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  • Darkmessiah's Guide to Contrast - Part 2

    4. Texture
    Texture is a type of contrast that has been used in the historical side of the hobby for many years and has started being used by more and more by painters on the sci fi and fantasy side of the hobby. Texture is about creating a random pattern, usually with sponges or paint brushes. Texture is usually used to recreate the look of leather, fabric and paint chips, although is becoming increasing popular in creating the texture of stone and heavily used armour.
    Texture is a great form of contrast when used against or with smooth surfaces, it helps add depth and variation to a model.
    I am going to go through a few examples and quickly talk about how the texture was created
    Here is a work in progress picture a flatbed truck John painted, (he is a member of the Wamp forum and uses the name megazord_man) no doubt some people will recognise it, you can see on the inner wall of the back of the truck the dark brown chips, this effect was created by sponging paint on to the model. It’s quite a widely used technique and a highly effective one.

    This is also a WIP image from an up and coming Spanish painter called Aitor Molero Pujalte, he used an old brush as his random pattern tool, stippling several different colours over the top of each other to create a shield that has been used, abused and neglected. Aitor uses an old brush, I have seen other painters use a cheap flat brush that’s had its bristles cut short.

    Here is a great rock texture from Conrad, he uses variety of sponges to create this rock texture, Conrad also heavily uses texture on his models.

    Here we can see the texture on Gandalf’s robe, this has been painted on one using a brush, Javier built up the texture by painting small stripes and dots all over the model.

    5. Matt/Gloss
    Matt/gloss contrast relies on how reflective a surface is or isn’t, it relies on the difference between a glossy surface and a matt surface to create contrast. Most hobbyists would have used a similar type of idea on their metallics, the key to realistic metallic is to have the highlights very reflective and to have the shadows quite matt. Most people achieve this with washes or successive glazes of acrylics, the difference between the highlights and shadows creates a more realistic look, a similar idea can be used to help increase contrast on areas of a models.

    If you use an ink or glaze on your model they can add a satin or gloss finish to the area you have painted. A gloss or satin finish can help add depth to the colour it has been glazed over because the surface will reflect more light and therefore more of the under lying colour, especially in comparison to a matt colour. I use this contrast to help enhance my shadows, I glaze with the old games workshop glazes and inks, pushing them into my shadows, because the shadows now have a stain finish they reflect more light and so therefore more colour, they appear darker and more intense, this helps give my models a darker atmosphere. Alfonso Giraldes does the opposite, he uses inks and glazes in highlights, this helps him create models which appear brighter.

    This is a WIP shot of the Pre Heresy World Eater Contemptor I converted and painted last year, I used an old GW glaze to smooth the transition I placed with my airbrush, I also used it to give the shadows a satin finish to increase their depth.
    In this picture you can see the initial gradient. Take note of the near black colour in the shadows, especially on the side of the shoulder pad.

    Here you can see the pad after glazing but before weathering, the shadows are now far more intense and have far more depth, in reality the shadows are now slightly lighter than the initial black shading in the above picture. This isn’t an easy technique to show because taking accurate pictures of glossy/satin surface is next to impossible, but hopefully you can see the effect with the difference between the two pictures

    6. Saturation
    Saturation contrast relies on using saturated and desaturated colours, either side by side or together. A desaturated colour is any colour that has had, or you have added black or white too, they tend to be darker or lighter colours, a saturated colour tends to be a pure colour, a strong and vibrant midtone.
    Saturated models can be extremely vibrant and stand out, unfortunately it can be difficult to make purely saturated models look realistic. In the example below, the model really stands out because of its really strong, vibrant, saturated colours.

    Desaturated models are a lot more realistic, they also tend to be more atmospheric, although they can lack the punch saturation can bring. Painters who use desaturated colours tend to end up using different types of contrast to help the model stand out. In both examples the painters have used texture and colour harmony to add more interest, Alfonso goes a step further by using light to help focus the eye on the face of the demon.

    A combination of saturated and desaturated colours often can create a model with a lot of contrast, in actuality the majority or painters would have used this combination of saturated and desaturated colours when they use lighter colours to highlight and darker colours to shade.
    Here are two examples where the painter has not only pushed the light/dark contrast on the model, but has also pushed the saturated/desaturated contrast

    In these two examples you can see how the painter has used saturation to draw attention to areas of importance on the model

    Here Camelson goes the other way, he use the desaturation of the white to draw focus to the helmet

    7. Brilliance or Luminance
    Luminance is about a colour’s ability to reflect light. All colours reflect light in varying amounts, white is the most reflective colour and black is the least reflective, the more white a colour contains the more reflective the colour will be come. This can be especially useful for making light appear more realistic on reflective objects, such as gems, armour and swords.
    In this article Chris speaks about an experiment with metallics, he mixes metallic paints and standard acrylics to increase contrast. Chris starts his metallics in a pretty conventional way, using acrylic glazes to shadow the metallics, but he moves away from the conventional method when he paints his extreme highlights. Chris uses standard acrylics to paint his brightest highlight, he uses Vallejo model colour’s Light Flesh, taking advantage of its light reflecting properties being higher than the metallics he uses to attain an even brighter final highlight, which is pretty cool, especially considering the Vallejo model air metallics he uses are extremely reflective. Here is an up to date picture of Chris’ Colossus, it is still WIP but you can see how much the metallics stand out.

    You can see further examples below

    And that is all I have for the moment! Hopefully you enjoyed the article and are able to take away and apply some of the ideas I have talked about and really improve your skills!

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. ScottRadom's Avatar
      ScottRadom -
      Great stuff man! Really enjoyed it and plan on re-reading it several times to try some new stuff out. Thanks for putting that together!
    1. phatkid1966's Avatar
      phatkid1966 -
      Yup same as Scott. Informative and inspiring in equal measures!