Friday, January 17, 2014

Alladin's "Step-by-Step" #1: Grey Knight Strike Squad (pt.1)

Hello again!

After completing my first 5 Knights, I am moving onto the next batch of 5. These ones will be painted a bit differently: 4 of them will be painted up as Purifiers, with the 5th painted in my general Strike Squad colours. The focus will be on the Strike Knight, but will include WIPS of the entire 5-man process for posterity's sake, as well as colour combos and tips that may be unique to the Purifiers for anyone who is interested.

Additionally, I am a notoriously slow painter so part of my process will be to time my work and keep a tally of how much time I spend painting each section. This is more for my own use than for my readers' sake; a way for me to keep track of my progress as I (hopefully) improve both my quality and painting speed.

First, I have the "before" pictures. These are just primed black and oversprayed with white. As I mentioned in another post, I wasn't to pleased with the white overspray as it came out more grainy than I wanted. The end result did not suffer, however, so no big loss.

As you can see, the bases are essentially complete, short of some highlighting and touching up. I painted these up last year but will have to paint up a few more down the road so will likely do a quick tutorial when I get around to it.

The first part is to paint all the metallic parts (not including the gold areas). I will be going from the shadows to the highlights but stopping short of the final edge highlight, preferring to do that near the end when most of the model has been blocked in.

With my first batch of 5 marines I started with a base of VGC Gunmetal, needing to put down two (and in some instances three) coats to get decent coverage. I followed this with a black wash in the recesses and shaded areas before fixing up with Gunmetal and then moving on to mid-tones and highlights.

This time, I have pre-tinted my VGC Gunmetal with VGC Black, doing one coat of this mixture. My second coat was simply VGC Gunmetal, making sure to avoid the recesses and areas I wanted to be
mostly dark. I did have to do a third coat on some areas to get good coverage in the "lighter areas." Overall this method worked out better and was more efficient than the first batch.

My paint ratios are outlined below (all paints are Vallejo Game Colour unless otherwise noted):

Primary Basecoat/Shadow Areas:
2 : 1 : 2   -   Gunmetal : Black : Magic Wash

Secondary Basecoat/Mid-tone Areas:
1 : 1   -   Gunmetal : Magic Wash

Below are the WIP pics after finishing the primary (darker) coat:

I may have to selectively wash some areas in black that I want to be really dark, but I will make that call after applying the mid-tones.

This step took me 3 hrs, 30 mins over 3 painting sessions. Not a good start.

The next set of WIP pics are after the 2nd coat, this time only Gunmetal (without the Black). I did also do a 3rd coat of touch up in a few areas that didn't have strong coverage after the 2nd coat. See below:

This step took me 2 hours over 1 painting session. Not much better. :|

The last step in this part is the highlight, using VGC Chainmail and Magic Wash. If I was crazier, I would have done a 1:1 Gunmetal:Chainmail layer prior to this, but for my Strike Knights I feel that a) This is excessive and b) my Shading skills are not that subtle yet, making it a waste of time. 

Tertiary Basecoat/Highlights:
1 : 1   -   Chainmail Silver : Magic Wash

See WIP pics below (edit - now with better Light Box photos!):

This step took me 2 hours over 2 painting sessions. Sigh...

Useful Tips/General Advice/Random Thoughts:
  • I am not a fan of painting with metallics. They are definitely too thick from the pot, but it seems that thinning them with any medium (plain water, Vallejo Matt Medium, GW Lahmian Medium, Magic Wash) really affects the even distribution of the metallic pigments. This is why multiple layers are required, to help smooth out the "metallic-ness" (not a real word).
  • I try and mix only 1 drop of metallic at a time, as I find it thickens very fast. Even with 1 drop, I do find myself adding more Magic Wash to the wet palette mid-painting. This somewhat "invalidates" the paint ratios I mentioned above, but unfortunately as I learn more about painting I learn that not everything can be 100% precise. Practice makes perfect - if you feel your paint is too thick, add another drop of Magic Wash or start a new batch.
  • To create a more natural look, I try and do some rudimentary shading during this step. For example, the inside and back of the legs should be darker than the front and the outside of the legs. The bottom of the arms will be darker than the front or the top, etc. It doesn't have to be a big difference at this stage, but a little bit of planning will pay off down the road.
  • When painting, try and direct your brush strokes from the darkest to the lightest part of the area you are painting. This will help add a natural shading gradient to the area.
  • While you don't have to be precise during this step, I still try and "paint within the lines" at all times. Not only does this help with general brush control skills, but it reduces the amount of layers required for touching up down the line. Less layers = smoother paint-job and more preserved detail
  • I really need a lightbox for my pictures. Especially with metallics, it's impossible to get the right lighting when I paint at different times of the day, and it's hard to show slight differences in highlights and shades. A lightbox is on my 2014 Project list, but I may need to bump up the priority to sooner rather than later.

Total Painting Time for Part 1: 7 hours, 30 minutes over 6 painting sessions. 

Total Painting Time to date: As above


This concludes Part 1 of this Tutorial. We will go back to this area a bit later to add some blue tints to the metal, potential touch ups, and our final edge-highlighting with VGC Silver. Part 2 of this step-by-step will involve blocking in the gold metallics and starting on the reds (blues for Purifier). Now that the largest area of the models have been painted, hopefully the next Part won't take me too long - unbeknownst to you readers I started this tutorial at the beginning of December... :|

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