This week, I really didn’t want to put in a lot of intense thought and focus into painting a set of minis. Well… it happened anyway. Minis have a way of making the painter really want to make them come to life. This usually means lots of subtle touches, highlights, shadows, color variations, and more. I want my minis to actually look fairly realistic, even though they’re designed to be in a fantasy world. So, I don’t plan to ever use bright colors or fake-looking paint schemes, unless the minis truly do call for it.
I chose to paint the Orc Smashers for my next set of minis because I figured they’d be pretty simple, at least as far as the color scheme goes. And that is somewhat true. Chain mail and leather armor, orc skin, simple weapon and shield. How hard can it be?
Turns out, there are a number of subtleties and small detailsto these minis that ended up taxing my focus and energy. In the end, I stopped partway through to take a break from painting. My hands were getting jittery from trying to hold steady, my eyes were losing focus from staring so closely, and I felt exhausted from sitting so long. It was time to take a break. I’ve read the same advice numerous times, and it’s definitely true: if you get worn out or don’t have the steady hands to keep working on the fine details, just set everything aside and come back to it. Don’t be afraid to follow these words. Your minis will look better if you do. You’ll feel better, too, if you come back to finish them up, once again feeling refreshed and ready to go.
I originally started by painting the skin areas. This was a mix of Viper Green and Black from the Reaper MSP HD line. I actually got this mixture when I painted the Bones Learn to Paint kit, just by reading the instructions. I think it’s a great fit. Not quite black, but with that sickly green color.
Then I painted all of the chain mail using a darker gray (I think it was Armor Gray.). Unfortunately, with the dark skin, it really made the entire model really dark and muddy. So, I ended up substituting in the metallic silver for the chain mail (dry-brushed just on the tops of the armor), which really brightens up the minis nicely. It’s still a bit fake-looking, but they’re fantasy minis. Does it really matter that much..? (Answer: Not to me!) I also used metallic silver on the morningstar and all of the spikes on the armor and shield.
After this, I worked on the leather areas. I don’t really care for the Leather Brown color, so I started experimenting. Turns out that if you mix the Harvest Brown with a little bit of Armor Gray, you end up with a much more natural-looking brown. This is what I used for the leather areas, finishing up with a dry-brush of the leather brown for highlights on all of the edges. I also used some Dirty Bone to highlight the fur on the top of one of the boots.
Finally, I added all of the black areas. (Hair, shield, morningstar, and all of the buttons/studs on the leather armor.) Highlighting on the hair followed, using the Armor Gray, just for a touch of contrast. After the black, I hit the entire model with some black wash to bring depth to the armor, boots, and facial features. To top it off, I hit the model with a thicker glossy clear coat (Rustoleum 2X Painter’s Touch), and then an anti-reflective matte clear (Army Painter Anti-Shine). This should make for plenty of protection when handling or transporting.
One thing I did learn with this mini is that you really have to let the multiple coats of clear dry, if you’re using two different types. If you don’t, you could end up with a weird translucent, sandy-looking gray all over your model. I sprayed with the glossy clear first, and then followed up with the matte varnish about 30 minutes later. Bad move…
Fortunately, I found that I could salvage the look of the mini by spraying the gloss over the top again, letting it dry for the recommended 48 hours, and then spraying the Anti-Shine over that. The clear’s a bit heavy now, muddling in some of the details a bit (especially around the face), but at least the colors look much more representative of how I painted these models. The Anti-Shine also mutes the metallic flake in the silver paint, making it a little more believable.
So, despite the issues that I ran into during my multiple painting sessions, I managed to finish off the orcs. Sure, there are a few little details I’d do differently (or better) next time around, but that’s why I’m trying to write all of this down. It’s a learning experience for me, and I can get feedback from others in the comments on what I can focus on or change in my next session.
Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them.