade colours.

This refers to using one colour for all of your shadows and another for all of your highlights. This doesn’t mean that all the shadows on a model need to be exactly the same colour. Instead it means that they will all have your shade colour in the mix, to a greater or lesser degree. The same principle applies to the highlights.

Using global highlight and shade colours unifies a colour scheme and helps to create a feeling of the wider environment your model is situated in. The model, and all of the colours on it, will be lit by the same light, so all of your shadows and highlights should relate to this. Consider two important points: is your character inside or outside and is the overall lighting warm or cool?

The temperature of your global highlight and shade colours is the main factor to consider. Different combinations of warm and cool will create very different atmospheres.

A common example is a character situated outside with warm highlights from the sunlight and cool shadows reflected from the blue sky.

My earlier models (below) were painted without any global highlight and shade colours. All the reds are shaded with dark red. All the greens are shaded with dark green. And so on. This is a very ‘old school’ approach and can create a less realistic, graphic or even a cartoon-like style. Not that there is anything wrong with that but, if you are going to paint in that style, it should be a conscious choice.


There are no rules about how many colours you can use for your mid-tones and, if you so wish, you could pick a totally different paint colour for each of them.

My own preference is to try and use less paint colours in my palette and mix them to create intermediate tones and hues. I also like to incorporate my highlight, shade and base colours into the mid-tones to unify the overall colour scheme. But be careful to avoid over-mixing because this may result in a dull desaturated colour scheme.

Once I’ve established the overall tonal range on a model I often go back to my mid-tones to restore any saturation that may have be lost during the painting process.

Spot and nuance colours.

A spot colour can be used to add extra drama and contrast by drawing attention the details on a model. In the overall hierarchy, spot colours are tertiary colours as there will be much less of them than the primary and secondary colours.

Nuance colours also add drama and contrast to a palette but are far less obvious than spot colours. I often apply nuance colours as a glaze, or thin layer of paint, giving an extra pop of colour to a shadow or a flesh tone. Very often these nuance colours are in a complimentary hue to the area they are painted on to. I often use them to represent a colour reflected from a nearby surface but, sometimes, they have no obvious source and are simply there to add ‘nuance’ to the scheme!

In the examples above you can see how I’ve added red and blue/grey nuances to my flesh tones. Adding nuances to flesh tones can enhance the illusion of life in them.

I’ve added nuances of purple and green to the Tidecaster’s clothing while there is a little blue on the gold armour. The Scourge’s armour and equipment have nuances of orange and blue.


Always consider metallics in the context of your overall scheme. The characteristics of Hue, Saturation, Tone and Temperature apply to metallics as much as to any other colours.


Strictly speaking, in the context of colour schemes, neutral means “lacking or being without colour” or, in other words, unsaturated with colour. But the characteristics of Hue, Saturation, Tone and Temperature can still be applied to neutral colours. Therefore a better description would be something like “a hue that appears to be without colour.”

The neutral colours are black, white and grey. However, there are quite literally many shades (and hues) of grey, and even black and white are more complex than they may at first seem. In reality the term neutral can include a wide range of desaturated colours such as beige, ivory and taupe.

The tone of a neutral colour is the easiest characteristic to see as it applies to how light or dark a neutral colour is. On the other hand, hue and temperature are sometimes quite hard to tell apart because they can be very subtle.

Broadly speaking the more saturated colours are the less neutral they become. However, as is always the case, context is everything and a colour that acts as a neutral within one scheme may not do so in another.

When choosing neutrals for a colour palette make sure that their characteristics of Hue, Saturation, Tone and Temperature relate to your overall colour scheme in exactly the way you want them to. Used successfully neutrals are a great foil for other colours and colour contrasts.

The neutral colours on Gutrot Spume provide a backdrop to the saturated complementary colours.

The black on my Farseer has a cool desaturated blue/green hue that sets off the more saturated colours. The light grey outer robe adds a strong tonal contrast to the scheme without adding to the hues. However, I’ve used a subtle combination of warm and cool grays on the robe to give it more interest than one type of grey alone.

Build your knowledge.

Over time you’ll discover colours that become your favorite ‘go to’ options and that’s no bad thing. Becoming familiar with a colour and understanding it’s characteristics will enable you to use it to good effect.

However, it’s very easy to always use the same familiar colours and get stuck in a creative rut! I think it’s important to experiment and try out new colours in your palettes. Use them alongside your trusted favorites and gradually expand you range of options.

Coming next …

In the final part of this trilogy, I will look at how and why I picked the colour scheme for my Kastelan Robot.

Tuesday 21 April 2020

Creating a Colour scheme. Part 1 of 3

Having decided to write a series of tutorials on my Kastelan Robot I quickly realized that, before I get to all the fancy stuff, I need to go right back to the beginning. Colour is a fundamental part of miniature painting and a good understanding of how colour works is key to creating and controlling contrast.

No pressure then! 

Please note that our (devilishly handsome) model is not picking his nose.
He is pondering the mysteries of colour theory. Although this might
explain where he get's his snot green from!

Colour Theory.

To be honest this subject could easily fill a book so I’m going to keep things as simple as possible (here’s hoping) and explain my personal approach to colour and colour schemes.

That’s a very important point to stress because I’m not claiming that anything I write about here is the ‘only’ or the ‘best’ way of doing things. In the same vein, I’ll try to be clear, concise and consistent with the terminology I use and explain it where necessary. But you may well encounter different terminology from other sources. So please remember this is my way of doing and saying things, no more and no less.

First of all we need to understand the nature of any given colour if we are going to use it successfully. To help us do that we can describe a colour in terms of four values or characteristics. They are Hue, Saturation, Tone and Temperature.


Red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple are examples of hues. The order I’ve listed them in relates to their position in the spectrum and on the Colour Wheel. The different hues contrast with one another in various ways depending upon their position on the colour wheel.


This is a term used to describe the intensity of a colour. A saturated colour will be rich and vivid while a desaturated colour will be washed out and pastel.


This refers to how light or dark a colour is.


This refers to whether a colour is warm or cool. This can be quite complicated because the relative temperature a colours will be dependent on context. For example while red is most definitely a warm colour a purple/red is cool next to an orange/red. But the Same purple/red would be warm next to a blue.

It’s important to remember that all aspects of colour contrast should be considered in the context of an overall colour palette.

The Colour Wheel

The colour wheel is a reference tool that can help us to understand the relationships between different hues. You may well find more complex versions elsewhere but the basic example I’m showing here has served me well since I was 14!

The hues are arranged around the wheel in a specific order that relates to their position in the spectrum. The three primary colours red, yellow and blue are at equidistant points with the intermediate shades between them. We go from red to yellow via orange, from yellow to blue via green and from blue to red via purple.

Adjacent hues are considered to be in harmony with one another. A colour scheme only using hues that sit next to one another on the colour wheel is called an Analogous Color Scheme.

Technically speaking analogous hues are three hues next to one another on the colour wheel. But for my own purposes I consider any adjacent group of between two and five hues to be analogous.

However, as hues get further apart from one another on the wheel they become less harmonious and more contrasting. Hues that are directly opposite each another are considered to possess maximum contrast and impact. A colour scheme using hues that sit opposite each another on the colour wheel is called a Complementary Color Scheme.

While it’s possible to use a solely analogous or complimentary colour scheme it’s also possible to include a combination of hues that features both types of contrast within the same colour scheme.

Analogous and complementary schemes are both built around a contrast between hues. However you will also need to consider the saturation, tone and temperature of those hues. This can greatly alter the nature of the colour contrast.

For example a green and red directly opposite one another on the colour wheel, and of roughly the same saturation and tone, will have an extreme contrast. This may be too strong and visually confusing. That is what’s meant when colours are said to clash!

In the next example I’ve lightened and desaturated the green while the red has been darkened. This has altered the contrast so that, although still very bold, it clashes less.

In the final example I’ve further adjusted the contrast by making both colours slightly cooler. Both the red and green now have a bluer hue making them slightly closer on the colour wheel. They are still complimentary but are now also more harmonious then the previous two examples.

If you are familiar with my work you may recognize that final example was the basis for my Gutrot Spume colour scheme.

The strongest and most obvious colour contrast on Gutrot is that between the complimentary hues of red and green. As shown above I’ve chosen to use relatively cool versions of both colours; but there is more going on with my colour choices than a simple complementary scheme.

In addition to the turquoise blue/green I have used other warmer yellow/green hues and together they make up an analogous grouping of colours within the overall palette. There is a strong temperature contrasts between the warm and cool colours. But a more subtle temperature contrast also occurs between the warm & cool greens. Most of the colours on Gutrot are saturated but they are in contrast to the desaturated brown & greys on his base and equipment. The tonal contrasts between the colours are relatively understated.

By understanding the characteristics of the colours in my palette I’ve been able to balance what might otherwise be an overcomplicated and visually unclear colour scheme.

There are no rules about what type of colour contrast you should or shouldn’t use when painting your models. The important thing is that you understand the characteristics of the colours you are using. You are in control and everything that happens in a colour scheme should be there because you have chosen to feature it.

Coming next...

I'll take a look at colour palettes and how (from my point of view) they differ from colour schemes. Then I will describe how I go about building a colour palette for my projects.