Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Descent: Shiver Complete

As I suspected, I ended up focusing on one miniature more than the other. The outcome will be the same, but here's the process I followed for Shiver:

1) For the cloak I blended from the Ultramarine Blue (UB) basecoat down through 50:50 UB & Sombre Grey (SG), then pure SG, and finally 50:50 SG & Black. All the mixes are mixed in a ratio of 4 drops of paint to 2 Thinner and 1 Slow Dry.

I then applied a very slight highlight with 2 UB:3 Electric Blue (EB):3 T:1 SD. Shading for the blue sections was 50:50 Imperial Blue (IB) and EB, followed by pure IB. Shading for the grey sections was simply more and more Black added to a drop of SG, along with increasing amounts of thinner to avoid a pure black tone.

Finally I applied a highlight to the OSL via 2 EB and 4 T, followed by a very thin glaze of 2 EB and 4 White.

2) The central part of the cloak was basecoated in a mix of 2 Hexed Purple (HP) and 2 Warlord Purple (WP). Once dried I applied a mix of 2 WP and 2 Alien Purple (AP) to all surfaces but the recessed pattern. I finished up with a very light highlight of 4 AP + 1 WP on the edges.

3) The skin was a bit of a mess. I basecoated it in Dead Flesh but found that it was horribly yellow. I recoated in Bonewhite (BW), then shaded with VGC Sepia Ink which I note should never be diluted with Vallejo airbrush thinner. While the wash worked, it was extremely strong and stained the flat surfaces a lot more darkly than I had hoped. I recoated in BW, then highlighted in BW + White followed by BW + 2 White. I then glazed in a very thin mix of 1 VMA Pale Green, 1 BW and 10 drops of Glaze Medium before coating all of his skin. This gives just the slightest tint and makes him look sickly pallid rather than a skeleton.

I then painted his eyes in two shades of EB and White, and glazed a lighter tone onto his cheeks to represent eye-glow.

4) Finally I worked the metal parts.

The silver was undercoated in black, then gunmetal, silver and finally a wash of VMC Sepia Ink.

The gold was undercoated in Leather Brown, then Polished Gold and then also washed with Sepia Ink.

Anyway, that's Shiver down, Trenloe to go! Hopefully work doesn't stay as crazy as it has been and I'll have more time to paint over the next few weeks. Until then...happy hobbying.

~ Darchangel

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Descent: Two-for-One

I couldn't decide between these two so I've started them simultaneously. I'm sure I'll end up focusing on one over the other as I progress, but I'm saving time for now.

Trenloe the Strong
Pretty simple start, just an airbrushed coat of Bronze Fleshtone over the grey primer for his skirt. I'll go back over it with a glaze of Leather Brown next as I really want to reproduce the rich mustard colour of the box art. Trenloe will also be treated to both silver and gold paints from the Vallejo Liquid Gold range, along with oil paint-based washes, so looking forward to that experiment. Here's the very humble beginnings:

Up next is Shiver. I've done more on him only because there was more airbrush work required. I've airbrushed three colours here:
1) 50:50 Imperial Blue (IB) + Ultramarine Blue (UB) all over his cloak
2) Pure UB on roughly the top half of the cloak - I added thinner to keep this fairly subtle (about 20% thinner to 80% paint)
3) A very thin (3:1 thinner to paint) coat of Electric Blue (EB) on the side where his lantern is close to him

As you can see from the pics, the foundations for decent OSL are there, though it will look much better once his lantern isn't darker than the OSL.

Unfortunately throughout this process I discovered my Iwata HP-CS was jammed up from a poor cleaning last time I used it. It was actually so bad it refused to spray varnish on Belthir at all, so I had to strip it completely down and threw it in the Ultrasonic bath with about 30% Windex and the rest distillers water. Bit of a pain...

I was pleasantly surprised with the OSL section of the airbrushing though. By thinning the paint down so much I found I could set the PSI as low as 5-7, shoot extremely close to the miniature and just pull back on the trigger ever-so-slightly to get a very controlled flow without rivulets of paint jetting across the surface. Ok, that did happen at the start, but I cleaned it up with a wet brush and redid it ;)

Anyway, until next step Happy Hobbying!

~ Darchangel

Monday, 18 May 2015

Descent: Belthir Beaten!

Finally finished!! I've learnt a heap while painting him, but I'm keen to move on now.

So firstly I added a buttload of white to the final highlight colour and intended to paint a very fine line on the edges of the armour. Unfortunately they weren't nearly as fine as planned and now I'm a little angry with myself as its detracted from the overall effect. Not happy, but it'll have to do. C'est la vie.

Next I re-undercoated the weapon with Vallejo Grey Primer, using a rubber glove and some rubber bands as a mask for the rest of the miniature, and airbrushed the basecoat mix while I was at it.

His pants were painted black, belt and weapon haft with a 50:50 mix of Dark Fleshtone and Beasty Brown followed by straight Beasty Brown, and his loincloth was undercoated in 50:50 Black and Red Gore, based in Red Gore, then highlighted with Bloody Red, Hot Orange and Orange Fire.

I then proceeded to paint his weapon using the same process as his armour, but with the correct NNM highlights this time. The transitions weren't quite as smooth as the armour, but they're ok - clearly I need more practice in blending over a very small surface area.

Next up was a VGC Brown Ink wash for the weapon haft and belt, the weapon faces were finished in black and the pants were highlighted in a very dark mix of grey and black.

Finally, I mounted the wings, then painted and mounted his base before sealing everything in several coats of satin varnish. The base was painted with 50:50 Black and Cold Grey, before a heavy drybrush Cold Grey and a heavy wash of VGC Sepia Ink that was brushed away in patches before it completely dried to give it a dark dirty look.

Phew, I'm tired from just writing all that!

I've got a choice to make now - I have two heroes to paint, but each will require very different techniques. Shiver will require some airbrushing and a lot of traditional brushwork, but I'm planning on trying OSL for the first time on him as he's carrying a lantern. Trenloe the Strong should be much faster to finish, but I want to try my range of Vallejo Liquid metal paints for the first time necessitating the use of isopropyl alcohol as a thinner, and then wash using Oil Paints and Mineral Turpentine (which I've also never tried), so either way will expand my techniques. Guess you'll just have to stay tuned to find out who's up next! Until then, happy painting :)

Note: All paint is Vallejo Game Air unless otherwise noted.

~ Darchangel

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Final NNM

Well, the final coat is on and I'm declaring this little foray into NNM closed! (Though while writing this I've realised I forgot to add some highlights in the darkest areas. Bugger!)

Final stages:
7) 2nd Shade: 2DG:2IB:2T

8) Final Highlight: 2EG:2EB:4W:6T:2SD

All in all, I'm pretty happy with the result given this is my first attempt at NNM and 2-brush blending. I've learnt a crap load and I'm confident my next attempt will be even better. The one key learning I took away was that the base coat is so very important to get smooth. I really wish I'd spent the time to mask the red hide and then airbrush the base coat on the armour as it would have prevented the quite ugly build up I had to work around having put 3 base coats on. Amateur move, but you live, learn and move forward.

You might notice from the last photo that I've started reapplying undercoat to the weapon. I realised that I completely messed up the highlight locations and figured it'd be easier to start again that try to save it.

The next update should see Belthir finished: I just need to do the weapon, black leggings and his loin cloth in a nice warm red. Might be a few days before the next update as a result, we'll have to see :)

All paint is VGA. Colour codes are:
Dark Green = DG
Sick Green = SG
Escorpena Green = EG
Imperial Blue = IB
Magic Blue = MB
Electric Blue = EB
White = W
T = Vallejo Airbrush Thinner
SD = Liquitex Slow Dry

~ Darchangel

Friday, 8 May 2015

NNM Part 3

The saga continues! Rather than go back in with the base colour, I decided to use the 1st highlight colour instead. I found this smoothed out the transitions a great deal and cleaned things up a fair bit. You might also notice that not only am I thinning more (due to what I learned from my last 2 highlights), but I've also introduced some Liquitex Slow Dry, just to ensure I get a bit more time to smooth transitions with a damp brush if I need to.

5) Re-highlight: 2SG:2MB:2T:1SD

6) 1st Shade: 2DG:1MB:1IB:2T:1SD

I'm starting to try to keep the photos consistent as it's easier to see the progress. All in all I'm very happy so far, the shading is really starting to pull everything together. I may actually go back in before I continue though, as I think the large chest piece on the right could do with darkening at the bottom.

All paint is VGA. Colour codes are:
Dark Green = DG
Sick Green = SG
Escorpena Green = EG
Imperial Blue = IB
Magic Blue = MB
Electric Blue = EB
T = Vallejo Airbrush Thinner
SD = Liquitex Slow Dry

~ Darchangel

Thursday, 7 May 2015

NNM Part 2

Sorry for the sporadic posts - I save stuff up for a bigger post, then get to work and think "it's gonna be a while before I paint again, I may as well post what I have", and it always seems to be that night I get some more time to paint. Oh well.

So, I feel like I'm having a bit more success with smooth blends, and I'm at least seeing some results. I'm using a two-brush blending technique - essentially I hold a damp clean brush in my mouth, use the colour brush to apply some paint, then quickly feather it with the clean brush. Rinse, repeat.

While experimenting with this technique (which I'm preferring over wet-blending at the moment at it seems more suited to the tiny areas I'm working on), I'm refining as a I go.

I've found that increasing my thinner amount to the point that the paint is basically like skim milk is helping immensely with the blend, almost to the point of not even needing to feather with the second brush. I load up the brush with paint, draw the stroke from where I want the least amount of colour to where I want the most, and lift off. Where I start the stroke gets so little colour it's invisible, and where I end the stroke gets a pure new colour, with a smooth transition in between.

It's not perfect, and there's areas I want to go back over with the base coat, but I'm finding it terribly effective - you can mainly see it on the chest plate.

Anyway, I've applied the last two highlight layers for now, let me know what you think.

3) 2nd Highlight: 1SG:1MB:1EG:1EB:2T

4) 3rd Highlight: 2EG:2EB:3T

Next up is to clean up the transitions by reapplying the base colour, then the three layers of shading and defining the lines between the armour segments. Then another highlight, wash/glazes if necessary, and finally edge highlighting and hot-spots. Phew!

All paint is VGA. Colour codes are:
Dark Green = DG
Magic Blue = MB
T = Vallejo Airbrush Thinner
Sick Green = SG
Escorpena Green = EG
Electric Blue = EB

~ Darchangel


Ok, so I'm off and started with the aqua armour for Belthir!

From the gate I've realised just how low coverage these colours are, and even applying a thin coat of the basecoat started to show brushstrokes on the model. Instead of cake things on, I've gone for several thin layers and have added a drop of Vallejo Airbrush Thinner to ensure I don't get too much paint build up. Even so, after 4 coats I started to see some surface deposits so I stopped there - I'm hoping subsequent layers smooth out any colour inconsistencies still present.

My results so far are as follows:
1) Basecoat = 2DG:2MB:1T x 3

2) 1st Highlight: 2SG:2MB:1T

As you can see, I haven't made much progress :( The first highlight is surprisingly subtle and I'm actually a bit worried I'm going to run out of space for the next layers, but we'll have to see.

That hasn't been all my hobby work lately though (to be honest, the painting has been disappointingly slow).

In the background I've started working on a foam-core insert for the Descent 2E core game box. I'm up to 6 expansions, 17 lieutenant packs and 3 Hero & Monster packs, and while that all comes with a metric shitload of tokens and cards and tiles, FFG give you absolutely no way to organise any of it. I've been keeping the tokens in a fishing tackle box, cards in card boxes (a total of 4 at present), miniatures in my glass display cabinet and map tiles in the original 5 game boxes. Completely impractical!

So, after searching the web and forums I decided to steal the brilliant idea from Esoteric Order of Gamers (Link) but design my own inserts to support an ever-growing collection of tokens and cards. Here's my Work in Progress of the first layer - it fits snugly in the original game box and stores all the cards from all expansions with room for growth as well as some of the less-used tokens. Next up will be a sub-layer to fill the gap on top of the Hero Cards, to store the rest of the tokens, dice and doors/portcullises/shrubberies. Finally, there will hopefully be room for a second whole layer above that to store the map tiles, but I may just build a multi-layer map storage insert for one of the larger expansion boxes so I can store all map tiles together.

Note the custom card dividers - they took longer to make than the insert has so far!

I'm also working on a storage solution for all the miniatures but that's a post for another day.

More updates coming soon.

All paint is VGA. Colour codes are: Dark Green = DG
Magic Blue = MB
T = Vallejo Airbrush Thinner
Sick Green = SG
Escorpena Green = EG
Electric Blue = EB

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

The brown covers the pink, sink the red?

I'm kinda pushing it with the titles, I know, but that's what comes from excitement.

After thinking about it and generally procrastinating most of the day, I spent about half an hour this afternoon fixing my pink issue with what ended up being quite a simple solution. I mixed up what I was planning to be a red/brown glaze and stopped at just a single drop of Scarlet Red and changed my mind. After watching some YouTube videos from Studio McVey on the two-brush blending technique recently, I thought I'd see if I could smooth the transitions out a bit using this method.

Boy did it work! Inspired, I then mixed up a dark brown glaze and went over the whole miniature to tone it all back down a bit, and I'm so pleased with the result. Using a second damp brush to take the fresh layer of paint away from the areas I wanted to keep highlighted, and to feather out the edge of the colour I was applying, the transitions were miles ahead in terms of smoothness.

I'm now ready to declare the hide finished. I'll do the horns and eyes later, but the actual hide is done. Here's where I'm at:

On to the armour, finally! Now originally I was planning on ignoring the box art (which depicts aqua armour), and just paint it blue instead. Beyond the fact that there's not a single aqua paint in the VGA lineup, I've got an awesome colour app on my phone that calculates complimentary colours and it tells me a soft mid-blue is a perfect match for the scarlet I've been using.

But meh, I love the box art and it's primarily because the aqua strikes such a balance with the scarlet. So I spent some time messing with my paints in the palette; the VGA line has three primary blues (dark, mid and light) and three primary greens (again, three tones), so I figured what the hell - maybe that'll give me three aquas to use. I wasn't quite right, but they certainly gave me some awesome tones to use.

Below is a picture of my palettes. The lighting really doesn't do the colours justice as they are more saturated and bright in real life, but you can see I've noted the mix for each.

So based on this, my plan is as follows:
1) Basecoat with a 1:1 mix of Dark Green (DG) to Magic Blue (MB)
2) Highlight with 1:1 Sick Green (SG) to MB
3) Highlight with 1:1 Escorpena Green (EG) to Electric Blue (EB)
4) Glaze with the basecoat mix to tone it back if I need to
5) Shade with 2:1:1 DG+MB+ Imperial Blue (IB)
6) Shade with 2:1:2 DG+MB+IB
7) Shade with 1:1 DG+IB
8) Final edge highlighting and hotspots with a lightened version of the EG+EB mix

I'll adjust as necessary throughout the process and I'm actually planning on doing mid-step mixes between highlighting and shading tones, so all up it should be 13 discreet paint mixes. If it makes sense at the time, I'll also add some very subtle red glazes to represent reflected colour from his arms and neck, but we'll have to see.

But before all that, I need to paint the glowing rune in his belt buckle. It's a really bright glowing rune in the box art, but it's a very fine embossed depression in the miniature so it's not going to be fun. Oh well, the means justify the end in this case :)

Until next time.

Red's doing in my head!

And Pink stinks!

I've posted a couple of "completed" blog entries recetnly, but I'm going to start adding WIP blogs as and when I think there's a point. As in the old days on my blog, it'll be as much about formulating and documenting my process and experiments for myself as much as for anyone else to view (cuz hey, who's reading this but me anyway?!).

For the first WIP post, I'm currently working on Belthir, one of the lieutenants from Descent 2nd Edition. Nicely detailed model, reasonable scale (though a bit smaller than my usual GW space marines), and once I removed his wings he's reasonably easy to access with a paintbrush.

So the box art for Belthir has a frustrating amount of shadow over it, but it's pretty clear that he has a deep red hide and complimentary-coloured blue\green armour. I decided heading into painting him that I wanted to try my hand at NMM for the armour, so I figured I'd quickly paint the red hide so I didn't have to try to access his neck with a paintbrush later and get red paint on my finished armour. I also assumed the red would be relatively quick, and I'd spend most of my time on the armour. Boy was I wrong!

Painting a deep red and highlighting up without it appearing way too pink has proven to be a nightmare! I started with a VGA Scarlet Red basecoat, and a thin mix of Scarlet Red and Charred Brown for shading, then moved onto highlights. After experimenting with Bonewhite and finding it too pink, I settled on a Scarlet Red + Dwarf Flesh mix as it seemed to increase brightness without too much pinkness to it (on my test paper at least).

So, I've applied progressively smaller treatments of 2:1, 1:1 and 1:2 Scarlet Red to Dwarf Flesh, and as you can see from the pics below, there's quite a bit of not-cool going on:

Firstly, I'm struggling to get smooth transitions. If I add a single drop of water to thin the mixed pain, I end up with something more like a wash - it fills recesses and pools on flat surfaces. If I don't add water, I'm finding it goes on way too thick to show the underlying layer and I don't get the blend I'm looking for.

Secondly, each successive colour is vastly different from the last, meaning I need to use much better blending techniques than I have so far.

Finally, it's freaking pink!!!

My plan at this stage is to bring the tone back down with several thin layers of a very dark brown (Black + Charred Brown + Glaze Medium) - this should restore the shadows and smooth out some of the layering. I may also apply a glaze of Scarlet Red if I find it ends up too desaturated. From there, I'll have to reassess next steps. 

The figure only costs $10, so if I have to start again from basecoat I will, but I could just re-buy the whole miniature if I have to (though obviously I'd prefer not to). Hopefully I won't end up wet-blending the hide as well, as it's just further delaying this mini, and I have literally 160-odd left to do for Descent. Grrr....

Anyway, onwards and upwards :) Until next time - Darchangel

Sunday, 26 April 2015


Continuing on my Descent painting journey, my next finished paint job is these Cave Spiders.

I actually finished these a few weeks ago but kept forgetting to take some pics to post.

I took this rather arbitrary opportunity to play around with wet-blending on their legs. This is one technique I've never tried before and while it didn't come out perfect (I've had better transitions from layered dry blending in the past), I learnt a lot and it's something I'll be refining do I can add it to my toolkit. 

On with the pics!
Here's the original source image. 

And my painted rendition:

The next finished mini is a while away, unfortunately. In the expanded rules for Descent 2nd Edition the evil Overlord gets to choose a lieutenant that he can occasionally bring into play through cards. Our Overlord chose Belthir, so he's next up. 

Tuesday, 31 March 2015


I'm not even going to address the length of time since my last post. Let's just pretend that gap never happened, shall we?

On with the show!

New paints
I've recently bought the full range of Vallejo Game Air as I've found the consistency of Model Air to be equally awesome for airbrushing or brush-painting, but the range was always pretty dull for fantasy miniatures. My initial thoughts are they are exactly what I was hoping they were - pre-thinned for airbrushing, and perfect for brush painting without loads of thinning. Nuff said.

New Miniatures
So I suppose it's possible I kept getting bored of painting because it was always the same dark green color scheme. Who knows? Life tends to be hectic for me and there was always something else to gobble up my time, but let's give something different a shot - Descent 2E.

Descent 2nd Edition is a board game in playing with 3 of my best friends, and is focused around a modular board and loads of miniatures. 3 of us play heroes and face off against the Evil Overlord who has primarily monsters to smash us up but also the occasional but powerful Lieutenant. These minis are smaller than 40k, but they are characterful and the cards describing them all are bright and vivid and look like a blast to paint. 

So let's get started shall we?

Tomble Burrowell
Tomble is the Hero I happen to be playing in our current Descent campaign, so I thought he'd be as good a place as any to start. Here's the official drawing of him, care of Fantasy Flight Games:

 And here's my painted version:

Not my best work, but hey, I'm rusty!

That's it for now - short and sharp. Next up, spiders!!!