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!