Saturday, December 26, 2015

Woodland Indian Miniature Painting WIP

If you frequent Reddit at all and haven't subscribed to r/minipainting, then you really owe it to yourself to do just that. It's a fantastic community headed up by active and friendly mods, comprised of painters of all skill levels. Fresh stuff rolls in daily, and on occasion they've been known to host a competition.

In November the call was put out for their autumn contest - anyone could enter with any figure, the only stipulation being that red, yellow, and green needed to be incorporated in some fashion (y'know, autumn and stuff). It was a simple and relevant set of rules that, really, anyone could get behind with out much difficulty. With prizes being offered, I couldn't help myself and registered.

I decided, too, that I'd chronicle the journey and crank out an informal miniature painting tutorial of sorts on my blog. I consider it my sworn duty. That, and bacon.

I opted to paint this little feller:

Trident Designs Woodland Indian FIW8

He's a 40mm Woodland Indian from MSC's (Miniature Service Center) Seven Year War range. You could paint these guys just about any color combination under the sun and it would probably fly - their accouterments being generally garish and mismatched. Squeezing autumn colors into this one should be a cinch.

To start, I laid down my darkest tones for the skin and warpaint.

I knew from painting one of these guys before that red and black warpaint was a good look. I laid down my base coats for the war paint and the skin, then went ahead and got the eyes out of the way. To paint the eyes I employed steps 1 through 4 of Meg Maple's six step method. I would have done the last two but it was an off-night and I was just ready to be done.

Base coated the musket, the went ahead and highlighted the black and red parts of the war paint.

To highlight the black parts of the war paint, increasing amounts of VMC Grey Green were mixed into VMC Flat Black in subsequent layers. The final highlight was achieved by adding some VGC Cold Grey into my mix.

The Red was highlighted by gradually mixing red, then orange, then yellow over a span of five or so layers. As always, the paint is applied more sparingly as the highlight becomes more intense.

The musket is next to receive highlight.

Next I tackled the musket. The wood portions were highlighted by mixing increasing amounts of VGC Parasite Brown into my base shade. For the uppermost edges, a small amount of VMC Brown Sand was mixed in at the end to give it that extra 'oomph'. The effect was still largely subtle, but good enough. The strap was highlighted with VGC Leather Brown.

The metal parts and barrel of the gun were basecoated in a dark grey, with VCG Gunmetal Metal mixed in over the shadows and topped off by mixing in VGC Silver for the shiniest bits.

Feather and headdress are next to be completed.

The red part of the headdress was done with the same method as the warpaint. The feathers were shaded with washes of Citadel Agrax Earthsade, with each layer confined closer to the shadowy edge of the headdress.

Loin cloth painted and stripes mapped out.

Before finishing the loin cloth, I move on to the skin.

I spent an entire evening layering the fleshtone. Starting with VGC Charred Brown, a small amount of VGC Parasite Brown was mixed in to give it a reddish tint. Progressive amounts of VGC Elven Flesh were mixed in and applied over multiple layers, ending in straight Elven Flesh as the strongest highlight. The paint was kept relatively thin for each layer to encourage a smoother blend.

In retrospect, the flesh tone could have been more red in appearance. I probably could have achieved that by using something other than Elven Flesh, or by incorporating more Parasite Brown (which has a rusty orange tint to it).

Also worth mentioning are those ripped abs, which were lacking in the sculpt and painted in, perhaps too aggressively. Let's assume the dude works out.

Loin cloth and stripes highlighted

It took many layers to get the yellow up to the intensity in the photo. I probably could have cut out a few steps in between for practically the same result. Learning to paint smarter and not harder is a never-ending process.

Armbands are painting metallic to resemble gold and leggings are base coated and washed.

True-metallic metal is not what I'd call my comfort zone - I feel much better doing non-metallic metal - but for sake of continuity (the last Indian I painted had metallic paint), I figured I'd go with TMM.

Part of what I dislike about TMM is it's duality in appearance, where it looks pretty neat in hand but decidedly un-neat in photos. I tried to leave the shadowed areas devoid of metal flake, and slap it on thick where I would normally paint the strongest highlights. Again, the photos aren't particularly flattering, but it went more or less how I wanted it to. The bracers on his arms were painted gold, with a slight amount of silver mixed in at the brightest edges.

Leggings are highlighted and leg bands are made red.
Tomahawk and belt straps are completed, along with base.

The handle on the tomahawk was kind of flat and boring, so I gave it a faux texture through the illusion of paint. It's on the subtle side, but it's there. I wanted to create some nice free-hand patterning on the handle, but I gave up after a few failed attempts. 

On some nights it's easy to make magic happen, on others it feels impossible. It's important to try doing something ambitious now and then and recognize that most mistakes can be corrected. In the worst case scenario, you can paint over everything you screwed up and obliterate all evidence of your failure!

Tying up loose odds, ends, and pouches.

Decided on red for the shoulder strap, but I don't like the way it looks.

Not sure what to do with the shoulder strap, I went ahead and made it red in the same way I painted the warpaint and headdress. Not terribly satisfying, honestly, and I feel like it looks too similar to the other red portions of the model. I decide to try some patterning on it, which I anticipate will be kind of a mess due to the odd sculpting of the entire band. But! As they say: "Who dares, wins". Or, as I've experienced: "Who dares, sometimes regrets". All I know is that I have to do something to that band because, as it sits, it's bothering me.

I decide to try alternating triangles of white and red. After some tweaking here and there, I got something that I can live with. Afterwards, I dug out my collection of mosses and twigs collected from the backyard and glued them here and there. To accentuate the basing, I painted the moss with strong highlights - yellow to highlight green, orange to highlight brown, etc.

The end result of all this fussing and painting is the Indian you see now:

All done!

What a journey. He took me about two weeks of painting at night, one to two hours per session; I want to say about 20 hours or so. I hope he looks like he took 20 hours.

Personally, I am very satisfied with the results, and I might even go so far as to say that he's my greatest work. I hope he sweeps the contest, but I know the competition will be stiff.

If nothing else, I know for certain that I poured everything I have into him, and that he really does represent the best of my ability right now. The lessons learned from painting this miniature will help improve my every project from here on out.

And improvement really is the measure of success in this hobby, however large or small.

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