Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Recipe: Black

Once again, I must thank Warhammer 39,999 for inspiring this week of recipe posts. On Monday, I posted my Stone and Bone recipe after he asked about the combinations involved. Today, I’ll be posting the antithetical color on my palette, Black. Warhammer 39,999 gets a double nod here again because his own efforts have made me rethink my approach to the color.

In the past, I often just left black as black. Almost all my efforts to highlight black tended to work against my goal and left the color looking either gray or worse; however, I noticed with some considerable interest that WH 39.9K tends to use a generous amount of blue-gray in his highlights, and that got me thinking. Here’s what I came up with.

Chaos Black starts the process, naturally. 

I then highlight pretty widely with Midnight Blue. I’m always amazed at how much like black this hue of blue looks, particularly once it has dried. On more than one occasion, I’ve had to really look closely at a model that I’d set aside to remember if I’d already gone past it with Midnight.

I follow that coat quite quickly with another more selective and delicate highlight of Midnight and Regal Blue blend. 

Although this next step tends to make the desired area look alarmingly blue, or at least demonstrably not-black, I follow along with a more selective layer of just Regal Blue, or a Regal Blue and Codex Grey mixture (and sometimes both).

Two notes:

-one) in days of yore, I either left black alone entirely or highlighted it with pure variations of gray. I will never do so again. Now, I much prefer either brown hues or blue tones –as noted here.

-two) the trick here –in my humble opinion- is not to get carried away with highlighting. I’ve exaggerated more than I normally do for the photos here, and the effect looks a bit clumsy if not garish at this point. A little color will do a lot to make the black look rich, deep, and complex. Too much highlighting will invariably just make the black look either gray or blue, which is the exact opposite of my goal.

Often, the following is my final step –in which case I finish by washing a mixture of aggressively thinned Blue and Black Wash over the whole surface that I want black. This step is the key because it invariably blends the dramatic highlighting from the previous step, brings the range away from blue, and emphasizes the black once more. I should mention that I tend toward much more Black than Blue in the washes again to be sure that the final result looks sufficiently black and doesn’t drift from that purpose.

If I’m inclined to make the piece a bit more dramatic, or if it’s just plain necessary, I can always make room for one more extreme-edge highlight of the final Regal-Codex highlight from before the wash –sparingly, sparingly, sparingly.

And so there he is. My WWI Flying Ace of a Commissar now has a name, Commissar Conte F. Barraca. More on him in a week or so. 


Loquacious said...

I have been deeply considering a black recipe that doesn't involve black. I have to have a guy or two to test it on (I think I have a spare SM guy around somewhere), but if I manage it, I'll share.

I like the blue a lot, but I'm not sure how it will pan out on anything I paint. Blue & I are not friends.

Atreyu@4:44 said...

I struggle with this colour, as well. The next time, I'm going to try Codex Grey with successive Badab Black layers and see how it turns out. It may not be very good, but we'll have to see!

Nuclear said...

I have found that khaki provides a very nice highlight for black that isn't grey. The GW commando khaki is one of their least pigmented paints, so you can be pretty liberal with adding it to black each layer.

Works best on models that are predominately browns, reds, or greens I have found.

Bartender said...

Shadow grey is also good?

Warhammer39999 said...

Shadow grey has always been my prefered highlight color, and I like to use midnight black in the base (or was it deadly nightshade?)--though I'm not sure if they even make those color anymore?

Thanks for the tutorial though, it's nice to know in case I ever want to duplicate the effect.

Deadmeat said...

Interesting take on the black. I'll have to ask my art major buddy.

Keep them coming Smoove.

Papa JJ said...

Great timing, just what I needed for my knight. Thanks, b.!

Karitas said...

I always use a dark grey in place of a Black midtone.

The thing to remember is, you can't go darker than black, so black has to be your final shadow colour.

You can go as far as to use white as your highlight too, to create a specular highlight on something shiny, but really, how dark you want the finished product should dictate the palette you use, just selecting black for the deepest shadow.

I find VMC Basal Grey makes a good midtone for black personally.

oh yeah, plus, I'm not dead :)

Brian said...

@ Loquacious. I'd like to hear about what you come up with.

@ Atreyu. That's an interesting idea, and I'd be really curious to see how you develop that. I think with enough layers, you'd be able to create a strong black effect, but I'd be interested to hear how you keep the whole thing from staying too gray... Keep me posted.

@ Nuclear. Khaki. Now that's an idea I've never, ever seen. Thanks for the tip. I'll be giving that a try as soon as I can. Cheers!

@ Bartender. I think Shadow would work perfectly, as the mixture I come up with looks very, very similar. Good thinking.

@ WH39.9K. I hope that you are able to make it work. Let me know when/if you try. (a little birdie told me that the good arrived. Let me know how that is going as well).

@ Deadmeat. Please pass along what you find out. I love to get that kind of feedback from someone who really knows about this business.

@ Pappa JJ. I am to please.

@ Karitas lives!!! welcome back my good man. Absolutely nothing has changed since we last spoke, except that I've got something I'd like you to look at.