Friday, December 5, 2014

Experimenting with Drybrushing Blends

I once saw a very nicely painted Koldun Lord with some great glow effects. I don't remember where I saw it or who painted it, but when it came time to paint this guy, I wanted to try something similar. I decided to be a lot more heavy-handed with it though.

I've tried blending before and failed miserably every time. I think the problem is that blending requires speed and I'm intrinsically a slow painter. Plus I suspect that getting the paint to the right consistency with the addition of water and medium is important, which is another thing I have difficulty with. So I decided to use this model for experimenting with the use of drybrushes as a sort of poor-man's blend.

To try to achieve the glowing effect, I would add layers of colour to transition from the glow colour (in this case blue) through a darker colour and back up to the "underlying" colour (typically the red of his clothes and armour). After applying each new layer of colour I would drybrush over the boundry with first one colour then the other in order to create a gradient effect. This actually turned out to be quite slow and lead to a lot of clean-up work, but it did basically work. The transition between colours is not nearly as smooth as a true blend, but in this case I think it looked OK since it kinda gave the glows a bit of a "shimmer".

I tried to use a similar method for shading the recesses in cloth. I think it looks OK on the back of the cloak, but I didn't go dark enough on the inside of the cloak or on his tabard and they look too flat.

I painted the back of the cloak with a slightly darkened Lich Purple, then layered Lich Purple, Scab Red, and Blood Red towards the center, and Regal Blue, Enchanted Blue, and Ice Blue towards the edges. I painted a thin line of Skull White around the very edge then drybrushed Ice Blue over it again to soften it. Armour was done the same way (only without the drybrushes on the brighter colours as there wasn't room), with a bit of a wash of Baal Red to try to change the colour a little bit to subtly differentiate it from cloth. The inside of the cloak was the same, only I simply transitioned from a darkened to Regal Blue up to white. For the runes on the axe I tried to do a similar transition between Boltgun Metal and Regal Blue, then painted up to the brighter colours. I also used a combination of edge highlighting and subtle drybrushing with Chainmail to highlight the axe; additionally I tried to "feather" the cutting edge to give it some texture.

I initially only painted the cloak up to Scab Red, but I didn't really like it and I was trying to experiment with creating glows on already bright colours by transitioning through darker ones, so I ended up going all the way up to Blood Red. I tried to stick to darker colours for the rest of the model though in order to exaggerate the glow effect, using darker shades than I normally would for the beard, the brass, and the fur. I even tried to mix in some grey paint with the snow to stop it from overwhelming the white of the glows, but I don't think I used enough in the end.

Being from the frozen north (him, not me), I wanted him to be very pale, so I painted his skin with a mix of Elf Flesh and Pallid Wych Flesh, then shaded it with a wash of equal parts Ogryn Flesh and 'Ardcoat. As usual the shading was a bit too subtle but for this model but I didn't think that was too big a deal since there's so few areas of detailed skin. I had difficultly with the glows over skin since trying to go through a darker colour just didn't look good, so I just skipped straight to Ice Blue and added an intermediate step of lightened Ice Blue. There's a glowing spot in the middle of the hand that's quite hard to see from most angles, but I added a bit of blue between the fingers on the outside of that hand too which worked quite well.

I had initially intended to add some weathering to the armour to help it stand out from the cloth, but I forgot and I can't be bothered now as he's all varnished and everything. Speaking of, I might not have used enough Purity Seal, as he's still a bit too... satin. Oh well, I don't think it's bad enough to really matter.

While the Koldun Lord model doesn't hold any particular appeal to me, the fact is that it's a great model (although he has the same problem as Sylys in that I don't know what he's supposed to be doing with his left arm... trying to look dramatic to the stage audience perhaps? It's almost exactly the same pose in fact...) and I didn't see the need to make any changes, except for straightening out the "pick" end of the axe a bit. I did have some trouble painting some of the recesses; it would have been much easier if I hadn't glued him together first, especially when it came to the inside of the cloak. I actually considered doing a lot more in the way of free-hand glowing runes and stuff on the inside of the cloak, but I quickly realised that it would be extremely difficult, so I settled for some little stars instead, which I think look quite nice.

Something strange happened while painting this model: after the 'Ardcoat had dried, I noticed that there was some... damage to some areas of paint. Specifically the white outline on the back of the cape: in some areas a bright purple had shown up over the white. I think the blue was affected as well, as the gradient effect doesn't look the way I remember it - it seems to be darker overall? Like the Ice Blue faded and the gradient doesn't work as well, going too quickly from white to dark blue. I tried to fix the missing white at least, but if you look carefully at the photos you can see areas where there is a bit of purple coming through. That didn't used to be there, I assure you. Also there's a spot on the inside of the cape where there's a large purple stain. I didn't know how to fix that, but it's so dark that it's not really noticeable against the dark blue, and it basically follows along the recess of a fold, so at a casual glance it looks like a shadow anyway, so I didn't try to fix it or anything. I'm not really sure what happened, but I think I may have brushed the 'Ardcoat around the model too aggressively to try to stop it from pooling in the recesses, and it picked up some paint somehow. Which I didn't think it was supposed to do. Kind of annoyed about that; I'm sure the back of the figure used to look nicer than it does now.

Overall I don't think the glow effect worked all that well, and is somewhat inconsistent as the gradient is much more noticeable in some places than others due to space constraints, but the figure looks quite dramatic nonetheless, and the colour combinations came out quite pleasing in my eyes especially the blend from blue to red through purple), so I'm happy with it overall. I especially like the axe and the inside of the cape. I wish it hadn't taken so long to paint though; so far I've just been assembling and painting the Warmachine models that I'm not all that fond of, and "saving" the ones I really like; I guess I'm just worried about messing them up. Well, hopefully I'll get to them sooner rather than later.

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