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I'm still plugging away at my marines (and switching to painting a Monolith for "fun" whenever the Wolf Grey frustration gets to me), and I thought I'd share something with the newbs out there.
Often I hear and read people talking about "layering," that is, the idea of putting down a base color, then using progressively and slightly lighter (or darker) versions painted over a smaller and smaller area to simulate a gradual change. I'm told the more layers, the better. Apparently Cheredanine's libby in his avatar got some 30-odd layers on the blue (looks great, BTW!).
Now, you experts may shrug and say, "Yeah, no big deal," but me, when I heard that I remember thinking "HECK, no! No way I'm gonna have the patience for that!"
Well, I'm here to tell you, I think I am FINALLY getting the concept down (still needs practice before I'm comfortable showing pics yet), and I'm discovering something I wish I'd known way back when: It's not nearly as hard or (and here's the key) time-consuming as you might think.
The thing to remember is you have to use THIN coats. This refers both to application on the model and the ratio of model to paint. Yes, you need to water/thin/glaze medium down the paint/ink/whatever significantly, but you also need to remember that, like washes, too much paint on the brush can ruin the look. Make sure you blot your brush quite a bit before you touch the model, which makes for an uber-thin coating, so thin you may not be able to see it beyond the "sheen" from the wet paint.
At that thickness, it won't take long to dry, meaning you can move on to the next layer pretty quickly, and this is what sold me on it. I realize it will still take a while to put close to a dozen layers on, say, an entire army, but I still think more than a mere 1-2 layers is doable, even on a lot of models, using this method, as you can measure the drying time between layers in minutes, not hours. This, of course, assumes you've already basecoated the model and given it time to dry.
It's also helpful to have a mixing "plan," meaning, know how you want to mix your "in between" colors and keep track of what you blended with what, and how much. It's a little anal-retentive, but it's the only way to make sure your whole army looks uniform. I find using Vallejo's dropper-tip bottles to be invaluable here. Right now, I'm mixing Sombre Grey with Wolf Grey and blending up to Wolf Grey. I start with a 4:1 mix of Wolf Grey to Sombre Grey, that is, four drops to one.
For each subsequent layer, I just add another drop of Wolf Grey, and occasionally a drop or two of thinner to make sure the paint flows well enough.
So yes, if you're a newbie painter and cower in fear at the "million layer" concept, fear not! This is a very doable thing, that takes far less work and time than you might think. I'm starting to get good results with it, and if I can ever get a model finished with this, I'll come back and post pics.
Good post Canew.
It's good to see people trying out these 'scary' techniques, especially when they realise they aren't actually scary, and then tell everyone else about them!
Something useful I came across recently was matte medium.
Basically, you use this as transparent paint.
Sounds pretty useless, right?
For a quick and simple way of layering, with very little 'scary' mixing involved, simply:
- Basecoat the area you want to layer with a darkish version of the final colour.
- Pick a colour that is a bit lighter than the previous one, and add in about one part matte medium for 6-7 parts paint. Then, paint this over the entire area, leaving the previous colour showing in the recesses.
- Repeat, with 2-3 further colours.
Basically, the matte medium makes all your layers slightly transparent, so that the edges that may otherwise look very harsh should be much gentler upon the eye.
The medium does make the paint take longer to dry, however, so be aware of that if you are painting a single model.
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Matte medium eh? I like the sound of that.
Personally I think that four layers is best; basecoat, hilight, hilight and shade It doesn't take too long and tricks the eye into seeing a good smooth transition. Naturally showy pieces get another layer or two (or twenty) but four is the important amount. The best thing about this method: it works for any miniature regardless of size so you don't have to spend as long thinking about colours.
Up, up and away!
I just started doing this and the results are a huge improvement for not much more time invested. For character models I spend more time and put a bunch of layers on, but for standard troop models I have a really simple system that works quickly and really makes the models look good.
After priming I pick my base color and highlight color (on my elves, it is Dark Angels Green for the base and Goblin Green for the highlight). I paint the base on first and cover the whole area I want to make green. Then I mix the base and the highlight in a 50/50 mix and put this on anything that is raised or might catch the light (avoid recesses and things that would be in shadows). A little extra time being neat here pays off huge. Finally, I take the highlight color and put very fine lines on the highest parts of the intermediate color. Again, neatness and patience pay off huge.
Just like Canew said, this sounds a lot scarier than it is. After trying it on a few models you'll get the hang of it and it becomes really quick and easy, and the difference in the quality of your models will be very noticeable.
I actually find this method to be far faster than whatever it was I was doing before hand. Not to mention it makes the army as a whole far more cohesive. If you want a nice looking army and have precious little time to spare this is the way to go.
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Matte medium can be used as a replacement for basically, water, when thinning, but it sort of helps to retain the consistency of the paint.
Its very good and useful when doing multiple glazing layers. ;Y
Anyway, good post Canew! Good to see you've got the hand of it! Now, basically the sky is the limit with smooth blending/layering.
Before I started doing this (thin layers/glazes) I remember talking to guys who would do upwards of 100 layers on a particular surface on a model, because it takes each layer only a few seconds to dry. You can really control the colour and tone doing it this way. If you think it needs a little bit of a greenish tinge, do a few layers of green!
The sky is really the limit...
But I call to God, and the LORD saves me.
I'm going to try this out having just got my simple highlight technique down. The only thing that worries me is getting subtle enough so as not to look stripey.
The end results i've seen on here are great inspiration for this.
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Rep for you Canew.
I have been slowly but surely experimenting with layer and the like over the last year or two and like you it can start out scary but is in actual fact a nice simple technique to grasp once you see it being applied.
I'm no where near where I want to be, but the most important thing is to take your time to enjoy the painting and learning process.
If and when you get your layering down you'll be surprised at the improvement in your models.
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