Wargaming Tradecraft: Painting and Gelling Elemental Whelps


Painting and Gelling Elemental Whelps

The Elemental King project involves covering him in a bunch of whelps. Some are perched on him, others are bursting forth from his body! Lets look at how I've painted them and added some extra flair too.

When working on this scale and around a larger project, sometimes it's easier to paint these smaller details separate. Pictured here, you can see that I've got this whelp glued to a toothpick. This lets me paint him away from the King while getting under and around into the hard to reach places and still hold him in place to see how it looks.

Because of the elemental theme, I'll be displaying how I've painted the Whelps in styles of Fire, Earth, Water and Wind as well as creating special effects to go along with these themes.


Here's a selection of the first batch of elementals:

In the upper left, you have a fire elemental, who I've painted with a somewhat contrary fire theme. What I mean by that is I painted the shadowed areas with reds and moved up to yellow and white for highlights while normal fire goes from light on the inside to dark. (There's a certain method to the madness as you'll see when I gel.) The other important aspect I wanted to nail on the fire elemental was making the chain it's swinging on appear to be melting. I achieved this by painting red-orange-yellow glow spots, getting brighter on the smaller areas. (Places that would be more affected by heat.)

Since I won't be using gels on the molten whelp, he's more traditional. Whites and yellows in the recesses to the cooler (darker) magma outside.

Nothing too fancy about the earth and air elementals, though I love how those black eyes add to the face on the earth elemental.
Gellin' and Translucent Paints

It's important to note that the painting of the Elemental King was completed before adding gel effects. I varnished the Mountain King first since varnish does funny things to gel.

I won't go in to too much depth here, because I've detailed using heavy gel and translucent paints to create special effects before. The water elemental was just a few larger layers with some slight blue-translucent tinting. Pictured, you can see the first layer, solid white because it hasn't dried yet.

For the fire elemental, I created a bunch of layers, starting by pulling the whites and yellows from his body and working up to reds and smokey black.

Final Photos and Notes

Since the gel dries clear and I used translucent paints, light passes through. That's why, despite the glossy finish, I love gels for just about any special effect.

Even when you're going heavy on the paint within the gel layers, the translucent layering really adds to the look of the effect you're creating.

In addition to the bursting water effects, a thin layer of gel over the skin provides depth to what's painted below. It's just enough to trick the eyes.

For the elemental literally bursting from the King, I created some larger pulls of gel, but also had to be careful because it shrinks and constricts as it dries. (I want the water bursting outward, not inward.)

Varnish makes gel cloudy, which was a exactly the look I wanted on thes air elementals. There's still white paint washed in layers, but the clouded top coat was just the final step these guys needed.

And a little on the inspiration that led to these guys...

Take a look at my entire Hordebloods project.

Here you will find each model broken down into links showing each step:
Concept, Works in Progress, (for both sculpting and painting) and final photos

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