January 6, 2011

Dark Elves on Dinosaurs!

I have a few commissions lined up so far this year, and the first is a small unit for Warhammer Fantasy - Dark Elf Knights mounted on Cold Ones (the Dinosaurs I plugged in the title for those who are more grounded in reality). Being Games Workshop, these models are superbly sculpted and a fun diversion from my normal projects.

I thought I'd take the occasion for a little 'work in progress' series of posts and ramble on a bit about how I paint...

I use a black undercoat for all of my work and normally go for Citadel Chaos Black spray paint.It takes a bit of practice to get consistent results with any spray paint, but I HATE painting undercoats with a brush. If you're not used to using spray paint to undercoat your models, it's always best to apply two light coats rather than one heavy one to avoid obscuring the detail. The Citadel spray paint gives a very smooth finish and shrinks a bit as it dries which helps in 'avoiding obscuring the detail'.

Some artists work on one area at a time, finishing each location or color before moving on to the next. Rather than this focused approach, I paint the entire model with the darkest tone of each color I'm going to be using. I do this for a couple of reasons. First, this gives me an idea of what the finished model will look like. If I don't like a color combo at this stage, I probably wont like it when it's finished! Second, if I accidentally throw color where it doesn't belong, it's much easier to fix than it would be if I had carefully blended a neighboring color. Finally, I normally work on three to five models at a time and it is much quicker to use the same color on the group than painting models individually. The main thing I am trying to accomplish with this stage is clean, neat blocks of color with thin black lines (the undercoat) separating the different materials (the harness from the monster, for instance).

I typically employ the Foundry three stage paints (Unless noted below, all colors in these posts are Foundry), but I sometimes use Citadel and Vallejo as well. In this instance, I drybrushed the Cold One with Charcoal Black (34B). I drybrushed all of the armor and other metal bits with Citadel Boltgun Metal. I painted the head and underbelly of the Cold One with Sky Blue Shade (21A) and then began to pick out individual scales with the same color, creating a pattern similar to that of a Blue Monitor Lizard. I used Black (34A) to pick out some of the scales in a similar fashion on the head to create a general transition between the head and neck. The monster's teeth spines, and claws were painted with Boneyard Shade (9A). The harness and saddle were painted with Bay Brown (42B).

Turning my attention to the rider, I already mentioned the armor. I picked out individual plates with Citadel Shining Gold. The chainmail the rider is wearing is trimmed in leather which I painted Spearshaft Shade (13A). The robe was painted with Royal Purple Shade (19A).

My next step is the middle tones which will start to bring this thing to life. For those who prefer less fantastic subjects, hang in there - my next commission is a 48-model TYW unit! I'm also three command models away from presenting my first finished 40mm ACW regiment.


  1. Lovely work, though the subject matter is not quite my 'thing' ;-)

    Look forward to seeing more of your brushwork.



  2. Hi Clarence,

    Good tips. I'm looking forward to seeing how this develops. How about a few close ups of particular color areas?

  3. There you go, Ron (updated the post with a second pic). Of course, if you click on the photos, they will open larger. Not much to see at this stage so I just featured the pattern on the Cold One.

    Hopefully I'll have the second step posted early next week...

  4. Thanks Clarence,

    The closeups help others to understand of how the color areas evolve. Appreciate the effort!