+ Common Core Concepts +

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

+ inload: Tone, chipping and edge highlighting +

+inload: Tone, chipping and edge highlighting+

+I don't pretend to be a great painter – I'm a journeyman. I do like to think my work is generally high tabletop standard, though. On those occasions when I really push myself – and when the numinous painting gods are smiling – I think my work is getting fairly good. This is in no small part due to three factors:

  • +The online community: While I'm a newcomer to the blogging scene, I have been following wargaming fora like The First Expedition, The Ammobunker, Warseer, Dakka Dakka and The Bolter and Chainsword (amongst others) for many years; participating more or less actively as my painting and wargaming enthusiasm waxes and wanes. Every week I see something cool, new and interesting. The great thing about participating in a community is that for every idea you give, you get a dozen back.

  • +The real world: With real life responsibilities building and less time to waste, I've found myself able to focus and plan better. My projects are now rolling, rather than with an artificial deadline. Related to this, the group of friends I game with semi-regularly (check out PCRC.org.uk for some amazing stuff) are also hugely important in pushing my painting on – they're generous to a fault with inspiration, give great constructive critique and the games we do play (not hugely often) always enthuse me. There's nothing like playing with jewel-like models over gorgeous terrain to fire the inspiration.

  • +Practice: I've been painting models for well over twenty years now, and each time I push myself I go a little bit further. There really isn't a substitute for muscle memory, brush control, and good old fashioned experience.

+Techniques used on Brother Agonistes+

+Tonal work+

+When I decided to paint an Imperial Fist, in their bright yellow armour, I knew that it would give me a great opportunity to make use of a full tonal range to create a striking figure. To me, the technical aspects of a figure are secondary to the mood and atmosphere. Nothing is more important to creating that than good tonal work. 

The arrow indicates the direction of light.
+This image shows the unmarked shoulder pad of the marine, with the tone running from a muted mid-yellow in the direction of the light source to a deep red-brown in the shadow. The same transition is visible on the other armour plates; it shows up very clearly on the yellow.

+To achieve this, I started with the midtone, then added the brightest highlights towards the light source, then added the darkest shades away from the light source. I worked armour section by armour section, ensuring that the appropriate amount of the highlight and shade were added to each – the stomach for example, is shaded by the arms, chest and boltgun, so more shadow was used here, nearly covering the midtone. The top of the helmet, in contrast, is directly lit, so it's virtually all highlight there.

+I've picked the pauldron to concentrate upon here because it's a good illustration of a plate that's neither in direct light or shadow. Here the highlight covers the top fifth, the shadow covers the bottom fifth, and a fifth is covered by the transitions between the midtone and both the highlight and shadow areas. Critically, two fifths – or the largest portion – remains the basic midtone hue.+

+Edge highlighting+

+In order to give the impression of size, it's important to slightly exaggerate the tonal contrast on a miniature. This is because the effects of distance – recession and atmospheric interference – can't occur naturally, and so must be simulated. As a result, there are some edge highlights added in appropriately lighter tones. I keep these as subtle as I can (though my brushwork is not particularly fine), and – critically – adapt the edge highlight colour to the particular area.

+Argh so many errors+
+ The power pack here shows this nicely – there are loads of craggy bits and hard angles! The bits to the sides of the central fan 'exhaust' are in the light, so they have quite bright edge highlights to exaggerate the shape.

+ The lower part of the power pack has edge highlights added using the midtone mix, because these are not directly facing the light source.

+ This same midtone is used as the edge highlight on his arseplate (probably not the technical term).

+ I'll be the first to admit hes far from perfect! I've got the tone wrong on the bottom part of his left thigh (this should have been much darker), and as I mentioned above, by linework could be a lot finer and smoother. Still, I hope the theory behind the technique is useful.+


+I like weathering my models. After years of trying to get my models clean and gemlike, I finally realised that I didn't enjoy painting like that. I prefer my miniatures to look involved in their setting, and part of that is adding atmosphere to the piece. I aim to achieve this my adding texture and depth to flat surfaces; tricking the eye into seeing texture where it is not.

+For the chipping on the paintwork, I tore a piece of foam from an old blister pack and picked up a little brown and grey on it. The excess was dabbed away and the foam touched on the surface lightly to create a random effect. Where the effect was very heavy (such as on the knee), I tidied it up and added depth by adding a bright highlight.

+The critical part of this to create realism is to place the chips appropriately. The image to the left shows that I have concentrated upon areas of wear – the kneepad, wrist and front of the hand. 

+Keep it subtle! Overloading the model with weathering makes it look messy.

+Keep it coherent. While the effect should concentrate on the appropriate areas, don't leave everything else completely clean, or it'll look subconsciously odd. In this example, you can see some dirt on the boltgun, wrist and his helmet. This helps to tie the composition together as a whole.+



  1. Yellow Ultramarines,thats a new one
    So you answered the call of Dorn,very good the better I can steal from you with :)

    I find when I chip a bit too much it helps to sponge on the base color again,it keeps the chips but tones them way down.

  2. Hey Will, good to have you over here :)
    Good call on rescuing over-enthusiastic sponging, too!


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