View Full Version : Shades' Sapo

02-02-2014, 02:17 PM
Sorry for the double-post; I just found this WIP section dedicated to Sapo, while I was looking for the contest rules again. The meat of this post is also on my long-running, project ADD thread (http://www.wampforum.com/VB4/showthread.php?t=8999&p=223690&viewfull=1#post223690), but I'll double-post Sapo-specific updates here, so that my Sapo WIP is available in one place along with the other Sapo WIPs. And I'll be able to expand on my thought process (for what that's worth!) as I think through the twists and turns of painting Sapo, since sharing our thought process is one of the goals of the Sapo challenge. For example:

I chose zenithal lighting. I really like Jona's idea of under-lighting the model, especially since this model lends itself well to do something different than zenithal for a change. I decided against it though for two reasons: 1) I didn't want to outright lift Jona's idea :-) and 2) I do think a lot of interest of the model is on top, so I wouldn't want to hide much of it in shadow, in exchange for emphasizing the "throat bellows", which is a little less interesting than the top.

I'm torn whether to paint toad eyes or some kind of crazy lizard eyes. I have experience painting toad eyes with my Slann Mage Priest, so I have confidence of pulling that off.


On the other hand, I think it would present Sapo as a little more fantastical and alien, if I paint something a little more bizarre. The downside is that viewers might not understand that it's intentional, and I would forever hear, "uh, dude, hate to tell you this, but that's not what a toad's eye looks like…". That's kinda minor, though, since, ultimately, I'm painting the piece for what I find cool and fun.

Here, I've only primed the undersides and undercuts with black, leaving bare resin or metal on top. The one exception is Mean Jellybean on the right, since he has a lot of deep recesses that I want to make sure get primed.


Gray primer on top.


Followed by a touch of white primer. It's only apparent on Sapo, but everyone got it, with the exception of Mean Jellybean, again, since the high points on that model will probably actually be painted in dark colors, maybe even back to black.


Here's where things get interesting. This is the first time I've actually tried airbrushing a figure with color.


This is under even light, roughly. The shading is mainly from the primer layers. This makes a great basecoat, on which I can build with the brush.


Kind of a cool transition of yellow to olive.


I don't have the control/experience/skill to actually paint with precision with the airbrush yet. I'm just blocking out areas in color still, much like priming. It's good practice, though.


05-02-2014, 10:21 PM
Hey Shades, you managed to sneak this one under the radar! Get start buddy that's a lovely top colour. Any ideas how you're going to shade it colourwise?

06-02-2014, 01:15 AM
... that's a lovely top colour. Any ideas how you're going to shade it colourwise?

Thanks, John! I knocked around some unusual colors in my head, but I just kept coming back to a standard toad color. I think it just reminds me of picking up toads at home, when I was a kid. They were cool. I'll always remember the feel of that texture in my hand (and getting peed on!). Sapo reminds me of those long-ago days, because Allan C. sculpted the skin texture so masterfully.

So I'm going to go with a standard mottled pattern of olives and browns, I think. I plan to throw in some flesh colors and pinks towards the front, to add contrast and a touch of humanness. That leaves the eyes and the clothes to try something interesting or creative. Or I can just let the sculpt speak for itself, which I'm inclined to do. If I go that route, the actual paint-job won't attract much attention at a show, but as long as I like the look of it on my shelf, that's all that's important to me.

All that said, something interesting might occur to me as I'm actually painting the piece and seeing the colors on it, so who knows what the final outcome will be?

06-02-2014, 08:08 AM
As long as you can get lots of light dark contrast in there with the olives and browns I'm surely it will stand out. Thinking about your scheme I think that a really interesting colour in the eyes would work very very, a teal could really add lots of extra contrast (boy I'm using that colour a lot these days). Of course that not particularly natural though.

I like the flesh tone idea too, I'll probably use something similar on mine ;)

06-02-2014, 10:00 AM
any of these?

i like bottom left


06-02-2014, 10:08 AM
Middle one for me every time :)

That's a great ref pic, thanks DL!

06-02-2014, 10:30 AM
Yeah middle one was my second choice


06-02-2014, 12:02 PM
Hypnotoad!! Awwwwsooooome!!
Shades mate nice work so far, been thinking about getting an airbrush after many years of not using one and a few of the guys on here have started using them so might have to give it a go :cool:

06-02-2014, 01:40 PM
Awesome pics, DL! Thank you for putting that together! That definitely inspires some ideas, far beyond what I had in own head. I have a lizard book that I used for reference when I was painting my Salamanders for my Lizardman army. I was going to look at that, too. Of course, there's always the Internet. But a good old-fashioned nature book is always fun to flip through.

06-02-2014, 01:44 PM
...been thinking about getting an airbrush after many years of not using one and a few of the guys on here have started using them so might have to give it a go

I've felt that getting the airbrush has been worth the investment, if nothing else than being able to prime models regardless of weather condition and without the risk of "dusting" the model.

06-02-2014, 03:18 PM
Hey Shades do you have yours permanently set up? My wife thinks I take enough space with my hobby corner so I have to put mine away after each use. Add that to the cleaning it can be time consuming. It does give you fantastic results though. I would add though that it's no better than hand painting in my opinion, just different. I saw Julius Cassas latest work and his blending is so superb without the use of an airbrush. It's horses for courses for sure. I will be using mine soon to paint my daughters Super Dungeon Explore set (hopefully take some of the work out of it)!

06-02-2014, 06:40 PM
You bring up an excellent point, pk. I am, indeed, lucky enough to have my airbrush set up permanently. The original plan was to set it semi-permanently, but somehow evolved into permanently. :-) All I have to do is unwind the extension cord to the compressor, to plug it into the wall.

But, yeah, in terms of time and efficiency, the trade-off between airbrush and brush can be a wash, depending on the application. I had to take the mind-set that learning the airbrush would be a mini-hobby (ha, ha, see what I did there?) in and of itself. So I could mentally dismiss the time that I "wasted", futzing with the airbrush, as opposed to making actual progress on a model.

Like others have said, it's just another tool, and it boils down to using the right tool for the right application. For me, for now, I use it for batch-priming and batch-varnishing. I save up a bunch of projects to prime or varnish in one batch, so that the setup and cleanup time is worth it. I plan to use it for painting larger models and busts, as well as for batch-basecoating, as I gain more experience.

06-02-2014, 09:08 PM
That's a beautiful green you have on top, and I'm really looking forward to your take on the fleshtones.
You're quite right about the interest being on top. I hope I'll be catching enough of it with the around 45° from the top angle, but I may have to push it up a little, I guess.
What's next? :smile:

07-02-2014, 03:08 AM
What's next?

3 options:

Skin pattern
Color blocking everything else

I'm equally motivated to do any of the three. I'll probably opt for 'skin pattern', though. If I do that one first, I don't have to worry about messing up the other two.

07-02-2014, 04:28 PM
Good start Shades :) And I am getting more and more convinced buying an airbrush us going to be a good investment. Now I only need to find a place to get it that will ship to my corner of the world.

07-02-2014, 05:09 PM
Nice start Shades. I too picked up a Talon airbrush a few months ago for Christmas. Like you I have been mainly using it for priming, base coating and varnishing. I'm starting to mess with color a little more this week, but I definately need a lot more practice.. Looking forward to seeing more.


07-02-2014, 06:23 PM
I started mine a couple of weeks ago, Normski posted it on my Wip thread for me because my pc is still off limits, I am having the same dilemma so I made a start on the base ;)

09-02-2014, 07:35 PM
Thanks for all the comments, everybody!

I finally found some time to start on the fun part. Here's a 2-hour session. I'm trying to maintain the same view of the figure as I proceed. First time I've attempted this. I'm using Picasa to crop, and it allows you to lock the aspect ratio but not the actual pixel dimensions (unless I'm missing something). So I have to judge the actual size of the photo. It will be good enough for now!

Here's where we left off after the basecoating with the airbrush.


I'm "sketching" in the skin pattern with faint colors, much like you do for freehand. That way, I can "erase" something, if I don't like it, by painting over it. I'll darken the colors later.


Testing the location of the pupils.


Making sure they're looking forward. I don't want him to look like Marty Feldman!

Or do I.....

That would hilarious.


Making sure I get that yellow circle around the pupil. Enriched the colors with ink.

I decided to go with a conventional, realistic color and shape. The lizard-style or dragon-style eyes just didn't do it for me. Looking at a bunch of pictures of toads, the conventional pupil looks more "intelligent", actually.

Added some metallic gold, too. Can't quite see it in this photo.


I mixed India Ink with my black paint. Used inks again for the colors, so that the gold paint can reflect through it.


Stippled on the black flecks that I see in the reference photos. I'm not entirely thrilled with the pattern. I may tweak it a little, later on. Good enough for now. I plan to varnish it with gloss varnish, to really make it look glassy and realistic.


10-02-2014, 01:38 AM
Another 2-hour session, maybe a little more. I blocked out all the other major colors. It's a big difference, but I still view it as just one step. It's only base-color, no shading or highlighting, so there's really no transitions to show, except for adding the base colors.


I'm pleased so far with the direction it's going. I think the colors fit his story as a sewer worker -- dark and dingy, workman's attire, but with the trinkets and tools of an artisan.

The reds are still a little too strong. I'll be toning those down.

10-02-2014, 02:12 AM
Looking very nice & very toad like! Love the colour scheme so far!

10-02-2014, 10:20 PM
How cool are all these Sapo WIPs everyone doing one is looking great and I love the eye on this one, Cool stuff.
And its also interesting to see how everyone has started in different places on the mini..

11-02-2014, 08:16 AM
Nice progress there. :smile:
I like the warm tones browns and reds throughout, and the subtle patterning on the skin. Will you be keeping the underside (his chin-thing) as bright as it is now? His skin colour in general seems to have lost a little vibrancy opposed to the first pictures you showed, with the deep olive skintone. Any idea how you're going to be shading/highlighting these bright parts?
I really like the darkness of the eye. It really stands out in otherwise quite a bright miniature.

11-02-2014, 01:42 PM
Will you be keeping the underside (his chin-thing) as bright as it is now? His skin colour in general seems to have lost a little vibrancy opposed to the first pictures you showed, with the deep olive skintone. Any idea how you're going to be shading/highlighting these bright parts?
Thanks, Jona! Yeah, when I said the reds were too bright and needed toning down, that was before I realized that the photos are overexposed. That's why the green has lost its vibrancy and the throat-bellows is so bright. The whole figure is washed out by too strong a light and/or too much exposure. In real life, everything is darker. I may actually need to bring up the color of the red shoulder pad.

The overexposure was serendipitous, however, because, as I studied the photos, it helped me see contrasts and colors that I can actually use and actually paint onto the model. For instance, it reinforced my original plan to shade the lighter parts of the throat-bellows with a desaturated grayish-purple. And it suggested where I can force more light-dark contrast than I might have otherwise attempted.

Next steps:

Complete the base-coats by applying metallics (for TMM).
Strengthen the skin pattern and add some other skin coloring that I've noticed in the reference photos. The next steps will glaze over those patterns. Some I'll keep glazed so that they appear subcutaneous, and others I'll paint back over, now that I'll have a reference.
Sponge some texture onto the leathers. Same thing, though -- the next steps will glaze over some of it.
Then it will be time for washes, one of my favorite steps. I'll wash the throat bellows with grays to bring out the creases and general shadows, and I'll probably wet blend into other washes of greens and browns.
The washes will probably feed into proper wet-blending, especially for the lips, around the eyes, and the deep shadows of the throat-bellows. This is where I'll be playing with purples, pinks, and skin tones.
Retouch the skin patterns.
Weather the leather.
Paint the lenses and fine-tune the metallics.
Add highlights.
Add clumpy pigments to his clothes to simulate...ahem..."mud".
Varnish the skin in satin and supersaturate the eyes and lenses with gloss varnish.

So that's the plan!

11-02-2014, 02:12 PM
Sounds promising! I'm looking forward to seeing how that subcutanean effect works out, as it's an idea I had to try on another model as well.

13-02-2014, 04:36 AM
Here's somewhere around another 2-and-a-half hours, I think.

Added the metals. I think TMM will work for the goggles, but I really liked the NMM base for the rest of the metallic pieces. The grain of the metallic paint is too course, and the copper pendant is too dark. I'm really going to concentrate more on NMM from now on. It's so much easier to achieve contrast.


Here, I've darkened the skin patterns, and I lightened the skin around the eye to make it more fleshy. I'm not crazy about the direction this step has gone. Lightening the eye lost some of the expression of the face. But I'll be able to get that back with the washes. Increasing the contrast for the skin patterns is probably important, but I really liked the softer, more subtle colors that I had before. We'll see what happens when I do the washes, though. At this point, I'm a little uncomfortable, thinking I might have regressed a little.


I've sponged on some textures and added some more skin patterns, getting ideas from reference photos. I like how the orange and red makes the edge of the eyebrow a little bonier looking, or at least harder flesh.


I've started some washes and glazes. I mixed most of the washes myself, but I tried one of the new GW washes for the first time -- the brown one -- you can see the nasty gloss in the crease of the workvest. So much for the new GW washes. I'll have to correct the shine with some matte varnish.

But overall, I'm feeling comfortable again about the direction he's going. I'll soften the purple on the lips more towards the original white, with some flesh tones, so that he doesn't look too clown-like.


13-02-2014, 05:30 AM
Looking great! Love seeing it come alive in the shots

13-02-2014, 10:28 AM
Good progress again. You're going fast on this one!
About the GW shade, I think they basically need a whole lot of shaking to get rid of the shine.
I wasn't convinced about your stronger skin patterns at first either, but the glazes and washes helped tie them into the skin again. Those marks above his eye work really well, I think. Only be careful you're not going too close to the leather of the goggles, colour-wise, I'd say. On the upper lip, they don't entirely convince me yet, but maybe it will turn out better when there's some more colour on the bright area of his face.
I also very much like the effects on his shoulder pads. That's certainly something I'll experiment with as well.
How's the exposure of your pictures, right now? To me it still looks like before, so I may very well still be looking at wrong colours and brightness. It's always hard to judge, of course (hell, I don't even know whether my screen is set up as it should), but in the pictures, the lower part really could use a little more colour for me.
I'm also not so sure about the area around his eyes. In your colour scheme, it makes sense to me that the bright areas are those which are 'stretched' out, bloated, as his 'chin'. Around his eyes, with all the wrinkles, I'd expect to see a more dense colouration. You can still keep it quite bright to make his dark eye stand out, but it needs to be bright yellow/green/olive rather than the desaturated yellow/flestones, I think.
Keep it up. :smile:

13-02-2014, 12:34 PM
Fast forward to a great piece! Love the eyes, Shades, I'm thinking of going about them in a similar fashion only with some bright blue in it. Great job!

13-02-2014, 06:32 PM
Thanks for all the great feedback, guys!

The color of the leather on the goggles has been a conundrum. I originally painted it a light suede color, but I didn't like it. I was planning to try that again with the highlights and then wash it down with brown and blue, to help distinguish it from the rest of the model. I'm not sure if it will work. It may end up with a dozen layers of different colors, by the time I'm through!

I'm keying off of some reference photos for the fleshy part of the eyes. I like how, in the photos, that area suggests a more fragile part of the animal, in contrast with the tougher ridges. The photos show cooler colors there, too, even going all the way to a translucent blue on some species. I think yellows and olives will bring it too close to the rest of the model. So I'm going to continue to experiment. I already applied some purples and pinks, but they're only hints of color so far. Maybe I need to bring them out more.

I've dabbled with the lighting and camera setup, so it's been hit-or-miss. The last photo came out a little too yellow. I think I'll lower the exposure setting on the camera one more notch, but I'm not going to fuss with it too much more. It's a temporary set-up, stealing space from my modeling area, so there's only so much I can do.

Stealing my modeling space is one reason I'm trying to crank through this project. I want to work on my Malifaux and Crystal Brush projects!

I'm pretty sure Sapo is ineligible to enter into Crystal Brush. I considered sending an e-mail to find out if an on-line challenge counts as a competition. My Scar-Scath Rat Fiend project that I painted for the Mierce Miniatures contest falls in this category, too. I considered withdrawing from the Sapo challenge as one solution, but I think the mere question of his eligibility is enough to convince me not to risk agitating the Internet half of the judging. So that's going to leave me with just Mean Jellybean and perhaps one or two other entries, if I can manage to fit them in within a month-and-a-half.

14-02-2014, 05:51 PM
Hey Shades, just get him finished w/base (ie headshot), then you add a new plinth for Crystal Brush, theoretically this should suffice, right?

Great stuff :)

15-02-2014, 09:38 PM
I spent a good portion of Saturday running this project to the end. We'll call it another 6 hours.

More washes and some initial lining. I spent more time fussing with the color of that goggle leather. And I worked on weathering the leather straps and tunic a little bit. Marta makes it look so easy! It's going to take a little more practice for me.


More washes and filters. Verdigris and highlights on the copper medallion. Fine-tuning the colors on the lenses. I changed the direction of the light on the opposite lens.


Hi-gloss on the eyes and lenses. This didn't work out quite as nifty as I expected, using the airbrush. It's mainly due to me being a novice with it, though. I had to fuss to get the right dilution, to prevent clogging my airbrush. And I had a hard time getting the right air pressure, given the difficulty with the dilution. And I learned the hard way what someone had mentioned in my readings -- using poster putty as a mask risks leaving residue on the model.

I also experimented with different ratios of satin and gloss varnish for the skin.


Added a few "occupational hazards", and he's finished!


I may add a little more splatter and color on his tunic, but I'm pretty much ready to move on. Oh, and I still need to mount him on his proper plinth.

Final pictures to come!

15-02-2014, 11:24 PM
Wow Shades, that was fast! And he turned out excellent. Great job on the leather and weathering, and the eyes are (as already mentioned) really well done and give the model great character :)

15-02-2014, 11:49 PM
Thanks for following along, Endor! I appreciate all your comments. This bust was a lot of fun. Oddly, my favorite part was painting the wrinkles around the eyes. I just love those textures.

I was impatient towards the end of the project. I think it was the nervousness and time-sink of trying too many new things. There are some fine-tuning and touch-ups that I should really do, but I'm a little burnt out on it. It's been a great learning project, though. I just bought some crackle-paint, so that may motivate me to touch up the "debris" on his apron, since the "splatter" really needs a little more yellow to stand out.

16-02-2014, 12:11 AM
That's turned out brilliantly! Adding a bit of a shine to the skin has really made it look toad like!

16-02-2014, 12:40 AM
Damn that's good. Love the eyes and skin patterns especially.

16-02-2014, 03:55 AM
Struggling with the white balance, but this is going to have to do.





16-02-2014, 05:14 AM
I've been watching and wondering where this was all heading, and waiting for something to click for me. Which turned out to be the gloss on the eyes. From there on it just worked, that skin looks spot on and the eyes seem very much alive.

I might have been tempted to put a bit more colour into the creases and sides of the throat bulge, but I don't know if that wouldn't have just pulled attention from the face itself.

lovely work.

16-02-2014, 09:50 AM
The gloss varnish indeed finishes it perfectly. And I'll be happy if I get my leathers as good as yours, really. :smile:
Thanks for the work in progress shots. Like John's, they're really interesting to follow.
Well done, and incredibly fast!

16-02-2014, 06:18 PM
Thanks for all the comments, suggestions, feedback, and kind words, everyone! It really helped motivate me to finish the project!

Irony: within minutes of posting final pics, finally clearing the path for my Crystal Brush project(s) due in only 5 weeks, I came across the new monthly challenge on the DragonPainting forum (http://www.dragonpainting.org/viewtopic.php?f=36&t=4320), to paint a Rackham figure in the style of the Confrontation studio paint-jobs. A challenge I can't resist!

Looks like my work is cut out for me for the next month.