Friday, June 20, 2014

From the Desk: Cygnar Paint Scheme Thought Process

Choosing a paint scheme for an entire army can be simple or sophisticated. I am by no means an expert on the topic, but I figured I would share my own thought process of how I did this for Cygnar.

The first consideration I had was the style of the models that would be making up this army. Being Cygnar and focusing on the 3 Nemos to start with, it's going to be lots of jacks and storm things. Breaking this down more analytically as I looked at the models in my inventory, there are 4 primary features that would make up 98% of all the models being painted: armor plating, machinery, simple fabrics, and coils. Everything else past those things gets into a small representation of parts. Armed with this focus, I moved on to my next main thought...

The tone of the army is something I wanted to set and carry through every model as much as I good. I wanted to create a sense of speed and agility and technological elegance. I want the jacks to look like they have been part of a racing circuit. I want the coils to be prominent and everything to look energetic. Finally I want everything to look field experienced. Not necessarily "damaged", but a little worn from active duty. Now it was time to start turning this into something more concrete...

Color scheme was probably what took me the longest to decide on. I created numerous swatches of color combinations. I really liked swatches that had red and black in them, so I started doing Google image searches and punching in things like "red", "black", "racing". Eventually I found this image (source link) and everything started to come together. Red and black plating. Gleaming silver machinery. Bright blue coils and storm chambers. Armed with a color scheme, now I move on to some very tactical bits around executing on the paint scheme...

When army painting, there's 3 big things I try to keep in mind:
The first is what quality level I want to aim for overall. I learned from my Protectorate force that over the long term my skills will improve and the look of the army will get "better" which can cause some disparity. For this army I wanted to aim for what I would classify as tabletop quality. Similar to what I do with the bulk of my Legion force today.
Second is how well I can reproduce the look throughout the entire army. A lesson I've learned from my Legion (for better or worse) is that I can easily go crazy with color experimentation and then forget how I did something. My Legion beasts especially have this problem, particularly for the carapace. I want to make sure my process can be reproduced fairly accurately.
Finally is speed. I want a painting process that I can crank out fairly quickly. I want to be optimizing layers so that details are happening last, and large areas are done first. I especially want metallics done first as my wash and highlight techniques for them are pretty messy.
So the net result is a process that starts with laying down and mostly completing all the metallic work first, then "stipple/paintsmashing" the red plating on and in such a way that it makes the paint look worn off. Then go back and do blacks (cloth and accent armor platings), and finally details like coils and skin. The very last step will always be the freehand details, but I get ahead of myself.

With all this in mind, it's time to consider basing. I wanted to reinforce the "racing circuit" look and I wanted something fairly quick and easy. To be blunt, I'm sick of building bases like I do for Legion and wanted a bit of an easy button here. After poking around online a bit, I settled on the new line of Tau Ceti resin bases by Secret Weapon Minatures. These gave me a nice technological deck plating look that I felt would work well. They are also quick to paint and there's a good variety of styles for the 40mm and 50mm sizes, not to mention a 120mm option as well.

Finally just some thoughts on details to pick out in the army.
I wanted to have freehand insignias on them to reinforce a look of well maintained machines and for easily identifying models from each other. This was something I did with Legion beasts that was really handy, but the runes I used for them weren't as easy to read. I've opted to go with numbers, similar to what I did with the Madhammer battlegroup since the numbers are easier to read and identify. Anything that has multiple damage boxes will have something to uniquely identify them. This freehand is also specifically for me to practice my freehand skills more but without going completely overboard on the effort needed.
Another detail was that I'm going to paint any flesh as a medium-dark African flesh tone. There's several reasons for this, including improving my skills and that the color of African flesh is deliciously rich, and personal reasons like my son being from Africa. Needless to say, this is something I'm going to have to work at to get it looking good and I'm looking forward to that. Putting pictures of my son under my color analysis tools has been a really educational experience.

Ok, so that's my thought process and plan. It took me about 3 months of mulling it over while working on other projects before I finally made firm decisions on all this. So how did I celebrate? I made a playlist!

Playlist: Nemo Rush
C'mon - Go Betty Go
Jesus Built My Hotrod (Redline/Whiteline Version) - Ministry
Spybreak! - Propellerheads
Steve McQueen - Sheryl Crow
Real Gone - Sheryl Crow
More Human Than Human (Meet Bami In The King's Harem Mix) - White Zombie
Storm - Yoshida Brothers
Tank! - Seatbelts
Dragula (Hotrod Herman Remix) - Rob Zombie
Headhunter (Front Line Assembly Mix) - Front 242
Ooh La La - Goldfrapp
Teen Titans Theme - Puffy AmiYumi
Steampunk Revolution - Abney Park

1 comment:

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