Monday, October 25, 2010

From the Desk: Working in the Raw

I recently picked up some of the MIG pigments, which for those not familiar with the product, MIG produces a line of raw pigments. I first heard about these from a tutorial from Miniature Mentor on weathering. These are a part of the old school military painters' arsenal that has gained some popularity with miniature painters. Having never used these before myself, I figured I'd do a quick post and share my test model.

First thing to note, these are not paints. They are raw pigments in dry form. The pigments are actually meant to be used in dry form. There's a nice tutorial online here that gives a bunch of different examples of using the MIG pigments. Given that this is my very first time of using them, I highly recommend checking out other sources for information.

The first thing I needed was a test subject. This model has served me for multiple years now as a test model. I'm probably due for a new one soon. I've found it handy to have test models laying around for just such purposes, preferably ones that have a variety of surfaces and details. This one was nice because it had smooth cloth, flesh, armored pieces, swords, and other little details. The following photos are pretty grainy due to the zoom effect, so you may need to guess a little bit about how it actually looks in person.

Step 1 was to basecoat my test area. I opted to basecoat with Mithril Silver, and then hit it with Badab Black. I opted to paint the kneepads just because there was a combination of textured and smooth surfaces. Hitting it with the black wash gave the area more definition just so I could better see what the net effect was. I made sure to let this dry thoroughly, for reasons that I will make clear in the last step. I really wanted this to be a controlled test of the pigment so that I could get a basic understanding of how it behaves. In the future I'll probably experiment more with combining it, brushing it, and layering it.

Next it was time to break out the pigment. I should note that although this stuff is "dry" and appears like a powder, it will still stick to surfaces and stain them. I definitely advise care when working with it. I specifically used an older brush that didn't keep its tip anymore. This gave me more of a "powder" style brush for applying it (gosh, what a novel idea huh?) and made it easy to dab on the pigment. And yes, dabbing is all I did. I didn't brush it on. I merely dabbed the brush head into the pigment pot lightly, and then dabbed that onto the surface carefully. You'll notice that quite a lot of pigment got on there, and it looks pretty chunky. Given the size of the surface, I didn't try to do anything fancy. Note that I only used the "Standard Rust" color for this.

Last step is fixing (no, not correcting). Fixing is critical for making sure the pigment stays where it belongs. Now I have to admit my own ignorance on this step: I didn't buy the MIG Fixer product when I bought the pigment pack. However, I've read multiple techniques for fixing, including turpentine and alcohol. So, I got a little rubbing alcohol and (you guessed it) dabbed it on. The key here is to let the capillary action of the pigment draw the alcohol out of the brush. You don't want to brush on the alcohol since doing so would basically turn the pigment into a paint and ruin the random grainy effect that it provides. After liberally applying the alcohol to fix the pigment, I let that dry thoroughly.

Well, the results are pretty interesting. Layering multiple pigment colors would also add to the effect. It's a little hard to tell from the photo, but it does create a nice random effect which would be really hard to replicate with normal paints. This is where the pigments really shine. They provide a nice random grainy effect, but are at the same time semi-transparent, and do it very quickly. All things considered, I'm pretty excited to add these to my painting arsenal, even if they are only going to be used occasionally.


Mike Howell said...

Great tutorial; thanks!

I am definitely likely to buy these now after seeing your results. Very nice.

Anonymous said...

This is a very interesting technique I have never heard about.

Thank you for spreading your knowledge.

Viruk said...

I use Vallejo pigments - these were the only ones available at my local store at the time I wanted to try this technique. Mig pigments are supposed to be the best though.
Very nice tutorial, well illustrated with pictures, thanks for sharing.

Scott said...

I should note, I had to order these pigments online from CMON since I couldn't find a local store that had them. After trying them, I'm going to recommend that my LGS carry at least a few of them.