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Saturday, September 23, 2017

Mirror Maniac in Colour

Today I painted my custom Mirror Maniac figure, my avatar for my adventures in the four-colour world of Villains & Vigilantes. As you can see, my brushwork is a little, er, crude. But at least it looks better than the unpainted original...I think? Argh, the flesh paint is pouring over his mirrorshades.
Here's the rear view. I tried to colour the shield so as to look wooden, but with metal parts. Results: decidedly mixed.

I'm actually happier with the Zeppelin in the background; that's a game piece from my copy of Fortune & Glory, a board game. Mind you, it was a lot easier to paint. 


Jeff Shyluk said...

I think your painting looks decent, given the time frame. Using a paintbrush well takes a massive amount of practice, otherwise everyone would be creating masterworks.

You can always re-prime some project that has gone south and do it again.

Beyond that, here's what I've learned:

Buy the highest quality brushes you can afford, brushes that are intended for your medium, and use the smallest size you can get away with. You can always paint a project with a brush with a single hair. Only move to larger brushes if time and attention span are factors. You won't have the patience to paint large pieces with small brushes, large being like something the size of a tabletop. Your miniatures require 00 through maybe 2. Winsor & Newton make "stubby" brushes that don't have long hairs that are designed specifically for model painting.

Go as slow as you can and not make mistakes. If you are making mistakes, you are brushing too fast.

Controlling the amount of paint on your brush is crucial, especially if you are painting so slowly you can't make a mistake. The faster you paint, the less likely you'll allow paint to run. So going slow and going fast cancel each other out and both speeds encourage mistakes. See the part where brushwork takes a massive amount of practise.

One trick is to get enough paint on your brush so that it just JUST barely starts to form a drop when you hold the brush horizontally. Then make a brush stroke on a piece of scrap paper to remove excess liquid and your brush should then be loaded with close to the right amount. Don't let paint accumulate in the metal ferrule, you'll notice that you'll have way to much paint on your brush then.

Painting is physical and like anything physical, you ought to do warm-up and cool-down exercises. Warm ups are drawing circles and wavy lines with a pen and then your brush for maybe ten minutes before launching into your work. Don't tackle your best project first! Work on things that aren't as important until you find your rhythm. Then apply paint to the best part of your project until you start to waver. Then cool down by finding something unimportant to complete. Then do a final cool down by painting waves and circles at arm's length so you don't get eyestrain from myopia.

Often, painting is done in layers, using thin pigment and building it up gradually. A single coat of enamel will coat quickly but without subtlety. Thin the paint down until it's almost transparent and then paint a layer, dry it, paint another layer and so on. You can vary the colour from layer to layer to make exciting blends. For example stating off yellow (which tends to go on thick) and ending with blue (which tends to be a bit thinner) will yield a much more organic green than if you just use green paint. da Vinci used hundreds of layers of transparent lacquer to build up the Mona Lisa, while Mondrian used enamel like nail polish in dozens of layers to make Broadway Boogie Woogie. Take your time, think in layers, obey your liquid brush load.

I hope this helps!

Earl J. Woods said...

That is spectacular advice, Jeff, and I really appreciate this shared wisdom. I will take it to heart! Next time I'll practice on some Fortune & Glory Nazis or Last Night on Earth zombies, since they're uniform and plentiful. I was definitely using too much paint, and I could sense that; I started getting better at figuring out the proper amounts, but the techniques you describe should help me come closer to the correct method.

Stephen Fitzpatrick said...

Amen to Jeff's insights; I would also add that the texture of miniatures can be made to work in your favour through things like ink washes and drybrushing. The latter is especially useful for big batches of minions and the like, who need (and deserve!) less detail than the heroes.

Jeff Shyluk said...

Yeah, I cringe at the thought of painting in three dimensions, two is hard enough! Folks I know who paint model trains and their props have those big illuminated magnifying glasses and use a fly-fishing clamp stand to secure the model. None of these things are very expensive, and you'll gain a massive amount of stability in your brushwork.