Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Simple Methods for Painting Black

Another SAGA player recently asked me how I paint black.  I sketched out three methods based on my recent painting.  As my email grew longer, I thought I might share it up on the blog.  Spoiler alert, there's nothing new here. 

Each method starts with a black primer coat. Once the figures are thoroughly dry, I go over them completely with Vallejo black paint thinned with a bit of water. This gives you coverage in all the places your primer might have missed.  Plus, Vallejo black dries flatter than the Army Painter black primer I currently use.  

Edging Method: The first method is fast and easy. Pick out the highest points on the figure and edge them with a grey highlight.  I used a Vallejo blue-grey here. The name is worn off the bottle so I don't know what it's called. Your goal is to keep most of the figure black and to do that, use minimal highlights. Less is more! 
Two highlights and a wash Method: This requires more work but it gives you a subtle navy blue to black effect.  I used Vallejo Prussian Blue (dark blue) as my first highlight.  Leave the black intact in the deep crevasses and shadows. I then painted Vallejo Intense Blue in a smaller area on top of the first highlight. Take care to leave some of your first highlight peeking out from under your second highlight. Once thoroughly dry, I applied Games Workshop's Drakenhof Nightshade, a dark blue wash.  I wanted the end result to be very dark so I applied the wash heavily.  If you want your highlights to pop through, cut the wash with water. You might apply a water-thinned wash and check your results once it dries.  If you find you want to go darker still, apply a second thinned wash.

Two highlights, no wash Method:  This method pops nicely at gaming distance.  With no wash used here, you'll need to paint quite neatly.  Don't be too tough on yourself the first time out as it may take some practice to achieve an effect you're satisfied with.  

While you can mix your own grays, I generally paint straight out of the bottle. That way, I can come back to a project months later and match the paint on new figures perfectly.  If you do mix your own, you can try:
Black and Pink for a warm gray.  
Black and Turquoise Blue for a cold grey. 
Black and Green for something different than the first two options.   
I  selected a cold blue gray for my Mutatawwi’a as I figured fanatics are generally not “warm” fellows.  

Apply your first highlight liberally.  Leave black intact  in the deepest recesses and folds.  Then paint a 2nd brighter gray onto your first highlight. Be neat and leave some of your 1st highlight showing.  For the 2nd highlight, I concentrate on places where the sun/light would be hitting.  Remember, each figure doesn't have to be a masterpiece!  Some will look better than others and that's just fine.

This technique leaves you with the least black on your figures.  Don’t freak out when your figure ends up more gray than black.  If that's not a look you like, see #1 and #2 above. 

If you have a tip or trick for painting black, please share it in the the comments section!    

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Spanish for SAGA

Spanish are my favorite faction in SAGA, thanks to their cerebral battle board.  It takes time to master their subtle plays and even then, I've just scratched the surface of possibilities this last year. A bonus for running Spanish is you can drive opponent mad with cries of "Iberia!" and "Santiago!" any time you throw the dice.  Guaranteed good times!

I stalled on my way to the finishing his warband due to the number of mounted figures (49). With winter break and some dedication, I just managed to finish them. The Spanish are on my short list for the SAGA Grand Melee at Adepticon in April.
Jinetes: 40 Jinetes (warriors) means I can run a warrior heavy warband.  With an armor of 3 in melee and shooting, you have to work  to keep these lads alive.  They'll shine each time you active them for shooting and during your opponent's turn with Iberia. These are Gripping Beast Norman warriors buffed with greenstuff. You can save yourself the trouble by buying Gripping Beast Spanish, or Perry or Crusader Miniatures Spanish.  All ranked up on the table, 40 mounted warriors is an impressive sight!
Caballeros:  In a balanced build, 2 points of mounted hearthguard gives your Spanish some muscle.

Levy:  Spanish  can take levy bow, javelins or crossbow.  When I take levies, I choose javelins for the ability to move and shoot in the same turn.
Foot warriors/foreign mercenaries:  The Spanish battleboard is made for mounted units, meaning foot warriors are an expensive afterthought.  In some scenarios, you need foot warriors for occupying buildings and terrain, and that's what these fellows were painted for.  They can serve as a Dogs of War Foreign Mercenary unit or simply foot warriors.
Warlord and Bard: You'll notice my warlord has a desert basing scheme.  I had planned to repaint all of my Spanish bases to a desert theme. When I pulled them up to the painting table, I blinked. Instead I'll repaint El Cid's base to match his warband.
I hope you all had a great Christmas holiday.  My son and daughter were home from college and it was great to enjoy Rock Band, family board games and movie night once again. Life is good!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Painting Linen Banners

2015 was a banner year, judging by the number I painted for SAGA.  I recently posted up some of my banners in a SAGA Facebook page and received requests for a tutorial.  Far from an expert, I'm happy to share what I've learned so far.
You'll need some linen to start.  I ordered mine on-line but if you have a crafty friend, see if you can get a swatch off them because you don't need much! Start by determining the size and shape of you banner. My infantry banners are generally square, 1- 1/2 " x 1-1/2".  If you want swallow tails or a long tailed cavalry banner, take that into account as you measure and cut.  I start a bit large than what I need and then trim the banner up after testing it on my bannerman.  Unlike paper banners, I don't double the linen over onto itself. By working with a single layer of linen, your banner will be flexible and translucent. When sizing, leave a little extra for rolling up onto the wire (see below).

Once sized and cut, put a long bead of PVC glue at one end of the banner and tightly roll it around the wire it'll be mounted on.  Cover the wire completely and put a bit of weight on it to keep it from unrolling while it dries.  Once dry, give the banner a good pull and slide it off the wire.  The linen will keep a tube shape, allowing you to swap out banners. This is cool because you'll be able to sport either the fabulous LBMS banners or your own creations as the mood strikes you!

Paint the banner in a dark base color. For white banners, I use light green, light brown or gray for my base. Ideally, your base color will peek through at the finish (see below) giving you shadows and contrast. Experiment with this because just like priming miniatures, your base color affects the look of your finished banner.

After the base coat, I use a pencil to sketch out the shapes I need to paint.  I'm not  good at freehand so a little care here prevents headaches and overpainting later.  I use a ruler to ensure everything is symmetrical and balanced.

Next, work up from your base.  I use the triad method, which is a dark base, a mid-tone color and a highlight color to finish.  For white, my base was a light green, my mid tone was pale sand and the highlight was white. 

Avoid painting an area so thoroughly that you can't see the base color. Leave some of each color peeking through for contrast. To do this, I paint using the side of my brush with a wetbrush to drybrush technique. Wetbrushing is like drybrushing except that you leave a bit more paint on the brush.  Wetbrush your first coat and then go lighter (drybrush) with each coat. Sometimes, I paint dots for the final highlight and effect.  Ideally, each coat is applied a bit smaller and in a lighter amount than the prior color.  This is "seat of the pants" painting and you should experiment to find the look you like.  
Once finish with the inside, work up the outside areas in the same method.  The dark to light highlights mimic the folds, ripples and shadows in real life on a banner. Your goal is to make the banner look good at 3 feet and not 3 inches.  So while it may look odd close up, hold it at arm's length to see how the effect looks at distance.  I like to "blackline" to make the banner pop.  Below, you can see I used black to create a thin shadow around the white cross for contrast.  

Once finished,  the banner will be slightly stiff.  You can press the banner in from both ends to create a slight "S" bend, making it look like it's catching the wind. A reader suggested that you can heat the banner with a hairdryer to make it more flexible and receptive to shaping as well.  I'll try that next time.  

Seal it with a matt sealer that'll help protect the paintjob and hold the shape of the banner, and your set!  I'd love feedback and suggestions on this as I've just scratched the surface of this topic.  If you have tips or tricks you're willing to share, please post them!