Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Flames of the Forsaken: Dark Age's Prometheus 2/3 How-To Zenithal Prime, The Flashlight of the Gods!

Here is a quick how-to on zenithal priming. Zenithal priming is great way to quickly map out shadows on your miniature. If you have a light touch with your paints the shadows you create with this step will show through on your finished project and if you tend towards heavier paint zenithal priming will give you a quick guide for placing your shadows and highlights.  

Zenithal priming is a great technique to use no matter what your skill level. Basically this is how it's done:
Once your miniature is assembled and cleaned, prime your miniature using black primer. It's really easy to over do it with primer so go slow. The black primer is going to be part of our paint job though, so you want solid coverage, not just the light dusting of primer that some folks prefer. When you are done with this step your model should be black.

If there are cracks that are hard to get paint into with the spray can of primer, wait until the spray primer dries and get those spots with a paint brush and brush-on primer. Don't be afraid to load up your brush and stab it into the cracks.

If you don't have any brush-on primer (you should get some, I like Reaper Master Series) you can "decant" some of your spray primer by spraying it into a cup. Hold the spray can very closely to your cup and spray until you have what you need collected in the bottom of the cup, then apply with an old paint brush.

Whenever you spray paint you need to use proper ventilation and/or wear a mask:

This is a great mask, it will protect you from just about any hobby chemical you can throw at it and it won't fog up your glasses. I even wear it if I have to do a lot of gluing. Check it out: http://amzn.com/B00004Z4EB
The next step, after you have got a nice coat of black down, is to apply a quick spray of white. The easiest way to do this is to get a spray can of your favorite white primer, point it down at your miniature, and give it a nice quick spritz from just that one direction.

You want the white paint to fall on all the areas that aren't going to be shaded. Imagine you are a beneficent god illuminating your faithful worshiper with the healing rays of the sun that you keep in your magical spray can. Or pretend your holding a flashlight, whatever. The point is that the white paint is going to "light-up" the parts of the mini that we spray it at. Like so:

 Unless you are doing something tricky you will want the white spray can pointed down towards the face of your miniature at about a 45 degree angle. If you want a lighter paint job you can spray more white, darker, less white. Your mini's face is usually going to be the focal point of your paint job so it should be lightest and brightest. You should end up with something like this: 

See the "shadows"? I went pretty heavy on my application of white because I wanted to start with a lighter base coat. 

If you have an airbrush, zenithal priming is a great way to start using it. Get some brush-on primer, mix it with a little water and start z-priming your mini's. If you mess up it's okay, You are just going to paint over it anyways. Once you get good at using the primer in your airbrush you can start base coating your mini's the same way. A shadow base color with a zenithal highlight color is a great way to paint a nice cloak really fast or get a huge head start on the troops for your new space soldiers army. Be warned, primer is a little bit nastier than paint so you will get more clogs and paint dried on your tip. Stick with it! The airbrush is your friend.

If you look closely at the picture above you will see some speckles, you can see them especially on the lip of the base. This is fine for me as I want lot's of texture on this project, and the base is getting painted black anyways, but if you want to minimize this you could use an intermediate grey layer, or even several progressively lighter grey layers building up to your white if you are airbrushing. You could also just get good at airbrushing white, which would be a nice skill to have. 

Finally, if you didn't have a spray can or an airbrush, you can do the same thing with a paint brush: Prime your mini black then paint the white on. This might seem like an extraneous step, but your lighter colors will look much different depending on the color that they are painted over. You could also do something like washing a translucent color over a dry-brushed white to get some quick highlights. Mix it up go crazy!

If anyone has more Z-priming tips or other tricks please share them in the comments!

1 comment:

  1. Nice stuff! Two other artists who use this to good effect are thirdeyenuke at tale of painters and Myles over at lil' legend. They also do some extra zenithal preshading and use com arts paints to great effect.