Tuesday, July 26, 2011

How to Paint White Part 1: Bright White

White is the bane of most painters' existence.  It is fairly hard to get to look consistent without splotchy portions on a model.  Large swathes of area can cause even the hardiest of hobbyists to curl up in the fetal position and cry for mommy.  However, with a bit of practice and some looks at the progression of colors, white can become an easy(er) color to paint. 

I am going to break this post up into two articles.  The first one I am going to address is painting bright white or what I sometimes think of as sterile white.  The second white I will go over is more of an off white or antique white.  In reality, it is my opinion that the type of white you want is really a result of what goes on under the white.  The lower layers of color below the actual white determine how it looks and that is the key to my tutorials. 

In today's article I will talk about bright white.  It is the type of white I think of when I think of hospitals and fluorescent lights. 
In both cases (the fluorescent light to the extreme), you get a blue or grey undertone to everything.  I submit that this is precisely what gives the white that bright, sterile look.  The blue tones mixed with successively lighter greys and blue up to white yield that bright, clean look.

To illustrate how I accomplish this, I will show some pictures of my ongoing efforts to paint my Blood Angel Sanguinary Guard army.   I have gone with an alternative painting scheme on my Sanguinary Guard models that uses various types of white to make the model pop. 

I am currently working on a unit of Sanguinary Guard, so I popped out the camera and started taking pictures of how I accomplish the bright white look.  I am using the powerfist model to illustrate the method I use.
I start my bright white by picking a blue hue.  In actuality, the color I chose to basecoat with is the GW foundation paint Fenris Grey. It is actually a grey, but has a lot of blue hue to it.  This picture shows my model with powerfist, helmet and wings painted in Fenris Grey.

These next two shots, show the next step. I next chose to use GW foundation Astronomican Grey.  It is more of a pure grey and is fairly light.  This is a good intermediate color to choose.  You want something that is light, but noticeably not white.  The reason being is that white allows what's under it to show through easily, so we can great a gradient simply by layering white multiple times of this intermediate color.  Finally, notice how I left the initial shade (Fenris Grey) visible in the recesses.  I think this is fairly important.  If shows that strong contrast between the white and where it was built up from. 

Here is the model with Reaper Master Series Pure White applied to it. It may be hard to notice, but as I stated above, when you put down an intial thin layer of white, the color below will still show through. Don't get annoyed by this. That is good! It helps us build a color gradient. When you add consecutive coats of white, lessen the area covered until you are to the points you want to be purely white. Be patient as this can often take 5+ coats of white to achieve. The pictures above show the model with the white done.  Notice how it almost glows.  This is not due to a flash.  I simply have it on the dining room table under normal ceiling lights.

As you can see, I also use this method on the wings.  The difference is that I leave a lot more of the lower layers of color showing to make the contrast a lot more evident.  It yields a very striking result. 

The key to painting any white is to first have patience.  I don't know how many times I have painted multiple coats of white on a model and thought, this just isn't going to work.  Well, you can't stop there. That usually means you haven't added enough white yet.  Keep going.  Just remember to keep your paint thinned for a smooth transition. 

In my next article, I will talk about how to paint an antique white which uses roughly the same principles, but a slightly different technique. 

Other useful articles:
Painting Halfway Decent Power Weapons
Free....er thing

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