These are easily the coolest figures in the whole army and they were a blast to paint. As such I gladly took a bit more time on them, using the advantages of oil paints to try for a rich and detailed (for me, anyway) finish.
I took a lot of pictures of this process so I can explain a bit more why I love oil paints so much and therefore won't shut up about them
We left off on these minis, like the commandos previous, having applied heavy washes of the darkest colors, and having wiped away the excess from all raised surfaces. This gives us what in classical oil painting is called a "grisaille," aka an underpainting that captures most of the value information (i.e. the darks and lights) without locking in the chromatic information (i.e., the final colors).
From here, I decided to work with a handful of 'spot-colors', in much the same way you would approach painting different areas of a mini using acryllics.
The difference is in how the blending from shadows to highlights is achieved with oils vs. acrylics.
First up was the buff leather color for the bags, tack, gloves, etc., based mostly on yellow ochre. This was achieved in three steps:
- a wash of cadmium red desaturated with a bit of ochre and a touch of cerulean in the shadows--this is heavily thinned with mineral spirit and behaves like an ink wash or a contrast paint.
- a loose, gestural application of yellow ochre on the midtones and cadmium yellow + titanium white in the highlights and
- a quick pass with the blending brush to push, pull, and stipple the wet layers together to form smooth transitions
This may seem like an intimidating process, but it's really not at all--because when I say loose, I mean LOOSE. You really just need to get the rough shape of the area of color and the blending brush takes care of the rest. And you have the value information from the grisaille there to guide you the whole time! It's basically a paint by number!
You can see this blending action more clearly on these photos of the rabbit steed hide. Exact same deal; shadow color wash, mid tones (cobalt turquoise) and highlights (turquoise + cadmium yellow) applied quick and loose with thick paint, then a pass with the blending brush that literally takes about 30 seconds per fig. The top photos show just how loose is the application, the bottom ones how smooth it looks after blending:
Here's the same process on the uniforms. Only the colors are different (in this case, cerulean wash, cerulean + cobalt mids, + white highlights).
I repeated this process for each distinct area of the model: black leather, buff leather, dark cloth/wood, uniform, steed hide, and skin tones.
At that point, I like to go back and re-establish the highest values using a thick, off-white paint. I use the sharpest pointed brush at my disposal and apply the paint as tiny dots and lines on the highest areas and edges--its basically a glorified edge highlight. Then one last 30 second pass of the blending brush smooths out these highlights just enough. The effect unifies the different color areas in the same 'lighting environment' and really makes the details pop for very little effort. You can see a before/after here:
Add a bit of drybrushing and black rimming on the base, and that's a finished unit!
The result might not be that impressive compared to what some people can accomplish with acrylics, but it is absolutely astonishing compared to what ***I*** can accomplish with acrylics, especially in a comparable amount of time
Still, I would hesitate to call this a speed painting technique per se, even though it is much faster than acrylics for me (no mixing up endless layers or re-applying glaze after glaze, going back and forth fixing mistakes--did I mention you can erase oils with just a bit of mineral spirit on a clean brush???) If I were to use this same approach on the rest of the army--some 40 more models at this point--I would be here for the rest of the year.
So in the next few updates I'll show you the corners I've found to cut to turn this workflow from pretty fast to buh-LINDINGLY fast (at least by my standards )
Until then, in case you're curious, here is the palette of colors I used throughout the 4ish days of painting these guys: