+ inload: Painting styles +

+ Trying something new +

+ Adapt and overcome. A hobby all boils down to having fun, and I enjoy trying new things in my painting. My style has become a bit of a – hopefully affectionate! – joke amongst my group of friends, with grungey Hawk Turquoise and Dheneb Stone everywhere. Sometimes it's good to try something new; and the clean, sharp edge highlighting approach of the 'Eavy Metal team circa 1990 is a good aim. +

+ Painting style is something that isn't brought up a lot in hobby discussions; mainly because it's quite a hard thing to pin down. It's not the techniques one uses, nor the choice of palette. Your painting style is a rather tenuous and usually very specific combination of lots of factors that add up to make your work recognisably yours. It's the reason you can tell the difference between a Rembrandt and a Van Gogh, for example, even if they're of similar subjects, the medium isn't typical, and you've never seen the pieces before:

+ Even if you can't immediately identify the artist (the Rembrandt etching on the left, for the record, Van Gogh's pencil sketch on the right), you can see that the quality of the line and tone is very different between the two. +

+ How does this apply to miniatures? Well, as discussed, it's not as simple as the medium and techniques used. To further complicate things, people's styles evolve and develop as they learn new things, or their tastes change. In addition, there's often a case of favouritism – people tend to paint stuff that they enjoy painting. +

+ My style +

+ I'd cite this model – Inquisitor Unfortunus Veck – as what I consider my typical style. I've gone for rich tones, an muted but balanced palette (a mix of warm and cold tones), and the brushwork is loose and impressionistic. That's not to say that it's messy, but rather I spend more time neatening and tightening some areas over others – the face has far more time spent on it than the cowl, for example. My old favourite 'Dheneb Stone' is definitely present in the skin, and there's a typical freehand pattern (the dotted robe here). +

+ Compare this with another of my models; Thrugg Bullneck, and you'll see that the same applies – muted palette, contrasting tones, freehand patterns, and a mix of tighter areas (the face) and looser areas (the cleaver). +

+ So, even though these are very different models, with different colour schemes, there's still something that identifies them as mine – a bit like a signature. +


+ Other styles +

+ On a similar vein, here's a shot of individuals from the PCRC's Soul of Shale campaign from a few years back. Compare the models and you'll immediately see that, in addition to the difference in the underlying model and the colour schemes, that each member of the group has a distinct style that comes forward. +

The culprits, from left to right: TrojanNInja (Necron warrior); Lord Blood the Hungry (Haemonculus); Bob Hunk (Plaguebearer); grahamgilchrist (Crisis suit); Omricon (Thousand Son); Apologist (Rough Rider); Lucifer 216 (Necron Lord).
+ I won't go in-depth into their individual painting styles (not least because I'd like to dedicate a future inload or two to each PCRC member), but just look at the diversity there. +

+ Why does style matter? +

+ In the big scheme of things, of course, it doesn't. but just as the unreflected life is not worth living, being aware that you have a natural style can act as a boost – either to develop it further, or to consciously change it. Either way, continuing to push yourself and learning is both fun and rewarding. +

+ Painting style can also go a long way to making a diverse group of models look cohesive. Take this group of pilgrim and colonists by the inimitable Asslessman of LEADPLAGUE [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+]:

Go visit LEADPLAGUE for a bigger pics and a closer look at individuals.
+ Asslessman's style is immediately recognisable – what I consider his signature marks are the wonderfully rendered grey-blacks and neutrals set off by sumptuous reds, and a combination of crispness and smokiness in application that complements the grimy, worn-down atmosphere of the models themselves. +

+ The style (and palette choice) helps to ties together the models in the group above, which are from a couple of different manufacturers (check the blogpost on LEADPLAGUE for details). +


+ Changing one's style +

+ I think there's an inevitable development in one's style, as it owes as much to technical capability – which can improve or fall away – along with the time, materials and subject that you're working on (i.e. that stuff we've just been looking at above). With that said, it's instructional to push yourself in a particular direction every once in a while, if only to prove to yourself that you can. +

+ So, much pontificating later, here's what I was working on last night: more Blood Angels, in a deliberately cleaner style. I won't lie, I really found this a challenge. It's so sloooooooooow. I'm used to splashing paint on and working wet-in-wet, enjoying the liveliness of the paint, pulling it this way and that, and watching things develop. +

+ In contrast, this is a painstaking process of repeatedly mixing ever-lighter tints followed by glazing them down. By near the end of the evening, we'd moved from:

+ To this, which really felt like a bit of a (fairly unrewarding) slog. I had to break from the red to add the eyes, just to stop myself falling asleep. +

+ The incremental process is demonstrated in this chap below; at the stage above:

+ Who, after a further fifteen minutes or so had become this:

+ Slightly crisper, slightly sharper... I know the result will be striking, but I just couldn't help wondering if it was worth it. Enjoyable as a challenge, and it was reassuring to know I can do it; but whether it goes much beyond this army, I don't know. Ask me again when I've finished the force; perhaps the effect will be worth it en masse. +

The same group this morning, in natural – read 'dim early dawn' – light.


+ Anyway, to bring this back to painting style, I think it's clear that even when deliberately attempting to ape someone else's style, it's very hard to move away from your own – the Blood Angels above might be different, but I'm not good enough a painter to remove my natural 'stamp', I don't think. In short, kudos to studio painters who can adapt their natural way of working to a set style. +

+ I hope this has given some food for thought; and I'd love to hear what you think about painting styles:
  • What's your favourite style? 
  • How would you describe your own?
  • How and why has your painting style developed?

1 comment:

  1. Lots of great food for thought (and the new batch of marines look rad, too!)

    When it comes to miniature painting, I'm a huge fan of everything rough, sketchy, and raw, not least in part because there isn't anything crisp or sharp or clean about my own style. Like you, I can't seem to shake my stamp. (I suppose in addition to my aesthetic/fluff interests, this is probably why I've never subjected a Space Marine or an Eldar model to my particular sort of brush-torture.) John Blanche's work has always been exciting and inspiring since I was a much smaller kid, and everything I've seen under the "Blanchitsu" label has been great, too. That's the style I love, and the style I try to channel from brain to brush.

    I'm unsure how to describe my own style. Murky? I'd like to think I try to add a sense of realism and organic...ness to what I'm painting. I tend not to think too far ahead, which means I'm pretty terrible at choosing colors that compliment each other. I'd say I'm most concerned with the overall look of the group/force/army. Looking at my lone models always makes me a bit squirmy; more safety in numbers.

    For example, I just finished my Ork Warboss (at least for the moment, haha.) I took some kinda cruddy pictures here: http://imgur.com/a/6W857

    I think my style has developed (for the better) from a general loosening of my standards and expectations. An ever-shrinking amount of hobby time, as well as a growing interest in experimenting and having fun while painting has totally shaped my output in the last couple of years.


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