Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Miniature Painting 101: Tricking the Eye

When you look at 'Eavy Metal models, or competition pieces from events, every single part of them is painted to the highest standard. Unfortunately, when it comes to painting an entire army of miniatures, that standard of painting is hard to achieve unless you want to take a decade to finish it. That's where one of the most useful tools in an army painter's arsenal comes into play, tricking the eye.

What am I talking about? Well, there are plenty of tricks to paint a miniature fast, drybrushing, using primarily washes, and skipping out on certain layers are just a few of them. When used on their own or in isolation, these tricks can lead to a miniature looking messy, unfinished, or just not quite where you may want them to be. However, when you use these in combination with other techniques you're able to get away with a surprising amount.

Take this Kharadron Overlord for instance. I painted this to be a good quality for the table top, and as such I wanted to get it done in a reasonable amount of time. When I started on the model I mapped out my strategy, and that strategy involved drybrushing. This technique is great on rough textures or textures you want to look rough. I use it all the time on stone, fur, or bases. On a smoother model like this though it can stand out a little too much. Despite that all of the metallic areas on it were just basecoated, washed, and then drybrushed with Necron Compound. I did both the gold and silver like this. The metallics are a considerable portion of this model too, so already I have knocked out about half of the mini rather quickly. Now comes the part where I try and trick the eye. While the metallics are rather simple, I have painted the green cloth using precise and smooth layers. I did the same on the straps and such, but with a few less layers. By doing these areas so crisp and smooth, your eye is drawn to them and the rougher metallics don't stand out as much. They end up acting as more a frame for the more refined areas. As a whole it all comes together rather nicely.

Another example technique is a favorite of mine. Painting using washes over a light undercoat to lay down your basecoats and shades all in the same step. I go over this in a lot of tutorials, but in the above example I have painted the Kairic Acolyte's skin with a Reikland Fleshshade wash over Corax White. This really speeds up the process of painting, and you could leave it at just that, or even drybrush over top of it. Instead I went for line highlights, because once again the more precise colors and layers here help distract the eye from other areas that might be a little sloppy or rushed looking. Basically by taking a shortcut on one part of the model you're able to lavish more attention on a another part that will really stand out to people looking at it. You paint part of it to a really nice standard and cut back elsewhere, and unless you really examine it like you would a competition piece, it will look really nice.

This is an important lesson to learn, since earlier on when I was first learning to paint I wanted to paint every part of a model to the same standard. Like I said, this is great for a display piece, but will take forever for an army, which is the problem I ran into. It would take me years to finish one army. Since I have started adopting this method more and incorporating things like painting primarily with washes, and figuring out how to best use drybrushing I have drastically cut down on how long it takes me. The Plaguebearer above is 90% skin, which involves a basecoat from a spray can, a drybrush, a wash, another drybrush, and finished off with a final edge highlight carefully painted. That may sound like a lot of steps, but the drybrushing and washes really take very little time. In this case the final highlight helps pull all of it together and your eyes are drawn towards those sharper lines. A sharper line like this also helps to visually blend together color transitions, like with the red torn skin.

What are some tricks you use to cut down on time but still produce minis to a standard you're happy with?

Until next time,

Tyler M.

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