Cut 8x 8” sections of wire for each tree you want to make.
Each 2 wires will make one branch, so if you want more or
less branches add or subtract 2 wires.
Bunch up your set of wires for a tree and grip them with the
pliers twisting the wire to create the trunk. After you have a long enough
trunk, go ahead and twist out the branches. After you have twisted them out,
bend them around enough to look like a gnarled tree. Trim the “roots” so that
they fit on the base you are using.
Painting the Flesh, Robes, Textured Apron, and Base Construction
For this article, I have painted Telcharion from Enigma’s ‘Massive Darkness’ range. I thought it might make a good article figure, because it is fairly simple, with clearly defined parts – I chose to focus on the painting of the flesh, the robes, and the apron. I also recorded and explained the construction of the base.
As I have mentioned in previous articles, I think it is worth putting a little time into the preparation of a figure, before the painting begins. Creating a nice, smooth surface with which to work makes life a lot easier, and less frustrating, when it comes to painting, meaning a little extra time at this prep stage can save a lot of headaches later.
After removing the mould lines carefully by scraping with a scalpel, and filing any particularly rough bits with an assortment of needle files, I used sandpaper (400-800 grade works well) to gently smooth out any other areas that remained rough. After this, I scrubbed the figure with a wire brush – be careful the bristles are not too hard; mine has brass bristles I think, but if you use one with bristles that are too hard, they will scratch the figure and ruin it. Test a new brush on something unimportant first! After this, you can use a toothbrush and wash the figure in warm soapy water, to remove any oil or dust from the surface before paint is applied. This scrubbing with the brushes is what makes the figure shiny and gleaming (sort of!).
If there is any pitting or cracks in the cast, these can be filled in with a liquid putty, or with milliput mixed with water to create a sort of 'wash'. This wash can be painted liberally over the figure, allowing the milliput to settle in any depressions or marks, resulting in a smoother surface. It can also be gently sanded once dry, if necessary. I find that milliput standard (yellow-grey) works best; I find it a lot easier to work with, than the superfine versions, with which I have encountered problems.
You can see the figure is standing on a champagne cork in all the following WIP photos. I always paint my figures like this, because I find it a lot easier to hold this way. I drill a hole into the bottom of each foot usually about a centimetre deep, and insert metal wire into each with superglue. Leaving 2 or 3 centimetres protruding from each foot allows the wires to be stuck into the cork to hold the figure, and later, they are used to attach it securely to the base.
For this figure, I also made a few little adjustments to the face, using a putty mix of greenstuff (a.k.a. duro or kneadatite) and milliput. I mix milliput with the greenstuff, because I find it easier to create a smooth transition between the metal and sculpted areas; also, it means you can sand the putty once dry to be sure it is smooth. These little changes to the face weren’t strictly necessary, merely a personal thing – I just wanted to slightly reposition the brows, mainly. It was a small adjustment to sharpen the facial features a little.
Base coats, Colour Selection and Contrast
After undercoating (I used Tamiya Surface Primer spray, which is a mid-grey colour – you can see it on the hammers in the following photos), I painted the base colours onto the main areas of the figure. I find it helpful to paint the bulk of the base colours first, because it lets me get a preview of how the various colours might work together, and helps me make decisions about the main colour scheme. I usually work out the basic colour scheme I want to use before I start painting, but after painting on the base colours like this, I often change my mind about a particular colour once I see it against the other colours in reality, on the figure.
I like to use quite high colour contrast when painting fantasy figures, because I think that exaggerated colour, lighting and contrast suits the ‘hyper-reality’ of the fantasy world. I think it is worth pushing beyond what might be ‘realistic’; realism has its place, and certainly, when painting historical figures a realistic style might be more appropriate. But the whole point of fantasy lies in its exaggeration of reality, so in my view, it is good to take this opportunity to create a figure with a bit more ‘impact’. I think fantasy is more about strong visual ideas, rather than creating something that looks real.
With this in mind, I used a few different methods to create contrast within the colour scheme chosen for this figure. First of all, there is a contrast between warm and cool colours: the ‘coldest’ colour present on the figure is the strong cyan colour of the pants, belt and arm straps. This cyan is balanced against the warm, light orange tones of the flesh, and the warm, dark-orange-brown of the apron – cyan and orange are opposites on the colour wheel. The yellow-green of the robes, and the dark red-purple of the boots and other little leather components, are also opposites, both colours lying in-between the warm and cold ‘poles’ of the cyan and orange, and thus perform the role of supporting colours, balanced against each other. In combination, these colours create a sort of ‘quadratic’ colour scheme, with all 4 hues creating an even spread of hues around the colour wheel, and hopefully a balanced scheme which is pleasing to the eye.
Here’s a little pictorial representation of what I am talking about, with the basic colour palette spaced around a circle representing a colour wheel. Please excuse the roughness of the pic – it's just a quick one to try to show you the main ideas, so excuse the inaccuracies. The cyan is opposite in hue to red-orange, so they are on opposite sides of the circle. The yellow-green and red-purple hues are a little closer in hue to the orange than the cyan, which is why they are spaced a little further towards the orange on the circle. This is compensated for by the fact that the cyan is the brightest, or most ‘saturated’ of all the colours in the palette, and this extra brightness means it has more ‘weight’ in the scheme – it can balance against all the other colours.
Another way by which contrast is created with the colour scheme, is the balance between light and dark areas on the figure. I tried to make a conscious effort to have a wide range of colour ‘value’ across the figure; that is, rather than using colour that all lie within a mid range of light-dark value, I used areas of very dark colour, such as the apron, hair and purple leather parts, against much lighter areas, such as the flesh. This created a more dynamic look for the figure, with the added value contrast.
Contrast can also be created by using a wide range of ‘saturation’ or brightness between colours. So, for example, on this figure, there are some very saturated colours, such as the cyan pants, belt and arms straps, and parts of the green robes. Setting these colours against much less saturated, more neutral parts, such as the apron, hair, hammers, and most of the base makes them seem even brighter. If too many strong colours are used in a colour scheme, I think their impact is reduced – saturated colours will compete against each other for attention, and maybe cause a bit of a ‘colour clash’. So I think it is important to remember to have some fairly neutral areas, even when painting in fantasy style.
After the base coat, which was a mix of P3 Midlund Flesh, P3 Rucksack Tan and GW Fortress Grey, with a touch of P3 Menoth White Highlight, the first step was to begin identifying the shadows. Using a red-orange colour, I painted a series of thin glazes in the shadows, giving the flesh some colour.
Then, I continued the shading, using a darker red-brown colour to further emphasise the volumes. It is important to always keep in mind the direction of the light source – you need to have made a clear decision on the direction from which the light is falling, in order to maintain coherence with your shadows and highlights. In this case, I am using top-down or (‘zenithal’) lighting, which is the most common and the easiest to visualise. Just imagine the light falling onto the figure from directly above, as if someone was shining a torch down onto the figure.
Next, I emphasised the shadows even further, introducing a little dark green-blue into the darkest areas. Because it is applied in thin glazes, the colour does not show up as anything too obvious, but it does add some depth to the overall colour and appearance, in my opinion.
At this point, I started to apply some highlights. First, I neatened any rough-looking areas with some glazes of the original base colour to blur the blending a little. Then, I mixed P3 Menoth White Highlight with the base colour for the first stage of highlighting, and some touches of pure Menoth White Highlight. I also added a touch more of the dark green-blue in the deepest shadows.