Painting the scene
Back in November I was talking with Ali about various painting things, basing materials etc… Eventually idle chatter turns into: “So, do you want to paint the Hunter?”
I’m a Cygnar player. Most of my work for PPS has been for Cygnar, and now I’m being offered the chance to see one of the most anticipated lights early AND get paid to paint it? Hmmm lemme think…
So with the no brainer out of the way, we agree to a time table (in this case one week) and I wait for the model to arrive. At this point I realize a few things; one, I’ve never done a ‘Jack for privateer before, two, no BrushThrall has, and three, this is a much anticipated ‘Jack. That’s when the nerves kick in. This sucker is going to have to be perfect. I’ve been speed painting for the last few weeks, doing just table top stuff, in a pathetic attempt to finish my army for SoCal, (It didn’t happen. Personally I blame Halo2.) But now it’s time to change gears. I need to slow down and take my time, yet still get the model done in a week. This will be a heavily scrutinized model and I can’t afford mistakes. On top of all that, it’s a master. The pressure is going to be severe.
So Saturday arrives and in my hot little hands I have a master of the Hunter. A master, for those of you that are unaware, is a rare model indeed. A master comes from the first castings off of the “green”. It is the model that all production models are made from. Essentially it is the first generation after the green, and to quote Mike McVey, “they are worth more than gold.” Yeah, so that pressure isn’t lightening up. One of the benefits to painting a master however is they tend to be very clean and require little in the way of filing. After catching some hair thin molds lines here and there, I’m ready to assemble. We have the four parts that make up the Hunter. Two arms, a body, and a head. It’s a simple jack, but it has a nice ball and socket style join. The first thing I do is create a deep pin. I want to make sure that it survives the trip back up to Seattle. I remove the foot tab and pin both feet to the base with a light tacking of CA glue. A quick coat of black primer and I’m ready to start.
Cygnar blue is a very nice color to paint. It tends to be very forgiving and is pretty opaque, so it doesn’t take too many coats to get nice and clean. The blue is actually a mix made from Citadel’s Regal Blue and Enchanted Blue. It’s about a 60/40 mix. I like to “brew” up a batch before I get started so I have an even base to begin all my work. Usually I use a glass airbrush bottle, with a bit of cellophane over the opening, before I screw on the lid. I can get a batch of mixed paint to last me about a year. Then just to make things flow really nice I add a drop or two of Liquitex flow release. This just helps to the paint thin evenly when mixed with water.
Now I have to apologize to you all. I got very much in the zone when working on the hunter and don’t have nearly as many pictures as I’d like of the step by step, but I’ll fill in those blanks when the model is released. So when you have one in your hands, you’ll have a better guide to work from.
I blocked out all the blue areas, and then set to work on my metals. I like to do this as is helps give me the feel of layout on the model and see what needs to be metal or not. I like to do the metals first because any splatter or dust can carry over to the rest of the model very easily and it creates its own special kind of nightmare to clean up on a nice blend. I’m not going to go too deep on the metals because they are covered else where on the site in depth, but you can see here how I’ve spent a lot of time and attention getting the golds to flow from one level to the next.
The devil is in the details
Now the dials were actually pretty easy. Paint them white and then choose colors for the gauges. In this case I chose orange and red, pretty standard for measuring levels of heat. The trick here it to paint towards yourself, rotate the model so you are pulling the brush straight up and down. It’s far easier to paint a straight line in this manner. Don’t be afraid to spin the model and keep your brush hand as the steady one. In fact this is really how you should paint. Your body doesn’t always want to twist and turn in funky angles. When your hand is holding a brush it likes to move two ways | and — so rotate the model to allow you to do this. If you manage to over-paint a little it’s easily corrected with some white. The black ticks can be done with a brush if you are confident you can pull it off. Otherwise a nice shortcut is the Rapidograph, or micro pen. Finally to get that glass look I’ve put on a dab of gloss varnish. Feel free to experiment with varnish as another way to enhance your models. Not everything on a model should be all flat or all shiny. There’s a mix and the more you can capture the mix, the more realistic your models will appear.
Next are the blue highlights. This part is tough; the Hunter has some really large expanses. That meant I had to be very careful about keeping the highlights even and smooth. Blending large areas is still pretty difficult for me, so I usually layer them. I’m not sure the lingo has ever been truly defined, but I’ll tell you what it means to me. Blending is wet on wet, layering is wet on dry. I’ll let Finn or Ali cover blending as it’s still a weak point for me, but layering I have down. With layering you’ll be putting down successive layers of ultra-thin paint.
Here’s a whacky tip: I’ve gotten into the habit of painting on the back of my left hand and thumb to help control the flow of paint. This allows me to feel how the paint is applying from both sides. If it feels too strong on my left hand I need to back it of on the right. To me it’s like zeroing a scale, and resets my mind as to how much pressure to apply. Try it, see what you think. (Just make sure to wash it all off before going out to dinner with the S.O.. Mine hates when I bring blue hands to dinner.)
Laying it on… Thin
Where were we? Oh layering… I make sure that while my brush is wet, it’s not overflowing. Many times the start of my stroke will be dry or drying by the time I’ve completed it. I like to use flats for this kind of work because they lay down a wide smooth line. Part of the problem with layering though is if you over paint in any area you need to tone it back down and feather in a lighter or darker color. This means there’s a lot of back and forth which can eventually create a build up of paint if you don’t thin it enough which will eventually it will obscure detail. Or if you’re moving too fast and the paint isn’t fully dry you risk tearing or pilling the layer of paint you’ve laid down. Layering takes patience. It’s not always the best solution either. For me however it’s a technique that I’m comfortable with. Practice it and if you like it, focus on it. Use what works for you, there is no right and wrong provided YOU are satisfied with your work.
I take our starting mixture of Citadel’s Regal Blue and add in some more of Citadel’s Enchanted Blue. I’d say it’s now about 50/50. I don’t want to get too much of the Enchanted in the mix. Enchanted is a very dominant color. It’s got great coverage, but it tends to overpower other colors, even the darker ones so only add a little bit at a time. From here we begin to lighten the raised surfaces where the light would hit. Once I’m happy with where the highlights have been lain down, I go back to the original mix and feather it into the new highlight. It’s a bit of back and forth to get right. But with a little practice it doesn’t take very long. Now I have some variation in the blue. It’s subtle but it’s there. Next is the white. I probably created about 8-10 colors in total, the last 6-8 shades will all be done by adding more white. This is a time consuming step, but when painting for photographs you have to make sure you create as much variance and contrast as is possible.
The Hunter is fairly monochromatic. When the blues are done, there’s very little left to work on. Here I finish any detailing, such as the eyes and I attach the arms. The arms are far easier to paint once attached.
In this case the freehanding was done by Ali, they wanted to take a look at the piece in person before deciding if it needed some sprucing up. If you’re comfortable free handing, go for it. There’s a lot of space to work with. This is also a great place to practice sculpting, or green-stuff casting.
So that’s it, a painted Hunter. Now start killing some big jacks!