I've decided to try out OSL (object source lighting) for the very first time. It's one of those things I've been putting off, but it's time to get my hands dirty. There've been a number of figures I've painted where it would have been nice to have that technique under my belt.
We'll use this guy:
He's got a torch, which gives us a chance to practice flame as well. But whoa - look at those mold lines. I don't think I even tried to clean this guy up before priming him. I'll definitely be sanding those away and re-priming those spots before slapping any paint on.
Since this is largely a practice in OSL effects, I'm going to keep it simple and paint him in black war paint from head to toe.
After three or four screwed up attempts, I finally get the eyes right. Anticipating that they'll reflect the light of the fire, I painted them in a brighter shade of brown than I usually would. The skin is base coated in a mix of dark grey and black, along with straight yellow for the torch flame. Next step is to get that fire done.
The flame turned out better than I had hoped! If the lighting effects go as well as the torch fire, then I'll be happier than a pig in, well, you know.
To achieve the fire effect, I hit the yellow flame with a wash of cream colored white, focusing mostly at the bottom and center, where I imagine the flame intensity would be at it's greatest. The paint was heavily diluted with a 1:3 mix of Pledge Floor Care Finish (basically Future Floor wax from yesteryear) and distilled water, respectively.
Next came a series of drybrushes, mixing in more orange and eventually red between each application. For the very uppermost tips of fire, I mixed in some dark brown. The overall effect is convincing enough where I am one happy camper. I am nervous, however, about screwing up the OSL. I have a plan in my head, now it's time to execute.
Spent an evening "executing" and ended up with this - an illuminated effect that doesn't look quite right. I wouldn't call it a flop - just not convincing. The highlight is off-color and too intense in its current state. I probably shouldn't have mixed yellow into my grey; lessons learned.
Rather than calm down the highlights, I plan to "bring up" the areas surrounding them by glazing in some orange and red. I'll also try to make the existing highlights look a little more "yellow". My thought is that if I can get the OSL colors to match the torch better, the overall effect will be more believable.
I do feel like I nailed the directional light, though, so I'd call it a half success.
Ooh - that's better. Starting with dark red, I hit the edges of the highlights with super thin glazes. After that, I moved on to regular red, then orange, orange-yellow, yellow, and lastly, yellow mixed with an off-white.
It doesn't look as clean as it could have been because when I got to the red glaze, I didn't thin the paint down enough. The transition would have been smoother had I done that. Still, the effect is pleasing enough, and for a first-time attempt at OSL I am super satisfied with the result.
I moved down to the base and used some of my orange and yellow glazes on the dirt directly below the torch flame. At the edge of what I imagined to be the "cone of light", I started transitioning from warm to cool shadows by glazing dark red, purple, then dark blue for the ground completely in shadow.
Did it work? I think it did - and my excitement for this project just hit a crazy high. Next up is to highlight the rear side of the Indian.
The next session was spent highlighting the black portions of the model with a mix of VMC Dark Prussian Blue and VMC Grey Green. The overall effect of doing this turned out pretty neat - the black doesn't look as harsh and the blue makes the whole ensemble feel more colorful by some small measure.
I also painted the loin cloth, his knees, and the torch grip with OSL effects - I think maybe I went in too hard on the stick, right below the flame. I'll leave it for now but I may decide to dull the effect a little later.
So all that's left is the axe, headdress, and the rear-side loin cloth and shoe shadows. With any luck, I'll be able to wrap this guy up in one or two more sessions.
He's done! And it didn't take long to finish. The tomahawk went quicker than expected, and there was so little to do on the headdress that the paint didn't even have time to thicken on the palette. What used to take me eons is now starting to go by faster.
I ended up making a wash out of VMC Dark Prussian Blue and the Pledge Floor Care mix and hit the rear side items with it, such as the loin cloth and the portions of his socks that fell in shadow. The shadow effect is great, but the wash ended up super glossy. I'd kill for some brush-on matte varnish right about now. I planned to hit the whole thing with Dullcote anyway, but be careful about using too much Pledge Floor Care in your own homemade washes - just like floors, it will make your miniatures shine!
Anyway - it's done and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't super stoked about how it came out. I can scarcely believe I did this; it's as if I'm looking at someone else's work - someone who knows that they're doing. I made a plan, took some risks, and adapted where necessary and succeeded at a level beyond what I believed I could. Some more shots to show of the illumination:
Don't put off trying OSL for the first time - do it now! Use this tutorial as inspiration. You may be surprised at what you are truly capable of!