“C’mon baby, light my fire!” – OSL tips

One of the most mysterious and impressive techniques used in miniature painting is the enigmatic OSL, which translates to On-miniature Source Lighting. Whether you like it or not is a matter of personal preference, but why shouldn’t you learn how to use this technique? These tips may be useful for this purpose.

I wanted to explain my way of painting light on miniatures. On our forum we had a discussion about Ana’s spellsinger, and it inspired me to writing this article.

General OSL tips

The way of painting light will be explained using my Demon of Chaos for the example. To begin with, we’ll remind several technical things that everybody should know:

  • The closer to the light source, the stronger the light, and the shadows too.
  • One needs to know what kind of light the source casts: fire – red/yellow, lightbulb – whiteish, etc.
  • We’re painting only these fragments of the mini, on which the light would fall in reality.
  • The best method of learning this technique is looking at reallife examples or works of other artists, and the metohds of trials and errors. Usually only experience and practice can show you how it’s done, so I am not teaching you any “success guaranteed” method, but only giving you some hints which can be useful.
  • Light looks different on different surfaces, eg. leather, metal, porous surface, or smooth surface. On a cloak or other fabric the light will remain matte (check the torn clothes on the demon’s front), while on metal the light would “slide” on the surface (the demon’s weapon).
  • Weak light will make weak intensity of the effect, small small reflections, it doesn’t reach far. On the other hand strong light source casts much light, and has better range. It’s up to you to decide on the intensity of the color and its luminance. And the intensity and luminance define the what the reflections will look like and how far from the light source will they be.
  • The further from the source, the bigger radius of the light, but lower intensity.

Photo: OSL tips - Tutorial

In my humble opinion it’s best to start with painting the mini in any way you like, and only then apply the light and shadows. More work will be needed, but the effect will be better (I know it from my experience). If we start with painting the effect of light, we can en counter various surprising problems, and they will not help us for sure…

Maybe not a step-by-step OSL tutorial

When the mini is painted, we can start painting our light. We’re starting with painting the light source (in this case – from the lamp), which will be helpful when we’ll be painting the reflections.

I started with the darker colors, and I worked toward the lightest point (Fiery Orange, Golden Yellow, Sunburst Yellow, white). We’re keeping the transitions smooth. The reflections can be made with glazes, which will create the natural effect of light falling on the surfaces.

Photo: OSL tips - Tutorial

As for the reflections, we’re starting with the surfaces positioned close to the light source, where the reflections will be stronger (the demon’s stomach and head). One can start with a darker color (eg. Blood Red) and mark the places where the light would fall on the whole mini, which will allow us a more complete view of the whole project.

Using glazes for the large surfaces we’re applying successive layers, until the effects satisfies us, but let us keep the color darker than the light source. Glazes will be no good for smaller elements, because thinned paint can run into recesses, etc. And that’s how we paint all the lit surfaces.

The last thing you can do, if there is such need, is making the surfaces opposite to the lit ones darker. I can give you another advice: the reflections near the light source will connct with shadows in a more rapid way: much light – much shadow (eg. the demon’s head). The farther reflections will have more delicate, subtle, and smooth transitions into the local color and then into the shadow (eg. the demon’s tail and tentacles).

And then we can use the same method for the miniature’s base 🙂

Rocky seashore bases by Demon Color

Years ago Demon_Color used to be a member of our team. At that time he described the way he created the seashore base, which he used for his mounted High Elf hero. If you want to see how to create such a base – keep reading…

Step one: Preparations

We need to acquire the following marterials:

  • the base (the most important thing ;))
  • cork (even from a bottle of wine)
  • Poxilina (or some other fast-curing putty)
  • glue (doesn’t need to be the one I used, even white glue will do)
  • static grass (or some other kind of grass used for making dioramas)
  • modelling tools

Photo: Rocky Seashore Base - Tutorial

Step two: The rock

Now we’re taking the cork (which can come in different shapes) and model it with a modelling knife to the shape we want for our rock. We tear the edges a bit, to make the rock look even more like a rock.

Our rock can’t cover the whole base, because we want to sculpt some sea waves on it, too. I suggest to make the rock on 3/4 or 3/5 of the base.

We glue the modelled cork to the base.

Photo: Rocky Seashore Base - Tutorial

Step three: The waves

Now we get down to modelling the sea waves. We cut off a 4-5mm thick block of Poxilina, and mix it until the colors blend with each other. We attach it to the part of the base, where we wanted the waves to be, and model it with a dentist’s spatula/ carver or a modelling knife.

Our moves have to be quick and firm. We need to remember that a wave hitting ricks is something undefined. Use your imagination (but don’t exagerate, because there still has to remain some room for the mini ;)). Poxilina is cured after some 10 minutes so you have to hurry and work quickly. 🙂

Photo: Rocky Seashore Base - Tutorial

Step four: Painting

Now that we have everything modelled (and our hands washed after working with this toxic stuff) we can start painting.

I suggest using the following paints for this purpose:

Water: GW (Midnight Blue) – (Midnight Blue + Ice Blue) – (Ice Blue) – (Ice Blue + White) – White

Rock: GW (Bestial Brown) – (Snakebite Leather) – (Vomit Brown) – (Bleached Bone) – (White)

Use drybrushing of course 🙂 But for the waved I would suggest wetbrushing, and a lot of paint. If you feel like wetbrushing the rock, you are free to do it 🙂 I would even recommend it for better effect.

Photo: Rocky Seashore Base - Tutorial

Step five: Finishing touches

So we’re finishing our work. 😀

Now we only need to attach the mini to the base and to sprinkle some grass over the rock.

And don’t paint these patterns because they’re my trademark 😉

Photo: Rocky Seashore Base - Tutorial


And now something about BLOOOOOD!!!!!!!!!!

In the days of old it was good enough to splatter some red paint on your miniatures and consider it well-painted blood. These days people have higher expectations, so if you want to learn how to paint blood in a realistic and impressive way – just follow the tutorial

If we want to achieve the effect of dripping blood we need: Tamiya Clear Red paint, Uhu glue, black paint (one can also use some brown or blue).

Photo: Painting blood - Tutorial

We apply our “ingredients” onto a piece of plastic, an old CD, etc.

Photo: Painting blood - Tutorial

We mix it with a stick or toothpick (it would be a shame to waste a paintbrush).

Photo: Painting blood - Tutorial

And now we apply our “ketchup” onto blades/swords/jaws of monsters (the glue wil stretch like a spiderweb).

Photo: Painting blood - Tutorial

And when everything is dry you can apply some glossy varnish. Enjoy bleeding. ;-D

PS – This tutorial is published courtesy of CUKIERas and MaxMini.eu.
Thanks guys 🙂

Painting power weapons

Ok guys, I have had several people ask me how I paint my power weapons so I decided to put up a tutorial. (Besides, I can’t let Fist outdo me). This is an incredibly easy and quick way of painting power weapons all things considered and doing the tutorial only took 30 mins including picture taking. All in all, once you get the mix of paints down you can knock out a weapon blade like this in 10 minutes. Here goes.

Painting power weapons: Power sword

Start off by painting the blade Chaos Black, ensuring that the black is even and covers the entire blade.

Painting power weapons - Tutorial

First step is to use pure Red Gore for the first layer. Paint on the Red Gore in a lightning shaped pattern that looks pleasing to you. It is not at all a must to be painted a certain way.

Painting power weapons - Tutorial

Do the same thing again within the Red Gore with pure Blood Red. From this point on keep in mind that you do not want to follow the pattern of the Red Gore to the tee. Instead, with this coat and all following coats, do a lightning pattern within the first layer making sure to leave edges of the first showing through.

Painting power weapons - Tutorial

Next step is to use a 50/50 blood red/fiery orange mix and repeat the same step from above.

Painting power weapons - Tutorial

Now add a very small amount of the previous mix to some Bad Moon Yellow until you have a colour similar to that pictured here.

Painting power weapons - Tutorial

Finally mix a very small amount of Skull White to the yellow mix you just made and paint in spots at the thickest parts of the lightning pattern and along the very edges like shown.

Painting power weapons - Tutorial

And there you have it. Fast, simple and easy and very effective looking. Enjoy.

— Wraithlord

Artemis – how I painted the miniature

Artemis was the model which won me the Femme Fatale II contest. Painting it was a big challenge for me – because of the scale and several problems I encountered. You can read about my Artemis – how I painted the miniature and what I learned from my problems. Maybe it saves you some trouble?


Painting of Artemis was done in the same period when I painted the girl in the eggshell – just one step earlier, but also one step after the
sexy female dwarf from Hasslefree Miniatures. I may be repeating myself, but it all was a lucky coincidence at that time, or maybe I just think it was? Anyway the curtain was removed and I saw a lot of new options.

Photo: Artemis - how I painted the miniature - Tutorial

In addition to this we received some secret knowledge ;-))) acquired during a painting workshop with Jeremie “Bragon” Bonamant by our friend from Poland: Illusionrip. In the same time our website – Chest of Colors – was updated with a tutorial (by Morsi) about painting skin, which made my knowledge (acquired from Mahon and Illusionrip more complete. I learned how to “sculpt” and model shapes with colors, and even how to choose colors suitable for certain effects.

But theory is just theory, and what about practice? The dwarf was easy to improve with glazing, so I wanted to test my abilities even more. And the best model to learn painting skin is a nude model 🙂

Photo: Artemis - how I painted the miniature - Tutorial

My perfect Artermis

Artemis was still a new release, but her potential was already noticed by many painters and in a few days new versions kept popping up. I don’t think anybody will feel surprised or will mind me saying that when I visited CoolMiniOrNot in search of inspiration, I found that my perfect Artemis was already painted. Sometimes you just see a paintjob and already knoiw that it’s the perfect version and nothing better will be done with this miniature, because this is THE right paintjob. This harmony and synthesis of the paintjob and the sculpt – looking as if it was made just for that paintjob.

Of course you should know that I am talking about Fluffy’s (Ali McVey’s) paintjob. And not wanting to create a poor copy of her work, which would be too easy, I treated it as a challenge. The new goal was to find the new image for her, to put some new atmosphere into her. And it was a very difficult thing to do is fighting when you feel you already lost… As if it wasn’t enough that my painting quality was inferior, also the choice of the right mood and image for the miniature…. I hope I at least managed to create the opposite of Fluffy’s version – hers is full of power and strength, it is a real threat for the enemies, and the weapon in Artemis’ hand leaves no doubt. So I created a delicate, gentle version…. I wanted people to think “what this mite is doing here?” after seeing her.

The color scheme also had to be different, so the opposite would be a blonde, and I decided to go into yellows. This also matched the sandy base. And if Fluffy’s work was in warm colors, mine would be colder. And the blue color was added to the palette only when I was looking for a pattern for the shield and I found a painting of a plate decorated with a painting, which I later used as my source of inspiration. I recreated its colors and this decided about the colors of the whole miniature.

Photo: Artemis - how I painted the miniature - Tutorial

Different method

I have to admit it was the first time I wanted to create a general vision of my project before painting. Usually I approach painting pretty spontaneously, and I assume that nothing good was created with thinking alone. So when I have an idea for a part of a miniature – I just start with it, and the rest is created as I go on with painting. This work was an exception. Maybe it was like this because I had to create a totally new idea? When I start painting I usually know what mood I want to achieve and what I want to focus on. Here I was off my usual tracks, so I had to force myself to a different vision, and direct my mind to a new direction, new imagination.


Having painted the shield I still had no courage to make an attempt of painting the skin, so I started with the helmet. On the female dwarf I tried painting gold NMM without using yellow, and I wanted to change my tried method because my imagination wanted me to take another step forward and try new things. I won’t go into details, because I am to write about Artemis, not the dwarf. The helmet was a continuation of my struggle with the new method. I often read about other people’s methods and after reading I don’t follow their descriptions step-by-step, but am working my own way – only incorporating some ideas into my method. That’s what I did with the gold NMM without using yellow. I still missed the tint of yellow in my transitions, and I felt they are bland and boring.

Photo: Artemis - how I painted the miniature - Tutorial

You may know that Vallejo “Cobra Leather” isn’t as yellow as Citadel Color “Snakebite Leather”. I noticed it and found my own way of achieving the effect: when I paint starting from white to Cobra Leather, I don’t blend the colors, but just apply glazes of Cobra Leather. If it’s too difficult for you, you can try painting the transition with any method of blending but leaving more highlighted space than necessary and then glazing a part of the highlight with Cobra Leather. This way gold is still yellowish and you don’t need any extra color for this. That’s how I painted the helmet and only now I am bold enough to paint a part of a miniature with glazing alone.

Photo: Artemis - How I painted the miniature - Tutorial

Problems with the skin

While painting the skin I noticed that paints were behaving in an odd way.
Overcoming this cost me much effort and stress, and you can still see traces of this fight when you compare the front and the back of the miniature. I started with the front, and I was unable to understand why I keep peeling the previous layers off when applying next layers of paint. 🙁 I was deperate and the effect was like the sediment on the surface of tea which is left for too long. Just as if the brush cracked the surface of previous layers of paint. And it really was what was going on, because I didn’t find out that my usual mix I used for thinning paints does more bad than good this time. I never experienced anything like that before, but I never used paints thinned so much before.

Photo: Artemis - how I painted the miniature - Tutorial

Generally I use a mix of distilled water and floor wax (the mix called “magic wash”) for thinning my paints, and it breaks the surface tension, improves the flow of paints, and makes painting easier. Somewhere halfway during my painting I realized what the problem was and I started using water alone. When you’re painting with glazes you don’t want them to create additional “layers” but to change the color of previous layers. It’s like painting with watercolors, so when you add pure water there’s nothing to crack.

Now it went faster and much neater! I didn’t have any bigger problems with placement of lights and shadows. First I checked their placement by keeping the miniature under a lamp, and then I stubbornly refused to add more contrast. Now I think that it’s this way when somebody doesn’t feel too sure about their abilities in something, that they don’t want to pay too much attention to it. And I am still learning to achieve this strong effect of a model emerging from darkness. It’s another challenge for me, and I am preparing for it.

The Base

But let’s return to Artemis – I think there’s still something I should put in words, something which usually is very controversial and I would like to explain in this article. What I am talking about is the base. I heard many different opinions on this subject. I must confess I didn’t think about it too much because in my imagination it was immediately tied with the whole concept and I couldn’t imagine that Artemis and the base might not create a feeling of integrity. The shape of the column was more important to me than its size, because it just belonged to the subject. Initially I wanted to paint it in a marble pattern, but Mahon told me that the column shouldn’t attract too much attention, as this would distract from the miniature. Probably he was right, so I chose to leave the column almost totally black. I just added a partial pattern and some cracks on the surface, because I couldn’t resist painting such an inspiring block.

Photo: Artemis - how I painted the miniature - Tutorial

Photo: Artemis - how I painted the miniature - Tutorial

Final words

I hope you don’t mind not finding any suggestions as for the order in which I painted the miniature here. Especially in the case of the skin it was simply impossible, because – just as it often happens with the first and unsure steps – my actions were not fully considered and studied, but more chaotic and uncertain…

I wish you prolific painting with no fear of entering unknown regions of this hobby 😉