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  1. #1
    Member ISwearImHim's Avatar
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    What exactly am I doing wrong?

    I am not the greatest painter and do not wish to be the best with mastery of NMM techniques, true-to-life reflections on crystalline surfaces and whatever. I do, however, wish to improve upon my painting. Here are a few examples of what I painted the last year:







    As you can see, my skills are hardly up to par. I am trying to do the best I can, trying to stay "within the lines", as you might say, but there is always something missing. Foundations paints are blotchy, often obscuring too much detail even when watered down. My paints go everywhere, which might lead me to believe that I just don't have as much of a steady hand as is required.

    For your information, I usually paint IG and work outside in. I.e, I start with large surfaces such as the cloth and armour, then move up to the weapon(s), go to the hands and face as well as shoes and end with details such as the aquila and insignia.

    So, yeah, what can you tell me, based on what I put here, both pictures and text, in order to improve my painting? Thanks in advance.

    Okay, so now I have no signature. Great.

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  3. #2
    searching for sheep silentdeathz's Avatar
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    How long do you take on a miniature? I think the number one issue people have is they dont realise the time taken to paint figures by people they aspire to paint like and wonder why they cant do it in an hour on their own figure. Some marine players take 45 or so minutes simply doing a helm start to finish

    FE - The feathers on your spearmans heads. It looks like you simply drybrushed over them when you could have taken the time to pick out each part individually. It really doesnt take that much longer but avoids things such as two parts seemingly stuck together ebcause paint got in the groove in the middle. Also, if that happens to me its a rush to get my brush cleaned and water on there to get rid of the paint. Leave it till its dry and start again.


    Furthermore, it looks like you either dont highlight, or as using washes purely to do the work for you. If you want your miniatures to look better you're going to have to do progressive highlights either through layering or wet blending/feathering etc.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-JNNccBAis is a handy starting video (for wet blending)

    Another thing to take into consideration is the source of light. Generally I, and I expect the majority take the source to be above and to the left or right of the model (and behind)


    (personally i would place the lamp higher and slightly further behind perhaps)

    This allows you to see the areas that need highlights the most. But really I wouldnt worry about this for now if you want to take it a step at a time. Many people simply highlight every edge and it can work just fine, but in reality it isnt how you would expect light to catch the surfaces.
    Last edited by silentdeathz; May 16th, 2010 at 21:33.

  4. #3
    Member Dave the Barbarian's Avatar
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    How long have you been painting minis? Some of it's just learned over time, honestly. I've still got my first minis displayed on a shelf, but when I compare them to stuff I'm doing now, they look pretty bad. I didn't learn to thin my paints right away, so they look a lot chunkier than yours, and have a similar lack of detail. I've been at this for about 5 years now off and on, and I'll soon be going back to repaint some of my Plague Marines I did 3 years ago since they just don't hold up to my current abilities.

    With where you are now, though, I'd say start trying to layer. On a yellow sleeve, for instance, have it primed black, then paint brown outside the folds, then paint yellow on top of that. Particularly with brighter colors, there needs to be some transition from the prime color. You can't always have colors like yellow, red, or white do all the work to cover up black primer on their own. You don't leave the brown to show, necessarily, but you'll definitely see a difference with the strength of the top color. It looks like you thin your paints enough already, so it won't make your guys chunky with paint to give this a try. Brown also goes under skin tones, and if it's at all reddish, can be used for brighter reds, too. Greys, or blue-greys are best for whites. Metallics are pretty much the only thing that can stand on their own over black ... well that, or highlights used on black areas themselves.

    As far as the steady hands thing goes, that's something else you'll get better with over time as your hands learn what they're doing. Some tips to help with that, though: work out of a small crafting vice, pin vice, or just tac your models on top of an old paint tub ... just something to hold on to that's better than trying to hold the mini itself (and avoiding smudging all your painting). If you go the vice route, you'll need to put a pin in the model's foot. Clamp that pin in the vice, not any part of the model

    Anchor your painting hand on your other hand - heel to heel, or with your free fingers depending on what's easiest for where you're painting on the model. Also, rest your elbows on a table, or your torso (if you like to paint relaxed and reclined like myself). It feels so right once you train yourself that way.

    Most importantly, keep at it. It looks like you've been painting quite a lot. I got through about an army and a half before I started really thinking my painting was anything good.

  5. #4
    Sir Proofreader Deadstar_MRC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ISwearImHim View Post
    Foundations paints are blotchy, often obscuring too much detail even when watered down. My paints go everywhere, which might lead me to believe that I just don't have as much of a steady hand as is required.
    It sounds to me like you could be putting too much paint on your brush, or perhaps watering your paints down too much... Or maybe a bit of both, either of which could be contributing to the paint going everywhere.

    I've had a lot of trouble getting my paints watered down to an appropriate level. What I tend to do now (I use a little plastic art pallette with inch-wide depressions to hold paint, but I imagine a ceramic tile or a cd case may work just as well) is wet my brush, touch that to the plastic pallette (it normally only leaves a tiny drop of water because the water is more likely to sat in the brush than on the plastic) and then I dry the brush, get a big drop of paint on there straight out of the pot, and mix it with the water. It usually comes out about right.

    Then, when painting a mini, I make sure to wipe a fair bit of paint off the brush on the edge of the pallette depression. It does seem to get tedious, having to constantly go back to your pallette for more paint, but it gives you much greater control over where the paint goes.

    Hope it helps!
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  6. #5
    Monkey of Mystery The Paint Monkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ISwearImHim View Post


    OK- I'm going to discuss this one figure and go through a few things you can try. I'm going to focus on this one figure, simply because it's convenient- not because it's particularly bad or anything like that. The advice from the others is sound and worth paying attention to, too. Plus, and this is important, you've asked for help and there are heaps of people on here that will offer advice- always remember it's just that, advice, and not criticism.

    OK- first off, you seem to be getting the paint in more or less the right places, which is good, but it seems to be a bit roughly applied. You're working over a black undercoat right? If that's the case try and use the foundations to lay done a complete layer of base colours. For example the beard, the sleeves and the face all have areas where the black shows through and makes the model look a bit untidy. Complete, smooth coverage is the first thing to achieve- practice with the foundations until you've found a consistency that works for you.
    Once you've got that under control you can start exploring shading. The washes are a great place to start. Use the appropriate colour wash over the area you want shaded and let it dry. The more wash you use the darker the effect will be. Unce this is dry you can go back to your original base colour and repaint the raised areas, leaving it dark in the shadows. With that doen, mix a slightly lighter shade into your colour (or a bit of white) and add a highlight of the very highest areas. This is only basic shading but will have a great effect on the mini's appearance.

    As a worked example- I'd use Tallarn Flesh on the skin, followed by an Ogryn Flesh wash once dried. I'd go back and repaint the nose and cheeks (and forehead and chin on other models) with thinned Tallarn Flesh, leaving the darker colours around the eye, under the nose and behind/under the ears. Once that's dry, mix a bit of Elf Flesh with the Talarn Flesh on your tile or palatte or whatever and paint just the top of the nose and the very edges of the eye socket. How'd that work?
    No more NG spearmen, thanks! Now I need some pump-wagons!

  7. #6
    LO's Resident Time Lord Canew's Avatar
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    I have little to add to the above advice, but Monkey's comment bears repeating: smooth coverage is a must on the basecoat. As others have said, make sure you put in the time on that part. I find the basecoating stage gets the least attention in "how to paint" advice, but it takes the longest for me, and screwing up in this step will ruin a model far more than mistakes at pretty much any other stage, I find.

    If you find you're having trouble, try the following:

    1) Use multiple coats. Don't think you'll get it in one pass. Rarely does that happen, and only if you use too much paint, or paint that's too thick. Be prepared to go over it more than once, and allow an appropriate drying time in between coats.

    2) Try different paint. The foundation paints are great, as are the GW metallics, and I would not be one to blame your materials and tools, but never forget that there are MANY manufacturers out there. Pick up a bottle or two of the Vallejo game/model colors. I've also recently tried the P3 paints (Privateer Press brand), and their coverage is phenomenal. I'd give them a whirl, too.

    3) use a different-colored primer. Black is tough to paint over sometimes, foundation paints or no foundation paints. Have you considered spraying white or gray instead?

    Good luck, and DON'T GIVE UP! Keep coming back with more pics!
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  8. #7
    Thread Killer! slorak's Avatar
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    I think it looks like you do have the basics down. Aside from better coverage in a few areas already mentioned here are some other things to look at...

    Basing: Currently it looks like an afterthought on the figures an not really a part of it. I would recommend building your base when you build your figure. Prime and paint it as well and it will look better.

    Shading and highlighting: Currently the figures look like they only have a flat basecoat. Easy shading can be done with a wash. If it is slightly darker than the color you are painting it will shade the recesses.

    Highlighting is a skill that takes time and practive but the concept is to gradually mix lighter and lighter combinations of the color you are painting. Lighter highlight areas are generally the highest fold on clothing, the top parts of armor, etc.

    Above all else ask specifics and continue to show your work. If you are trying to do something specific and not sure if it is working or not posting pictures is a great tool.

    Cheers,

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  9. #8
    Member ISwearImHim's Avatar
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    Hey all,

    thanks for sharing your insights with me. Your help is greatly appreciated!
    I will read them closely and see what I can do with that.

    On the topic of using browns to "prime" areas for lighter colours, would the foundation paints work or should I go with "real" paints such as bestial brown or whatever? Same goes for other primary colours. But now that you mentioned it, I think that I once heard a player from my LGS say that he uses gray to paint white. Also, would gray also work as a primer for blue colours? I'm really intrigued as to how this would work...
    Okay, so now I have no signature. Great.

  10. #9
    Thread Killer! slorak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ISwearImHim View Post
    Hey all,

    thanks for sharing your insights with me. Your help is greatly appreciated!
    I will read them closely and see what I can do with that.

    On the topic of using browns to "prime" areas for lighter colours, would the foundation paints work or should I go with "real" paints such as bestial brown or whatever? Same goes for other primary colours. But now that you mentioned it, I think that I once heard a player from my LGS say that he uses gray to paint white. Also, would gray also work as a primer for blue colours? I'm really intrigued as to how this would work...
    Are you referring to the primer color or the base coat color? You should always prime the figure with primer. Usually you get either black or white primer but I have seen grey and a rust color as well... If you are referring to what primer works best... Well that is generally a question for what are you trying to achieve. When you prime white it tends to make the colors you apply more vibrant. When you prime black the colors tend to come out more muted and dull. This isn't an absolute as the more opaque a paint is the better coverage you get and ultimately the primer color only matters a little bit.

    for a base coat... I would recommend putting down a darker color than what you are trying to achieve. This way as you build up the highlights you will keep that darker color for shade. For example... I am currently working on blood angel terminators from the space hulk game. I started with a base coat of Foundation Mecharite Red mixed with beasty brown (Vallejo Game color equivalent of beastial brown). I then started with my darkest red and worked to the lightest red applying highlights. When you start with a darker color it works out much better for shading.

    Here are a couple examples of shading with the darker color as a basecoat. The left right side is the basecoat color and on the left side you will see the first highlight of red. Sorry about the sparkle effect the lens picked up light reflection. It really isn't that spotty looking...



    As I built up the red layers the base shading can still be seen in the recesses of the various parts of the armor. When you start with a darker color this stands out more. Otherwise you can always apply a darker wash at some point to get this effect or enhance this effect.



    Hope this helps out some.

    Cheers,

    -Mike

    Now offering an affordable Tournament Legal Quality Commission pricing. Find out more here!

  11. #10
    Member ISwearImHim's Avatar
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    Hmm, I always assumed basecoating and priming was the same. What I meant was the stage when I first start taking the brush to the miniature, AFTER spraying it with Chaos Black. I definitely prefer Chaos Black, since this already gives me painted recesses and such.
    Okay, so now I have no signature. Great.

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