Sunday, May 9, 2010

WIP: Verdigris step by step

A few weeks ago, Joe Gekko kindly asked about the verdigris on my Venerable Dreadnought, and in the correspondence I promised a step-by-step sometime in the reasonably near future. Well that future is now. What follows is an account of my efforts to describe that verdigris in another context. I feel obligated to state that, although the technique and recipe remains unchanged, I’ve never actually worked so much verdigris onto a single model, nor used it as a dominant color (except for a statue), so this was something of an experiment for me. Well. Fingers crossed.

As ever with metallic colors, the model was first primed black, followed by a generous (but thinned) layer of Tin Bitz.

I then mixed Dark Flesh and Burnished Gold together for middle-golden tone. I should note here that I don’t actually drybrush these stages. I’ve included a photo of the brush I use for this in front of the model to emphasize that I work quite messily at the beginning for large and dominant colors like this. As you can see, it’s a very old and deeply distressed brush for quick, sloppy work. In these cases, I try to “clean” the model during the painting process and through the addition of each new color after the big steps are completely finished. How the paint goes on at the outset is not particularly important, as the subsequent washes will do most of the actual painting work. At this point, all I was really trying to do was create an observable range of tones from dark to bright.

The first two steps are followed by a generous overbrush of Burnished Gold. Again, the overbrush is really only designed to place a thin layer on the model and create the basic contrast that will be more readily notable once the washes are down and set. There’s a real trick to working with metallic paints that, unfortunately, I can’t capture in a photograph. Directly out of the pot, they are entirely too thick -to the point that you can easily obscure detail if one isn’t careful. They need to be thinned to be properly manageable but, for this kind of overbrushing step, too thin can also be problematic because the paint will want to run toward recesses like a wash. Some experimentation will be necessary to find that balance.

The real fun begins on this next step. I isolated three dabs (overdone for the photo) of Goblin Green, Scaly Green, and Hawk Turquoise. In my opinion, the two greens are the most important colors here, and the turquoise can easily be dropped from the recipe.

I aggressively thinned these colors and then mixed them slightly, but only just. I wanted to be able to dip into these colors at various points to either darken (for recesses or lower) or brighter (top) portions of the model. Keeping the colors isolated like this helps re-create natural variations in the coloring of the verdigris (note: this is not a step for highly “controlled” painters, as you must be willing to let the colors work on their own and a little bit randomly, etc).

I tried to ensure that the green colors remained reasonably thin, not at all thick enough to go on like paint –just enough to dull the luster of the gold and fill the recesses nicely.

Wot. Wot. While that wash was in the process of drying, I took the opportunity to bring the rest of the squad up to scratch, and you will note that they tend to look a bit vibrant at this point. Not to worry.

I then mixed my green and purple ink concoction together and applied a very light wash to the model, focusing almost entirely toward the creases that needed darkening. The green from the step above is quite bright in the end, and while cool colors will naturally tend to visually “recede,” I still need the tones of the model to range from very dark to very bright, otherwise the model tends to flatten out a bit visually. As I discussed at some length last week, the purple and green ink mixture becomes very near black and works wonderfully for shading metals. In this case, I wanted to be careful to hit only the deepest and darkest spots. An all-over wash will ruin the effect created by the greens from above.

Once that layer had dried completely (and I must emphasize the word completely), I found a more appropriate brush and added what I would call either a heavy drybrush or a very light overbrush of Burnished Gold back onto the model. Again, I am only looking for the ridges and highlights here, nothing more. It's best to go light at this stage.

(not necessary at this point, but I wanted to see how the basic rust contrast would look against the green, so I blocked off the areas that will use my rust recipe from last week).

Followed by another very, very light overbrush of Burnished Gold and Chainmail. At this point, I am only concentrating on the extreme edges for the brightest highlights. As ever, I would only recommend a tiny drop of Chainmail in the mixture as it tends to dominate the gold colors.

Finally, I added a very selective/specific wash of Gryphonne Sepia to some small areas that need to be darkened a little, or areas where the green might still seem a bit too distractingly vibrant. Again, this was not a complete wash, but a minor and very selective step that helped make the gold coloring a bit more rich and complex.

At this point, the verdigris is finished, and I began to block in the remaining colors.

Thanks to Joe Gekko once more for inspiring this post. I'd like to add that if you see something here and are wondering how it happened, by all means please let me know. I'd be happy to discuss it at length.


(p.s. the original of this post was hastily constructed before my in-laws came round for dinner. I've edited a bit to clarify a few spotty details and to sort out a typo or two -though I suspect there are plenty more to behold. Thanks for your patience.)


Brent said...

Looking good and it's something else to try out.

I tried out your rust technique on a test model and was really happy with the result. I worked from memory and left out the red colors, so my contrast wasn't up to snuff.

Still, these tutorials are great - I tend to work very clean but I needed another tool in my painting.


Big Jim said...

This is an outstanding tutorial on verdigris. Thanks for sharing it!

It is something I played around a lot with for my Chaos Marines until I finally decided on the tarnished bronze look.


Joe Gekko said...

This is excellent. It really explains what had been missing from my own attempts; namely, too much turquoise and not enough green.

Thank you so much for taking the time to make this tutorial.

The squad looks brilliant, by the way. It's as if they wait, languishing and forgotten, until called to war.

Brian said...

@ Brent. Great news. I'm going to go have a look at your efforts the moment I finish responding here. Looking forward to seeing how it went.

@ Big Jim. Thank you very much. That is very kind of you. I've come to consider the tarnished bronze as something like the cousin of this recipe -as I only use a few colors difference between them.

@ Joe. I'm really pleased that you enjoyed it and that it's helped your thinking about your own work. Please don't hesitate if you have any other questions. To be candid, I'm pleased for the inspiration, and pleased to help.


Grizzled Gamer said...

As always, you have provided an excellent tutorial and you made it look deceptively easy.

While I am going a slightly different route with my paint schemes, I have learned some interesting tips and techniques from your post.

So, keep it coming!

Big Jim said...

I totally concur, the tarnished effect is definitely in the same family.

I basically remove the turquoise in the mixture for black, looking to make a very dark green.


Dverning said...

Excellent tutorial. I don't know what I'll use it on, but I'm itching to try it out. Maybe some scenery...

Also, I saw your comment about metallic paints being too thick normally, but becoming wash-like when too thin. I know what you're talking about there... A trick I've picked up: rather than thinning with pure water, use a 1:1 mix of water and clear acrylic. (In my case, clear acrylic = Future Floor Wax) This allows you to increase translucency without turning it into a wash. There's a lot of other uses beyond metallics too.

Cheers and keep up the great work!

Brian said...

Thanks guys.

@ Dverning. That's a great tip. Could you post something on this technique? I'd like to see how it works exactly. Floor wax... who knew.

CanolliCrusader said...

wow! followed.