Help! Help! Why can't I paint black?!
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Thread: Help! Help! Why can't I paint black?!

  1. #1

    Default Help! Help! Why can't I paint black?!

    Let me start off by saying that I have a LOT of paintign experience (9+ years and a full shelf of painting awards and trophies), so don't be afraid to get technical or suggest anything really complex.

    What I'm looking for... is a tried and true way of smoothly and evenly hi-lighting black.

    example: and

    For whatever reason, everything I try just seems to be too harsh of a transition, and the only way I've been able to pull it off is with washes to blend then an edge hi-light. And I just cannot get cloth to work at all.

    Anyone have any secret tricks to black?

  2. #2
    Freak! Demihuman's Avatar
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    Maybe try starting with the highlight color and then shading all the way down to black? I find that to be easier for me. The other one that I have had luck with is a wet blend.

  3. #3


    Or maybe just treat it like shading white. Very thin, transparent, takes a couple layers before the human eye can pick up the colour change...keep things subtle, super SUPER subtle. I don't know any tricks, although I'm sure there are a few, but, I think it's just one of those "suck it up and put in the time" scenarios.

  4. #4


    Why can't I paint black?!
    Insulting: because you suck?
    Sarcastic: because you haven't tried hard enough?
    Sympathetic: because painting black is hard?

    There's nothing in your gallery to use as a guide to your knowledge base or skillset, so I'm winging it here but there are two main tips I think that'll help (although both are really very basic so you should already know them).

    The first is working in thinner layers, with less paint on the brush.

    Second (probably more important) is smaller colour transitions. The number of colour steps you need to work in depends a bit on technique and the exact paints you're using* but as a general rule, if you're having trouble with harsh-looking transitions add an intermediate step. If you then still have trouble add two intermediate steps.

    Still having trouble, work in even thinner layers. Still having trouble, add three intermediate steps and start again; if you're going for a large value range - from black to a pretty light grey - it wouldn't be a stretch to use five or six mixes for best results.

    *Different paints are made from different ingredients so there may be some slight differences in how they work, even though they may look similar.


  5. #5


    I haven't put anything in my gallery for quite a bit for you to use as reference, but for me I like to "highlight" up to a dark blue for overall dark (black armor or cloak) and a grey edging for incidentals(belts, boots, etc.).

  6. #6


    If you get a chance , go check out the video over at miniature mentor. he is doing a black cloak so the color changes are softer then the harsh highlites of armore but the colors and technique are the same.. id encourage you to use thinner layers and small steps in color changes. also add in those reds, blues and even greens to add depth.

  7. #7


    The miniature mentor one looks too blue. I agree with the technique, but not the final result.

  8. #8


    Black... Is hard to grasp until you realize that black isn't black, but everything else around it.

    There are two things that define black. First, it is defined by the color around it. Secondly, is how shallow or deep you place highlights.

    Try building up color (blues in highlight regions and browns/reds in shadows), then glazing black back over to punch it up. It's basically what I did with my Terminator Librarian.

  9. #9


    Be nice if the OP would come back to their thread and acknowledge the replies, not like he hasn't been on since he posted...


  10. #10


    Quote Originally Posted by Einion View Post
    Be nice if the OP would come back to their thread and acknowledge the replies, not like he hasn't been on since he posted...

    haha, yeah I know. I'm usually on here at work and whenever I go to reply I get dragged away.

    I've noticed, since posting this and following all the suggestions here, that the main issue I have is being too quick and/or lazy. I even started doing it without realizing I was O_o. By taking time to do smaller transitions from black to a dark grey, I've found it easier to get to the brighter edge highlights.

    I also found that a really good fast and lazy way to do black armor/tanks/edges is a light drybrush of adeptus battlegrey, badab wash, then edge highlight codex followed by extreme edge/corner of fortress.

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