While working on my latest commission, I had to find out how to make lava for the model’s base.
I already did several lava bases. So in order to avoid boredom I had to come up with a new idea or end up with boring and uninspired results.
So I returned to browsing the internet for photos of lava:
Now this is something I haven’t done before! 😀
What we need to make lava
How to make lava that is boiling and splashing? We will need:
sheet of plastic (I used a thick plastic sleeve)
source of heat (I used a candle)
filler putty (I used a modeling putty for plastic models)
Vallejo Water Effect
hygroscopic balls (you will find them in a new wallet or handbag, where they’re supposed to absorb moisture)
airbrush (you can do without it, but I used mine)
paints: white, black, Vallejo MC 952 Lemon Yellow, Vallejo Ink Skin Wash, Winsor & Newton Orange Ink, Vallejo MA Mahogany, Reaper Red Brick 09001, and saturated red of your choice.
retarder (because regular Vallejo paints tend to clog my airbrush)
So how to make lava like that?
I pulled, stretched and bent stripes of plastic over fire:
I made a test application of the lava surface on a sheet of metal. The consistence of my putty made it a suitable material to imitate lava:
I ruffled the fresh putty with a toothpick and added the splashes I formed from plastic:
When the putty was dry, I finished the rest of my lava base with Vallejo Water Effect. Its thickness is similar to that of mayonaise, so it feels perfect for the task. If you want to make finer splashes of lava than mine, you can apply some water effect on a piece of thin wire:
I left the base to dry overnight and in the morning I started with priming the base. Then I used my airbrush to apply several layers of paint to build up colors of lava:
I checked if it fits to the scenic base:
I could see I was going in the right direction. Now I only needed more contrast, so I returned to painting.
I highlighted the hottest parts once more with Vallejo MC 952 Lemon Yellow. Once more I applied Winsor&Newton Orange to increase saturation. I glazed some parts with my red. And then with the side of a paintbrush I painted cooled cracks with Reaper Red Brick 09001 and black:
Finished lava base
Finishing touches were done later, when the model for which the base was made was ready. Now you should know how to make lava splashes for your minis and see the finished thing here:
I hope this tutorial was helpful to you. If you have any hints or tips, feel free to let me know about them or discuss this technique in the comments below.
A long long time ago…. 😉
… various lighting effects were quite trendy (and now they’re pretty oldschool, so maybe nobody cares for a lava tutorial?). Current trends in miniature painting moved away from them – which is partially caused by currently trendy color schemes. Natural colors and realistic compositions are popular now.
Why write a lava tutorial?
My ignorance made me chose this lava effect anyway, or maybe it was my contrariness? Because I still approached this subject in a different way than in the days when the whole painting community was amazed by bright and vivid colors and sharp lighting. I minimized the effect of lighting and I hope it’s enough to avoid calling this paintjob OSL 😛 After all it would make this article an OSL tutorial instead of a lava tutorial – and it’s not the purpose 😉
I don’t know if in this situation anybody is interested in a lava tutorial, but I’ll encourage you by saying painting lava can be very easy!
This lava tutorial isn’t anything unusual, so just like with most tutorials, it’s best to start with the very preparations. On grey basecoat I applied white paint to the parts where lava and glowing cracks were to be seen. I needed a few layers as the paint had to be smooth.
First colors and choice of paints
When it was dry I left white in the hottest parts, and brushed Vallejo Model Color Transparent Orange. It cannot be called drybrushing, because if you have worked with Vallejo transparent paints you know how hard it is to do. Take an old big brush, and when you load it with paint, remove the excess so that the paint doesn’t run into recesses. Transparent paints are very saturated and so without big effort I achieved first effect of glowing with just two layers.
The heat is on!
Where the heat is less intense (which means toward the top) I applied stronger orange color. I don’t know if this stage can be omitted, so if you feel like experimenting this might be the right and not very risky moment for trying. 😉 For this stage I used Transparent Orange mixed with Transparent Red (both from Vallejo Model Color range) and applied this mix onto a smaller surface than previously with the same technique similar to drybrushing.
I was happy to use the Black Ink from the P3 range, which I thinned even more, I brushed it onto the horizontal surface of the rocks and I also caught a part of the highest rock.
Then I took black paint and – like on the picture – drybrushed the sides in the very normal way. Once and twice, and… I don’t remember how many times, but I believe you will see when it should stop. You see – we even found use for drybrushing in our lava tutorial!
Not so harsh!
To soften the contrast between blacks and hot parts I mixed Transparent Orange with Woodgrain. It’s important to keep this layer transparent, because no opaque layer would join the parts we’ve already painted.
If you don’t have transparent paints, then I would suggest to start the whole painting from pale and cold yellows, and then add darker and warmer shades. And when we reach this point I recommend going from yellows to dark warm reds, and only now brushing it with black paint.
Now it’s time to improve details, as real lava is speckled, and if you feel like playing a bit more, just take white, orange, or orange with woodgrain, and splatter some of it onto the surfaces. You just need to aim well! 😉
No lava tutorial would be complete without the finishing touches… So now I brushed the upper parts of the most protruding rocks with light grey, and added some vegetation which wasn’t burnt by the heat. In normal conditions I wouldn’t expect anything to survive… but I am no expert in lavas as I live in a pretty safe region, but for this model it seemed acceptable.
Tell me, please, if you found this lava tutorial helpful. There is a follow-up to it on my Painting Mum blog, which presents a slightly different approach to the subject. Can you tell me which one suits your needs better and why? Thanks!
UPDATE: If you would like to know how to make more dynamic, splashing lava, follow the link to my other tutorial: How to make lava splashes. Enjoy 🙂
This is a little tutorial on how to paint OSL to give a little color to your assault packs, giving them a brighter and yet a very real effect making them unique in a table without spending lots of time, since the end result can be achieved in more or less than 15 minutes to a full 5 man crew.
Why go with OSL?
I’m painting an assault squad form my Imperial Fist Army and decided to give it an extra touch to the jump packs, usually we give them the burnt effect some battle damage and we are happy, but what about give them something more?
So I remember just how fantastic is the effect of a welding torch when in use, something like this:
Then I decided my jump packs should look like this but in standby mode, I didn’t want to sculpt the flame.
After I painted the jump packs and gave them a dirty look with black and Smoke (VGC) they looked a bit boring
Next all the recesses were painted with Necron Abyss (GW foundation) leaving the rest of the reactor untouched. This was made painting always three levels: top ring, middle ring and bottom of the reactor (fig.2)
The result is almost unnoticeable but in the end will give you the blue shine needed to stand out from the black.
Now begins the highlighting of the reactor by brushing just the lines that define the several rings of the reactor with a mix of Necron Abyss (GW foundation) + Magical blue (VGC) and the bottom of the reactor, leaving always the darkest parts untouched.
Now we start to see results.
The highlights continue with Magical blue (VGC) but now we start to decrease the area painted leaving some of the previous color showing.
At this time there is no need to be overcautious when painting since this will make the effect more real.
In the next step were used magical blue (VGC) + Space wolves grey (GW) again your stroke is getting smaller.
Now we start painting with a little more detail, using Space wolves grey(GW) the brush strokes were done in a kind of checkered pattern, the top level of the reactor paint was applied in the edges, the middle level the color was painted in a cross pattern and a dot was made in the middle of the lower level.
Now it starts to look like a welding torch, finally the pop-up factor was used with plain white doing small dots in the edges of the top and middle level, in the bottom dots were painted randomly to give the final look.
I know that the gaps should have been filed, and with them filled the final result would be much better, but this was a speed painting and the crew was already assembled.
Now with a little more time and care the end result should be fantastic. As I finished the assault crew I started to think how cool it should look given some purples to the blues, if someone tries this let me know how it looked.
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.
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.
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 🙂
Captain Lysander of Imperial Fists Space Marines is still a popular miniature, so although I painted the miniature several years ago already, I still think the tutorial may be interesting to some of you. Especially if you want to see how to paint terminator armour or power armour for your miniatures.
Preparation of the model
I started by cleaning the model. This time the cast was of pretty good quality so there weren’t many mold-lines to clean. I drilled holes for pins, and glued the pins to the joints. I primed the mini white, as painting yellow over black primer would take too many layers of paint and too much time. I left the arms unattached, because otherwise reaching some parts of th mini would be too difficult.
I also created the base. I attached two plastic elements on it, filled one of them with PVA glue (to create the slime inside of the hole) and primed it black.
I painted the blue parts with Vallejo Game Color Ultramarine Blue, and applied some initial shading with the color which I created by mixing Ultramarine Blue with Black and thinning the paint a lot. I also basecoated the red parts with Vallejo Game Color Red Gore, and the black ones – with Black. I washed the red parts with a thinned mix of Vallejo Smoke and Black. I cleaned the reds with another coat of Gory Red, but left the shading visible.
The base was painted about the same way, just more layers of washes and glazes wera added. I also painted the slime inside of the hole with Vallejo Game Color Scorpy Green, and added several coats of glossy varnish to make the slime look more liquid.
Painting terminator armour
Then I started painting the armour. I had to create smoother blending between the shading and the basecolor. I mixed the colors I used – the base color, and the shading color, as well as two midtones (2 parts of the shading mix plus 1 part of the base color, and 1 part of the shading mix plus 2 parts of the base color). Then I started blending – I used the method I often use: I applied the dark and the light color where they should be, then placed the midtones between them, and then wetblended the transitions.
I did the same with highlighting: I decided to use Vallejo Model Color Ivory for highlighting. Again I put the base color, pure Ivory, and two midtones (2 parts of Ivory plus 1 part of the base color, and 1 part of Ivory plus 2 parts of the base color) on the palette. I applied Ivory on the most highlighted places (edges, etc.), placed the base color, and then the midtones. I wetblended the transitions. This way I had the basecolor cleaned, and the blending pretty smooth.
I started with the part of the armour which would be covered by the shield, because later reaching it might be too difficult – especially the left hand and arm. Then I painted the rest of the armour, and started painting the shield.
I decided the shield shouldn’t look like the armour, oso I went for metallic paintjob. I applied the alcohol based Vallejo Super Silver, and again washed it with several colors – greens, blues, oranges, browns, smoke, and black. Then I retouched the whole thing by a slight drybrush od Vallejo Game Color Chainmail Silver, and then picked out the edges with Super Silver. The laurels were besecoated with a mix of Vallejo Game Color Dark Green and Vallejo Model Color Olive Grey.
For highlights I kept adding Vallejo Model Color Olive Green, and then some Ivory. The eagle was painted just like the rest of the red elements – Gory Red, a wash of Black+Smoke, re-applying the Gory Red, and highlights with the base color with more and more Vallejo Game Color Pale Flesh added.
The black lines were cleaned then with a fine brush and thinned black paint. The whole eagle was glazed twice with really thinned down Transparent Red to add a bit vibrancy to the color, which got a bit desaturated during highlighting. The fist (on the shield, on the hammer, and on Lysander’s chest) was painted just like all the black parts of the mini – Black basecoat, and highlighting with more and more Ivory adeed. The transitions were smoothed by wetblending.
Then the blue was painted. Again I used Ivory for highlighting, and black for shading. I used exactly the same method as before – several colors next to each other and wetblending. When I had all these colors painted, it was the time for painting the face.
I started with Vallejo Game Color Dwarf Skin, but with a bit of Dark Green added to tone the color down a bit. Then I painted the eyes: first Black + Smoke, then White – leaving a thin line visible around, and finally the pupil was painted with. Then I corrected the skin around the eyes with the basic mix. The first highlight – which was applied over most areas – was thinned Dwarf Skin. Then I kept adding Vallejo Game Color Elf Skintone to successive layers.
Then I added a bit Pale Flesh to one layer, and the last highlights were made with pure Pale Flesh. I made the lines between the head and the other elements (the armour, the implants, etc.) darker by fine application of Vallejo Model Color Smoke. The hair was painted with Cold Grey with a tiny bit of Smoke, then highlighted several timed by adding Ivory.
All the skulls and parchments were painted the same way: The base color was a mix of Vallejo Model Color Cavalry
Brown and Vallejo Game Color Cobra Leather, and then highlighted several time by adding Vallejo Game Color Bonewhite, and later – Ivory, up to pure Ivory. The outlines and eyesockets here painted with Black (mixed with a small amount of Smoke).
Time to assemble the model…
Then mini was assembled. The metallics were taken care of again, and all the rivets were outlined with the Black/Smoke mix, and painted again with Chainmail Silver. The whole mini was given a thin coat of glossy varnish for protection, and I added the few freehand details – the Imperial Fists chapter symbol, the writings on the ribbons, and the purity seals.
Freehand – Chapter symbol
I started painting the chapter symbol by painting a circle. It didn’t look all this even , so I had to correct it in several places with the Sunblast Yellow/Yellow Ochre mix and Black. Then I painted the black fist. The next step was adding the yellow lines to divide the parts of the fist. I finished it by cleaning the freehand with black. I decided to leave the corrections of black to the end, because it covers well, and so the corrections would be pretty easy.
As for the other freehands, they were just painted with some patience and a fine brush. No tricks there…
It’s a kind of… OSL
The mini was then sprayed with several light coats of glossy varnish, and then one heavier layer was applied again. I drilled a hole in the base and attached the mini to it. When the glue dried, I applied several glazes of thinned Scorpy Green to the metallic parts close to the green slime, followed with several thin washes of Transparent Green to run into the recesses. The edges were then picked out by Scorpy Green with a small addition of Ivory again.
I sprayed the mini with flat varnish to remove the sheen. Later I polished the metallic parts a bit, because the flat varnish dulled the metallics too.
You can see the finished mini here:
I hope you found this tutorial useful. And if you have any comments or questions – feel free to leave them below. Thanks a lot!