+ inload: Paint It Black – the Iron Hands scheme +

+ At last, some time for painting. I'd been getting carried away with building – which is fair enough, as it breaks the rhythm to have to clear up modelling tools and bits to set out your paints – and writing which, while very enjoyable, doesn't look quite as good on a visual medium like this blog. +

+ Anyway, here's the narrator for my May You Live Forever project, all painted and ready for – well, I guess we'll have to wait and see... +

+ If you're interested in following this project or providing feedback (always very welcome!) on the Bolter and Chainsword forum, please follow this [+noospheric inloadlink+] +

+ Painting the Iron Hands +

+ The scheme is a fairly simple one – in fact, I've banged on about it before [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+], but it uses a surprisingly broad range of materials. Irons Hands have monochrome heraldry, but this sets challenges of creating an interesting visual, and opens up a broad palette of techniques and materials. To put it another way, since the scheme's so simple, you can have fun exploring new ideas. After all, you can generally just add another layer of black and start again. +

+ Order of work +

_1 Undercoat with grey primer.
_2 Spray black.
_3 Metallics base.
_4 Black base.
_5 Washes.
_6 Reapplying midtones.
_7 Highlights.
_8 Details.
_9 Focal point.
_10 Basing.
_11 Weathering.
_12 Realising it's half-past eleven and you need to go to bed.

+ Painting black +

+ The black itself is not a pure black – this can appear dead. In any case, using Chaos Black (or equivalent) paint as your first layer leaves you nowhere to go for shading. For this reason, I mix three parts black to one part dark for my 'black' base. The dark mixer paint will vary depending on the scheme. Here, I used Charadon Granite as the mixer. +

+ Once that layer has dried, mix in blue-grey – Russ grey or Fenris grey was used here – and gradually highlight up. Work slightly lighter than you might usually. You want a high-contrast over-emphasised highlight effect at this stage, as the washes will mute it considerably. +

+ Wash over the whole area with black wash, then rinse and dry your brush. Touch the dry brush to the upper parts (i.e. the areas of highlight) to lift out excess wash. Allow to dry. +

+ Once dry, use pure black paint to work into the recesses and shaded areas to force the tone. This essentially completes the black. +

+ Painting metal +

+ When painting metallic areas, I ask myself 'Is this area functional or decorative?' Functional areas are likely to be grimier than decorative ones, and are more likely to be gunmetal or brass; while decorative metal areas on figures might be picked out in silver or gold, and kept in better shape. +

+ Here, the backpack is a functional item, so I painted it with Boltgun metal and washed it with black. While the wash remained wet, I dropped in sepia ink and green wash here and there. These bleed in and create natural variegation, making it look battered and used. Compare this with the decorative shoulder trim next to it, which was painted with Chainmail (a lighter metallic) and had the wash touched in more carefully for a cleaner result. +

+ Not only does this provide visual interest, but it's an important way of helping the eye distinguish between similar-coloured areas when in such close proximity. This is what is meant by helping the miniature 'read' properly. +

+ Just using one set approach to a texture or colour can potentially cause problems, so do take the time to try out new ideas. Monochrome figures like this are an enjoyable challenge and let you play without providing the additional complication of balancing hue too much. +

+ Painting white +

The black wrist is another example of helping the miniature 'read'. It provides a visual stop between the silver hand and silver arm. Note the metallics on the hand, arm and gun are all treated slightly differently, too. 

+ Just as I avoid pure black when painting black areas, I only use pure white paint sparingly. The boltgun here is painted from a Fenrisian Grey base – which you'll recognise as the same colour used for the black highlight mix. Using the same paints in different areas like this helps to avoid unwanted colour combinations or clashes. This is one strength of a limited palette. +

+ To take a little pause here, you'll probably have noticed that what on the face of things is a 'black and white' scheme is actually closer to a series of greys. none of the white is white, none of the black is black; and it's all based on Fenrisian grey. This is important, as it teaches one of the fundamental concepts behind painting – tonal control. Get the tone right, and you're virtually there. +

+ As an addendum to that last point, it's also worth thinking about aerial perpsective – this is the visual effect that causes distant objects to appear muted and slightly blue-toned. Things close up to you appear more vibrant, and the tonal contrast is high. Things far away lose some of their vibrancy as both the light and dark parts approach the midtone: the shaded parts appear lighter, the light parts appear darker. Recreating this effect in your miniatures – by 'pushing' the colours you use to the midtone – will give a muted effect that makes the miniatures appear distant, rather than small. + 

+ This approach adds to the realism; though of course whether you want that, or prefer the beautiful jewel-like quality of high chroma and vibrancy is of course down to taste – and the character of the miniature you're painting. +

+ Detailing +

+ As with my Iron Warriors, I've decided to use Forge World's transfers; you can see one in the centre of the chest here. Notice how bright it seems compared with the 'white' I've used for the stylised lightning bolts that surround it, added freehand. The other transfers are muted a bit with acrylic medium and weathering, but I may have a little play around to see if I can work out a way to knock back the pure white on future models. +

+ The basing is made of a few layers – a layer of heavy pumice gel forms the basis and was complemented by areas of textured paint once dry. These were painted and allowed to dry before I added some dried birch seeds and 6mm tufts of grass from Gamer's Grass [+noopheric inloadlink embedded+] to finish it off. +

+ The weathering was achived with some light strokes and touches of a bright metallic paint (whatever the equivalent of Mithril Silver is in the new range) complemented by sponged brown-grey areas concentrated around elbows, knees and other extremities. Finally, I had a little play around with weathering powder – I used a craft knife to gently scrape yellow ochre, sanguine and dark grey pastel sticks until I had a small amount of powder, then applied it using a dry brush, touching it onto the surface where needed and concentrating it around the lower legs and recesses of the armour. +

+ I'd thoroughly recommend pastel sticks for weathering. Pastels are widely available in your local art shop, and earth colours (i.e. those most useful for military-style weathering) are pretty cheap – I think the sticks I bought were around £1.30, and multi-packs or starter kits are even cheaper. They also have the advantage over pots of weathering powder that you can just scrape off what you need, and because they're solid, they're easy to store. +

+ Anyway, hope that helps – love to hear what you think of this Iron Hand! +


Turn the eyes upward.

That is the only direction for peace.

Even then, it is the cold comfort of stars.

We stand, weapons raised. Chem-aggro stimms layered on pain suppressants and fatigue make my flesh itch and crawl, but my boltgun is unwavering. Under my arm, Medardus is slumped, barely remaining upright by hanging on to me.

Catabin's blank, narrow-eyed helm gives nothing away. He makes no move – neither towards us, nor away. He watches.

"Kneel! Lay your weapon aside!" cries out Miredan. For one horrendous moment, with the guns of six Iron Hands trained on him, Catabin remains motionless. 

Medardus stirs. He raises his head. His voice is a wavering croak. 
"Catabin..." It takes on an oddly pleading tone. "Catabin, in the name of the Emperor."

That gets a response.


Ironwolf 7 said...

Awesome work as usual apologist, how do you seal the pastel powder?

Joe B said...

Great work on him! Painting black and white can be a challenge to look really well, and I think your comments nailed it. By thinking instead of painting dark and light grey, it becomes easier to do.