Friday, 23 March 2012

Sergeant Nero - Painting the Mantic Orc Flagger - Pt.2

As you may have guessed from the title of this post, this is the second part of the article charting the painting of Mantic Games' Orc Flagger miniature.  You can read the first part here.

So where was I?

Oh yes...


The Flagger's cloak is split into two parts, the large mane at the top and the shorter hair making up the majority of the cloak.  Having finished the mane already, it was time to move onto the main cloak.

Now, everyone has their weakness - Superman has Kryptonite, a Cyberman has gold, Nicholas Cage has acting.  My weakness is fur.  Don't get me wrong, I can paint it, sure - but I certainly have to put a lot more effort into it than anything else on a mini.

I don't mind admitting that in the end, I was less than happy with the back of the Flagger - I had intended for the cloak to be the fur of a lion or some such big cat, so I plumbed for a sandy-yellowy-brown for the main body of it.

Sadly, though painted relatively well, I found that this colour was completely at-odds with the palette of the rest of the miniature - but having already painted it three times and being aware that there was scant time for perfectionism (being more than half-way into the competition time limit already), I had to grit my teeth and just let the cloak lie.

If time allows in future, I would be sorely tempted to re-paint the cloak a dirty grey-blue.  In retrospect, I actually think that this would make the flaming-orange mane look even better.

DAY NINE was the point in the competition that I had really been looking forward to since the start - the Orc flesh!

This stage is where a miniature goes from being a bit of metal with some (hopefully) nicely-painted bits on it, to being a living, breathing character.

I always like the flesh of a miniature to shine out a little bit brighter than the rest of it, so I always tend to err on the lighter side of caution.

For this reason, I basecoated the flesh with Goblin Green, using lots of thin coats over the Skull White undercoat, rather than one thick coat.  It takes much more time to do, obviously, but the amount of detail this preserves is well worth all the effort!

Though in terms of area, the skin was a relatively small part of the miniature, I spent a total of almost six hours working on it to get it right.

At the risk of repeating previous posts (Mantic's Goblin Sneek springs to mind...), the skin was shaded and highlighted with lots of blue tones, giving the flesh a cold look that would fit in well with the snow-themed base that I had planned.

I added a touch of Liche Purple and Necron Abyss to the original green, painting very thinly into the recesses over several coats, adding more Necron Abyss for the second, deeper, shading pass.

It's important to note that (though everybody has a different way of blending), you don't need your paint to be wet on the mini when you blend, nor do you need to continually alter the shade seven, eight, or nine times to get a smooth transition between your colours.  All you need is thin paint and a lot of patience.

The trick is to have your paint so thin that when you put it on, you virtually can't see it (seriously).  As long as you make sure that you don't 'pool' the paint on and that the area is completely dry before you add more, after fifteen, maybe twenty extremely thin applications, the translucency of the paint will have done all the hard work and you'll have a really nice, smooth, blend.

(Meanwhile, back at the Orc...)  I painted the highlights in two colour stages; a 1:1 mix of Goblin Green and Ice Blue and then finally, pure Ice Blue.


With all of the 'main' work done on the miniature, it was time to begin work on the actual design for the banner.

It was very easy to get carried away on the Flagger himself, without realising that the actual flag was just as important!

The image on the the right shows the banner after I 'pencilled-in' the design using a thin coat of Skull White, to give a strong, light base for the design.

Inspired by the flaming mane of hair on the cloak, I decided to opt for something similar on the banner.  Rolling flames, crashing like red waves across the banner... perfect!

Or so I thought...

I got about half-way into painting the 'flames' when I realised that I'd made a huge mistake with the design.  Even though I hadn't done any highlighting yet, I could tell that the design just wouldn't work.  The red and the blue just clashed terribly and the flames became lost in the undulating banner.

That was annoying to say the least.

The outline in the first picture seemed to be rather prophetic, as you can see from the finished banner below!

White worked so much better than the red because it actually dominates the flag, rather than clashing with the background.  It also is more in-keeping with the overall snow theme of the miniature.

I've not done a tremendous amount of freehand banners, so this was definitely a learning experience for me, but a welcome one all the same.


By now, the banner and the Flagger himself were finished, so all that remained were for me to finish off the last few bits of the base, and of course glue the banner to the main miniature.

The snow on the base was applied in three very thick 'gloopy' coats to allow it to 'flow' over the sides of the rocks, rasther than just cling to them like a thin layer of dust.  I basically mixed PVA glue with an equal amount of Skull White and applied it only to the horizontal surfaces, being careful to avoid any areas that would have been shielded from snow-fall.  The addition of white to the PVA is very important as the glue on its own will dry transparent and the resulting look is more grey than white.  Afterwards, I liberally coated all of the snow with Citadel 'Ardcoat to give it a realistic shine and take away the dry, powdery look.
Finally, to finish off, I painted on the blood splatters.  These were simply done by painting thinned Blood Red onto the affected areas before adding Chaos Black to it and then painting this onto the areas where the blood would be the thickest.  Finally, more 'Ardcoat was carefully painted on to give the blood that tell-tale glisten.

And that's it!  One Mantic Orc Flagger!

You can take a look at the finished model in the Flare Gallery if you want to see more pictures of the finished miniature.  Please let me know what you think!

And of course, if you want to know more about Flare Miniature Painting, you can...

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Sergeant Nero - Painting the Mantic Orc Flagger

I think that painting any miniature well is a challenge in itself.  Though it may be less so for 'gaming' miniatures, even if you're just throwing on a base and a couple of highlights to get an army on the table, nobody sets out to paint a miniature badly - Lord knows, you pay enough money for most of them, why wouldn't you want them to look as good as is realistically possible for the purpose which they were intended?

Yes, painting miniatures well is a tricky.

This fact is even more true when the miniature in question is painted for a competition.  After all, it's not just you who is judging the final piece, or your client - it's your peers, and I think that those are the people you set out to impress the most.

Of course, all of this is a lot easier if the miniature is a good one, and at the moment I can think of no better miniature than Mantic Games' stunning Orc Flagger.  It's a fantastic mini with so many different elements to have fun with - battered old armour, large areas of orc-ish skin, flowing cloth, matted fur, and (quite frankly) a ridiculously massive sword which balances the large banner (a canvas in its own right) perfectly.

I had just two weeks to paint and base this model, a time-limit set by the competition which made the excitement of working on it even more intense!

It was February 29th and the Chelmsford Bunker's BunkerBrush2012 competition had begun...


Before the competition began, entrants were allowed to clean up their miniatures and undercoat them, thought (obviously) no other painting was allowed.

Due to the size of the banner, I decided to paint it separately to the main body of the Flagger, though I did attach the sword arm.  I find it much easier to assemble as much as you can of a mini before painting as long as the parts don't make it too difficult to paint into the deeper parts of the model.  This helps when trying to shade and highlight the miniature, as well as making it easier to keep the colour scheme consistent.  (At this point, I'd like to apologise for the poor quality of the WIP images, as they were taken in what can best be described as 'a great hurry' under 'poor lighting conditions' and usually while I was waiting for something to dry...!

I began by painting the armour as it was one of the largest areas of the miniature.  Unlike a lot of painters, I would rather paint skin tones last as I find it helps me to make sure that these are the most eye-catching areas of the model.  It is vital that the face, above all things, stands out.

I don't mind admitting that I'm a painfully slow painter at the best of times and given the short time available to complete the Flagger, I opted for a bit of an experiment over any sort of 'straight' attempt at non-metallic metal (NMM).

Instead of using a colour base for the armour, I actually used several thin coats of Boltgun Metal paint, but, crucially, I then shaded and highlighted not with other metallics, but with standard acrylics instead - always, though, keeping a touch of Boltgun Metal in the mix.

By DAY TWO, you can see how this was coming along.  To shade the armour, I added Scorched Brown and Blazing Orange to the Boltgun Metal and painted those into all of the darker areas, adding Chaos Black for good measure when painting right between the armour plates and at the base of the sword, etc.

I then highlighted in three stages, adding Ice Blue to Boltgun Metal, the using just Ice Blue, then adding Skull White to that, and then painting the 'hottest' areas of reflection with pure Skull White.

At the end of DAY THREE, the iron armour was all but complete and I moved onto the bronze, beginning the base with a mix of Shining Gold and Snakebite Leather, before shading and highlighting in a similar way to above (but mixing Necron Abyss to shade and adding Bleached Bone to highlight)...

By the end of DAY FOUR, the metallics were finished and Sergeant Nero was beginning to take shape...

After this photo was taken, and in a fit of caffeine madness at around half-one in the morning, I decided to basecoat all of the deep-blue-black areas with Necron Abyss so that come the fifth day, I was ready to run as soon as my feet hit the ground...


While all this was going on, I had been taking some time in-between various stages to construct the base for the Flagger.  Sometime, sadly, fantastically-painted miniatures can be let down when the ground beneath them fails to live up to their splendour.  That's why I started to create the base almost as soon as I started to paint the model that it would sit under.

The rocks were all stones that came from my garden, and the sand came from my daughters' sand-pit (excitedly sprinkled on by none other than my eldest!).  In fact, apart from the base itself and the Battlefields Highland Tuft from The Army Painter, I didn't need to spend any money (so far) on the base.  Painting it all was a very relaxing distraction from the rigours of the faux-NMM armour of the Flagger, as it was painted entirely using various stages of drybrushing and washes, and nothing more.

By the end of the day, I had also managed to all-but-finish the blues on the main miniature and the banner section, with just one or two more layers of highlighting needed where they most caught the light.  

The shades and highlights on the blues were very simply done by adding varying amounts of black to the Necron Abyss for the shades, while highlighting up to Ice Blue (again).

I find that it really helps with the look of a model to try and use the same palette throughout the paint job, always highlighting and shading with the same colours in order to cement the coherency of all the separate areas.  Ice Blue is my colour of choice for the entire Bloody Hells army, as I feel it lends a coldness that works brilliantly with the snow-theme of their bases.

It was now DAY SIX and, time allowing for any problems or delays, I was half-way through the competition.

I still had no idea whether or not the mini would be finished for the deadline, but as most of the model had some paint on it, I managed to convince myself that everything would be fine.

After finishing the relatively small leather areas, I pressed on with the 'mane' of the cloak and the cloth, opting for quite a bright orange colour to counter the dull blues and browns of the armour.

It was the end of the next day by the time I had gotten this done to my satisfaction, and, looking at the shock of flame-coloured fur, burning like a halo behind the Flagger's head, I decided that his name would be 'Sergeant Nero'...!

The orange itself was based with Bestial Brown and highlighted with Blazing Orange.  After two washes of Ogryn Flesh, it was highlighted with Dwarf Flesh, then Bleached Bone before receiving a very thin Baal Red glaze.

So far, I was very excited about the way that Nero was turning out, but also knew that unless I could make the banner (almost half the area of the miniature!) look just as good as what I'd done so far, the model simply wouldn't work...

I felt that perhaps it was time to think about the Flagger's... um... flag!

Friday, 9 March 2012

Little Ronnie - Mantic Games' Goblin Sneek

Now I've finally got a few minutes in-between waiting for various stages of a competition entry to dry, I thought I'd post up the work-in-progress images of Little Ronnie to show you all how he came together.

What I love about this miniature is that it manages to capture so much character, yet it is so utterly simple in its detail.  There is no clutter, no needless over-embellishment, just a great character, perfectly realised.

I'm sure the first thing you'll notice is that I painted the miniature based, and in fact, painted the base first.  There were a couple of reasons for this.

The first was a time issue.  As it was a relatively small miniature, and the base was going to be as simple as the goblin himself, I decided to paint both as one whole piece, allowing me to get a quicker result, but a great one all the same.

I painted the base first because there is always a danger of rushing this type of simple base at the end of a job because when you're so excited about the actual miniature, the base can sometimes become something of a secondary concern.  Painting it first means you are still fuelled by that initial excitement, and of course there is nothing worse when you've painted a fantastic miniature than making a disastrous slip with the brush while doing the base!

I decided on a white undercoat for Little Ronnie, which is a bit of a break from my normal Chaos Black spray.  I wanted to really go to town on the blending, meaning lots of almost water-thin coats of paint.

Even over a white undercoat, the purple robes you see in this image took between ten and fifteen coats of Hormagaunt Purple Foundation before having a good solid base to work from!

I then added some Necron Abyss Foundation and painted it into the recesses using the same thin mix, finally adding some Chaos Black to this before doing the deepest areas.  After that I simply worked up the highlights, blending up with a mix of Hormagaunt Purple and Bleached Bone, before finally blending the edges with pure Bleached Bone.

It's very easy to get carried away trying to blend, adding a little bit more highlight, then a bit more, and a bit more, and so on.  I found from this miniature that this really isn't necessary.  As long as you keep your paints extremely thin, you can complete an area - shade-to-base-to-highlights - in just five stages.

Finally, I completed the sleeves and hood in a similar manner with an unobtrusive dirty-white.

It's always down to personal choice, but I always prefer to leave skin until last.  Many painters agree, but an equal number would disagree too!

Because faces are the focal point of the miniature, I like to leave them until the end so that I can gauge the skin tone when compared with the rest of the finished miniature.  With that in mind, I painted the leather on the goblin, simply as it was the next largest area.

This was basecoated Bestial Brown and then shaded with a little Liche Purple and a lot of Scorched Brown (with the addition of Chaos Black in the deepest recesses).  The highlights were blended up with Snakebite Leather and (again!) Bleached Bone.

To try and keep a universal colour-scheme that held the miniature together at the end, I tried to use some form of purple in all the shades and equally, Bleached Bone in most of the highlights.

After painting the remaining detail on the Sneek, I finally got to paint the flesh, which was what I'd been looking forward to since the beginning!

I went for a Goblin Green basecoat as I wanted the skin to stand out brighter than the rest of the model, shading it with purples and blues (Liche Purple and Necron Abyss) rather than going for a straight dark green.  This is because I think that adding different coloured tones to the skin makes it much more real and more pleasing to the eye.

As for the highlights, these were gradually blending up from the basecoat with just Ice Blue. Normally, for Orc-ish skin, I would use a yellow for the highlights, but for this particular Orc army, based on snow bases, I have used Ice Blue throughout to give the flesh a much 'colder' look (both literally and figuratively!).

And, aside from a few fingernails and a couple of red eyes, that's it!

If you want to see more pictures of the finished Little Ronnie, get over to the 'Bloody Hells!' section of the Flare Gallery to see him in all his diminutive glory!

If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, please feel free to leave your comments below, or email Flare Miniature Painting directly!

Next time, I'll hopefully be able to show you the finished Orc Flagger that I'm currently working on for the Chelmsford Bunker's BunkerBrush2012 competition!