I'm sure that everyone who's played Dungeons & Dragons, or even just browsed through the source books, has their favorites among the weird monsters. Beholders get a lot of love, as do mindflayers, the tarrasque, and for some reason, otyughs. Personally, I always had an irrational affection for intellect devourers. I can't explain it, but there's just something about the concept of a brain on legs hunting down intelligent creatures that always tickled my fancy. From the first moment that I saw this miniature in Reaper's store, I wanted to paint it, but it just didn't seem interesting enough in and of itself to be worth buying over any of the other miniatures that I'd ordered.
Fate smiled on me, though, and included this miniature as a random bonus in my order for the Learn To Paint kits. I decided to do it in between the two kits, firstly as a change of pace from following someone else's directions on how to do everything, and secondly because the brain texture seemed well-suited to drybrushing.
As usual, my starting point was to come up with a plan for the major colors, or for all of the colors here, since there are only a few parts to this model. I took inspiration from two sources: D&D artwork (obviously) and real crabs. What I ended up coming up with from that was to go for a color walking the border between purple and dark pink for the brain, a lighter and pinker version of the same for the fleshy construct just beneath the brain, a dark but striking blue for the legs, and a sort of old horn/claw color for the talons.
That decided, I started out with base coating the brain in a somewhat dark red, followed by painting the fleshy bits in breast cancer awareness pink (not making light, I mean the bonus pink paint that I got from Reaper for placing an order during breast cancer awareness month).
I was happy with where the brain was, since I was planning on giving both regions a purple ink wash. The pink, though, was a bit too far off from where I expected the brain to end up. To fix that, I mixed a little bit of orange into the pink to give it a bit more red, which gave me exactly the color that I was aiming for in my head. Satisfied, it was washing time.
Ah, now that was what I was looking for.
Once the wash dried, the next step was to start drybrushing the brain, since I wanted to get the highlighting done before moving on to the legs to avoid needing to worry about flicking bits of brain paint where it didn't belong. I started with using the base red again, then further highlighted with a red/orange mix and finally a red/orange/pink mix to finish off the highest part of the brain.
At this point, I realized I was going to have a problem. This was the first miniature I've painted that didn't have a base. It was easy enough to hold it by the legs while working on the brain, and I could hold it by the talons while working on the legs, but once I got to those last parts, I was going to have to hold it by parts that were already painted and finished. Now, the safe way to deal with that would've been to varnish the brain before continuing, but frankly, I didn't want to wait for varnish to dry before going on with my painting. I figured I'd just hold it as carefully as I could, trying to avoid rubbing it as much as possible, and live with the results.
Anyway, on to the legs.
As usual, I was planning on doing an ink wash (with blue, in this case), so I started out with a somewhat brighter shade of blue than where I wanted to end up. Since I didn't want to risk getting any blue ink wash on the talons after painting them, I paused the base coating again for the wash.
Things were coming together so well that I tried my hand at adding a black line right at the border between the blue and the pink. It ended up being a little bit thicker than what would've been ideal, but I liked the effect, and I thought I was doing a nice job of keeping things neat. My brush control has definitely come a long way since those first couple of miniatures! Anyway, I added a light drybrushing of the original blue at the ends of the legs, just to brighten that raised part.
For the talons, I did a little bit of quick research again, and the pictures that I was seeing of other animals/creatures with the same sort of look had the bit above their talons/claws being a lighter shade that the talons/claws themselves. Thus, I went with a dark brown for the talons and a somewhat lighter (but not so far as to be beige) brown for whatever the proper term is for the cuticle-equivalent of a talon.
A brown ink wash, and a little highlighting along the edges to try adding some sense of sharpness, and it was done!
Sadly, there was a little bit of lost paint on the brain from where I was holding it. I think it's actually not too ugly, since a little bit of color variation looks fine on organic parts, but I would've rather avoided it, if I could've. Alas and alack, but otherwise, I'm pretty happy with the final result.
Up next is the Learn To Paint - Layer Up kit. I'm hoping this helps me learn a lot about getting nice colors blends for highlighting/shading, because I think that getting better at that can help me take a major jump forward in my results.