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So as I was considering paint scheme for my Eldar army I came across this GW guide on their site.
Games Workshop - Howling Banshee Guide
It seemed straightforward enough, so I decided to try the theme on a guardian. Obviously the guardian model is a little different than a Banshee, but the main similarity is the slow build up to a bleached bone, which is the primary color on the model. (I will use blue for the helmet, but that's not important.)
I got painting today and halfway through the process, I am now seriously unsure what I am doing.
Let's break it down step by step.
1. After priming the model black they have you paint the armor Scorched Brown. Easy enough. The black shows through, but I guess that's the point.
2. They then suggest you "carefully" paint the armor Bestial Brown. I did this, but was not entirely sure what parts of the "shadow" areas to leave the darker brown.
3. Another coat. This time Graveyard Earth. At this point I am really unsure what the purpose of all these colors is. In the images provided, they seem to be more and more selective with their applications as they work up the brightness scale. Unfortunately, I am having trouble determining what areas to paint and what to leave the darker colors.
4+ From here on they just keep adding Bleached Bone until they have a solid color.
Here's my big question. Are you supposed to fully paint the armor each time? Or are you supposed to be leaving small amounts of the previous color showing in shadow areas? By the time they get to the last step, they have a perfect black/brown around every detail and a bright Bleached Bone on the armor.
How the devil do they decide what to highlight and what to leave darker? They make no mention of this in the instructions, but I quickly found the shadow areas were simply the same color as the rest of the armor as my tendency was to over paint. I tried adding a watered down black to the recesses to bring back the shadow, but it doesn't look very good.
Can someone with more painting experience explain the process by which you choose what areas to lighten and what areas to leave dark?
Is a process like the one in this guide worthwhile? Even with my errors, it's taken me ages to paint a single model and it doesn't even look that good. Again, my biggest issue is the ambiguous areas. Armor portions clearly defined by an edge are easy, but some parts on the legs are such gradual transitions, I have no idea where to stop with the new color and where to let the old one show.
Oooooh.... I really want to answer this properly but I'm at work and can't right now. I'm going to subscribe and write you a good answer this evening. I'll be back in a few hours! There's a lot to discuss here for a new painter but the good news is you're asking yourself the right questions!
No more NG spearmen, thanks! Now I need some pump-wagons!
Well, I'm guessing The Paint Monkey is preparing some kind of tome in response to 'how do I decide where to highlight?' so I'll just toss in my two cents on 'is this worth it?'
Probably not for your regular troopers! This guide predates the release of foundation paints and citadel washes. The technique it's teaching you is very good and will lead to nice rich colors when you do want to put that kind of time into a model. I personally prefer to take a middle road with my regular squad members and put lots of time into my commander type models and vehicles. To that end: how to paint banshee armor in 1/5th the time of the GW tutorial method:
Paint Dheneb Stone
Wash with Gryphonne Sepia
paint raised areas back with dheneb stone again
depending on how detailed you want to get, paint with varying mixes of stone + bleached bone to highlight.
Then refer to what I'm sure will be an excellent commentary to follow from TPM on how to really get into it for the models you want to invest those extra hours in!
Ok! Here we go-
The guide is pretty good, but it really is a bit limited. So much happens between each stage that a lot is lost in the step-by-step pictures. Have a look at the other guides, too. The Dire Avenger is a more similar armour to a Guardian, although the colour is different.
Basically they're using a layering technique. This involves using layers of progressively lighter paint used over smaller areas, leaving the darker shade in the shadows. You asked how to judge where to leave it dark and that's a good question. Think about where the light would hit if the light source was directly overhead. Those areas want to be the lightest and areas that would be shaded should be left dark.
Faces are a good example- the forehead, eyebrows, nose, tops of the cheeks and maybe the chin can be lightened but the eye sockets, under the nose, below the mouth and the lower face should be darker. There's a top explanation here- http://www.librarium-online.com/foru...ces-101-a.html
So, for your Guardian, you'll want lighter shades across the tops of armour plates, ridges, tops of hands and shoulders for example. Have a look at the Striking Scorpion guide- stages 4-5 show this effect nicely. What's happening in the Banshee guide is that a lot of the shades are being lost, I guess in the photography- the armour panels look pretty flat to me.
The process they describe is more useful than the pictures in my opinion. A base of Bestial Brown is a good start, although I might be tempted to use a foundation paint instead. Maybe Khemri Brown and treat it as though you'd jumped straight to the Graveyard Earth stage. Now, Bleached Bone is an interesting paint. It's fairly translucent (ie thin pigment) and tends to require a couple of coats to get full strength bone colour. This can be really handy if you use it to your advantage. A thin coat over the whole armour plate will give you a reasonable cover but extra thin coats will make that colour stronger and paler- the thinner patches will be darker because of the Graveyard Earth showing through. Extra layers around the plate edges and any raised areas will make those parts much lighter, maybe add a hint of white to really push the effect. That will start to give you the shading you're looking for. If you find it goes a bit wrong and you leave too little 'shade' add a light wash of Devlan Mud and Gryphonne Sepia mixed together or just sepia alone if you only want a little blending or your shade is only a little bit too light. Try to avoid using black washes. It's a rare day that they pay off, unless you're painting something metallic (or something black, I guess).
I hope this has helped a bit. Judging shading usually comes with a bit of practice but if you're not super sure where to leave dark or where to add a highlight then just place your paint lamp over the model and look where the light strikes. It's a pretty safe guide!
Layering as a shading technique isn't the quickest technique but it's a fairly essential skill to develop. I can tell you ways to achieve similar effects quickly but they usually don't look quite as good and they won't develop you as a painter. Paint well first, paint quickly later!
p.s. I'd love to see some photos!
No more NG spearmen, thanks! Now I need some pump-wagons!
To add something small to the excellent advice you've gotten so far, the great looking bone color they have achieved at the end is a result of building up all of those successive layers of brown before hand. Bleached Bone, like TPM said, is pretty translucent and it would take forever to get it to cover black well. However, working up through all of those brown colors not only gives you the opportunity to leave some shading in the recesses but it gives you a good base color once you reach the bone stage.
I agree, show us some photos!
Thank you all, especially Mr. Paint Monkey for the great advice.
I was getting slightly frustrated last night realizing I had spent several hours building up colors and that I had inadvertently missed the point of this process. (i.e. I wasn't leaving any of the darker colors showing.)
Since there is a lot of good info here, let me ask a few follow up questions to make sure I'm hearing it correctly.
First off, it sounds as if this technique (Layering) is a good one to learn. I'm a slow painter as it is and I bought the squad of guardians precisely to get some practice in before I start on harder models. (I will be using a 1000 point army someday and my guess is the guardians won't be taken. We'll see.)
I had actually started with a mix of Scorched Brown and Calthan Brown. From there I worked my way up with Bestial Brown and then Graveyard Earth.
As TPM pointed out, it doesn't seem as if they aren't leaving much of the base browns visible. In fact, if you look at the last image, it pretty much appears as if they have left thin areas of the darkest browns around armor details and then just built up Bleached Bone in a flat manner everywhere else.
The Dire Avenger and Scorpion articles seems to make more liberal use of layering.
So I guess it comes down to this.
What process would be best for the guardians? Skipping straight to Khemri or Dheneb would definitely save time, but you certianly wouldn't have such a noticable Dark/Light contrast at the end.
I do like the stark contrast, but I also like the idea of some highlights on the armor as well vs. the flat Bleached Bone. Maybe a bit of watered down white on the top areas. A base of Khemri wouldn't provide such dark recesses would it?
Also, what do you suggest I do with the guy I have half finished? As mentioned before, he was touched up with black (watered down) and I am not liking the look. Should I go over him completely with a foundation and take it from there?
One last thing. In the pictures of the Banshee, are they watering down the paints as they build up the colors? They seem to have very solid coats each layer whereas on my guy the brush strokes were visible each layer. (You could see the previous color showing through almost everywhere, but not in a layering way. It just looked bad.)
Again, thank you all for your help. I will get photos up when I have a model completed that I am proud of. Right now I am pondering the fate of the guy I have. Any suggestions?
If you think you can save the one you have by covering him with a foundation paint and starting over then you might want to try that. If the paint is getting a bit thick you could try stripping the paint or just starting a new model.
Also, with the first coat, the Scorched Brown. How does one apply that? Carefully or with a drybrush and just quick and dirty? Obviously if you are hoping to layer, the brighter colors have to be carefully applied.
How long does a model take using this technique? Seems like a very lengthy process.
I've also heard of the "cheaper" way to do them, which is a basecoat of GW Bleached Bone, a wash of brown of some kind (thinned down paint or a Citadel wash), then highlighting up to bone and maybe white. That's a comparatively simple method that might look just as good for you.
Some people do both layering AND washes. Do some Google-Fu to find some of the more popular recipes. I'd suggest you get yourself a "painting dummy" that you don't care about and try different techniques, one on this arm, another on that arm, etc. until you find something you like.
In short, don't rely on GW for instruction. Many of their painters are top-notch, but in general I find their painting guides... lacking, at least enough that I look at them as a general overview, rather than step-by-step instructions.