Painting Poorly Vol. 3 - Big Figs

The Bigger They Are...

Let's be honest.  Bigger usually means better (that's what she said).  But bigger can also be scary (that's ALSO what she said).  Working on a larger miniature can often be seen as a daunting task, but really, it should be viewed as an opportunity to practice your painting techniques on a larger scale.  One where the slightest mistakes will not have cataclysmic results!  Okay, so maybe they will, but they are more easily covered up!  Going big should be an exciting event!  Just ask Ant-Man!

So, today on Painting Poorly, I'm going to be sharing some of the techniques that I use while working on a big fig.  How big?  Well, usually, I'm talking about a miniature comparable to the AT-ST from Imperial Assault:

Luke, I have a feeling you're a little outgunned...

Before I get started, I want to reiterate that I'm not the best painter in the world, nor do I think I am, but I want to share these techniques for anyone who was once like me and thought, "I'd like to paint my minis, but that seems so complicated/expensive!"

Still here?  Awesome.

For today's post, I'm going to be demonstrating step by step on Chromatis, the Mad Unicorn, one of the stretch goals from Massive Darkness by CMON Games...

1. Gameplan, Prep, and Prime

So, I've already primed my unicorn with some spray on Army Painter Matt White.  Now, based on the in game art above, I COULD leave him like this and then focus on the colored sections, but the white looks a little flat.  The other option is to simply throw a black wash on it, and highlight it back up to white, but that would be a lot of wash and a lot of highlighting, since this is a big fig.  So, instead, I'm going to be practicing my layering techniques by layering up colors from darkest to lightest.  I've chosen the following four colors, going from gray to white:

All in all, this was roughly $6 worth of paint.

2. Basecoat

So, this technique is very useful when you have have large portions of the figure that have the same color, such as the unicorn's white body.  You start of by putting on a basecoat of your darkest color.  In this case, gray.

Making sure to thin your paints to about a 50/50 water/paint ratio allows for the pigment to get everywhere you want, and not go on too thick that it covers up the details.  Sometimes you may have to apply multiple coats.  This is two coats of gray on the unicorn.  Notice I'm not painting any of the mane or the tail, as those sections will be a different color when the unicorn is finished, and this technique is for large sections of the same color.

3. Wetbrushing

Okay, so if you are a more experienced painter, A.) Why are you reading this?  You're probably a better painter than I am already, and B.) I don't know if this is actually what this technique is called.  I call it wetbrushing, but if you know what the technique is actually called, could you please tell me!

Anyway, wetbrushing is similar to drybrushing, but with more paint on the brush, but the paint is still thinned with water in the 50/50 ratio.  Whereas with drybrushing, the paint is unthinned and there's hardly any paint left on the brush.

So, take the second darkest color you selected, thin it with water, and then pick up your chisel or wedge brush.  If you're unsure of what I mean, I'm using this:

And once your paint is thinned, load up your brush and wipe it off once or twice on either side.  If those wipes of paint look similar to the light gray streaks below you're in good shape.

Now you're going to lightly brush over the miniature, going against the grain as much as possible, and starting with the top of the figure, moving down, trying to go over about 90% of the mini.  With the unicorn, I chose to ignore his underside, as that would have little to no light hitting it.

You're not trying to get an even coat, per se, just a thin layer that leaves dark recesses.  You can see, the light gray doesn't fill in all the deep pockets and grooves that the darker gray basecoat is in, but it adds the first level of dimension and depth to your miniature.

4. Repeat and Repeat

Now, you'll simply repeat the wetbrushing step as many times as you have lighter shades.  Each time covering slightly less surface area, leaving a gradual transition from your lightest color to your darkest.  The above picture is the unicorn with the off-white wetbrushing added, and the below is with the white added as well.

While the change is subtle, the more layers you add, the more depth is added to the figure.  Make sure you let each layer dry before you add the next, as you don't want the light colors to bleed into the grooves.

5. Smaller Sections and Finishing Touches

Now, with the largest portion of the mini fully painted, it's time to add base colors and washes to the smaller sections as detailed in Volume 1 and Volume 2 of my previous posts.  For the unicorn, that means his mane, tail, muzzle, horn, and hooves.  But I simply add my colors, wash with the appropriate washes, and highlight sections to make sure they still pop.

Note that I DO NOT add washes to his body, as the depth has been added by the layering and wetbrushing process.

A little top-down highlighting on the white of the unicorn, just to really make it pop, should finish it off.

Practice Makes Perfect

Just like all the other techniques we've gone over, the more you practice these techniques, the more you'll start to see the color combinations and strategy for other miniatures.  This can be used for miniatures where the main color is broken up by something such as clothing or armor, like the cyclops below:

The Cliffbreaker Cyclops posing for his Hottest 28 Over 28mm photoshoot...

Hopefully, this was helpful for you, and gives you a little bit more confidence when tackling those big figs.  If you have any questions, make sure to leave them in the comments, and I'll try to get back to you as possible.

Check back soon as a special series of Painting Poorly is on the horizon (yes, Yuri, it's that time...)

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