VeronaKid

Painting Tutorial-Using Shaded Undercoats

27 posts in this topic

Greetings, all. For a while now, I've been meaning to get a how-to thread up here for one of my very favorite painting techniques: using matte medium glazes over a shaded undercoat. It's a really quick-to-use technique that yields pretty good results in about a third of the time it takes to "properly" shade and highlight your models.

But first, a quick disclaimer: this is a time saving technique, not a Crystal Brush winning technique. I first came across this method about a year and half ago while reading Dave King's incredible "Kings Minis" blog (http://kingsminis.blogspot.com- definitely go there and check Dave's blog out if you're unfamiliar, as he is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to the hobby side of wargaming), and from the very first time I tried it, I knew it had tremendous potential to help in getting my considerable lead pile done very quickly. As an example, the Gogo Marlene miniature that I used for this tute required less than two hours painting time, start to finish, and that includes drying time. So, if you want to have Magno's or Bao's collection of museum-quality minis, this won't work. But, if you just want to get a great looking set of I:tG models done for the tourney you entered next week, read on. :)

Step one: Base Undercoating

The whole point of this technique is to use a shaded-to-highlighted undercoat to "shine through" your paint layers, allowing you to get several gradients in color using a single translucent layer of color. So, I start with a good medium-tone grey undercoat. Turns out Rustoleum makes a perfect spray primer for doing this. Plus, it's around $4 per can at your local DIY, so it beats the value pants off of made-for-minis spray primers.

tutei.jpg

Step two: Shading the Undercoat

Once the primer is dry, first apply a liberal coat of Army Painter's "Dark Tone" ink wash, which comes already treated with a surfactant, and which will naturally collect in the dark recesses of your model's details:

tuteii.jpg

Step three: Highlighting the Undercoat

After the ink wash is completely dry (don't rush this step), liberally drybrush the model first with a light grey color:

tuteiii.jpg

. . .and then very lightly with white:

tuteiv.jpg

You've now created four layers of dark-to-lightness, and probably spent a grand total of 5-10 minutes with a brush in your hand. Another great thing about this technique: up to this point, you can do several miniatures all at once, enabling you to bang out a whole force in no time.

Step four: Blocking in Colors

The key to allowing the highlighting you've now created to shine through your basecoat is a fluid which can only be described as a mini painter's best friend: matte medium. All this stuff is is untinted paint; it's the acrylic without any added pigment. What it enables you to do, though, is create a glaze out of your paints. Here's a picture of this miracle liquid, along with a finished blocked-in Gogo:

tutevi.jpg

Mix up whatever color you want to use with an equal part of matte medium, and then water that combination down until you get a fluid with the consistency of milk. The final product on your palette should basically look a very strong ink wash. You'll know you've got it right when you spread it on your model and the result looks something like this:

tutev.jpg

You can see how the shaded undercoat "shines" through the teal color here, going from almost black all the way up to a highlighted tone of the main color.

Repeat that with all your base colors, and you should have something like:

tutevii.jpg

Step five: Finishing

At this point, unless I am really planning on going crazy on a model, I add a finished base, apply ink washes where needed to make the base coats "pop" (in my example, I used a flesh wash on Gogo's skin, and a light wash of the Army Painter Dark Tone again on the grey skirt), and touch up any mistakes. For Gogo here, I also wanted to add a little bit of facial detail, since she's supposedly screaming hot, so a little mascara, lipstick, and a final flesh tone on a few of her best. . . assets. And she's done and ready for the table !

tuteviii.jpg

No joke, less than two hour's painting time. I hope this helps at least one Infinity force lurking out there in shiny silver parade clothes to progress. :)

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Thank you! That's going to be very useful. I am quite the perfectionist, but unfortunately lack the skills to achieve said perfection. Maybe I can now get *all* of my Nomads to tabletop quality.

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Damn! You beat me to the Miku themed Marlene... Curse being frugal and waiting for my other models before priming...

Very nice tutorial, by the way. This should actually help with when I get the brush to her.

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awesome! i've been trying black primer with a light white overhead spray and then an ink wash, but wasn't thinking to turn my paints to glaze to actually make use of the effect!

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For step three you can also do a light overspray of white primer but holding the can almost directly overhead - this will not just highlight the higher parts of the model but make it look as if the model is being lit from above.

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This looks right up my alley. I procrastinate too much with painting, and this is just the thing i need to get it done.

Do you think a similar result could be achieved with a black priming, followed by highlights with an airbrush from above in something like Stonewall Grey, Ghost Grey, then either skull white or off white?

Or is the drybrushing needed to ensure you leave the dark colours in the crevices?

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This looks right up my alley. I procrastinate too much with painting, and this is just the thing i need to get it done.

Do you think a similar result could be achieved with a black priming, followed by highlights with an airbrush from above in something like Stonewall Grey, Ghost Grey, then either skull white or off white?

Or is the drybrushing needed to ensure you leave the dark colours in the crevices?

I'm doing it with an airbrush, using dark grey/light grey from 45°/nearly white from the top, all the time. Works a treat.

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This looks right up my alley. I procrastinate too much with painting, and this is just the thing i need to get it done.

Do you think a similar result could be achieved with a black priming, followed by highlights with an airbrush from above in something like Stonewall Grey, Ghost Grey, then either skull white or off white?

Or is the drybrushing needed to ensure you leave the dark colours in the crevices?

I've seen plenty of other tutorials online where people have done exactly as you've described using an airbrush. As long as you don't get paint into the crevices, so go very lightly, you should see similar results.

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If you use the airbrush method, starting from black, then you wouldnt need to apply a wash then?

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If you use the airbrush method, starting from black, then you wouldnt need to apply a wash then?

Exactly. The effect won't be exactly the same as dry brushing, but it will be similar. The glaze will act the same way, the airbrushed model will just look more like it has been "lit" from above, whereas the dry brush method gives a more even lighting appearance. So, streetlights vs. daylight so to speak. :)

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the wash is needed to define the fine lines, since it runs into the crevices. you can (mostly) skip the drybrushing.

acctually, using an airbrush here would net you another result, especially if you want to use it after the priming.

the preferred method wold be "zenithal highlight"

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Hmmm, maybe i should try this drybrushing method, simply because ive tried using the airbrush for zenithal highlighting before, and got very mixed results... I struggled to stop getting paint in the crevices though.... Seems i might have more control with dry brushing

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Thanks for the tutorial.

Such step by step pictures are always very helpful.

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This might be a stupid question, but will Vallejo Black ink work too?

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Great tutorial, thank you very much! I've followed it on some Auxilia and Auxbots and will be posting them later tonight.

In the meantime I had one question: Is it just me or is white paint (tested with GW and P3) harder to drybrush with than any other pigment? It feels so binary - like it is either applying 100% of it's capability or 0%.

Any tips or am I just delusional?

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In the meantime I had one question: Is it just me or is white paint (tested with GW and P3) harder to drybrush with than any other pigment? It feels so binary - like it is either applying 100% of it's capability or 0%.

Any tips or am I just delusional?

Are you using straight-white? I find off-white is much better for drybrush highlights--like a bone or parchment. The pure white just stands out too much... For under-coating for this tutorial, pure white probably works just fine, cause you're after the contrast, but it might look a little harsh in the intermediate step...

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This might be a stupid question, but will Vallejo Black ink work too?

I've never used this product in particular, so I can't answer you definitively. What I can say is that many black inks will NOT work as well for this technique. What makes the Army Painter washes work so well is the type and amount of surfactant that they use- it really makes the ink get down into the crevices without staining the upper levels of detail too much. For example, if you were to wash your undercoated model with GW's new black ink formula, called "Nuln Oil," what you'd basically get is a very, very dark grey mini all over- not good for the shading you are trying to achieve. The Army Painter stuff really works the best for this.

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Great tutorial, thank you very much! I've followed it on some Auxilia and Auxbots and will be posting them later tonight.

In the meantime I had one question: Is it just me or is white paint (tested with GW and P3) harder to drybrush with than any other pigment? It feels so binary - like it is either applying 100% of it's capability or 0%.

Any tips or am I just delusional?

There are a couple of things you could try here- either let your white paint dry for a little while (maybe 15 minutes or so) before using it. Very wet paint is definitely hard to get a good drybrushing with. Or, use the GW "mousse" paints that I used in the tutorial- they are treated with talc, which makes them dry already straight out of the pot. It's kinda like painting with pudding, but it works. The last thing you could try if you were very industrious is to seek out a small container of talc your self (I hear that you can purchase it in hobby shops, like Michael's here in the States) and mix in small amounts to your paint on the palette.

Definitely don't use a wet palette when you are drybrushing. And wipe most of your paint off onto either a sheet of newspaper or paper towel, as these will wick away all of the nasty moisture that gives you a bad result.

Good luck!

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the wash is needed to define the fine lines, since it runs into the crevices. you can (mostly) skip the drybrushing.

acctually, using an airbrush here would net you another result, especially if you want to use it after the priming.

the preferred method wold be "zenithal highlight"

Yup, I stay away from drybrushing and washes completely. Not to say I don't use inks to fine line things, but inks/washes are too damn fussy with the surface tension (even with flow enhancer) leaving a ring affect. To avoid the ring affect, you have to finesse the paint back into the crevices and smooth things out and then you're spending just as much time as you would by just blending in a shadow.

twotonePrime.jpg

Two tone priming with; black and a shadow greyish color. You can increase the angle of the brighter color to give a brighter mini and reduce the shadows or just keep it from high above to emphasize contrast or a darker mini. Things are much smoother and it takes much less time.

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Wow, very nice even quicker than my method, white spray, heavy ink, thin colour layer and a lighter drybrush highlight. Looks more natural too, will definitely give this a go.

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One clarification: painter's best friend is the GLAZE Medium. Fortunately, Vallejo sells it in large pots.

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Yup, I stay away from drybrushing and washes completely. Not to say I don't use inks to fine line things, but inks/washes are too damn fussy with the surface tension (even with flow enhancer) leaving a ring affect. To avoid the ring affect, you have to finesse the paint back into the crevices and smooth things out and then you're spending just as much time as you would by just blending in a shadow.

twotonePrime.jpg

Two tone priming with; black and a shadow greyish color. You can increase the angle of the brighter color to give a brighter mini and reduce the shadows or just keep it from high above to emphasize contrast or a darker mini. Things are much smoother and it takes much less time.

I do like this how far away do you hold the primer to get that effect?

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