Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Flames of the Forsaken: Dark Age's Prometheus 3/3 Painting with Inks and Washes

In the last Prometheus post I got sidetracked by describing zenithal priming. Now I want to describe how we can put the shadows we created to work for us.

The first step for me was to figure out what colors I wanted to use. I wanted something dark and a little bit gritty. The Prometheus figure has a lot of texture and I wanted to take advantage of that in my paint job. To me, metallic paints look really nice when there is a lot of texture. So my first layer of paint is going to be a neutral silver metallic.

To get started I airbrushed a thin coat of metallic paint onto the mini. To airbrush metallics I use an old Paasche VL airbrush with a #3, .7 mm nozzle.

My plan was to use a lot of washes and inks for the paint job, so I wanted to start with a very light colored base coat and add successively darker washes to it. You can certainly lighten paint with a wash, but I find that starting with a light base coat and adding darker and darker layers is will give you a lot less of the problems, like tide marks, one encounters using a wash.

In the picture above you can see that my initial layer of metallics is thin enough to let the shadows from my zenithal primer job show through. In fact, I left some of the darker parts of of the primer bare to act as my darkest shadows for now. I thinned P3 Quick Silver with water for this initial layer.

The box art for Prometheus is very cool, and I really like the orange colors in it as well as the nearly black green.

Orange and blue are complimentary colors and you can see that the orange color of the figure looks nice with the blue background of the photograph. Yellow in the gun barrels, not so much.

Orange makes a lot of sense for my paint job. I already have a white metal color and rust is basically orange, so a grimy rusty orange color would go well with the theme of our mini. Rust is going going to look good on the textured surface of the figure, it makes sense in terms of the figures story too. This guy is a robot that has been cobbled together from decaying technology in a radiation blasted deathscape. Rust is definitely on the menu.

Before I started painting everything orange, I wanted to figure out a plan my composition. In other words, I wanted to know where I was going to put the orange and how it would react with the different colors on the mini before I started. 

Playing with different colors and experimenting can be super fun, but it can also be incredibly time consuming and frustrating. It's really easy to spend a lot of work on a section only to realize later that it doesn't fit with the overall scheme of the project. So I needed to have a basic plan of attack before I started logging the hours painting this guy. 

The first thing to figure out about a composition is where the primary focal point is going to be. There is a simple answer to this question: The primary focal point of most mini paint jobs should be the head of the figure.

Simple, right?  Well this guy doesn't really have a head does he? Okay he kind of does, it's that round thing sticking out of the middle of his body. It's got some eye-like sensors on there, it's round, it's in the middle. It's going to be our focal point.  

It's a head.

I think the sculptor planned this as the focal point too. There are couple of elements that really point to this being the focus of our paint job. The most important one to me is the big the cross that our head is poking out of. Take a look:

Our head is right at the center of our cross-hairs. 
The picture above illustrates an important clue about how we are going to paint our figure. We could ignore it, and make the guns the focus or the feet or whatever, but we already have the head there, let's use that cross shape. Things inside the cross are going to be light, things outside will be darker. We've already got this shiny metal going so let's keep that for inside the cross. 

Prometheus's joints also look like good places to keep shiny. The hinges at his knees and the spheres that make up his hips and elbows are going to stay pretty shiny. My intention is that they will look like metal on metal joints that move a lot and so stay polished, like the shaft part of a hydraulic piston. He also has two little domes on his shoulders that sort of look like bearings so we'll leave those shinny too. 

I am going to start painting with a controlled "wash". A wash is a painting technique using thinned paints. The paint is so thin that it tends to flow over the shape of the mini and deposit more pigment in the cracks than on the flat surfaces. Washes tend to get a bad name because they are easy to over apply, resulting in pooling, tide marks and murky paint jobs. We are going to try and avoid that. 

To make my wash I am going going to use Quinicradone Nickel Azo Gold, a High Flow Acrylic from Golden. Golden makes top quality artist acrylics and I can't recommend their products enough, they do typically dry glossy which can be an issue for some people, but I find a coat of sealer at the end of the project provides a nice, even finish.  

Golden's High Flow Acrylics are already very thin, like an artist ink or airbrush ready paint. For my wash mix I am going to add roughly 1 part water and 1 part matte medium to 1 part ink (aka high flow acrylic) This is going to give me a beautiful coppery paint that is very translucent and still much thicker than water. Here is what my first application looks like: 

You can see in the picture above that I have only applied a tiny bit of actual paint. The metallic base coat is still very visible through my orange color, the orange even looks more like yellow right now because it is being influenced by the light paint below it.

Here is a detail of the picture above that shows some pooling:

The pooling is circled in red. The gun in the lower left of the picture is bad pooling, it has too much paint on it. When it dries it will look like a brown spot. It is showing the detail, but not very evenly and another heavy application like that will obscure detail. The other circle in the upper right of the picture shows some good pooling. The wash is flowing right where I want it to go, defining the edge of the shoulder pad, the rivets and producing a nice gradient.

Here are a few more applications of the wash. If your just trying this technique out go slow and wait for the figure to dry fully before each application. The wash should be thin and translucent enough that you won't be able to make dark blotches with one application. If you feel like going a little faster you can continually add wash, but you will need to be able to quickly remove wash with your brush as you go. Use your wet brush to guide the paint where you want it. 

You can see in the picture above, especially on the tops of his legs and on his shoulders that the layers of wash are starting to build up and really accentuate the sculpted texture. i am also starting to add in some darker brown inks. I used Raw Umber also from Golden and some Vallejo Smoke, which has a grainy texture to it. You could also add a small amount of pigment powders to your wash to get a grainy effect, just test it out on a place that's hidden first. 

After each layer of wash I go back to my metallics and touch up the parts that I want to shine. Building up multiple layers of metallics really helps them to shine. Most acrylic metallics use mica flakes to create pearlescence. Mica flakes tend to look best when they are laying down flat on the surface they are covering. By painting multiple layers we are getting lots of flakes to lay down next to each other to produce a nice smooth sheen.

I am also working on layering the blends. The same mixture I used for my wash makes a great glaze when you de-load the brush onto a paper towel and apply it much more carefully. Here is the mini with some more layers:

I have glazed in a very small amount of blue to some of the silver parts. My hope is that this will work with the orangey rust color of the rest of the mini to give us a nice complimentary color scheme. I also like adding blue to metallics because I think it looks like a reflected sky which helps to sell the mettallics. Of course, the Dark Age sky is probably purple or green or something. Maybe we'll try that next time.

You can see that our washed surfaces are really starting to look different from the shiny areas. At this stage I am starting to go back in and highlight some of my edges with metallic paint. I am mostly using P3's Pig Iron for this, along with some more P3 Quick Silver and white for the really bright spots. It's also time to paint those hoses and work on some of the details.

Not the best focus on this shot but you can see how my colors are starting to work. Black background FTW! 

Since I had creative license on this project I tried a couple of different things. I worked some red pigment powder into some of my cracks. I just use water and a drop of matte medium. 

It's hard to see in the picture above but I also used some Citadel Agrellan Earth to get a cracked paint effect on the top of his right arm. You have to mask the edge of the area you paint with tape or it will look like mud. Pull the tape before it get's too dry! Once it's dry it's really easy to paint any color you like. 

I added some more blue to the bright metallics and added a hard shadow to the 'head' with pure black. I also added blue and white pigment powder to the slots in his shoulders. To me they sort of looked like the magnets on an electrical motor and I thought some electrical corrosion would look good there.

After all of the paint was looking good it was time to finish my base. I used a mix of white glue, dirt and rocks with plenty of water to flow all of that gravel into the recessed base. I added another cog from a broken watch and poured in some water effect with a bit of green ink. 

Here he is all finished. I hope you like him! 

Grim Dark? Eat your heart out 40k! 

You can see the blue and white pigment powder  on his shoulder in this shot.

I believe this shot shows his colors best. You can sort of see some green in the rust. I love how this guy came out!




  1. lovely work - wait, I heard you were dead? So glad the assassins failed :P

  2. Thanks Guys! I am kind of thinking about a 40K army like this. Do the Iron Hands have a Chaos equivalent?


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