Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Simple Methods for Painting Black

Another SAGA player recently asked me how I paint black.  I sketched out three methods based on my recent painting.  As my email grew longer, I thought I might share it up on the blog.  Spoiler alert, there's nothing new here. 

Each method starts with a black primer coat. Once the figures are thoroughly dry, I go over them completely with Vallejo black paint thinned with a bit of water. This gives you coverage in all the places your primer might have missed.  Plus, Vallejo black dries flatter than the Army Painter black primer I currently use.  

Edging Method: The first method is fast and easy. Pick out the highest points on the figure and edge them with a grey highlight.  I used a Vallejo blue-grey here. The name is worn off the bottle so I don't know what it's called. Your goal is to keep most of the figure black and to do that, use minimal highlights. Less is more! 
Two highlights and a wash Method: This requires more work but it gives you a subtle navy blue to black effect.  I used Vallejo Prussian Blue (dark blue) as my first highlight.  Leave the black intact in the deep crevasses and shadows. I then painted Vallejo Intense Blue in a smaller area on top of the first highlight. Take care to leave some of your first highlight peeking out from under your second highlight. Once thoroughly dry, I applied Games Workshop's Drakenhof Nightshade, a dark blue wash.  I wanted the end result to be very dark so I applied the wash heavily.  If you want your highlights to pop through, cut the wash with water. You might apply a water-thinned wash and check your results once it dries.  If you find you want to go darker still, apply a second thinned wash.

Two highlights, no wash Method:  This method pops nicely at gaming distance.  With no wash used here, you'll need to paint quite neatly.  Don't be too tough on yourself the first time out as it may take some practice to achieve an effect you're satisfied with.  

While you can mix your own grays, I generally paint straight out of the bottle. That way, I can come back to a project months later and match the paint on new figures perfectly.  If you do mix your own, you can try:
Black and Pink for a warm gray.  
Black and Turquoise Blue for a cold grey. 
Black and Green for something different than the first two options.   
I  selected a cold blue gray for my Mutatawwi’a as I figured fanatics are generally not “warm” fellows.  

Apply your first highlight liberally.  Leave black intact  in the deepest recesses and folds.  Then paint a 2nd brighter gray onto your first highlight. Be neat and leave some of your 1st highlight showing.  For the 2nd highlight, I concentrate on places where the sun/light would be hitting.  Remember, each figure doesn't have to be a masterpiece!  Some will look better than others and that's just fine.

This technique leaves you with the least black on your figures.  Don’t freak out when your figure ends up more gray than black.  If that's not a look you like, see #1 and #2 above. 

If you have a tip or trick for painting black, please share it in the the comments section!