+ inload: Officia Monstrosa – faces +

+ This close-up of a WIP Iron Warrior sergeant shows his face as it currently stands. I like to include a couple of bare heads in the start of any human project, as it's a chance to explore the character of the army. In this case; gritty, bitter, careworn and ravaged. +

+ To achieve this I started with an olive green basecoat (Vallejo Russian Tank Crew, I think), then overlaid this with a mix of Vallejo white, Blood Red and Averland Sunset, which produces quite a Mediterranean skintone owing to the warmth of the yellow (contrast this with the cooler yellow I use for the paler skintone of the marine below). +

+ More white was added for highlights, which were applied boldly, and with few layers to get transitions which weren't too smooth. The paint was applied relatively drily, using the tip of the brush. I followed the line of the features with the brushstrokes, but used vertical strokes only for the cheeks and jaw. Along with a barely-loaded brush (something similar to a drybrush load), this keeps the area dark and textured, giving a sallow look to the cheeks and a stubbly effect to the jaw. +

+ The sculpt has raw flesh and broken lips on the left-hand side of the figure's face (right of the picture), and I added more red and less white for this area. I also used touches of Ogryn Flesh wash here and there across the face. The slight muted red tinge this gives is useful for haggard eyes without looking cartoony. +

+ There's a little more to do (hair, teeth and the peculiar metal plate above the non-bionic eye), but my general rule with faces is not to let the perfect become the enemy of the good. By this I mean it's easy to ruin a perfectly good face by fussing; and sometimes the sculpt will help you stumble over a happy accident that gives the face a lot of character. Trying to play with that can over-exaggerate it, or worse, spoil it altogether. +


+ If a model will stand it (because the face is relatively large), it's worth getting very involved, as the face is a natural focal point. However, there's also something to be said about simplicity in faces. The fewer brushstrokes you use, the smoother the effect tends to be. The marine below demonstrates this. Here, the head is actually very complicated – it's an Imperial Militiaman's head, which means it's only ~75–80 per cent of the size of the Marine head above, and on top of that, it's tightly wrapped in a scrumcap/pilot's helmet affair, which is itself surrounded by a raised collar. On top is a little eyeglass arrangement, which is raised off the face (god bless you, Forge World sculptors). A lot of detail and a lot of tiny spaces! +

+ For this reason, the skin of the face becomes a part of the painting, rather than the focus of it. I painted the face much more simply, using Blood Red, Vallejo White and Bad Moon Yellow. This gives a clean, pale look, which creates eye-catching tonal contrast. The olive-skinned tone of the chap at the top would have blended in with the dark collar, and thus would have lost the contrast. I could, of course, have altered the collar/cap colour, but I wanted to keep it the same hue as the soft armour in the joints. As well as being consistent in-universe (to add verisimilitude), it also means fewer colours in the scheme, keeping it oppressive and dark. +

+ Deciding when to stop is thus a good skill to cultivate. Ultimately, remember you're painting to please yourself. +


+ Here's the same chap, posing in front of a Predator. It was ear-marked for the Ultramarines, but... a tank would be a very fitting thing for the Iron Warriors. What do you reckon? +

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