Hussar 2011 was recognized by most Polish painters as the most important miniature painting contest in Poland in 2011. On October 22nd we went to Warsaw, participated in the event, and managed to prepare this Hussar 2011 report for you.
For those of you who are not familiar with the event, let me explain that the contest is a successor to Slayer of Daemon, which was organized by Polish miniature painters when they learned that there will not be no Golden Demon contest in Poland anymore. After the first edition of Slayer of Daemon some changes were introduced, the connection to Games Workshop‘s event was cut off and a new name was chosen in order to add a Polish touch to the contest. And so Hussar was born.
This year’s contest was the second edition of Hussar (or third if you count the Slayer of Daemon) and the event was anxiously awaited by Polish painters. Although there are a few miniature painting competitions in Poland, Hussar remains the most important one and is the place to be for a Polish miniature painter. Not only because of the contest aspect of the event but also because of the opportunity of meeting fellow painters and spending some enjoyable time with them. But this year things changed…
Fight for the flight
Hussar has its own trophies, the Hussarettes, which are awarded to the winners. They were sculpted by Robert Kurek and represent a female warrior with hussar’s wings attached to the armor. Hussar 2011 introduced another trophy – a beautiful sabre, which was more related to the Polish martial tradition than a sword would be. But it’s not all…
Cool Mini Or Not sponsored a fantastic award to the overall winner of Hussar 2011: The winner would get a return flight ticket to the Crystal Brush miniature painting contest. Needless to say it was a generous offer, but also a great opportunity to participate in the Crystal Brush. If you don’t know about the contest, it’s enough to say that the overall winner wins $10.000 as their prize, and the next two also win some money. So it’s something to fight for…. Unfortunately for us Europeans the contest takes place in the US, so the trip is a bit too expensive for most of us to afford. But now there was a chance to get a free flight and a chance to win the big money. Now that’s some big news!
Hussar 2011 took place in in Warsaw, on October 22nd. We hoped some foreign painters would show up in attempt to win the big prize, but (fortunately for the grand winner) it remained a national contest only, even though we informed many foreign painters about it. Well, maybe the next time?
The whole event was prepared by the same crew as before, with the same man being responsible for the event. Huge thanks to Janusz Rosłan for making it all possible. This guy’s enthusiasm and hard work guaranteed that miniature painters in Poland have a worthy contest to compete in.
This year the event attracted new sponsors and partners, including Games Workshop and Cool Mini Or Not. We at Chest of Colors provided our support, spread the news about the event, and offered our forum for the official discussions about the contest. We also took photos of all the entries, gave miniature painting classes, and participated in judging.
As you already know, the contest was not the only attraction offered at the event. There were sculpting classes with Robert Kurek (the author of the Hussarette) and painting classes with Camelson (who showed how to paint damage) and Ańa (about painting faces). It was fantastic to see so many people interested and involved in these classes. It was a great opportunity to improve one’s skills and to learn from some of the best sources in our country.
Those classes were not the only pastime for hobbyists present at Hussar. Warsaw Team prepared an entertaining speed painting contest, and many hobbyists chose to spend the time socializing, joking and talking about hobby matters. After all it’s one of the rare opportunities for many of us to meet the others.
Miniature painting contest
The most important part of the whole event was still the miniature painting contest – Hussar. There were four categories: Single Fantasy Model, Single Sci-Fi Model, Large Model and Diorama. The last category included not only dioramas but also units and groups of miniatures. It also put additional emphasis on story and interaction between models, not only quality of painting. After all it’s what dioramas are all about.
This time I wasn’t a judge in the contest. I couldn’t declare if I would be able to be there for sure, and didn’t want to cause any trouble with my unreliability, so I suggested that it would be excellent if Przemek Wałęga “Przemo” would become a member of the jury. He is the person who won the Slayer of Daemon and Hussar 2010 contests, so he would be the perfect choice for a judge in a miniature painting competition. I was very happy to hear he agreed, and so the judges were: Bogusz “Bohun” Stupnicki, Filip “Nameless” Marković and Przemysław “Przemo” Wałęga. Fantastic guys, who stood up to their task, and took the responsibility of judging in the competition. I can confirm how responsible job it can be, because you have to judge works of your friends and leave all sentiments behind. These guys did the job so fine, that we should all be proud of them.
It must be mentioned that Bohun would surely have a serious chance of winning in the contest and grabbing the free flight to Crystal Brush, but he didn’t change his choice and remained in the jury. It shows what kind of a person he is – true man of principles. Huge respect for this!
One complaint that was heard quite often was about the lighting. Unfortunately the lamps were placed in such a way that miniatures weren’t presented in an optimal way and many people couldn’t see the entries well. Judges had easy access to good lighting, but most visitors could only see some miniatures in dim light or even in shadows. Something to take care of in the next year. Fortunately some of the works (especially those awarded ones) were brought to the afterparty, so whoever was present there could see them from close distance and any angle.
There were 69 entries in the contest, which is more than in 2010. The general consensus is that the overall quality was also better than in the previous edition of Hussar. Even if the quality of the best entries is still comparable, the quality of others is better than it used to be, which is a positive sign of progress in our hobby community. It seems that there are more and more better hobbyists, or maybe at least more involved ones.
Here are all the winning entries from the competition. Pictures of those that got honorable mentions and remaining entries will follow later.
In the last days before the contest an active discussion took place both at the Chest of Colors forum and on Facebook. Many painters were sad to announce they would be unable to finish their works in time to use them for Hussar. We even joked that there should be a separate category for unfinished models, and it would be full of entries. Unfortunately this had its impact on the final results, because many good painters either decided to enter unfinished models (like Ańa) or not to enter their unfinished works at all (like Camelson, Tula or C’Tan). It’s a sad thing because everybody knew about the contest for many months already, but we know that sometimes life doesn’t allow things to follow any plans.
Fortunately for those who couldn’t see the miniatures in good lighting, better pictures of most entries have been (or will be) taken by their authors and posted to our miniature painting forum, so take a look there to see some better pictures, taken in better conditions.
Awards and winners
The Grand Prix went to Maciej “Flameon” Banasik, so we are proud to announce that a member of the Chest of Colors painting studio won the ticket to Crystal Brush for his entry in Single Fantasy Model category. He also received a beautiful sabre and two Hussarettes (bronze in Single Sci-Fi Model category and gold in Single Fantasy Model category).
It was great to see many members of our forum community awarded for their works. Let’s just mention Ańa (silver in Single Fantasy Model category, silver in Diorama category and honorable mention in Single Sci-Fi Model category), Camelson (silver in Large Model category), Czlowiek.morze (honorable mention in Single Fantasy Model category), Marta (gold in Large Model category), C’Tan (gold in Diorama category and honorable mention in Single Fantasy Model category), Kacpero (honorable mention in Diorama category), Ignis and Loler (gold in Single Sci-Fi Model category, bronze in Diorama category). Plus others that I may have forgot about now…
A special mention goes to Jaśmina, the 8-years-old girl on the photo below, who won the Junior award for her cute diorama. Well done, start at young age and keep improving, so you can compete with adult painters in a few years!
Now here’s a “family photo” of all the awarded miniature painters, plus the jury. If you haven’t been mentioned or we made an error in the list of awards, feel free to let us know so we can update the text.
There were also some special awards for winners of the speed painting competition, and a very nice thing from Janusz himself. In order to show his appreciation to the people who have been cooperating with him for the last three years that he’s been organizing miniature painting contests, he prepared special Hussarettes as a sign of his recognition and gratitude. Thank you, Janusz. You should get a similar one, and I really appreciate the one I got. Such special Hussarettes went to me, Nameless, Bohun, Przemo, and one last to Warsaw Team. Fantastic idea!
The people at Hussar
For me it was a fantastic change to be able to spend some time with other hobbyists and socialize. Usually I had to spend such events behind the display cabinets, as I was a judge there. This time I had much more time for myself because I only needed to take and prepare some photos, so I could hang around and meet some of my old friends.
It was excellent to meet people like Przemek Jeske from MaxMini, old miniature painting friends like Miłosz Brendel or Alek Witkowski, and our the people we usually only meet on the forum: Sławol, Nameless, Bohun, Przemo, Zahor, Ścibor, Mr. Denial, C’Tan, Ignis, Tula, Marta, Rakso the Slayer, Kacpero, Loler, Longer Tom, Czlowiek.morze, Flameon, Camelson, Smok, Sadziu, Hacket, and more… We rarely have an opportunity to meet them in person, so it’s awesome to have them all in one place. Most likely I won’t meet many of them for like a year…
It seems I was not the only one who enjoyed the social aspect of Hussar:
Of course some enjoyed other activities, too:
Of course it was no problem, because they knew there would be an afterparty!
The afterparty was organized in a special place with a very (as Janusz called it) “vintage style”. In fact it was a seniors’ club, and it shows when you watch the photos below:
We even noticed a standard of fighters for socialism there:
The afterparty was a chance to see that Nameless can be friendly….
… and that Maru’s models actually look much better than his photos seem to suggest. And just like a Polish proverb says that a shoemaker has no shoes, the camera expert doesn’t have decent photos of his own paintjobs.
The best thing about the afterparty was that most of awarded contest entries were hrought there by their authors, so peole could see every detail, watch them closely, and discuss them with others. Such an opportunity of receiving first-hand feedback from people who saw your paintjobs in the flesh is priceless. People could also talk to the judges and hear their opinions directly from them. Such a thing doesn’t happen every day, so this alone could make a good reason to attend to the contest!
We already heard a declaration that there will be Hussar 2012. We all hope that some improvements (lighting!) will be done, and everything else will be as good as it was this time. Maybe sponsors offer as tempting awards as they did, and many painters will gather to fight for the grand prix (another return flight ticket to Crystal Brush?). We hope to see more foreign painters there, now you know what the competition is all about!
See you at Hussar 2012!
But before it’s announced officially, feel free to share your memories from Hussar 2011 and your opinions about it in your comments. Tell us if you’re going to come to the next edition of Hussar, and if you want some more photos and opinions, check the English and Polish threads on our forum.
It’s time for another historical model. I’d bought it few months ago and finally found some time to describe it. So here it comes: Full Metal Jacket – review. Beware though, I do feel like writing today, so there might be quite a lot of text below…
Introduction to Full Metal Jacket review
This pretty big chunk of resin with some additional bits is made by Verlinden Productions and has the same name as one of the greatest Vietnam war-themed films, the Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket”. There is also second name on the box “G.I. Vietnam”. G.I. is a general abbreviation used by US forces to describe to military units (or Government Issue, or Galvanized Iron), and Full Metal Jacket is a popular kind of a bullet.
I was considering purchasing it for a long time already, as Vietnam War is my second most favourite historical period, just after the WW II. VP range actually includes more small dioramas like this one: “Good Morning Vietnam” (name taken after the film with awesome Robin Williams), “Flower Power” and others… I’m thinking about getting them all to make a big camp, but for now this scene will suffice. 🙂
The model – overview
As of now I’ve chosen – in my opinion – the best quality product: a soldier lying with Playboy in his hands and his gear all around him. A classic scene, lots of details and true Vietnam feel 🙂
The model is in 1:35 scale. The catalogue number is 329, as you can see on the box.
It is packed in a plastic bag and nice box with picture of the painted version. There are 6 elements inside, which you can use to create the whole scene – diorama, 2 arms, 2 heads and a radio.
My review will start with the biggest element: the whole terrain around the soldier. The quality is of the highest level. Anyone familiar with this company will conform that their products are still considered to be one of the best on the market. Verlinden range covers loads of elements for vehicles (e.g. boxes, barrels, weapon, ammunition) as well as models. One can expect a whole lot of junk for dioramas from them as soon as bigger models (like the Abrams tank) are released. Majority of their products are provided for 1:35 scale.
The whole element is a one-piece cast. Nevertheless, the cast is perfect, as you can see on the photos. Cavities, holes, details and other shapes – there is nothing to complain about, even for myself 😀 I noticed just one issue, which is also visible on my pics – the scene was cut away from something else. I’m not sure what was it, but the cut is evident. Perhaps a bigger batch was cast, hence the cutting… there are this protruding bits around the sand. Anyway, these are not cast imperfections, just material excess cut off. One just need to cut and file it to solve the problem.
Quality and precision of details is astonishing. If you don’t believe me, check the glasses frame, wrist watch, boxes with excellent wood texture or the peace symbol hanging from the soldier’s neck. I won’t even mention details of the radio, cans, cigarette boxes, facial hair or boot soles.
Even the M-1 helmet has a material pulled over it, with folds! By the way, don’t sand this element, as there are not mould lines 🙂 My only remark would be lack of visible nails, there are “only” perfectly executed hands;)
The model doesn’t have too much flash to be removed, and ones I’ve found result from the manufacturing process only, not the poor quality of forms. There are also just few delicate mould lines – careful filing and sanding will be sufficient to remove them. You could use a knife to scrape them off, if you feel confident, but remember this is resin, which can easily get damaged, especially in case of thinner, smaller elements.
My plan is to paint this model realistically, so I’m sure I’ll first watch the best (in my opinion) film about the war in Vietnam: “Apocalypse Now” (the director’s cut, of course, which I saw 3 times recently) with M. Sheen and great M. Brando, then most probably “Platoon” with Sheen’s son 🙂 So many famous actors there, and both are very good films. Anyway, I grew up watching them (and who didn’t? :)), so it will be nice to see them again. Not everyone is a fan of the subject, but most of us know these two productions.
And there is also my favourite chopper and workhorse of that war – Bell UH-1 Iroquois… but that’s completely different story…
Back to the model…
Painting shouldn’t be difficult for anyone. One just need to get some pics and start painting. Colours true for that period are well known and you can find any required information in the internet. Of course, if you want to get deeper, you can get many books covering this subject, e.g. from the Osprey publications. Use green and olive shades for uniforms, with some tiger-stripes camouflage patterns, and Marlboro, Winston or Lucky Strike cigarette and you’re free to go;) I think you know how to paint ammo boxes too. Pastels and dry pigments might be useful to recreate dark ground and dust.
As for papers and centrefold… well, you can print these in proper scale (Playboy cover should not be a problem) or even paint, if you feel adventurous 🙂
I will rate this model 9.5/10 – almost perfect. The slight drawback (there always is something) are all these small bits, excessive material and mould lines. Nothing difficult to remove, but one needs to spend some time on these, as any observer would notice those on all the details.
I do recommend this model. The box might be a bit pricey at more than $21, bit it’s worth every cent! You pay for the quality, and quality to price ratio is really good in this case. You can be sure that you’ll get a top shelf product, and I’m sure you’ll have fun painting it.
— Slawol (who would like to thank Nameless for his translation and making this article available to our international readers)
What would you say if I told you all of the horses in the photo below were painted with dry pigments. No, I don’t mean add a medium to turn the dry pigment into oil or acrylic paint. I mean honest to goodness application of dry pigments. If you want to learn how to paint with dry pigments, read on.
You probably think I’m nuts or the technique would be more trouble than it’s worth – or that it would wipe out detail. You could probably come up with lots of reasons not to try it.
But here you are reading this article. 😀
While I paint miniatures and various historical figures, I also paint model horses. This is a huge hobby but very few people know about it. It is very similar to the miniatures hobby, the only thing different is the focus of the subject – to create the most realistic and accurate to real life horse as possible.
It was in the model horse hobby that I learned this technique and I’d like to share it with you.
How to paint with dry pigments: Principle
The general idea is very simple. Pigments and pastels are translucent tints – meaning they are not completely opaque. You build from light to dark and slowly work toward the color you want to achieve. The top layer’s color is affected by all the layers below it.
Pigments and pastels are translucent tints – meaning they are not completely opaque. You build from light to dark and slowly work toward the color you want to achieve.Starting with a white base, you select a light color and literally stain your subject with a brush or applicator and slight pressure. When you have colored the desired surface, you seal the pigment or pastel with matte sealer. Once the sealer dries, you do it all over again. The color you end up with simply depends on where you stop.
Lighter colors, of course, take less layers. Darker colors, all the way to a rich black with blue and brown undertones can take several. Pigments are pure color, they have no binder so typically take less layers than pastels. While I use both depending on the effect I want, I prefer pigments because of the richer color and better coverage.
Before we begin, allow me to list what you may need, or a least need to know about.
I use both pigments and pastels depending on the desired effect I want to achieve. For pastels you need to purchase a high quality brand. Pastels are colored pigment and a binder, so they keep their stick shape. The binder does not have any color. The cheaper pastels have more binder and less pigment, therefore it takes more to achieve a desired color. The higher quality brand names such as Rembrandt, Sennlier, Unison, etc. have more pigments and less binders, so these are the ones you should focus on.
I use exclusively Earth Pigments. There are several companies that make pigments, including many for the miniature world for use in weathering. There are also pigments sold by art supply retailers such as Dick Blick that sell powdered pigments made for the oil painter to make their own oil paints. I would like to caution the reader about these. Please check the labels! The pigments for oil paints can contain ingredients that are toxic – cadmium for Cadmium Blue for example, is toxic. If you have children and/or pets, be aware that pigment dust will get EVERYWHERE. There is really no way to control it no matter how careful you are. So know what is in your supplies.
I use Earth Pigments because they have high quality colors, they have a UV rating, their jars are inexpensive and for what we are doing this small amount will literally last years, and best of all they are NON-TOXIC. Yay! Now, they do have a warning not to breathe in the dust, so it’s a good idea to have a mask, especially if you’re sensitive to things like this. But as a whole, Earth Pigments have a lot of fantastic things going for them.
For those of you in Europe, I have a link (I need to dig it up) for a company that is sorta like Earth Pigments “sister” site, where you can get the same thing. I believe they are in France.
Like regular pastels, pan pastels are pigment mixed with a binder. But these are pressed into a small pan – very much like a make up compact – so the binders are far less than regular stick pastels. They have fantastic color and go on smooth. Once again they are easily available and not that expensive. I like using the Grays Set of 5 from Dick Blick. But they come in a huge variety of colors, tints and shades, so if you want to get others, go right ahead! These little pans actually screw together to form a stack, so everything stays neat and tidy and they are easy to store.
Pearl Ex metallic pigments
Not required for the first couple of projects but trust me, if you don’t get them you’ll soon wish you had. These are fantastic for armor and for horses you add just a touch to get the nice sheen of a healthy coat. I have the Series 1 12 Color Set with Free Book except for the neon violet color, all of the other colors work perfectly for armor, metal items, and natural horse colors. But honestly, if I had the money to get all 32 colors, I would! With these comes one caveat….
if you get the Pearl Ex metallic pigments you really need to get the colour shapers. While I want to demonstrate and explain the products I use, I don’t want to say YOU MUST BUY THIS. But these two items go hand in hand and my experience with the generic brands has been poor, so these are the ones I strongly encourage you to get.
I tried applying with a brush and POOF glittery dust explosion everywhere! I tried mixing them with the pigment powder but it was either ineffective or I still had glittery dust everywhere.When I first started using the Pearl Ex, I did not have these and I absolutely hated the pigment. I tried applying with a brush and POOF glittery dust explosion everywhere! I tried mixing them with the pigment powder but it was either ineffective or I still had glittery dust everywhere. These things were so hard to control and to apply where I wanted that I just about threw them in the trash. I’m glad I didn’t.
Out of sheer luck I found the Colour Shapers on Dick Blick and decided to try them. They worked nicely, they are a non-porous rubber so you can use them for paint or glue and just wipe them off afterward. Stuff doesn’t stick to them. In desperation, I tried them to apply the Pearl Ex. It worked like a charm! Now I have almost complete control of application and can apply them onto even the smallest piece of armor. Or I can apply metallic pigment to a large muscle on the horse to get that realistic sheen and not worry about it flying into areas where I don’t need it.
Colour Shapers just came out with a Mini Set that is perfect for our jobs. I purchased the Firm set then went back and purchased the extra firm set (Clay Shapers). I use them both depending on the job at hand. Whichever one you get depends on your style but you will really love these when it comes time to apply the metallics. Trust me on this one! You’re gonna want the Mini set Size 0.
Another must have. You will need white at the very least. I prep my horses then apply gray primer because the contrast on the larger scale helps me see anything I missed. (When working on miniatures, I only use white because I don’t want the added layers.) Then I cover the model in white primer.
My favorite brand is Tamiya Fine Surface Primer, both white and gray but at the time of this writing, Tamiya aerosol cans of any sort are not allowed in the U.S. Due to labeling issues. My second choice (and it’s not far behind Tamiya in quality), Is Vallejo White and Vallejo Gray aerosol primers, in fact, I may stick with it even if Tamiya comes back. I tested it first and while it’s a bit too easy to over apply and get it to run, it applies nicely and does not cover fine detail.
Basically you want a high quality white primer that has enough “tooth” for the pigments to stick to but not too much or there will be difficulties with grain down the road. No matter what brand, you MUST prime white as the last step. In order to properly apply pigments and pastels, you must have a white base coat to start.
I use Testors Dull Cote because it is very matte and is non-yellowing. Plus, it provides the right amount of tooth. If your preference is more towards glossy figures, you can use gloss sealer but be aware gloss has less tooth and it will be more difficult to apply the pigment.
The sealer I use is Testors Dull Cote. It’s an acrylic lacquer I believe. Many figure and mini painters use it, especially if they game with their minis. I know folks who don’t game are moving away from sealer because there is too great of a chance of that sealer doing strange things and ruining their hard work. This is why I always spray a test model first, no matter how many times I’ve used that can of sealer.
Certain sealers can react with the primer even if you have several layers in between.I use the same sealer for all of it, paint, pigment, pastels. The type of sealer you use is entirely up to you and if you have a brand preference. But also be aware that certain sealers can react with the primer even if you have several layers in between. That happened to a friend of mine. She started using Tamiya primer, painted a horse using the exact same technique I just described, but when she applied Krylon clear sealer, it started to bubble and everything down to the primer just flaked off. We ended up contacting Tamiya USA and while they had never heard of this happening before, they said it sounded like the Krylon sealer and their primer were not compatible. Anyway, she went back to Testors and everything has been just fine ever since.
I even use the Dull Cote on the metallics. Yes, it dulls them down just a little but I can usually get three layers of spraying Dull Cote on the mini before it dulls the metallics completely.
For applying pigments and pastels you do NOT want to use your good paint brushes. Now is the time for the cheap nylon that can stand up to anything you throw at them. Applying this stuff is hard on brushes and you need the kind that is not too soft or you will hit the brush ferrule against the mini. So get the white nylon brushes that are on sale at Walmart or Michaels for next to nothing. The assorted shapes such as the filbert, flat shader and angled shader also come in handy.
The stackable type come in very handy for mixing pigments and using with pastel sticks. If you take a jar and a pastel stick, hold the stick over the jar and drag the stick against the edge moving inside out, it will grind the stick into powder and the powder just falls right into the jar….for the most part.
Various grits (180 to as high as you can find them) sanding sponges. Do not use sandpaper! Pointed cotton swabs from the make up aisle at Walmart or Walgreens, etc. the cheapies are just as important as the expensive ones, Tamiya pointed cotton swabs, Canned Air – the same stuff you use for electronics. Colored Pencils – such as Derwent (not water color), Black Charcoal Pencil, White Charcoal Pencil, Brush on Gloss, Gesso (or white brush-on primer), and a Carbide Scraper are all very handy. Don’t put your acrylics and brushes away just yet! You’ll still need those.
Painting: How to apply dry pigments and pastels
I have a Work In Progress thread going on CMON and I used a knight’s cloak as an example of how to apply dry pigments. So I’m going to draw on those photos for the purposes of this article. The character in question is Pegaso‘s Roaming Knight and I had started painting the cloak with acrylics, then decided to apply pigments instead and used the example of why we must start with a white base when using pigments and pastels.
So, our knight is starting of with a standard acrylic layer of paint, a sort of olive drab – think of the old army blankets. It’s nothing special, I had wet-blended the acrylic and finished the first layer. Then I decided to switch to pigments.
It is important to understand that pastels and pigments are tints. They are translucent and the first color will show through the second color. The two combine to give you a shade. Start with white primer (or white paint) as a base. It is also important to work from light to dark. So the next step was deciding on the color of pigments I wanted to use.
Note: Because of my hand tremors and the way I need to work, I’m only going to be working on one side of the cloak at a time since I have to lay the model down to work on it. As you can see, I layer towels and do all I can to protect the work I’ve already done.
I haven’t used this color at all because it has a strong green undertone and is quite inappropriate for horses. So here it sits, waiting. Now was a perfect opportunity to try it out. I purchased these several years ago, before Earth Pigments had accurate photos up, so the strong green undertone didn’t come through until it arrived and I opened the jar.
This is another strong green undertone color that I haven’t had the chance to use.
A friend sent this to me to try. This is a relatively new color in the Earth Pigment line. There is another black, an Oxide pigment, Black 318 that is very strong and very intense. It is so strong, it can wipe out almost anything and everything else. Natural Black is softer, and the blue undertone is supposed to be less.
So these are the colors I decided to start with and I’m prepared to adjust as I go. Applying pigments and the color achieved is not an exact science. No matter how often I work with them, they can still surprise me and do so quite often.
Why you need a white base
In order to demonstrate the need for a white base, I start by applying the Light Sienna directly to the knight’s green acrylic painted cloak. I’m not shy about it either. I put my brush into the pigment and load it up. Then I tap off the excess on the side of the jar – otherwise you will have a cloud of dust that won’t quit. I firmly press the brush against the cloak but not so hard that I push the ferrule into it. I use a slight stippling motion with a drag to apply the pigments. I’m literally staining the cloak as I go.
In order to get really solid coverage of pigment. I get my Colour Shaper out and use that to press the pigment onto the cloak. When it’s finally covered, I take my canned air and blow off the excess dust. This is an important step. If the excess powder remains, and sealer is applied, it literally turns to mud. Now if we were truly weathering, we might want this effect but for this, we don’t.
You can also use lung power to blow of the dust but I guarantee if you do, sooner or later you’re going to spit on your work. Trust me, it’s happened to me more times than I care to count and it will happen to you eventually. When that happens, set the model aside to dry. If you don’t mess with it, it should disappear on its own.You can also use lung power to blow of the dust but I guarantee if you do, sooner or later you’re going to spit on your work.
Once the excess dust is blown off it is time to seal. Take the Dull Cote and be sure to shake well! In fact, it’s a good idea to have a test model handy because cans have been known to freak out and do crazy things in the middle of spraying. So hitting a test model first is better than ruining your hard work.
You want to lightly cover the area with pigment. Do not soak it, do not let it puddle. In fact, 2-4 very light coats of sealer is the way to go. It also depends on the size of the model, a large one will need more than a small one. The really small ones you need to be very careful of how many layers and how thick you apply so you don’t obscure fine detail.
Now our sealer is applied and what do we have to show for it?
A big mess! The pigments actually disappeared against the dark base coat. The only thing that remains are the yucky spots where I applied too much pigment and too much sealer. I’ve circled the problem areas in the photo and did this to make a couple of important points. If you do not use a white base, your pigments will most likely disappear. You will also probably attempt to apply them too thick and end up with mud as in the photo.
The above photo looks absolutely atrocious.
But I also want to point something out. Even though our pigment disappeared agains the dark base, if you look closely where I have the blue arrows, you can see where some of it did highlight an area or two. The effect is very subtle and difficult to see, but it is there.
So now what do we do? Is our knight hopeless because I applied pigment to a dark basecoat? Do I have to strip him?
No – he is still very manageable. With a little effort he will be right as rain.
The first thing I do is use a high grit sanding sponge – a sponge, not sandpaper to lightly sand off the pigment mud and goobers left behind. Sandpaper will crease and gouge the layers, many times damaging your basecoat.
I don’t even have to strip the cloak, just get the nasties off. Once I do that, I take Gesso and thin it really well. Gesso is infamous for leaving brush strokes so you want it good and thin. If you don’t have Gesso, in this particular case – recovering from a mistake – brush on primer will work just as well. I recently purchased Vallejo’s White Brush-On Primer and I love that stuff! Gesso is out the door unless I’m out of the Vallejo.
I apply two layers of Gesso to the cloak. Now we have our white basecoat and can move forward.
Remember always apply colors light to dark. You need to work in layers. Trying to rush to a darker color will only lead to problems. You are basically working with colored dirt here. Ochers and Oxide pigments are like little grains of sand. They don’t dissolve. You press them into your base until there is no more surface area for the grains to adhere to. Once the layer has reached its “saturation level” the pigment color will stop growing darker or denser. That means it’s time to seal.
<span=”inset-right”>Once the layer has reached its “saturation level” the pigment color will stop growing darker or denserApplying sealer keeps the tiny pigment grains in place. It also provides a new, relatively clean surface area for more grit to adhere to so you can apply another layer. But rushing this and going dark too fast can cause grain, an ugly mish-mash of uneven pigment.
Grain shows up the worst when you move to a darker color and you will need to either go back a step and return to applying the lighter color, or try to lightly sand it out without messing up your basecoat. Sometimes both! So make sure you have good coverage and don’t go dark too soon, that’s the best way to avoid the hassle with grain.
First, I apply a layer of Light Sienna.
Already it looks totally different and much much better! It’s a little streaky but that’s okay, more often than not the sealer application will darken the color and tone that down. The cloak now has a soft golden look to it. After blowing off the excess, I apply my sealer.
Will you look at that! The picture above looks NOTHING like that green disaster we had a short time ago! Now I wait for the sealer to dry, approximately 20 minutes but this may vary depending on the weather and humidity in your area.
As mentioned previously, I don’t want grain so I don’t go too dark too fast. I apply a second layer of Light Sienna and seal.
Notice how this time we have a lot more green undertone than previous. As I said, pigments and pastels are tints and translucent so basic color theory will start to apply.
How do you know when to apply one coat, two coat, or more of a certain color? For the most part, that is just going to come with experience and seeing how the colors lay down in various situations.
In this case, I don’t want any more green at this light color. Because of my planned colors, I know I’m going to get more green as I go but right now, want to go darker before we go greener. Make sense?
Now, I apply the Natural Umber. WOW! Major green going on here! Lol! This is not only going dark, it’s going REALLY green. So I decide one layer is enough. I don’t want the cloak to be the same color of green as the scented Pine deoderizer hanging from the review mirror in somebody’s car.
So let’s jump straight to the black. Now in this case, we want to use the black for shadows only. If we cover the entire cloak, it will go way too dark. I start by applying the Natural Black – or at least trying to. Unfortunately, even with the Colour Shaper applicators, the color has no strength to it at all. It’s going to take me forever at this rate. So I pull out my Black 318. Remember I said this stuff was strong? Check this out:
Yeah, this was supposed to be a minimal application. I don’t think “minimal” is in the dictionary when it comes to this black oxide.
So I seal layer four and look what I have as a result. The cloak just swerved a hard right from green to brown. See, I told you these things can still surprise me.
Now here is the fun part. This is where I get to show you how to do what I said (and demonstrated) earlier what NOT to do! 😆
I am going to apply a lighter color on top of a dark color, specifically a light brown. The cloak is now going too dark. There’s just too much “muck”. Again, this isn’t an exact science so you are going to get color twists and curves that you have to learn how to handle. Again, experience is the best teacher to know if you can work through it or if you have to strip it and start over. Always do you best to work through it, over it, sideways…something! Leave stripping as a last resort.
Experience also teaches you how various colors and types of pigments (this includes pastels too) will react. I mentioned the Black 318 is one of the strongest oxide pigments I have. Well, I have another oxide pigment that is strong, has great coverage and can almost handle anything thrown at it. It comes in a strong second to the Black 318. It is Titanium White.
The only problem, Titanium White has a very, very strong blue undertone. I’ve had it turn my stuff purple more times than I care to count! So I’ve learned to offset this with basic color theory and adding a color to the mix to help neutralize that blue undertone. In this case it is Light Yellow Ochre. The mix turns into a buff color and I apply a layer.
As before with the green, you see I have a very stark contrast between the light color and my original green/black. But I haven’t sealed yet and that is the key.
Upon application of the sealer, the light color does as before it nearly disappears completely. But if you look closely you can see where the light tan stuck and while it is still subtle, it stuck with a lot more strength than our first attempt.
It’s all about learning what specific types of oxides and ochers, as well as colors, can do.
Layer six, seven, and eight
I stay with this buff color for these next three layers. I need to mention these are specifically applied with the Colour Shapers and each layer sealed. What a difference in that photo above, huh? 🙂 And although I’m keeping my layers and sealer thin, we still don’t want to apply too many. So here is where I call the inside of the cloak done. Check out this last photograph!
The back of the cloak – leather effect
Above we achieved a nice light color with dark shadows. To me, the inside of the cloak looks like Oil Skin. But I would like to show you some quick and easy steps to create a true leather effect. Our first layer of color is as before Light Sienna and seal. For the second layer, this time I go ahead and go slightly darker – not much, just a little and apply a soft red color with a hint of orange called Rose Earth and I seal that as well.
Third and fourth layers
This is another new color called Cypress Umber Warm. Umbers have a tendency to posses a strong cool cast, basically blues and greens. This one has a warmer cast to it and I wanted to see how it would work. After sealing I immediately moved to the Black 318 but using my Colour Shapers I was very cautious to only apply it to the deepest recesses.
And wow – instant leather! And this is only four layers folks!
So what do I do after the sealer dries? I go and break my own rules again. At this rate, you’re not going to take me seriously! Lol! The Colour Shaders have a tip called a Cup Chisel. I used this and returned to my second layer color, Rose Earth. This time I applied it ONLY to the highest points on the folds of the cloak. The Cup Chisel works perfectly for this shape. And once again I sealed.
Again repeating the Rose Earth highlights with the Cup Chisel and sealing.
The insanity strikes again. Instead of going lighter on the high points of the cloak, this time I went redder. I used Colonial Red pigment and it is red without having a lot of orange but it’s not BRIGHT RED either.
I got interesting results so after I sealed I took a series of pictures. The only editing I did was to crop, resize and put them into a panel. The changes you see are only angle of camera and lightly. They are very small adjustments but you can see the effect this achieved.
Each panel appears to be different stages of pigment application but they are not. This is one application and the only thing changing is the position of the figure and the angle I’m holding the camera.
My friends, in my humble opinion, that is leather.
All of this created with dry pigments and “painting”.
A few words about metallics
Now this helm I did entirely with metallics and sealed with Dull Cote. I have different colors of silver metallics, just like we have different colors of silver paint. I used them for highlights and shadows just as if they were paint.
I do need to mention metallic pigments are an entirely different critter from regular pigments. They are NOT translucent and you need to use a black base coat with them, unlike the white of the regular pigments. Black allows them to pop. If you use white or a light colored base, they go kinda soft pastel colors rather than having the zing they normally do.
And here is a photo of the miniature we were painting. (Still very much a WIP)
I hope you’ve enjoyed this article and found it informative. Please comment if you have any questions! I am happy to help however I can.