The Process of Painting Lysette, Elf Wizard
Well, I earned two of these models for spending so much on my last order from Reaper, and they were generous enough to throw in another two for free, so I figured that it'd make sense to use one or two of them after going through the kits (and after finishing with Seoni, since I'd started that one before getting the kits). Besides, since they were all extras on the side of my actual order, they made sense to use as practice pieces before going back to working on miniatures that I'd actually paid for.
As always, the starting point was planning out a color scheme. I was disappointed with what I'd done with Seoni's cloth parts, so taking another crack at working with blue was an obvious first step. Since orange is the natural color to contrast with blue, I wanted to have orange tones in the hair, but I didn't want to go full-on redhead since I just don't particularly like that hair color, so I figured something more like a light chestnut or natural auburn color would be my target. I wanted to do dark skin, since I hadn't tried that on one of my own models yet, but at the same time, I wanted to try pushing my skin tone contrasts farther than usual, so I thought something more like an unnatural pale grey tone would let me go very dark with the shades and rather light with the highlights. As for the other details, I figured I'd stick with mostly neutral tones, firstly to tie in with the neutral skin and secondly to avoid drawing attention away from the cloth and hair. I wanted to do something with blending between two different colors, though, so I decided that I'd do some kind of special effect with the weapon. As molded, it's not entirely clear if it's supposed to be some sort of branch with an embedded gem (as shown on Reaper's store picture), a long-bladed spear wreathed in flames, or some other fanciful thing, so I figured I'd think of something while working on the rest of it.
Colors aside, there were three technique-related points that I wanted to work on, too. First, since the right arm and weapon came as a separate piece, I wanted to try painting most of it before gluing it on in order to test my ability to maintain a consistent sense of the highlight orientation between parts. Second, since most of the miniature was made of flat areas without lots of sharp crevices or fine textures, I wanted to avoid relying on ink washes except for bringing out the few parts with such texturing (the hair, the leathers, the wooden shaft, and the sword sheath). Finally, as stated above, I wanted to do some sort of blending between multiple base colors on the weapon to see if I could do a better job of that than I did with the Necromancer's scythe blade.
Based on my past experiences, I find myself preferring to prime black only if I'm working with large areas of metallics or dark colors. Since neither of those are featured on this miniature, I primed white. There were a few options I could see for which part to start with. The hair was the biggest area where I'd be trying to work towards a color that I hadn't tried to do before, so I started with that. As it was one of the areas where I was going to use an ink wash, I wanted to aim a bit bright with the base coat, so I mixed some orange and brown for it.
Once I had a nice coat of that, I gave it a brown ink wash (aka Agrax skillshade). While waiting for that to dry, I painted in the eyes. I've tried a few different approaches to doing them, and what I seem to have settled on is painting in a black base, doing a line of slightly off-white dots to fill in the whites, scratching in a few black lines to make a sort of football shape with the ends in the black borders, and then switching back to the off-white to clean up as needed (usually after taking a few pictures to get closer looks because fuck me these details are too small for the naked eye). The end results are a bit bigger than what I could get using the dot method strictly (as shown on the pirate miniature in the second Learn To Paint kit), but I've gotten better at not ending up with gigantic anime eyes, and I feel like this approach can help me transition into colored irises more easily than the dot method.
I tried to highlight the hair with the same orange/brown mixture and then with an orange/yellow/brown mixture, but I wasn't liking what I was ending up with. Well, I figured that I might as well make some use of the matte medium that I'd bought, so I added a drop or two of that to some orange, watered it down, and glazed a few layers all over the hair until I was happy with the overall tone.
While putting on the highlights afterwards, I did some thinking about the skin. Sure, there wasn't much of it, but the deep areas of the head were going to be devils to get to without smudging shit all over the place. That being the case, I figured I'd try starting with the darkest shade and layering up from there.
At this point, I had to make a decision about how to orient the free arm so that I could layer it sensibly. The way that the joint was set up, there was some freedom to it, but since I don't have any epoxy/putty for filling in gap, I felt compelled to go with what seemed to give the tightest fit, and that was basically matching the orientation in the Reaper shop picture (this had the added bonus of having the little tassel-thing on the right match with the one on the left). With that settled, it was layering time.
As a quirk of fate, I had a bit of a dark spot under the left cheekbone when I did the first highlight, and I liked the sharp/angular feature that that implied, so I made an effort to preserve it through the later highlights. Once the uppermost layer was on, I scratched in some eyebrows with one of the hair highlight colors.
That done, it was on to doing the blue cloth parts. I wanted to push the contrast more than I had done with Seoni, so I set up three levels each of highlights and shades and went to work, starting with the skirt and sleeves (I skipped some of the intermediate tones on the sleeves in order to fit the same overall gradient into such a small space). The final product looked nice on the sleeves, but the skirt had some stark transitions, so I did a few glaze/layer cycles there until I was happy.
Though it doesn't show up in any pictures for a while, I painted in the flower on the back of the head around this time. I did it with a bluish off-white, glazed it with orange, went back over it with another layer of the off-white, and painted the sex organs yellow.
Now, I had two choices to make. First, what would be the color for the inside of the skirt. Using the same blue would be a bit boring, I thought, so I decided to pick a color that I feel doesn't get enough love and go with purple.
The other choice was whether to do something different for the shirt. I decided to just stick with the blue tones there, tilted towards the lighter end of the scale, to avoid having too many different colors.
Once that was done, I blocked in the leathers.
Now, there was another decision to make: what do I do with the pots/urns/whatever on the left hip? The Reaper shop example goes with non-metallic metal (NMM) for one and a sort of clay look for the other. At my present skill level, NMM is probably beyond me. Clay was a decent choice, but I like doing my own shit sometimes, so I decided to go for a bone look instead so that it could tie in with the little skull on the pouch at the right hip.
That decided, I also put in some more leather on the handle of the dagger, put bone on the ends of the dagger and sword sheathes as well as the sword handle, and hit it all with a brown ink wash. For the remaining trim, I wanted to avoid using metallics and didn't think I was good enough for NMM, but I wanted to do something different, so I painted them off-white and gave it a black ink wash so that it'd be a neutral color. I didn't have a particular material in mind for it to represent, but I'm painting a fucking elf fighter/mage, so who's to say that I need to have an actual material in mind for any given part? Just pretend it's some kind of ceramic, if you really need something.
I also painted the pants and boot in the same way, for the sake of tying colors together.
At this point, things were getting close to the point where it'd be time to put on the arm, but there were still a few details that I could do first. Having nothing better in mind for it, I painted the sword sheath with a dark grey to act as blackened leather, and I painted the base as dark stone, maybe like some of kind of cave terrain.
The last part that needed a decision was the necklace, and honestly, I was out of any special ideas here, so I just painted it yellow to contrast with the blue and purple of the nearby cloth parts. Similar to the greys, I didn't have any actual thing in mind for what it'd be, but I guess I can pretend it's a (really shitty) NMM gold.
That pretty much put in all of the details on the main body, save for minor touch-ups/highlights, so it was time to glue on the right arm. Unlike my previous superglue experience, I wore gloves this time, though I'd apparently learned enough to not get any on my fingers this time.
The highlighting on the right hand and sleeve seemed to line up exactly as it ought to with the rest of the miniature, so that was a successful experiment. Anyway, I painted the greys for the right arm at this point, along with going over the runic characters on the sheath to color them, and while doing those, I thought about what to do in order to do some blending on the weapon. In the end, I went with the idea of that I'd had with Seoni to blend it as if transmuting to bone.
I'm not sure if I really managed the effect that I was going for, but it looks fairly nice, and if nothing else, I think it was a smooth enough blend to count as some good experience towards doing multi-color blending in the future.
In the end, I'm quite happy with how this miniature turned out. I'm sure that there are plenty of more skilled painters who could've done it better, but I tried doing a good number of new things with it, and the overall results were pretty good, especially considering that I've only got about one month of experience with painting miniatures, or really with any kind of meaningful artistic painting, for that matter.
Up next: probably doing another version of this model. As I said, I've got three more copies of it, so I'd like to do another one of them for more practice before going back to more of the miniatures that I actually ordered. Maybe I'll try to do some NMM with it, if only to see whether I'll want to learn that technique or stick with doing true metallic metals.