The Process of Painting Seoni, Iconic Sorceress
Well, this was a miniature that waited on me for quite a while. I'd actually done a little bit with it while I was waiting for my Learn To Paint kits to arrive because I'd wanted to do something until they got delivered. Of course, that meant that they ended up coming right after I started on this one, and so I put it aside for a couple of weeks while working through those. Armed with that knowledge, I went back to finish this off...sort of. Certainly, I made use of some of the skills I'd learned there, but I'm ever one for experimenting, so I did try a few different things with this one along the way, to mixed results.
I'm getting ahead of myself, though. To start, I wanted to try out two things: using primer on Bones material, and painting the eyes before the rest of the face. As far as the overall color scheme, I'd wanted to do blonde hair (since I hadn't done that yet), which pretty much meant having to go with fair skin to keep a natural look. The main clothing color would be something in the green/blue/purple range to contrast that, depending on where the skin color ended up landing. Part of me wanted to try making the staff look like it was partly transmuted from wood to bone, but I do have some sense of my limits, so I decided to leave that for another time.
After laying down some white primer, I had a bit of inspiration. If the goal of putting black on the eyes to start is to leave an outline to separate the eyes from the face, and my skin color is going to end up with some orange and yellow in it to give a fair and warm look, then maybe I could use purple instead of black to give a bit of an eyeliner effect while still contrasting heavily enough with the skin to achieve the same outline effect.
About two weeks later, it was on to laying down some light flesh tone to pick up where I'd left off. I'd also gotten some suggestions on the Reaper forum to try painting the base early instead of late, so I figured I'd give that a try, too, going for just a basic stony look.
I had a devil of a time trying to keep calm while bringing in the paint around the eyes, but it really wasn't any worse than trying to paint eyes after the skin is complete. Both methods seem to work well enough, but I feel like doing the eyes first has the advantage having less that can go wrong while finishing the face, so I'll probably stick with that.
As for the base, I think doing it last is a better fit for my comforts than doing it early.
In any case, the next bit of experimenting was to try combining layering highlights with washing for shades. Granted, this is nominally what I'd been doing before, too, but now that I had a better understanding of how to do layering properly, it seemed reasonable to try that approach once again before trying my hand at doing all of the highlights and shades with manual layering. Thus I applied a red ink wash for the shading, followed by layering with similar paints to what was used for the model of Ingrid in the second kit.
I was undecided about whether to do the cloth or the hair next, so I decided to do a quick coat on both of them to firstly block in the colors for a better idea of how the final things would look together as well as to check for which would be harder to access if I delayed it.
The hair seemed to be the more troublesome of the two, so I went after that first. Following finishing up the base coat, I used a brown ink wash to hit the recesses, followed by highlighting with successively lighter layers. I have a pretty shitty understanding of why hair highlights the way that it does (in terms of my intuition, I mean, since I understand how angles of incidence/reflection work in an abstract sense), so I ended up not highlighting the hair enough, but whatever. As inexperienced as I am in this hobby, I think it turned out alright.
With that done, it was on to the cloth. I gave it a blue ink wash and then layered up the highlights from there. Incidentally, this is also where I ran into the usual "so much is done that it's hard to see differences between further pictures" point with this model. Because of that, I also did a few other things before the next photo, namely trying to blackline around some of the major colors in order to define the boundaries better, as well as coloring in the lips/mouth (which I did by filling in the mouth with black and tracing its borders with dark red).
As I'd noticed before, blacklining was very effective at giving a cleaner and clearer look to the model. I need more practice with it for sure, since I'm having some trouble with controlling the thickness of the lines and with sometimes not getting pigment to flow out of the brush bristles, but on the whole, it's definitely worth the effort.
Anyway, that was followed by coloring in all of the remaining parts. I went with leather for the trim elements of the blue cloths as well as the pouches/straps around the waist, bronze for the necklaces and the medallion on her crotch, steel for (what I assumed to be) the studded chains, wood for the staff, white rope for the bindings on the staff and the strings on the medallion, and onyx for the jewel/stone on the staff.
Since I getting antsy to finish, I just gave all of it a brown ink wash and did some minor spot highlights. I also felt like the giant flat panel on her abdomen was too boring to just leave as blue cloth, so I painted it gold. It doesn't really make sense in any particular way, but I thought it'd look nice. Judge for yourself:
Overall, I think it's a solid result. The main thing that I took away is that relying just on ink washes for shades isn't the best idea, though, especially for (relatively) large flat areas that need more of a gradient on the darker side. I'll need to try doing some more manual layering for the shades and applying the ink wash in a focused way towards detail elements as well as trying to do an overall wash after layering (to double as a glaze), to see which approach gives the look that I'm happiest with.
Speaking of which, up next is Reaper #01609: Lysette, Elf Wizard: