I think I speak for every tabletop wargamer when I say I would love to game with an army of really, really, ridiculously well painted minis. Sadly, due to many factors (lets call them life), I have to accept that this dream is unrealistic. So bearing that crushing burden, I know I’m never going to have a mini score 9.5 on Coolminiornot, or win the Crystal Brush, but I do like pushing myself and my abilities to produce the best results I can. Let’s call it progression.
However, that’s much easier to do when a painter devotes 15+ hours (or more) to a single miniature, Not so much when a painter wants to paint five or six minis (or more) in the same amount of time. So how do I improve my skills, and still produce a fully painted Hell Dorado company in a realistic amount of time?
Over many years and many conversations about mini painting, I noticed something; whenever I complimented someone else’s work or I received a compliment, it was always “That mini’s face looks sweet!”, or “The sword looks awesome”, and often “How did you do the red on that mini? It looks great.” Never “That is the most awesomely painted belt I’ve ever seen!,” or “I’ve never seen such well painted black shoes!!.”
This got me thinking. For gaming purposes, do I need to spend time and effort on each area of a mini equally? The answer is no, and by assigning different levels of importance to the particular elements of a mini, I can spend more time on one area because I’m not spending near as much time on “less important” areas. Overall hopefully reducing the total time spent on the mini.
My lovely girlfriend Serrina calls it cheating. I prefer to call it Prioritization.
Let’s look at Cipher’s latest Hell Dorado release: Dá Wèntí.
The skin areas, and more importantly the face, are going to naturally be the focal points of the mini. Next up will be his maces, Des and Troy. Also, because of my choice of colour palette, the bright green areas will stand out from the skin tones and dark clothing. Of least importance is the cloth areas and accessories, and these will have the least time spent on them.
Without showing a step by step, this is the finished skin tone. I started with a base coat of VMC Beige Brown 135 and VMC Medium Fleshtone 021 mixed about 3:1. This was then washed with a mix of Beige Brown, glaze medium, and water at about 1:4:6. It’s an odd ratio, but the Vallejo Model Colour range is a little different to other paint ranges I’ve used; they have a much higher pigment ratio than most other brands so a little paint goes a long way. Also, I have found that when using them as washes, they need a little glaze medium to hold the pigment in suspension; if they are mixed with 100% water the pigment will quickly settle and your wash will be mostly water.
Three layers of highlights were applied by successively mixing a little VMC Flat Flesh into the basecoat, before applying a very thin glaze of the basecoat to take the chalkiness off the highlights.
Next the pants. This is a very quick, simple way to achieve a good black result- don’t start with a black basecoat! Start with a very dark grey and some highlighting is already done. In this case I used VMC Black Grey 168. I applied only one layer of highlight using VMC Dark Grey 166 to achieve the result to the left, this was then darkened with two washes of P3 Armour Wash to achieve the result to the right.
The green areas were simply a base coat of VMC Flat Green 083, washed with Armour Wash and highlighted with VMC Deep Yellow 014. The armour plates were base coated in a reddish-brown and a khaki and washed with Armour Wash- no highlights at all!
Dà Wèntí finished! The metal areas were painted in the same manner as featured in my Zaxaan article, without applying any weathering, and the eyes were treated with the fluorescent paint effects from last article.
Notice the impact the skin and face have upon first view? All other elements are completely secondary and really can be treated as such, while still producing a quality result.
That’s it for this installment, thanks again for reading, this has been one of the most enjoyable miniatures I have painted in years and I hope Cipher Studios makes many more! I will leave with a final question though.
Did anyone like his black shoes?