Wednesday, April 11, 2012

SA/GO: Inversion Top Tip

Brent, old sport, I am reasonably confident that the hour has passed for you to act decisively on this particular top tip, but then again…

If, like me, you still have a knee-buckling amount of work left on the table (or the tables themselves) to complete before AdeptiCon arrives, then this little ditty might be just the thing to break the tedium and help you find some hobby mojistu.

I call it inversion.

You will be familiar with the fundamentals of color theory and palette selection for your models, units, armies, and so on. Other far more insightful and talented bloggers than I have posted extensively on this topic, so I shan’t bother you with more of the same now; however, I should outline a few points so that you might pick up what I am proverbially putting down.

To summarize:
Any cohesive looking army will likely be stitched together with three (perhaps four if you are feeling cheeky) basic colors throughout:
1. Dominant color.
2. Accent color from same family as dominant color.
3. Accent color from opposite family as dominant color.
Here is an example of what I mean. The humble minion of Chaos is basically an orange-rust model all over the show. This is his dominant color, and this is the dominant color throughout my CSM army. The orange-rust color is in the warm family. 

Red is also in the warm family. Although these two colors do not really speak to each other, red acts as (in my opinion) a fine accent color because a) there is not enough of it to genuinely compete with the other warm dominant color, and b) it is visually gripping.

I have then selected a cooler skin color to act as the real accent –which is also, and much more so, visually compelling. In this case, I have opted to a cool green-gray you find on his skin. The tone is softer and a cooler temperature than the rest of the model entirely. As such, it stands out without glaring.

So far. So good. I think you get the basic premise

Once your paint scheme has coalesced around the basics, I have a simple little trick that I like in order to keep things interesting. The trick?

Inversion. For at least one unit (sometimes more) in every army that I paint I flip the scheme upside down. The colors don’t actually change, just their proportions on the model ...and therefore the relationship to one another.

For example, the Summoned Lesser Daemons for my CSM force take the green-gray as their dominant color on the model and the rust as a kind of accent color. The red gets binned entirely, though I have picked up a second cool color (turquoise -more a spot than an accent really) to emphasize the cooler temperature of the model.

This might seem a bit cheeky, after all, one might argue that skin tones are skin tones and that I simply painted the skin tones to match one model to the next. Fair enough. But Bloodletter skin tones should look like this…

…and not the nurglesque monsters I have above. While the standard Bloodletter might have some relation to the my larger CSM force in the broad scheme -red is the warm accent color after all- this wouldn’t genuinely invert the color scheme and, if anything, tends to look more bracing than interesting to the eye (my subjective interpretation, naturally). The standard letter comes off more as a competition to the warm color than a pleasing complement.

My still WIP Necron army takes this idea as a matter of principle. All the lower-caste automatons are predominantly metallic and weathered, with a bright yellow-orange as the first “same family” accent, and with just a spot of the cool-toned bluish paint on their shoulder blades. By comparison, all the upper class Necrontyr invert the dynamic, and the color ratio per model, by enjoying predominantly fresh, cool bluish paint, with only a relative spot of rust to be found, tut tut.

In sum, there is a method to this madness. And while your painting is likely in the bag already for this event, I recommend thinking about the process for unit or two –if only to help break the painting tedium, as well as the visual tedium of a solid, massive army. 


Brent said...

You don't fail to disappoint, my friend...

...and to be honest, I've never heard of this principle before, but you can bet I'll be giving it some thought!

Brian said...

haha ...wait. does that mean I have disappointed you? doh.

Dai said...

Used this principle on my Nurgle Marines with Grey being the main colour and brown for #1 accent and yellow as a 3rd on tubes and other yucky parts.
At the same time, my Terminators have the reverse as brown as the main colour and grey the accent.

The inverted scheme system does indeed work really well. (though your figs are better painted by far than my own.)

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Brian Carlson said...

Brian, great article. This is probably the most important thing to help out new hobbiest. I think we all started out with the rainbow approach and the models look cluttered. Good color theory is huge no matter what the skill of the painter. I like to switch up the dominant depending on the level of importance of the army (Elite/HQ vs. Standard "dudes").

Good luck getting everything finished for Adepticon!