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Wamp - Planning to Paint
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  • Planning to Paint Haan from Figone

    For this article I thought I would consider a different aspect to painting, how to plan and gain inspiration in preparation for painting a miniature.

    I've not really seen much written about this and to me it seems often forgotten or at best done subconsciously. I know from experience that many times I blunder into a paint job without thinking things through, I paint as I go making little decisions at each stage without considering the bigger picture. In the past year I've really appreciated how things have improved with a little extra planning at the earliest stages as my best paint jobs have been as a result of doing so.

    For this exercise I shall use Haan from Figone as it's a miniature I've wanted to paint from the moment I first saw him. Don't worry about any gaps you may see - I've only tacked him together for the purposes of this article. Above any thing else the best advice I can give you is to paint a miniature that you love, that makes you want to pick it up and paint as there's nothing worse than slogging through a paint job on a miniature you hate!

    One of the first things to consider before anything else is the miniature itself. In the series of pictures above I have lit the miniature from above and converted them to grey scale. Taking pictures like this before you start helps in a number of ways:

    • It gives a reference as to where the light and dark areas are which is especially helpful in sections where it's less obvious how light falls in real life (his back is a tricky area and these pics really help me for example). When I look at the these pictures I really study which areas are light and dark, how quickly it transitions from one to another, are there sharp edges or smooth and slow transitions. Considering these things before I start will help me to to place the paint correctly.
    • It helps me to visualize the volumes - that's a fancy way to say understanding the underlying shapes that go to make him up which in turn will help me to decide how and where I paint him - by mentally breaking him down into small sections I find it easier to think about.
    • From these I can also see the best angle to display him - the front picture (top right) doesn't work for me as I can't see his eyes which is normally the focal point (the point at which your eye naturally goes to). Whereas the picture where he is quarter on (top left) is better as it seems more dynamic and you can see his eye. The shape of his arm also helps to lead your eye to his face. Also the necklace frames his face better. All this tells me when I come to base him I want him angled like the top left picture.

    • From the angle shown below I can start to see the features that I can use to frame his face - I often like to create a triangle of colour around a face to help frame it and to add some harmony. The following example shows how I've done this in the past with the blue and purple -

    • With Haan I shall try to colour the shell on his staff, the clam shell on his necklace and either his left had or bracelet the same to create this triangle. I'll probably pick up this same colour on the round thing on the top of this necklace and almost certainly on the base.

    So I'm aiming for something like this -

    There are lots of areas of inspiration out there. Some of my favorites are - Wamp (of course), the gallery on CMON and Putty and Paint. Checking out the box art is often very helpful too - especially when someone like Jeremie BT has painted it. Of course google is your friend too.

    One other great help is - http://colorschemedesigner.com/

    Lastly I take areas that I like from my previous work and try to incorporate them into the new paint job. For example I want to take this area from the zombie -

    From Mr Hyde this type of shading (showing a saturated pink into blue) but replacing the blue with a green -

    So taking various pictures I've found, previous work and things I want to try out the next thing I would consider is the paint scheme itself. The key to a fantastic paint job is contrast and to be honest you can't go wrong with reading the following articles on contrast from John, Dark Messiah -



    There's no need to repeat Johns words so I'll cut to the chase. I'm going to try to get a number of different contrast types in there - light dark, temperature (with warm highlights and cool shadows) and with saturation - the main colour will be grey (desaturated colour) and some nice pinks for the highlights (desaturated red) but maybe some cool greens in the shadows (once again desaturated). With some nicely contrasting saturated areas such as the shells and bracelets. Don't forget that while you're still at the planning stage you can try out the scheme on something else as I've tried to do below.

    Really quickly on photoshop I've tried to show you my thinking (the green isn't particularly how I want it but I struggled to do it how I wanted it)

    So I decided to try in real life, here's my first try -

    With him,
    I like some areas of colour: Around his belly button for example (I like the green mixed in with the grey).
    Less so on other parts: The pink part on the top of his chest (I don't like it against the green grey colour).
    So this is telling me I need to adjust my thinking slightly. Less full on pink, more grey and more of a gentle green like his belly (and less like the bottom of his moob).

    Here's the adjustment with more of a sunny skin tone than a pink -

    With this try I like it even less than the first, the life has gone out of the skin as it's less pink and it's not quite so in harmony with the green. Back to the drawing board - I shall go back to the pink highlights but add some purple into the shadows to add extra warm tones.

    Right we're getting there, the pink and purple are coming together a great deal better. I shall just make the grey slightly more pink and less grey and it's there! Whilst this example is missing the pinkish grey mid tone (there's too much highlight and shadow and not enough in the middle) its enough for me to I understand the colours and how to apply them for my actual piece. Remember this is just a quick test and not the final piece!

    I'm now ready to start painting as my mind is clear as to: How to display him. Which colours I'm going to use. What types of contrast I'm aiming for. Where to place the light and dark areas. How to mentally break him down into sections. Where and how to find extra inspiration if needed. And finally it's helped me become very motivated to paint this miniature!
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Darklord's Avatar
      Darklord -
      Excellent read John, really helpful