Painting Poorly: A Song of Ice & Fire - Umber Greataxes

Become a Patron!
by CMON Games

"The Umbers May Seem Simple, but They Are Not Without a Certain Low Cunning..."

So, with Christmas on the horizon (JUST NEXT WEEK, YIKES!) I decided that I was going to do something a little linked to the holidays, and what says Christmas more than a brigade of Killer Santas (watch Rare Exports, you'll thank me later)?!?

That's why this week, were tackling the Umber Greataxes!

These guys are the newest unit expansion for the Starks and were released as a sort of companion unit to the Lannister Pyromancers, with both units being able to deal UNBLOCKABLE DAMAGE!  I imagine both of these units will be seeing frequent play in tournaments coming soon.

But you don't want to hear about my strategizing (though if that is something you're interested in, please let me know), you're here for to learn how to paint, so let's get to it!

1. Gameplan, Prep, and Prime

So, for the most part, I'm going to be keeping the color palette that I used for Greatjon Umber when tackling the Greataxes, but I will still be using the in-game art as a reference.

There's some dirty red, some brown fur, and a lot of tan, like leather skins that they've thrown over themselves.  The Umbers definitely have the look of people who just put on whatever's going to keep them warm while they kill things, which is AWESOME!

I've put together the following paints:

We've got Dark Sand, Chocolate Brown, Flat Earth, Basic Skin Tone, and Gunmetal Grey from Vallejo, along with a standard grey and light tan from Target, and black and white from the craft store for our 50/50 black/white mix.

And for our Umber house colors, I've assembled these paints, as I was unable to find a single color that had the right look that I wanted.

Dark red from Target and Orange Brown, Rose Brown, and Flat Earth from Vallejo.  These will all be mixed together in a 1/1/1/1 mix to give us that dirty, fiery red that the Umbers wear on their tabards.  Keep the Orange Brown handy after mixing some up, though, as you'll be using it on other portions of the models as well.

Like always, I've gone ahead and primed the minis with Matt White spray on primer by The Army Painter, and we're ready to start painting.

2. The Fur

As is pretty common when we're doing any figures with fur, we start with those portions.

We're going to be starting with a basecoat of chocolate brown on the fur.  Once that's dry, we'll be drybrushing on two lighter colors: Flat Earth and Dark Sand respectively.

Drybrush the flat earth evenly across the entirety of the fur, but when you do the dark sand, only drubrush on the top of the fur, from a bird's eye view.  This will help give us a highlight early on, so we won't have to go back in and highlight each individual tuft of fur later.

3. Basecoats

We're going to start with our Umber mix, which like everything else, should be thinned down with equal parts water.

Paint the tabard, making sure to get the portions that are sticking out from underneath the chainmail on the chest.  You'd also take this time to paint the standard bearer's flag this color as well.

Try to get the best outline of the insignia as possible without actually painting on the giant itself.  It's not that the Umber mix is particularly difficult to cover, it's just that the details of the Umber insignia are pretty shallow, and it can be difficult to see them if they're already painted over.

Now we'll be getting out our gunmetal grey and painting up all the metal portions, including helmets, shoulder armor, chainmail, axe blades, and pommels.

After that, you're going to be mixing up some of our world famous 50/50 black/white mix and painting the cloak.  Nothing too special here, but make sure you get the front of the cloak as well as the back.

You can see the cloak comes in front and wraps around their shoulders and chest, so make sure you cover that portion as well.  Try to avoid the hair and beard as much as you can.

Next, using your light tan, you'll be painting the sleeves and tunic.  This is a very faint color, and we just want a SLIGHT change in color from the white, where it almost looks like a cream color.  It's a great color to use for lighter leathers or animal skins.

I also painted their horn this color as well.

After that you can use your standard grey to paint the other portions of the sleeves, and the leggings, specifically the knees.

Once that's done, get your basic skin tone and paint the face.  Don't forget their lips/mouths.

Remember how I said to keep your orange brown around?  Well, you can use that to paint the poles for the flag and axes.  I like this color better for a more "Wild" or "Untreated" wood look.

Both the flagpole and axe handles are wrapped with some kind of wrapping, so make sure you do your best to find and paint the gaps in the wrap where the wood shows through.  This helps give the axes and flagpoles a lot more realism and detail.

Using your flat earth, now is the time to paint all of the straps, gloves, belts, and boots, though I am keeping the wrap around the axes and flagpole white.

This is also the time to paint the arms, legs, and head of the giant on the flag this same color.

Now, using your dark sand, we paint the tunic of the giant on the flag, along with the four squares to the side of the flag, fastening it to the flagpole itself.  I've also chosen to paint the trim running across the top and bottom of the flag this color as well.  For this, I held my detail brush parallel to the flag, and used the side of the brush to catch the raised portion of the flag.  If you mess up, you can always go back over it with our Umber mix.

The last thing I did was I actually used some Plate Mail Metal by The Army Painter to paint the shackles on the giant, along with the Umbers' belt buckles and the clasp on their pouches, though you can just as easily use gunmetal grey for this.

Before we move to shading, I took this time to go over any booboos that may have happened, and make sure the things that I want to be white (the hair, beard, and axe handle wraps) are.

4. Shading

We're keeping it real easy for shading today: Flesh Wash and Strong Tone.  I chose to use Strong Tone for EVERYTHING but the skin (including the metal) because it has a great quality of making everything look kind of dirty, which I felt was very appropriate for the Umbers.

Starting off with the flesh wash, apply it to the face, including the mouth.  Don't worry too much if you accidentally get some on the mustache.

Next, apply the strong tone to everything else, and I mean everything.  The armor, the axes, the wrap, the flag, the hair, the beards, ALL OF IT.

You can see from above that the wash helps bring out the detail of the giant on the flag.

Once this is dry, we can move onto highlights.

5. Highlights and Finishing Touches

Those of you who follow my blog know that I almost always start off my highlights with the faces, but today, we're going to be different.

We're starting off highlighting the tabard because our original Umber mix would not have dried up yet, so we'll be highlighting all of the folds to make this color pop.

Next, use your basic skin tone to highlight the forehead, cheeks, nose, and bottom lip.

Since we're going for a Killer Santa look, we're going to be taking this time to highlight the hair and the beards back up to white.  For the hair on the one particular model, apply some top-down highlights, but avoid where the hair parts in the middle.  This gives the grey/white hair a more realistic look to it.

For the beards and front of the hair, try to get all of the raised detail, such as the mustache right underneath the nose, or any locks of hair that you can see.  You just want to highlight the detail that sticks out.

After that, I highlighted the grey sleeves and knees.  Similar to the top of the hair, I applied highlights from a bird's eye view, which tapered off on the side, and no highlights on the underside of the arms.

For the knees, you really just want to highlight the center of them, leaving the edges dark.  This will give them a nice round look.

Now, we move onto the leather tunic.  Using your light tan, highlight the folds in the tan sleeves and upper thighs that would catch the light, such as his right thigh in the picture above.

You should also take this time to highlight the horn, which can be accomplished by just painting a highlight on the very front of it, giving it a rounded look similar to the knees.

After that, you can move onto highlighting the gloves, boots, and belts with your flat earth.  For the gloves, top-down highlights will work just fine.  For the belts, highlight them by painting a line across the top of the belt, all the way across.  This will give the illusion of a shadow across the bottom portion of the belts.

For the boots, highlight from the side, and pick out the ridges and folds on the boots, and try to highlight those up as much as possible, as well as the toes of the boots.  This will keep the front of the boot looking cast in shadow, but will make the side look like they're catching the light.

The last thing you'll be highlighting will be the darker tan portions of the flag using your dark sand.  With the squares of fabric off to the side, simply paint highlights across all sides of the square, but the bottom.  This helps give them a pop. but you don't really HAVE to do this.

The next part is actually the hardest highlight, as we're going to be highlighting the tunic of the giant insignia.  The sculpt of the emblem actually divides the tunic into many smaller portions, so using your smallest brush, apply the dark sand to the center of each portion of the tunic.  If you leave the edges of each tunic portion unhighlighted, it helps give the illusion of detail and depth to the emblem.

6. "Who Owns the North?!?"  "WE DO!!"

That's it guys!  Base them however you like, spray them with your matt varnish and get these killer Santas onto the battlefield!

If you want to know specifically how I did the basing and terrain for these guys, check out my Stark Outrider tutorial where I go into detail on that step, and all my other A Song of Ice & Fire painting tutorials can be found here.

If you found this, or any of my tutorials useful, please consider becoming a Patron, because every dollar really does matter, and helps me bring you quality ad-free content on a weekly basis, and if you're reading this before Christmas 2018, be sure to enter my Ranger Hunter Unit Box Giveaway below!

Until next time, Westerosi!

Remember to Share, Comment, and Subscribe!
If you like what I have to say, consider becoming a Patron
and make sure you follow me on Twitter or on Facebook!
Ranger Hunter Unit Box Giveaway!