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The Process of Painting Dark Elf Warrior

I refuse to make jokes about D&D drow names

After making a couple of gift miniatures for some friends, I got the Masterwork Miniature Painting with Jen Haley and Anne Foerster digital download from CMON. I found that to be very useful to watch, for several reasons. Obviously, with how little experience I have with the hobby, any exposure to how good painters get their results is useful. Seeing them painting in real time was helpful, if only to see exactly how they get the paint from their palettes onto their models. Even better than that, seeing them make mistakes and correct them in real time was also helpful, both for the psychological boost of seeing that even people with decades of experience and phenomenal, award-winning talent can still screw up some (relatively) simple things as well as for the actual demonstrations of how they fix their mistakes. The overall presentation and teaching element was well done, in the sense that you could tell that these were people who were used to teaching others how they do stuff rather than just giving a dry and unhelpful narration of what they were doing. Lastly, and certainly not least of all, it was also helpful to just see more alternate ways of getting certain results.

With that inspiration, I decided to try out some of the stuff that they showed which I'd shied away from in the past, namely painting black as a major color, painting hair without drybrushing, and painting NMM (which I did try once before, but it was completely ass). The sculpt for this miniature was actually kind of a disappointment compared to the pictured I'd seen, since there were a lot of parts merged together that weren't obvious about it in the store pictures, so I figured that it'd be a piece that I wouldn't mind using as a practice scrap.

For the color scheme, I wanted to do something rather subdued, relying more on shading/hue contrasts instead of chromatic differences. As said before, I wanted to use black as featured color, so it'd go on the cloak. For the bandings, some dark leather would give me a decent compromise between being neutral and not looking completely flat. The metals would be NMM steel. For the flesh and hair, I decided to go with a fairly traditional ashen blue skin and white hair color scheme. Just to give it a little color, though, I decided that I'd try to go for a glowing blue/purple effect for the eyes, since I haven't tried doing something like that before.

This was a Bones model, so priming wasn't required. Thus, I started out by blocking in the flesh with a light coat of blue, aside from setting down some purple for the eyes.

The first coat is always light for me when it comes to Bones material

The purple barely held at all for the first coat on this eye

Right off the bat, I noticed a difference from making a point of moving the model to suit my brush angle rather than doing things the other way around. Maybe I'm just a bit slow to have never thought of doing that before, and the model sculpt has something to do with this as well, but this was by far the easiest time that I had of painting eyes.

Anyway, I didn't really care about making the blue undercoat on the skin too solid. It was mostly there just so that I could have a clear idea of the areas that I'd want to do as skin in the long run, since there's some room for interpretation with whether the deepest parts of the banding are skin or covering material. Instead, I went with firming up the purple undercoat for the eyes as well as getting a solid coat of black on the cloak.

I also tried to black in stuff like the sides of the crotch armor panel

Pretty good coat of black, no?

Two steps followed that. First, I put in a line of white for the eyes. Second, I mixed up some grey/blue paint to use as a base coat for the skin, which would also serve as the darkest shade.

Dude is fucking intense

This was followed by mixing up a small variety of other greys. Some of them were used for highlighting on the cloak and skin, while the rest were used for base coating and then sidebrushing the hair. In the mean time, I also made blue and purple glazes, which I kept applying over the eyes.

I also blacked in the undersides of the shoulder panels

The hair leaves something to be desired, but I can see potential for this approach

Things were starting to come together, but it was far from perfect. The cloak generally needed something more to give it some punch, so I decided that I'd give it a blue glazing once I'd finished with the highlighting on it. My thought was that it'd do almost nothing for the solid black parts, but it'd give a hint of a hue to the greys to make them more interesting. As for the hair, I tried to follow the suggestion of "highlight it as if it was cloth, but staying out of the recesses", but my brush control is obviously not as good as such painters as Haley and Foerster, so I couldn't stop myself from splotching it up a little. Still, anything that gets me away from drybrushing is something that sounds good to me, so I'll try to do this at least another time or two before making any decisions about it in the long run.

While continuing with the highlighting on the cloak and skin, I also put in a base coat on the bandings.

This always looks too bright at first

That was followed by a dark brown wash, and then some highlighting to bring out the different levels on the bandings.

Oh, I also put in eyebrows at some point

This is the last time you'll see the cloak without its glaze

Well, there was no putting things off any further, so it was time to do the NMM. Aside from the base grey, I mixed up two levels of shades and three levels of highlights. Then, it was just a matter of trying to do my best to pick out the shadows, shine points, edges, and under-reflections as best as I could.

I didn't want to do anything too crazy with the base, so seeing as I had lots of grey shades already, I just went for a simple grey base coat on that.

There's a lot of room for improvement, but you can kind of see what I was going for on the swords and abdominal panels

And here's the cloak with a little hint of blue

That all done, all that was left was to do some highlighting on the base.

It's a step in the right direction, with respect to the NMM

The black lining on the lips ended up like goth lipstick, though

Here's a better look at that cloak

The eyes also left room for improvement

Overall, for a practice piece, I can't complain too much. The eyes, skin, hair, and NMM all have lots of room for improvement, but it's basically my first time trying to use the techniques that I did on any of them, so I wasn't expecting perfection from the get go. At the very least, it was a learning experience that should serve me well in the future.

Up next: I got a bunch of free skeletons in my last order from Reaper, so I'll do some more practice on those.

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