Sunday, September 18, 2011

Painting Purgatory: Picking on my own models

Time to continue with the color theory analysis of my old models. Rather than doing the complete breakdown analysis on all of these, I'm just going to give the lesson learned from each one. Again, not critiquing painting techniques, just color choices.
Right out of the gate I've got a total eyesore. This model is an example of something where I picked out random colors because they looked nice individually. It was very early in my painting, and might be among the first 10 models I painted.
Lesson learned: Don't pick colors individually, but pick out the colors and set them together on my desk together, and stare at them for a couple days before making a final decision.
This is a sample from a whole army of marines I painted in an "Angry Hornet" theme. Now honestly, the scheme is so dead simple it's hard to go wrong. It's predominantly a monochromatic scheme, with just a little bit of other color thrown in. All things considered I can't slam these too much, however... Lesson learned: Black should never be straight black, but rather have some hue to it. Straight black generally doesn't exist in the real world.

Here's a group shot of several of these guys. I painted quite a few, and a variety of space marines as well. In a big group, they look pretty striking.
Although more colorful, this Terminator is still pretty good. The same problem with the black exists with the white.
Lesson learned: Just like black, keep pure while usage very minimal.
So again, a monochromatic scheme that works ok. Here's the interesting expansion though: The hair (purple) makes a color bridge between the blade/mask (blue) and the armor (red). Now it's not a perfect bridge, but it does somewhat work.
Lesson learned: Color "bridges" can help tie a model's scheme together, but the bridging color needs to be a careful choice.

This Jain Zar model on the otherhand was an interesting example of how I started doing some edge highlighting. The color problem of course is that pink isn't a good highlight color for red usually. There are other problems given the spattering of random colors, but I think that should be obvious by now.
This model represents the first significant attempt I made at freehand work. Needless to say, I didn't do much more of this for a very long time. Honestly, this model is just a complete train wreck of color. Now normally a Harlequin is a pretty colorful character, which can make them tricky to paint. One trick I heard was to set up a triadic color palette (3 colors fairly equidistant on the color wheel) and use that as the core of the color scheme, with variations on that theme as needed. Honestly though, I find Harlequins to be an enormous challenge.
Lesson Learned: Schemes with a lot of different colors are really hard to pull off. Sticking with fewer colors is easier to plan.
This Imperial Assassin is a good example of when I started trying to do more of the GW-style highlighting, with bright highlights on all the edges. One thing that worked well here actually was using yellow to lighten and highlight the green armor rather than adding white. It provides a warmer feel to contrast the cooler green tone.
Lesson Learned: Don't use white to lighten a color for highlighting, since it usually makes the color look chalky.
Ok, it's 9pm and I'm running out of steam on this post, so let's speed things up. Pink, purple and black was a good core set of colors. They work well together. However the grey highlights for the black armor was the first mistake. The green gun was a second (although lesser) mistake. Grey highlights tend to dull down and distract the eyes from the otherwise harmonious scheme. Using a purple or even blue highlight for the black armor plates would have created a much better look overall. And the green gun? Well, never opt to paint metal items with non-metal colors just to be cute. Color conveys a lot about what type of material is present (as discussed previously).
Lesson Learned: Highlighting and shading of black can bring in even more color to a scheme and help tie the overall look together.
Again with the green? And now I threw in brown too?!?! Ok, this one is even quicker.
Lesson Learned: I made some very questionable choices in college. Must have been all the drinking that affected my decision making.
And here I close out the post with something really special. Again, a total train wreck of color. Primary colors all around. It's a mess. But, there's a reason I included this one. This was the first model that I used a drybrushing technique on. I was at my LGS and someone demonstrated it for me. That day I learned the value of painting with others. Practice takes you some of the way, but learning techniques firsthand from other people can really make a huge difference.
Lesson Learned: Always try to paint with other people!
Well, that rounds out a thoroughly long and boring post. Thanks to anyone who actually stuck it out this long. I promise to only do one more of these posts at most. I should note that although I'm still going to be doing more Painting Purgatory posts, I have actually been able to put brush to model in the last week and am making some progress. However my house situation is still pretty confined so I'm not likely to get anything based on finished for a couple more weeks. So there's more color theory, desk action, and purgatory to come.


Fildrigar said...
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Fildrigar said...

I love this post. I've been painting about as long as you have, and also have a huge number of early models to pull bad examples from. It's fun to keep one early model with you, and when someone at the game store says "I could never paint like that," you pull out your old model and show them.