Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Painting for Tournaments, Part 4: Painting the Darn Minis

[This article is part of the Painting for Tournaments article series.]

We have made it to the "actual work" of getting your army ready for the gaming table.  I am going to give you the lowdown on how I paint a model to make it look good for the tabletop. To help me out, I am going to use a friend who made an appearance in a much earlier post, as a mystery guest.

Enter my friend, Klod, the Nob...I think.  He looks big enough to be a nob.  He is from the Black Reach set.  I somehow acquired him in a bartertown trade.  He is carrying a gun and a big choppa with a bosspole on his back both of which I converted.  Anyway, I will use him to give a few thoughts on techniques for painting your army for a tournament. This article will talk primarily about the practice of painting a model well enough to put on a tabletop and get some compliments. In my next article, I am going to talk about how do the process with an entire army.

Before we get too far, we need to talk a bit about theory.  Obviously, when playing 40k, you are standing at an elevated vantage point in relationship to your models (unless you are very short, which I don't have a problem with).  Due to this, you rarely if ever see the bottom side of any surface of the model.  Since this is true, I have found that it is actually time saving to take a few ideas from "zenithal light source" highlighting.  If you want a great explanation of how it works, check out Ron's tutorial over at From the Warp.  The basic premise is that the miniature is painted to look like light is shining down on it from above.  Couple that with my above statement about the portions of the model we see the most and you have a basis for painting models to look good on the tabletop. I underline that phrase because I want it understood that unless you spend quite a bit more time on your minis than this tutorial, you probably won't win a gold daemon, but you will have a nice looking model and army. When we highlight our model, we will do so by working with progressively smaller areas that are "higher up" on the model in their various areas. 

Painting any mini is a fairly straightforward process that is easily repeatable once you get the hang of it.  There are few things that I want to mention as I show my model getting painted. 

Rule number 1 of painting any model.  If there are metallic portions and you are using metallic paints, go ahead and do them first.  I know this angle is bad, but I painted all of the metal sections first with chainmail.  This include his stickkbomb, the metallic parts of his choppa, his armor, and his gun.  The reason you do this is so you can cover up mistakes later. Notice he is standing on one of my Rock Bases on the Cheap.

Before I do anything else to the metal, I decided that I wanted to basecoat the majority of the model.  Why? Because my next step is to wash the model using GW Devlan Mud. Since Orks are dirty, foul creatures to begin with, it would follow that the model needs to have dirty everything.  I used Devlan Mud on all of the metal, but also all over his blue pants and any wood portions.  This is a simple step to give the basecoats some depth and it makes them easy to simply paint over with possibly one more coat of highlight and be done.  Washing is a great method for adding depth to color and also providing quick shading. The key is to be strategic.  If you put too much wash on a model it can cover detail, looky messy, or even create water rings which are terribly unsightly.

Here is a back view of the basecoated model.  You can tell right now that there isn't a lot of depth, but that is fine.  The wash does wonders for us.  You may not notice but the skin has even been basecoated, but it is painted with Orkhide Shade which is a very dark shade of green. 
Rule 2- work from the inside out.  All models have layers of detail.  Start with your inside layers and work on them first.  That allows you to make sure they are painted without too much mess to already painted layers.  The picture above shows the model with 2 more shades of green for the skin.  *I know that most tournaments require a three color minimum, however, I believe each color used needs at least three shades as well: a shade, a base color, and a highlight.  There is some debate on how best to apply these layers.  I find it perfectly acceptable to start with the shade color, then move up to the base and finally the highlight.  I find that a minimum of three layers of color is required to make a model really pop.  Ideally, you want more.  Also, when painting an army for the tabletop, you don't need to accomplish too much feathering or blending between layers of color.  At arms length, your eyes do that for you.  Again, if you want a golden daemon, you will need to use blending and such, but for a good looking army, it isn't necessary.

Here's a back view. I think this view shows the highlighting on the skin best.  Notice that the lower areas and "down-facing" areas have dark color and aren't touched by the highlights.  This is part of the zenithal highlighting method. 

This picture is actually the finished model.  There are a few things I want to make note of here.  First is rule 3, pay attention to details.  Notice that his teeth and nails have been painted as well as his eye.  These small details show a judge that time and effort have gone into the model.  This is huge. 

The second thing is balancing hot and cold colors.  This model has a ton of green and blue which are cooler colors.  The best way to balance out the model is to add a hot color.  In this case, red complements the green quite well, so that is what I went with.  It worked pretty well.

I like this view of the model because it shows his big choppa.  I love this choppa.  I actually converted it, but it cracks me up because it shows that my ingenius ork friend, basically lashed a blade and a chainsword assembly together with baling wire.  Ghetto.  It also points out a neat technique for painting scratches and rubbed sections of paint surfaces that show metal underneath.  basically, paint the surface first, just as you want it.  Then go back over the painted surface and add black marks with your brush.  Finally, paint over these black marks with your metallic color.  This method really sets off the metallic edges and makes them look like they were grinded on or scratched on. 

These are just two other views.  Total time from primed model to fully painted model about 45 minutes.  What?!? 45 minutes for one model?  Don't panic.  I have you covered.  In my next article, I will help you use the methods shown here to paint multiple models, and hopefully, save some time. 

Other painting articles:
Painting Halfway Decent Power Weapons
On the Work Table: Grey Knight Daemonhammer, Jump Chaplain
The stormraven comes together

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