Razormage's Aradae Mawr - WiP

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razormage
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Razormage's Aradae Mawr - WiP

Postby razormage » Fri Aug 16, 2013 1:34 pm

Howdy, guys! I've been working on Aradae Mawr since Monday, but this is the first chance I've had to upload the pictures and actually write up what I've done on him. I was hoping to knock him out in 7 days, but last night was day 5 and I've still got a ton of the model left. As usual, those following on my blog might have seen the pictures go up last night, but I only got text added this morning. I don't even have fun Title Text easter eggs on there yet, so there's no point in going over there to check it out.

Without further blathering from me, here's what you all are interested in

Another week, another Darklands model to work on! This one's Aradae Mawr. I originally bought him to be a draconic monstrous beast for a different gaming system, but think that as large as he is, a chariot might be a better option. I also haven't decided if I'm going to give him a deity to follow, so my color palette is extremely limited. Without green, red, or blue available I was pretty much limited to yellow, orange, or purple being the primary skin color. I ended up going with purple because its a color I use very very rarely, and want to practice with.
[Author's Note: the steps on this one are focusing purely on colors. I always, always, thin my paint with water as well. As a rough guide, I use a drop of water for every 3 drops of paint in a mix. So if you see that a layer was 3:1:2 of certain colors, there are also two drops of water in there. I'm just too lazy to include them when writing a WIP.]

Skintone, Layer 1:
Image Image
Using purple, I had a few decisions to make. Did I want to use the Vallejo purple paint colors (which highlight up towards pink), or did I want to mix my own? I decided on mixing my own, to give me better control of the tints, and so that I could try to balance the red and blue against each other.
The first layer was 3 drops of Vallejo Red, to two drops of Medium Blue, and two drops of SS Camo Black Brown (to darken it up). I used the brown instead of the black to produce a warmer shadow, rather than a cold one. I'll most likely use Camo Black for the entire model, where I can, to keep the shadows consistent in tint. The first layer was painted with a Games & Gears 2 brush.

Skintone Layer 2:
Image Image Image
For the second layer, I used 3 parts Vallejo Red to two parts of Camine Red, to two parts of Medium Blue, and a single drop of SS Camo Black Brown. I stuck with the Games & Gears brush, but moved to a 1.

Skintone Layer 3:
Image Image Image
For the third layer, I grabbed a Clown Shoes Very Angry Beast (since Aradae is probably himself very angry), and mixed three drops of Carmine Red with one drop of Medium Blue and one drop of SS Camo Black Brown. I actually re-mixed this shade; the first time I used two drops of Medium Blue, and it completely overwhelmed the reds and looked perfectly blue. I'd keep 3:1 or 4:1 red:blue ratios throughout the rest of the model.

Skintone Layer 4:
Image Image Image
For the fourth layer, I mixed two drops of Carmine Red with two drops of Bloody Red, and then added a drop of Medium Blue. Looking back at the photos now, I think this layer and the one below are almost identical to layers 2 and 3. I have a feeling I will drop those two layers, as I have too many transition layers in this model, and the first four are all dark and subtle. This layer really should have been the second.

Skintone Layer 5:
Image Image Image
The fifth layer used three drops of Bloody Red to one drop of Medium Blue. Again, this should have been the third layer, as the second and third do exactly the same thing that the fourth layer and this layer do. My next Tawyrdraig will correct this. Frustrated at myself for making this mistake (two unnecessary layers) and out of beer, I called it a night. This layer and the previous one were done with a Games & Gear 0 brush.

The next day, I jumped back in with a single layer:

Skintone Layer 6:
Image Image Image
The sixth layer was painted after a Mordheim game, so I only had time for a single layer before I had to go to bed. This layer was two drops of Bloody Red to two drops of German Orange, followed by two drops of Medium Blue. I initially only did a single drop of the blue, but the orange completely overwhelmed the blue, and the layer went pink almost immediately. I was hoping for an iridescent indigo effect for the model, so I had to go overboard on the blue to correct it. I'd rather have the shade looking too blue than too pink, as the whole point of mixing my own shades of purple was to avoid that Squid Pink highlight. I was back to my Winsor & Newton Series 7's for this layer; this one was done with a 1.
After a single layer, I gave up for the night and resolved to come back.

For day three, I grabbed a Flemish Red ale (commonly known as a "sour" and jumped right back into it!

Skintone Layer 7:
Image Image Image
Now we're getting somewhere! The seventh layer dialed back the orange, using two drops of Bloody Red to only a single drop of German Orange. I also increased the blue shade, by going with 1/2 a drop of Medium Blue, and half a drop of Sky Blue. The sky blue is much closer to white than the medium, and combined with the more restrained orange levels, is starting to approach that iridescent color I'm hoping for. The brush shifted down in size, to a Winsor and Newton Series 7 size 0.

Skintone Layer 8: Switched over to a porter for smoother brush control.
Image Image Image
For the eighth layer, I used the same 2 Bloody Red : 1 German Orange, but this time added a single drop of Sky Blue. This layer was very lightly applied, but as is usually the case with my models, the last two layers are the least amount of paint on the model, but provide the most "pop". Brushwork was done with a Winsor & Newton Series 7 size 00.

Skintone Layer Nine:
Image Image Image
For the final layer, I added a drop of white to what was left over from the above layer, and downsized brushes again to a Winsor & Newton Series 7, size 000. This was very, very sparingly added to the points of the model that face my light source. Content with the skintone, I called it a night.

Day Four: Now for the metallics!

Silver Layer 1:
Image ImageImage
When I'm painting models that I want to be awesome looking, I always end up going non-metallic over metallic. The reflection off a metallic paint scheme is a bit unrealistic to my eyes, and I hate the washes and tinting that I have to do to emphasize contrasts with metallic paint. Since my paint style relies on high-contrast painting to the level of almost being white, using metallics (which provide pure reflected light) always breaks the highlight illusions I run. If I'm painting hordes of infantry I don't mind as much, but for centerpiece models like this one, I prefer to just run with greys.
So, now that I've justified using NMM, I'm going to actually have to do it! When doing gold I tend to start with the medium level and paint up or down from there, but I'm never as comfortable with silver, so I layer it the same way I would any other shade. This layer started with 1 1/2 drops of black, 2 drops of SS Camo Black Brown, and 3 drops of Basalt Grey. I also decided to give the Games & Gears brushes a shot at this, since I knew I'd be wet blending at some point, and that's what they're designed for. I used a size 1 for everything in this color range, except for the final highlight.

Silver Layer 2:
Image Image Image
The second layer of silver was done with pure, unmixed, unchanged Basalt Grey.
"Ryan," you ask. "I see a lot of parts of this model that are supposed to be metallic, but you've not got any grey on them? What are you thinking?"
I decided with the first layer that I didn't trust my skills with silver to do justice to this model, but my NMM golds always appear much more pleasing to my eyes. As a result, I'll come back and do the remainder of the metallic portions in a bronze/golden yellow. The silver will be restricted to the chainmail, the buckles, and the halberd blade.

Silver Layer 3:
Image ImageImage
For the third layer, I wrote down that I used Medium Grey, but I blame that Flemish Red in the background for that one; this tint is not nearly brown enough for Medium Grey. I believe this is Stonewall Grey instead. Since I'm wet-blending as I go, I'm not doing transition layers between shades, I'm just mixing the new one into the old.
I'm disappointed at this point with the way the halberd is shaping up, so I make the decision that I'm going to come back in and wet blend it on its own once all the layers are done. I'm covering my paint as I go at this point, so I'll have access to the previous shades when it comes time to wet blend. This is one of the detriments to the way I do NMM: you can't stop overnight and come back to it; it's all got to be done in one sitting. Fortunately for me, the family is all in bed, so I'm able to work until (what turns out to be) 2 AM to get it all finished.

Silver Layer 4:
Image Image
The fourth layer is pure Wolf Grey. I'm wet blending it into the chainmail, and painted myself a few highlight notes on the halberd, but otherwise ignored it. Once done, I went back and completely wet blended the halberd. The first layer went in lines across each layer, followed by progressively faster additions of the previous layers. When done, I ended up with this:
ImageImage
When wet blending, I over-saturate my water so that I can work with it. Rather than going 3 parts paint to one part water, it's much closer to 3:2 (and with the wolf grey, 1:1).

Silver Layer 5:
ImageImageImage
When I'm giving paint advice, I always tell the people I'm teaching to highlight models to the point where their next level would be all white, and then stop. For the vast majority of painting, I never want to use pure white. There's no way to highlight past it, it grabs the eye and forces attention, and you have to be exceedingly careful with it for fear of blowing away the rest of the model's highlights.
One of the two exceptions to that is non metallic metals. With NMM, you want to create the illusion that the metal is directly reflecting the light. White is the only way, short of metallic paints, that you can do that. This layer is pure white, applied very sparingly with a Winsor & Newton Series 7, size 000, to the tips of the metallic parts (where the light would reflect off it). As you can see, the addition of the white has caused my purple to now look under-highlighted, so I call it a night here while I try to decide if it's acceptable (as the other layers might be able to bring that popping contrast back; right now they're just black pits that emphasize the darkness of the model instead of its brightness) and grab a few hours of sleep before work in the morning.
--Ryan Smith
Blog: http://thebeerwaaagh.blogspot.com/
Twitter: @beerwaaagh
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AndyS
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Re: Razormage's Aradae Mawr - WiP

Postby AndyS » Fri Aug 16, 2013 5:11 pm

That looks amazing. Almost monochrome! I imagine it's more colourful in the flesh. You have mastered exactly where to put the highlights. Bloody great!
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EVL HMR
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Re: Razormage's Aradae Mawr - WiP

Postby EVL HMR » Sun Aug 18, 2013 10:28 am

Far superior to my attempts, but I feel the contrasts are too severe for me. I'd want to to glaze the skin with some blues and purples to tie the highlights back a bit. Apart from that, brilliant, and a really good and interesting step by step. I really like your NMM too.
“Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.”Lance Armstrong
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razormage
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Re: Razormage's Aradae Mawr - WiP

Postby razormage » Thu Aug 22, 2013 4:06 pm

Excited about where I was on Aradae Mawr with his skin and silver parts done, I moved on to the minor colors on the model. I decided blue was a decent complement to the purple skintone, so I chose that for the bindings on him.

Blues, Layer 1:
ImageImageImage
For the first layer, I decided to keep a similar palette and mixed 3 parts of Stormy Blue with one part SS Camo Black Brown.

Blues, Layer 2:
ImageImageImage
For the second blue, I added two drops of Stormy Blue to two drops of Medium Blue.

Blue, Layer 3:
ImageImageImage
For the third layer, I added three drops of Medium Blue to a single drop of Sky Blue.

Blues, layer 4:
ImageImageImage
For the fourth layer, I started with two drops of Sky Blue on their own, but the contrast was far too harsh. I added a single drop of Medium Blue to pull it back to realistic.

Blues, Layer 5:
ImageImageImage
For the final layer of the blues, I went with plain Sky Blue. At this point, I began to have problems with the model. I felt the blue overwhelmed the purple skintone, and drove it further into the grey shades of the NMM silver. I gritted my teeth and pressed on, though, hoping the next few colors would fix the problem.

Browns, Layer 1:
For consistency's sake, I resolved to use the same brown mixture that I had used with Glaun, except I would use hints of purple rather than the green of Glaun's skintone. This would be a mistake, but I wouldn't realize that until I sank into the depths of despair...
ImageImage
For the first layer, I used four parts of Leather Brown to four parts of SS Camo Black Brown, and then cut it with a drop of Royal Purple.

Browns, layer 2:
ImageImageImage
For the second layer, I used four parts of Leather Brown to two parts SS Camo Black Brown, with a drop of Royal purple.

Browns, Layer 3:
I began to get frustrated with the darkness of the browns. I added a dark beer, to see if it would help things along.
ImageImageImage
For the third layer, I used four Leather Brown to one Royal Purple. I began to get very frustrated with my entire palette at this point; the brown just wasn't getting light enough, and I began to see darkness all over the model. This frustration would only increase as this shade went further along.

Browns, Layer4:
ImageImageImage
For the fourth layer, I used two parts of Leather Brown to two parts Medium Grey, with a half a drop of the royal purple. The shade still came out far too dark. I didn't realize at the time, but the purple I was using tends to overwhelm other colors that it's mixed with, much like black does. I should have been using half to a third of the amount I was using, but I didn't realize it at the time. Instead, I started to get really frustrated. I had switched to a Winsor & Newton brush for this layer, but it was still too dark and harsh. Rather than forcing my way through it, I got discouraged and slowed my rate of painting. The browns, which should have taken two days at the most, instead dragged out over an entire week.

Browns, Layer 5:
ImageImageImage
After just doing a single layer the night before, I came back to the model. For the fifth layer, I used all medium grey, and abandoned the purple entirely. While this started brightening up the model as I'd hoped, it also created some harsh highlights that just made me even more upset. It was two days before I'd come back to work on the model.

Browns, Layer 6:
ImageImageImage
For the sixth layer, I used a 50/50 mix of Medium Grey and Pale Flesh. Despite using the colors I was accustomed to, the layer still felt wrong. The transitions were far too harsh (because the earlier layers were far too dark). I despaired. I hit the Painter's Wall. Like a chump, I stopped again instead of just working through it. I took another two nights off. (On the positive side, though, I managed to get sleep both of those nights - normally when I'm painting I only get 4-5 hours.)

Browns, Layer 7:
ImageImageImage
The model has now been "in progress" for five days longer than it should have been, four of those due to me just being unwilling to work on it. The delay means I won't be able to get a unit of these painted up in time for a local store contest, which disappoints me. However, I decide to suck it up and see what I can salvage.
I move on the the last layer on the browns. As usual, it manages to tie every layer before it into a cohesive mass, like it always does. I'm satisfied with the way it ends up, like I always am (though unlike normal, I'm not pleased with myself). The model is starting to pull together. All that remains is the remainder of the armor. Flush with confidence for getting past the browns, I decide to go insane...

Time for the gold! I used to have a fantastic blend of colors I'd use for NMM gold that I could do in my sleep. However, it's been three years since I've used significant amounts of it in a model. Rather than test out my paints to ensure I know what I'm doing, I just plow forward!
Gold: Basecoat
ImageImageImage
I decide to contrast the purple skin and otherwise excessive darkness of the model, that I'm going to go with bright, gaudy, shiny, eff-you-I've-got-bling gold. To start, I paint all the to-be-gold parts of the model with Plague Brown. However, I've not used my Plague Brown in three years. As a result, it takes three coats to adequately coat the model. I finish off my belgian sour and get something much, much stronger to make the inevitable wet blending more tolerable...

Gold: Dark portions
ImageImageImage
To darken NMM gold, I use a remarkably simple process. Figure out where the dark/light contrast point on the section I'm painting is. Draw a line across that point with SS Camo Black Brown. Wet blend that Camo Black Brown downwards into the Plague Brown layers below it. This will create the illusion of the ground reflecting light back up onto the metal portion of the model, and also create the illusion of a horizon on the model. Whereas I generally just do "what feels right" highlighting with silver, I go very reflective with the gold (which is why you see a harsh line for the top of the browns). The next layer will increase that contrast, and shockingly, make it look reflective.

Gold: Highlights
Image Image Image
For the highlights, I do the opposite of what I did for the brown. I pick a yellow (in this case, Sunny Yellow) and draw a line right above the Camo Black Brown line. I then wet blend it upwards, into the Plague Brown on top. For those of you worried because the tops of the metallic sections are darker than the middle, fear not: there are still a few steps to come.

Gold: Reflective Highlights
ImageImageImage
So, we've got darkness, and we've got highlights to simulate the sky and the ground. For our penultimate step, we want to add our light source reflecting off the metal. To do this, I take Pale Flesh, and using a very small brush, brush it over all the points where the metal changes direction. Specifically, the edges of every armor plate, and the tops of rivets and chain links. In addition, I use it anywhere a part of the gold portions is pointing straight up, to simulate it reflecting the light source above. Inspired by some of the other works I've seen, I also added a few "sunburst" effects, to create the illusion of the light scattering when it hits the armor. For some of the plate edges pointed at the ground, I repeat the process using the Sunny Yellow from the previous step. This allows me to show a hard edge transition, without making it look like it's picking up direct light.
Looking at it the next morning, I see a few places where I'll have to go back in and clean up the darker transitions, but I'm pleased with how it turned out. Except for that middle picture; my goodness that's overexposed! I must have bumped into my light while I was taking it, as it's much too close.

There is one step left yet on the gold - final highlights with pure white - but I called it a night after the layer above. I hope to finish it up in the next 24 hours and will update when I do!
I feel bad for EVL HMR, who thought it was too contrasty before - I have a feeling he's going to hate the way the gold clashes with the rest of the model!

My paint style is designed to be very contrasting. 95% of the models I paint are for the US Indy Grand Tournaments scene, where I'll be one of 60-100 armies there. Having a high-contrast, bold style gets people to walk across the hall to take a look at your stuff. In person, it's very impressive because of the way it "pops" out at the viewer. With photography, it looks far less impressive, because it's intended to be viewed from a distance rather than up close. I'm very new to the "sharing stuff on the internet" part of the hobby, as drinking beer with people while hanging out on the internet is different than doing it at an event.
I'm very pleased with the way the gold has forced the purple away from fading into that monochromatic feel. AndyS had echoed one of my biggest concerns about the model, but I think using that contrast color has reduced that danger (though not eliminated it entirely). I have a pack of lessons learned with this model that I'm looking forward to applying to the other *ahem* fourorfive versions of this model that I'm going to have to paint.
--Ryan Smith
Blog: http://thebeerwaaagh.blogspot.com/
Twitter: @beerwaaagh
darthmarsh
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Re: Razormage's Aradae Mawr - WiP

Postby darthmarsh » Fri Aug 23, 2013 12:10 am

I think it is probably a case of the photo's not really doing the painting justice. While I am also not as keen on the high contrast approach, I guess that's the great thing about art. Different strokes for different folks. There is no right or wrong way of doing it.

It is really well painted and I think you have a very unique, instantly recognizable style. And if one of your objectives is for it to grab peoples attention from across the room, congratulations sir, you have succeeded!
grefven
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Re: Razormage's Aradae Mawr - WiP

Postby grefven » Fri Aug 23, 2013 4:57 pm

I like the contrasting colours, and I agree that it is actually needed for this paintjob for it not to look dull. It's interesting to follow your steps through the paintjob. :)
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EVL HMR
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Re: Razormage's Aradae Mawr - WiP

Postby EVL HMR » Mon Aug 26, 2013 9:27 am

razormage - Yep, too contrasty for me, but I do appreciate your style, and as you play, you need something to make your figures stand out from the crowd, and I am sure your's do. I really enjoy seeing other artists (we are artists after all) with a style of their own, not a GW massed factory output, but something that they own. Great job, if a little too bright for this old fella :lol:
“Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.”Lance Armstrong
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razormage
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Re: Razormage's Aradae Mawr - WiP

Postby razormage » Mon Aug 26, 2013 3:37 pm

Heh, glad it's appreciated every if it's not everyone's style of beer! I've done one GW tournament (Throne of Skulls in 2010) and the paint judge didn't even take a second look at my army (Reptilian people), and awarded the best painted prize to an army that was so hideously dark, some of the models still had unpainted black primer on them. Sheesh.

I finished off the gold on Friday and forgot to add the pictures here, so here you go! Sorry about forgetting...
Gold: White reflections
Image Image Image
Finally, I added a touch of white to simulate the light source reflecting off the gold.

The model is still not finished - I still need to add some red for the eyes, tongue, and gem in the sword, as well as basing it - but it's done being shared online until the WAMP contest. I'll add another WiP with those steps once its done (unless I decide to enter Glaun instead, in which case this would no longer be a restriction...)
--Ryan Smith
Blog: http://thebeerwaaagh.blogspot.com/
Twitter: @beerwaaagh

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