Welcome to Paint Slinging! we dive right into the mucky mess we're all here for-putting paint on metal and plastic.
In this edition, we'll walk through building the base purple for the Multi-Era Mini Marik Missile Force featured in a previous Long Live! post.
Some colors are notoriously challenging to paint. White seems to be a bane for many artists (perhaps this is why one of the go-to bad guys from the Battletech universe is the Word of Blake). Yellow, like that one person you dated a long time ago but would rather forget, seems like a good idea at the start, but end up being full of challenges and mistakes so that by the time you're finished with it you wish you'd rather have just not even started that mess. The list goes on.
Purple, however, is not one of those colors. Surprisingly, purple is a wonderfully easy color to paint with (Note: I still am not a Leaguer). Not only is it a breeze to paint, purple is also an amazing study in color theory! Let's begin today's walkthrough where every good paint job does: primer.
Choosing the correct primer will set the tone (literally and figuratively) for the rest of your project. Generally, artists will prime their miniatures one of several colors including black, grey, and white. (While I have seen red primer for other projects, I haven't used it for miniatures-yet...) Generally speaking, if the final piece should have a dark tone, use black; a mid-tone, use grey; a light tone, use white.
The final color itself also has bearing on the primer choice. If using a dark color, such as green, dark red, dark blue, or something similar, use black. Conversely, such as yellow, bright red, or bright blue, consider a white primer. Some colors tend to work better on certain primers, regardless. Green on black and yellow on grey or white, for example, are two instances of magic colors that seem to work best on only certain primer colors.
Primer choice may change depending on the method of painting as well. For example, if using an airbrush, black is a safe go-to primer for nearly any color because it adds rich contrast in the shadows (a key to miniature painting). This same idea-rich contrast-will work with brush painting as well, though it will require more layers, and thus more time, to achieve the brightly contrasting highlights (the component in contrast). An alternative when using brush painting is to prime white for an overall brighter finished product through fewer layers. When in doubt, use grey.
When priming your miniature, make sure you cover every surface and do so with an even amount of paint. This may require a mixture of spray and brush primer to get every bit of metal or plastic painted. You may also need several light coats to achieve this. Patience while priming will make the final piece well worth the effort.
"Dark to light." Mr. Nissen, my middle school art teacher, always reminded us, "When painting, go from dark to light." When layering paint, it is easiest to begin with the darkest colors and move to the lightest.
Wait! Why blue?
Color theory time! When shading, there are a number of methods to build these dark tones. First, you can add a dark color like black or dark brown. This is best if you want to highlight with white or bleached bone. Second, use the color's compliment-the color opposite it on the color wheel.
Third, and what I did here, you can use the component colors of secondary colors. Primary colors are colors that cannot be created by mixing other colors: RED, BLUE, YELLOW. Secondary colors are colors created by mixing two primary colors: GREEN (BLUE+YELLOW), ORANGE (RED+YELLOW), PURPLE (BLUE+RED). This choice seemed best because my later intent was to highlight with a tone of red, pink, to create a rich contrast and sense of depth.
With the blue shad down, it was time to move to base colors. The base color is the most prominent color of the miniature, in this case purple. For the first layer of purple, I used a dark purple, sprayed at a 45* angle over the miniatures. In the shadows, I still wanted the dark blue to be visible. Where it seemed natural for light to highlight, I made a few extra passes to brighten the purple color and mark it later for further contrast.
Rather than mixing colors, I applied a pre-made, lighter red-ish purple. As the highlights increase in contrast, the angle of spray increases; this time to between 15*-30* approximately. It is important to leave a bit of the previous layers still visible, especially in the recesses. With this color, aim to highlight the brighter areas that are closes to the light source.
It's okay if this takes a couple of passes to get an appealingly bright color.
Here we see the highlights building into a pink color. Remember, pink is a tone of red. Red is opposite blue on the color wheel. Red and blue make purple. Blue is the shade on these pieces and pink is the highlight.
Mixing white with the purple would have created too strong of a contrast. Instead, a touch of bleached bone and several layers later we have these highlights. This was sprayed at 0*-10* to mark the places with the strongest highlights-that is, those closest to the light source. More importantly, these highlight layers were carefully applied to the points with the most likelihood of being highlighted by the light source.
How do I know where to highlight?
This comes with practice. As you're out and about during the day, observe how lights highlight objects around you.
If necessary, after a few passes with this layer, add a bit more bleached bone to the mix to highlight even further.
To bring the pieces together, tone down the highlights a bit, and make the transitions more smooth, I added a wash of purpled ink. This wash formula was built from ink, Future floor polish, and water in a 1:10:10 ratio. This is a very light wash, and may need to be applied in several layers. It is always better to do several light layers than one dark layer.
When washing a miniature, place your brush loaded with the wash on the highlight and drag it towards the shadow. This will cause the ink to pool in the dark area, giving you a shading effect. It also doesn't hurt that you're dragging the ink to a dark area where unnecessary pooling will be less apparent.
The highlight colors and cockpit jeweling were all done in the same way, but with brushes. Start with a dark shade (red and dark brown, blue and dark brown, and dark green), moving progressively to lighter colors. This layering technique, often described as jeweling, is actually what artists strive for across the entire piece. It creates depth and contrast, that combined give the miniature both artistic appeal and the illusion of mass and volume.
For the bases, I sprayed the entire base black again. I wasn't worried with this oversprayed onto the feet-it was ash. After that, I applied a light drybrush of dark brown followed by very light drybrushing of grey. Where it was too bright for a burned landscape, I applied a black wash.
A few minor other details like metallics, sponge paint chipping, and some weathering pastels and the pieces were done.
Purple is a great color to paint with. Not only is it easy to use with relatively solid coverage and fluid application, but it's also a great study in color theory. The techniques learned when working with purple apply to nearly every other color.
I'm still not a fan of Leaguers.
Have your own purple plans? If there a color you'd like to see featured here? Throw it in the comments!
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