Wargaming Tradecraft

Friday, February 27, 2015

Colour Theory: Warm Colours

Colour Temperature talks about the appearance of colours and how they relate to each other on the colour wheel. Directly, this means Yellow, Orange, Red and all the colours in between. Indirectly, you can say that certain colours are warmer than others - Green and Violet are warmer than Blue for example.

Warm Colours are strong, vibrant and powerful. When you're looking at a scene, Warms and Darks will seem to exist in the foreground and can improve the appearance of large areas.
When leaning too heavily on Warm Colours, you create a scene that's very powerful - like a bright firey phoenix rising. Here are some tips for creating a balanced look:
See how eyes are quickly drawn center-mass by the Green skull?
Created with painter from Bolder & Chainsword
  • Add darker Shades and greyer Tones to ease the intensity.
  • Add Cool accents to smaller details like gems, eyes and such. 
    • Contrasting Accents
      • Use a Complementary Colour of the strongest Warm one.
        Ex: Blue eyes on an Orange figure.
      • OR a smaller Warm one that's surrounding the detail.
        Ex: Blue-Violet gem in a Gold (Yellow) setting.
    • Pleasant Accents
      • Use an Analogous Colour instead.
        Ex: Green skull surrounded by Yellow wings on the Space Marine.
I don't find Warm Colours imbue as many meanings on their models as Cool Colours do, because they don't appear in nature as often. Many of the meanings we associate with Warm Colours are stereotypes of Western Culture.

  • Earth Tones
    • Shades (add Black) and Tones (and Grey) of Orange and Red as well as Tints (add White) of Yellow can create earthy, sandy and brick colour schemes.
  • Fire
    • Using Hues and Mixes of Yellow, Orange and Red can create intense Fire themes.
  • Blood / Death
    • Hues and Shades of Red.
    • Accents with Black.

Applying the Colour Scheme

Now this is where experimenting with primers let me down. I've been trying Grey as a primer, but like Black, acts as a poor base for light colours like yellow and orange. As a result, I had to use multiple layers of paint to cover the Grey so some of the paint ended up thick.

Below you can see each of the main stages: Based, Assembled & Washed then Highlighted.

For the paint scheme, odd, but nothing special. I wanted to try one of those weird Space Marine styles where you pattern the colours out across the body.

Once again, the washed stage (middle) makes a huge impact on how everything looks. It's a very quick way to create shading and cause details to pop.

The final stage (right) is the completed model with highlights. (I'll go over some of the details later.) Something worth pointing out here is that some of the blending for the highlights appears nicer - but trust me, I didn't do anything extra to this mini, it's still just tabletop quality. This fake blending effect is created from working with light colours. The same way grey primer shows through the base coat, the darker washed layer shows through the highlights. The difference is instead of ugly grey, you end up with a nice blend.

Kind of out of scope for this tutorial, but I always thin my paints with fluid retarder, which means a little of the previous layer always shows through.

Bright Paint, Dark Base

For other layers, you need to ensure the true colour of the paint goes on. In this case, paint the areas that need to be brighter with either white paint or Gesso. In this case, I've then painted the white areas with neon yellow followed by some neon orange washing. To finish off, I paint some of the rest of the gun with a layer of red, some darker red shading, and a red wash.


I always use varnish on my miniatures and this project ended up providing a good opportunity to see what the effect varnish can have on a model.

When you use different types of paints, washes and brands, they usually dry with different sheens. Anything between matte / flat and glossy.

I laid the washes on quick and thick, which left a well-defined glossy line in the crevice of the shoulders. (Top 2 pics)

To demonstrate how varnish evens everything out, I've painted a layer of it on half of the two bottom pics. In the bottom left, I painted a varnish strip along the top of the shoulder pad. In the bottom right, I painted the strip along the bottom of the shoulder pad. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Colour Theory: Analogous Colours

Main: Green-Yellow (Lime) Analogous: Green and Yellow
Analogous Colours

These colour schemes, often found in nature, are near each other on the colour wheel. They go together and blend naturally. I'm not talking about painting a model with just one colour - that would be monochrome, which I'll cover later.

The benefit of using Analogous colours is that they're pleasing to the eye and make the viewer feel comfortable. Where compliments are bold and shocking, everything flows nicely here, even the contrasting areas that stand out. From a miniature perspective, this is often used for races that live or fight in environments where they'd naturally or intentionally blend in or more precisely, camouflage. Armies painted with this method will look like a nice uniform mass of troops and vehicles.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Colour Theory: Complementary Colours

Complementary: Green and Red
What we're looking at here are colour opposites. Being opposites, they cause the other one to strongly stand out when the colours are next to each other or if a lot of one surrounds a small amount of the other. It also means one will be cool and one will be warm. (More on that later.)

From an artistic perspective, you can create a bold miniature with areas that really stand out. Human and armoured figures end up with trim, shoulder / knee pads, decals / tattoos that are difficult to miss. Aliens and beasts can have strong chitin, fierce claws or tribal tattoos / patterns that scream "Watch Out!" An army painted with complementary colours will draw eyes when it's on the battlefield because there will be a ton of small details that "pop" from the mass of your main colour.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Getting Started: Unboxing Miniatures

For the next while, I'm going to be looking at basic steps for beginners of our hobby, including revisiting some of my old tutorials. I'll begin right at the start by looking at unboxing your miniatures and what you can do with the packaging.

Didn't realize you were buying more than just a figure? Each purchase you make provides you with useful hobby supplies and I'm going to look at just a few of the ways you can get more out of your money.

Buying a box from Games Workshop provides you with a bunch of sprues and more decals than you need. (Use those decals for the single models and vehicles you buy.) A box from Privateer Press includes a bunch of plastic containers. Single models from either company provide foam (Packing inserts?) and more plastic.

So what's all this good for? Lets take a look.

Friday, February 06, 2015

HOW TO: Painting Flesh

Orcs don't have to be green and people don't have to be beige. Within your chosen skin colour, mix it up between darker and lighter versions. Don't be afraid to explore skin tones when painting your army. Even something as simple as using a different base, wash or highlight colour can add some variety.

There are different ways of approaching things like skin, hair, claws, leather pouches, chains, weapons, metals, backpacks, etc. I like to paint "inside out" because I find it easier and you don't end up making as many mistakes or having to touch up as much.

Friday, January 30, 2015

HOW TO: Mixing Paints

Normally I use a slab of glass as a palette.
For this tutorial, I'm using white paper for a clean background.
There are many colours you can buy as an artist, from multiple manufacturers. A lot of the time they're exactly what we want and we don't have to worry about mixing them together. If you need a new colour, go out and buy it. If you want to Shade, it can be a simple process of tossing a wash on top.

Purchased colours are great for consistency. If you're painting a large army, it's best if you don't have to mix the colour for every model, because it won't be perfect every time. If you do need a mixed paint for a large uniform army, I'd suggest mixing a bunch up in an empty paint pot. (Which you can buy at hobby stores, re-use an old one, or use travel kit bottles from dollar stores.)

When you're doing the actual mixing, there's a couple ways I'll tackle it:


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