The Process of Painting Diva, the Blessed
Well, it took me about 6 hours of work, but I managed to finish my first miniature with my own color scheme. I thought it might be interesting to share how I went from a bare model to the final product, so here we go.
This was where I started, after taking her out of her packaging and giving her a good scrubbing with some soapy water and a free toothbrush:
For the color scheme, I decided to start out aiming for gold armor, to have a ceremonial look to it. I'm a fan of the purple/gold color combination, so I thought that purple would be a good choice as the main color for the cloth parts. For the extra loincloth-looking thing, though, I wanted something a little different, so I picked blue, with the intent of darkening it (and the armor) down a bit with a purple ink wash. As for skin and hair, I was going to be mixing the colors for myself, so I didn't want to be too picky about them. Ideally, I wanted a sort of chestnut brown hair and pinkish white skin, but as long as what I ended up mixing looked human, I was willing to go with it. For the war hammer and book, I didn't have any special plans. My intent was to paint the rest of it first and then try to think about what to do with them from there.
Since I wanted to end up with some fairly light colors for the flesh/hair, I decided to go with white primer. The thought of using white for those parts and black for most of the rest crossed my mind, but given my current skill level, getting fancy with multiple primer colors seemed a bit like trying to run before learning how to walk.
With the primer down, I mixed up some reddish brown as the base foundation for the flesh.
From there, I gave it a red ink wash and started trying to blend up to lighter tones. Unfortunately, I'd mixed quite a dark tone to start with, and I was hesitant to lighten it up too much at once, given the bad highlighting shades I'd done for my space marine. What I was getting as I added yellow and white was still reasonably fleshy-looking, at least, so I was willing to settle for more of a tanned look.
Once I was happy enough with the skin color to start moving onto more focused highlighting, I made a new brown of a darker and less red shade to use for the hair and gave it a brown ink wash. Since I tend to go very thin with my painting, the brown coat didn't actually cover all of the primer, so the ink wash gave a bit of a natural highlighting effect. I wasn't planning on leaving it that way, but it gave me a nice target shade to aim for when the time came to actually layer on the highlights.
While waiting for the wash to dry, I decided to try doing some details on the face. This miniature came with molded eyebrows, so I touched them with the hair color, then added a couple of red drops for lips. Then came the hard part: eyes. I painted them in black to start, then tapped in the whites (one dot to the inside, two dots to the outside, or at least that was the idea).
They came out a bit more anime-sized than I'd wanted, and I lost most of the outline on the left one, and the right one's pupil has ruptured and spread to the outside corner (which I didn't notice at the time). It took three or four tries to get to this point, though, and realistically, at my current skill level with brush control, I don't think I was going to get anything significantly better, so I decided to live with it.
Since I was going to use the same ink wash for the armor and the clothes, I thought it'd make sense to paint all of them in one step. Also, from here on out, I took the opportunity to do a little more highlighting and blending on the face/hair while waiting for paint to dry until I was happy with it, so I'm not going to mention that over and over. Anyway, here's where things were after the first coat of bronze for the armor and purple/blue for the cloth:
After doing another coat or two of those paints, I decided to take a break, since I'd been working at it for about three hours straight by this point. In order to fill in some time, I started doing a little research on mixing colors and general color scheme theory, and honestly, I was surprised at how much technical depth there is on those subjects. If the art teachers in my school years had explained at least some things from that direction, I probably would've found art as a whole a lot more interesting. Coming back to the point, though, it was good to learn how to actually mix proper shades for highlights and shadows, since trying to just mix in some white was part of why the space marine's highlights were so horrible. It was also heartening to learn yellow and purple were good to have next to each other to increase contrast, so I wouldn't need to worry about the color scheme looking too drab. I was a little concerned about it looking too gaudy if I was to go with my original plan to paint the armor gold, though, so I decided to leave it as bronze and just use gold for highlighting (and silver for extreme highlighting).
That decided, it was time for the purple ink wash.
At this point, I was pretty happy with how the highlights were looking on the face and hair, so I had a bit of time to review the previous pictures while waiting for the wash to dry. That was when I noticed the serious medical condition going on with her right eye (the actual eye was too small for me to see that level of detail by myself). I was a bit scared about the thought of screwing it up even worse in an attempt to fix it, especially with how much work I'd done on face to that point, but I decided to face my fears and give it a try. Or another two tries, rather, since I did screw up at first. The second looked better though, even after taking a picture to check it on a closer scale, so that was a huge relief.
Buoyed by that success, it was on to highlighting. Thanks to my crash course in color mixing, the highlighting shades that I made looked a lot better, enough so that I decided to take things a step further and add on a second, more extreme highlight with the purple and blue parts, too. Unfortunately, it was getting a bit late by this point, so I stopped taking so many step-by-step photos, so I don't have more of those to show.
With the bulk of the miniature done, all that remained were the book and the war hammer.
For the hammer, I used silver for the metal parts and a pale light brown for the wood, then gave it all a black ink wash to dull the silver to more of a steel finish while putting a slightly excessive amount of the wash on the shaft in order to get a simple wood grain effect. Highlighting was done by touching plain silver on the pointiest metallic parts and then mixing a blueish silver for the plate on the hammer's head in order to give it a little bit of a magical look.
Inspired by the somewhat aged look of the armor after the purple wash, I wanted to make the book look a bit old. I mixed a slightly yellowish white for the paper and base-coated the cover in red. This was followed by using a brown ink wash on the paper to "age" it and darken the recesses between the pages on the view of the book's top, after which I mixed some green with my red to get a very dark shade, which I applied thinly over the cover in order to try giving it a look of very old red leather. I mixed a light brownish grey for the inside parts of the cover that show around the pages in order to have a distinct color for defining the boundaries between the other colors that'd be neutral enough to not clash with the rest, and I put gold on the raised panel of the book's cover (mostly because actual gold is nonreactive enough that it could conceivably by polished to a shine despite the rest of the book being aged). Finally, I took a little bit of black on an extra fine brush tip and made some squiggles on the pages to act as script, as well as a bit on the gold panel to act as a title. This was mostly just a gut feeling kind of thing, though I was cognizant to make a slightly thicker and shorter "script" on the top-left corner of the pages to imply a heading. Looking back at it now, I should've watered the black down more in order to get the pigment to tear during application, so that it could've given an illusion of separate words, and I probably should've gone with a dark brown instead of pure black, too, in order to fit the rest of the aged look.
Anyway, with all of that done, here are the final results:
On the whole, I'm thrilled with the final result. There are definitely things that could've been better, but there's no point in beating myself up because I can't paint as well as people who've been doing this sort of thing for years when I've only done it for about a month. Sure, I still need to improve my brush control, get better at blending the highlight/shadow shades, get a better sense of how to put colors together for a harmonious look (speaking specifically about having sharp black "text" in an old book), and so forth. I think most of that should improve with practice and experience, though. I'm still in the process of learning what's the most comfortable way for me to built up a model's paint job, and there are still plenty of advanced techniques that I can learn to do after I've gotten a stronger handle on the basics.
Next in line is Reaper miniature 60025: Grey Maiden: