Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Project P30 - Part 8. Lets get the painting started!

I wondered if I’d ever get to this stage but, at long last, I’m painting my Demon Tank! However, before the ‘fun’ could start, there was one last little bit of preparation to be done. I had to wash the model prior to priming it. This was to remove any grease and dust that had built up during the construction of the model. It’s essential to have a clean surface before you apply any paint. I first masked off the belly-mouth and then set to with an electric toothbrush and dish soap. Once I’d given the model a careful scrub, I gently rinsed it off under cool running water. This was a terrifying process as it had the potential to do quite a bit of damage but everything went very well.

The size of this model presented a challenge to me in that I would have to handle it quite a bit during painting. That, combined with the large surface area, meant that priming the model would be essential! I first gave the underside and deeper recesses a coat of black and then sprayed the whole model with several light coats of Tamiya Fine Surface Primer. This is another potentially tricky job but the primer gave me an excellent result!


And so to painting!

Painting this model feels like going on a bit of an adventure. The physical challenges presented by the size of the model are something totally new to me. Add to that the nostalgia, and expectations involved in revisiting my first great success, and the result is a project unlike any I’ve taken on before! That’s the main reason why my colour palette uses a lot of tried and tested favourites. I do believe that stepping out of your comfort zone provides a positive challenge, but I like to pick my challenges carefully. The size and scope of the model is a major challenge in itself. By using a tried and tested palette of colours I’ll be able to draw on my experience with them to resolve the overall paint scheme. After all the entire point of this project is that it’s a coming together of old and new.

As I’ve said I’d expected the size of the model to be something of a challenge and I wasn’t wrong! I started off by attaching a painting handle to the model but took that off straight away. It shifted the centre of balance and made the model too big and awkward to hold during painting. So I am carefully holding the model in my gloved hand while I paint it. The tank weighs very little, which is a great help, but I’ve had to adapt my painting technique and posture to its size.

I’m used to working up close to the surface I’m painting. I usually brace my hand by holding the model on my desk and my brush hand is usually also braced on the desk, or sometimes against the hand holding the model. It’s a very stable set up and allows me a lot of control over my brush. However, in my usual painting position, there isn’t now enough space for the model and my hands between my eyes and the desk! I’ve had to get myself a taller stool so that I can sit a little higher. I also have to adapt to bracing my brush hand against the model rather than my desk.

This new set up is taking quite a bit of getting used to as it’s far more difficult to keep my hands stable during painting. There are some tricky angles involved in getting my brush into contact with the model’s surface and I have to handle the model while I paint it. Challenging as this may all be, I’d anticipated these issues as a part of the project and, so far, there has been nothing that a little patience and perseverance can’t overcome. In fact, I’m enjoying this project because of the challenges not in spite of them!

As usual I decided to start off by painting the face. This is going to set the tone and character of the model. It’s also a relatively small area that contains a lot of contrasting surfaces. So it will give me the opportunity to decide how I am going to resolve many of the material contrasts at an early stage. My usual habit is to work on a fairly small area at a time but, on a model of this size, I think that would be a mistake. Therefore, I decided to work over a larger area, which included the face and chest, by starting out fairly roughly and then gradually refining the painted surfaces as the project evolves. 


After painting a base of Rakarth Flesh, my first layers of paint were applied with a size 4 brush, roughing out the areas of light and shade. I then began to lay down a series of glazes to add and adjust the colour nuances. My next move was to focus on smaller areas to begin refining my work. However, I made sure to keep moving around the overall area I was painting, and not to linger on one spot for too long. This enabled me to balance things out over a larger area than I might normally do and resolve the overall skin tones.

By starting out big and bold I’ve been able to avoid getting stuck on one small area. My overall approach is one of going back and forth between different areas and different tones. This is a very different way of working from a structured step by step approach but it feels appropriate for this model.

I’m very glad that I’d taken the decision to think through my colour palette in advance because it saved me a lot of time and helped me to work swiftly at the early stages. However, as expected, once I started to work with my chosen palette I felt the need to adapt it. I had some definite ideas about the direction I was going to take but, as my work progressed, so did my ideas. As I’ve said before, the good thing about starting out with a plan is that it gives you a structure to work within but it also enables you to vary from that structure in an organised way.

I’d planned to use a cooler blue/green hue on much of the model but, as I progressed, that felt wrong. So I’ve used more of the yellow/green hues from my palette in the flesh tones. I turned to my old favourite of Bering Blue to bring some subtle blue tones to the flesh. I think is a more successful choice than my original option of turquoise. However, I think the blue/green hues will come into play as the project progresses. 


I’d thought that the overall look and feel of my colour palette would be very different to anything I’d done before but, in reality, it’s turning out to have a familiar feel to it. As has already been pointed out on Instagram, my flesh tones have much in common with both my Plaguebearers and my Troggoth. Although it’s not what I’d intended to do, I’m actually very happy with this. It feels like a more natural progression from my earlier work and a truer reflection of my style and instincts.

This project has been in planning for many years so it’s been on my mind as I’ve worked on many other models. Consequently many of my models contain things that I was trying out in preparation for the Demon Tank. My Death Guard, Horticulus Slimux, Kastelan Robot and Sloppity Bile Piper may all have an influence before I’m finished. I don’t want this project to nothing more than a ‘Sproket’s greatest hits’ but it is intended to look back over my past work while, hopefully, continuing my journey to be a better painter. 


I think I’m off to a good start but there is a long way to go yet!

Friday, 5 February 2021

Project P30 - Part 7

So here we are in 2021 and let’s all hope it’s a better year than 2020! For the last few months I’ve been very quiet with regards to painting sculpting and being online because I simply wasn’t ‘in the mood’. That’s not to say I was down or depressed but rather my energy and enthusiasm were directed elsewhere. I rediscovered my love for Lego and spent a lot of my time building a version of Hogwarts Castle to sit on the top shelf of my desk. I didn’t especially need a new hobby but lockdown seemed like a good time to start one. 

I chose a crazy time to put my tank onto the back burner because I was on the verge of completing the construction/sculpting phase. However, I think this pause proved to be an unexpectedly good thing because this was exactly the right time to stop and think. Not that I haven’t spent an awful lot of time thinking about this model already, but this was different. 

Up to this point my design for the tank had existed as an idea but not a completed three-dimensional object. But now I was able to have the entire model in my hands and, as a result, my plans began to evolve.

With the addition of the long awaited chimneys I finally had the overall composition fixed. This meant that I was able to consider all the elements of the model in context. I quickly decided to adjust the angle of the arm swinging the bell. By doing this I was able to raise the bell up. It was a relatively simple change but it opens up the overall composition and makes the pose look more active. After all, if your model is ringing a dirty great bell you want it to look like its giving it some welly! 

My idea had been to paint an updated version of my 1990 Nurgle Predator’s paint scheme. It would consist of a stippled green flesh tone with metallic details. However, I began to feel that this would not be enough. Regardless of how well I painted the model I think it would look very basic in the 1990 scheme.

Miniature painting has come a long way since 1990 and I need to reflect that in my new paint scheme. I want to create a scheme with more drama and contrast than the old one. The new scheme will reflect the range of materials and surfaces present on the model and most especially the transitions between machine and flesh. These areas will be treated differently in terms of colour and texture and the transitions between them should help to tell the story of a Demon engine manifesting itself as flesh.

The next step was to create an initial colour palette. Things will probably change as the project progresses but I need a starting point. The colours in my palette need to fulfil the following roles:
Base colour,
Spot colours,
Nuance colours,
Metallic colours,

Bearing all of this in mind I began by lining up the colours I thought I might use. I then set about testing different combinations in my notebook. You can see my test swatches in the photo below. The first is at the bottom and they progress up the page. 

As you can see, it was during this process that I moved away from my mostly green 1990 colour palette. My new palette gradually became more varied and saturated as my ideas developed. I’ve decided to create a much paler flesh tone than I’d initially planned and graduate this into a dark (almost black) colour on the tank parts. I will also use a cooler palette of greens than I did on my old tank. The overall colour palette will have a lot more variety than my 1990 one but this is a large model and it can take it.

The next step was to paint a full-page colour swatch to see all my colours together. My initial reaction was to realize how similar this scheme looks to the one I used on Gutrot Spume. However this is a misleading impression. It doesn’t reflect the intended paint scheme in terms of the relative proportions of the colours or how the colours will mix together. Many of the subtler relationships between the colours will have to be resolved during painting. I think my colour selection will give me a good starting point to work from but it’s important to be flexible! 

My tank is now in the final stages of preparation for painting. I’ve photographed it for lighting reference. Washed it to remove any dust and grease, left over from its construction, and mounted it onto a painting handle. The final bit of preparation is to give it a light spraying of primer.

Then, finally, I will begin painting the tank!