Sunday, March 02, 2008

Painting Techniques Round Up

I follow a particular thread on the Privateer Forums called "Ask the Studio". Recently there were a couple posts that got my attention about "blending" techniques. I'm going to shamelessly quote some of the pieces from those posts here so as to comment on them myself.

"Drybrushing - Yes thats right, drybrushing is infact a blending technique. The biggest advantage of drybrushing is that it is relatively fast and easy to learn and for this reason it is almost always the first technique that miniature painters learn. Smoother transitions can be achieved by applying numerous very light and subtle coats and adding alittle more of your highlight color to your paint mixture with each coat. Expertly drybrushed models can have upwards of 20-30 very light drybrushes although most have far fewer."
-Matt DiPietro
This is a technique that I needed demonstrated for me before I really understood. Once I got it, I used this alot, and I mean alot. I still use drybrushing occasionally, but it's for very specific situations. Typically I like the effect of drybrushing when simulating stone, or working on hair and fur.

"Layering - The definition of layering is a bit fuzzy but when layering is used in the context of blending it means to use very thin paint applied in numerous layers to build up your highlights or shading. Thin paint is very translucent and the layer underneath is tinted rather than covered. With multiple layers the paint is gradually built up. The translucency of the thin paint is the property that causes the layers to blend together. The more numerous the layers used the smoother the blend but the more numerous you layers are the thinner your paint needs to be. When layering, P3 mixing medium or othe matte mediums can be really useful because paint that is thined down a lot with water will run unless applied in very light coats. By mixing in P3 mixing medium as well as some water you can make your paint more translucent while preventing it from running. There are many styles of layering and most painters use thicker paint and fewer layers just to save time/sanity and although the transition between layers is more noticeable the effect is still quite striking especially on the table top."
-Matt DiPietro
This is, by and large, what I use most of the time now, with a minor variation. I typically will get my color (highlight or shade) on the model, and then "feather" or blend it out a bit using that brush. This is mostly a brute-force kind of blending that I do, which although I have practiced it alot, is currently my main hinderance to better blending.

"Feathering - Feathering is using layers of thin paralelle lines to build up your highlights. Layers of lines are painted one within another to gradually build up highlights. Check out the head of the Legion Raek for an example of Feathered blending. Its a technique you don't see very often but it yields a very unique textured look while still blending your layers together. It is worth noting that there a some other techniques that are also called feathering so check out post #267 in this thread for a desciption of these."
-Matt DiPietro
I've heard this term used in a number of ways. Some definitions are closer to what I described my current technique as just above. All things considered, I'm probably doing some combination of "Layering" and "Feathering".

"Two-brush blending - As the name states you need two brushes to use this technique. One brush applies paint to the the model and the second is used to alter the translucency of the paint while it is still wet. Paint is quickly and messily applied in a line, dot, or glob with the first brush and then pushed or pulled into the desired shape using a second brush dampened with blending medium (blending medium is not the same thing as P3 mixing medium you can find blending medium in many art stores). There exsists a secret blending medium out there which just happens to be the very best but also a little dangerous/gross, yup you guessed it-saliva! If you do decide to brush lick and use saliva as your blending medium be careful that you are using non-toxic paint. P3 is non-toxic, but some other mini paints are. If your bottle doesn't say non-toxic on it chances are at least some paints from that range contain cadmium, cobalt, or other heavy metals that can lead to cancer and other health problems. In any case always avoid getting paint in your mouth. The good news is that slaiva is a natural resister which means that paint doesn't stick to it and you can most times blend away without getting paint on your blending brush. Two-brush blending allows a painter to make big jumps in color and still get the smoothest of blends this means fewer layers which results in a lot of time saved."
-Matt DiPietro
This is what I've been occasionally practicing. The main barrier for me is still just finding the right places to practice it. There's a size limitation of what surfaces this works best on. I suspect that one of the main problems I was having before was my lighting was throwing too much heat and drying my paint before I could blend it properly. Now that I have my new uberlamp, I need to give this more practice. The application I've had of this technique so far has been pretty good, but I need to get a little more practice under my belt still before I feel comfortable with it.

"Wet Blending - One of the toughest techniques to do, wet blending is the mixing of two wet colors directly on the mini. It is easiest to do on large open areas. a blob/line of one color is placed on the model and then the brush is cleaned off and the second color is applied next to the first leaving some room in between then using a second brush is used to pull strands of each color into the space between them and mix them together until the transition is flawless. The end effect is like having a basecoat that changes gradually from one color to another."
-Matt DiPietro
Uhmm, yeah, I simply don't do this. I don't even try. There's a number of reason, not the least of which is I'm just not fast enough with my hands to do this effectively. Plus, until I master the 2-brush technique, I don't even want to fidget with this.

The last part I wanted to reference was a post by Quentin about shading metals. The post is long and detailed, but the quick sum up is that he first uses a base coat of a medium metal color, then uses several shading passes of very thin black paint. The purpose is to use a matte color and wash it in the recesses to remove any shinyness. I used this technique extensively on the Freebooter and was quite pleased. In his post he also references this article by Sabastian Archer on CMON. Sabastian is a top notch painter and this article is pure genius to me.

Well, that's it for now. Time to go put the brush to the model and continue painting like I have a pair!

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