Zeintal Highlights : doing it right?
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Thread: Zeintal Highlights : doing it right?

  1. #1

    Default Zeintal Highlights : doing it right?

    Hi guys, I am always amazed at the minis I see painted here and am always tempted to try new techniques to improve or change a bit how I paint.

    I wanted to try some Zenital Highlights on my Shadespire guys, not sure if it turned out how its meant to be with such technique?

    Everything was basecoated fully in black and then sprayed with some white.

    What do you think? Ok to paint like this or should i strip everything?

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  2. #2


    they are a good start. No need to strip the paint.

    And don't worry about it. Priming the minis this way gives more of a guideline on where the highlights/shadows should be and helps seeing the details that could be lost on a too dark or too white primer.
    After the basecoat you'll cover most of it anyway.
    Exception if you use washes only, but very few does.

    you got the best results on the chaos guy on the 5th pic. On the others you lost a bit of the 'shade' because of overspray/spray from other angle than above.
    Forgot, that it works again.

  3. #3


    so I should have sprayed only from top? I thought I had to do it at top and also at a sideways angle.

    anyways as you said it shoud be fine with thin base layers, and remember I only aim for table top standards (not like I could do much better!)

  4. #4


    well a little from side, then again from top is usual (in that case from the side it's only dusted, so you used a bit too much). Or using a grey primer from the sideway angle and white from top.

    But what I mean is that unless you paint only with thin washes the zenithal priming is overrated. The first step after that (opaque homogenous basecoat, both for TTQ and display) destroys it anyway and leaves you with a flat color.
    99% of the time it's only used to see detail and have a guide to follow when painting for HLs/shadows.
    Forgot, that it works again.

  5. #5


    it will help with detail for sure then

  6. #6


    So here's what I do for zenithal highlighting.

    1. Do quick 1 second bursts of primer black over the mini. I make sure I run the can across very quickly so it goes on very lightly. Just enough coat to cover all the pewter/resin/plastic. doing this mainly from the side and also facing up from the bottom. This gives a thin coat.
    2. Let it dry for one day.
    3. Next is the white primer. spray from about a 25 degree angle from the top in 1 second bursts. Again, be sure to move the can across quickly over the mini so it turns into a thin white coat. Doing this will gradually increase the light effect. This way you don't accidentally put on too much white. If you put on too much white, you can remove it without stripping it.
    4. Let it dry for one day before painting.
    5. Take a picture of it and print it out. Doing this will allow you to use it as a reference for knowing where the highlights will go. Because once you start painting, you won't see where the highlights are anymore.

    Doing a wash over this kind of highlighting works for quick paints but taking that picture will allow you to apply real base coats and highlights while still using that zenithal highlight technique.

    If you want to see how the mini should look, it looks a lot like a mini in one of Painting Buddah's videos called Shield Maiden: Face step 1. Watch that video and you'll see what I mean.

  7. #7
    Superfreak!!! Dragonsreach's Avatar
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    Apr 2002
    Bolton, Lancs, UK (A Geordie in Exile)
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    Zenithal lighting is just a lazy way to describe a technique that’s been around as long as I have. (Aeons).

    Definition of Zenith:-
    “The zenith is an imaginary point directly "above" a particular location, on the imaginary celestial sphere.”

    Waaaaay back when I was in my teens (early 70’s) Shep Paine described the idea best as “light is rarely coming from directly above but more at an angle”. He described the idea of (for right handed people) light striking a figure from at somewhere around between 1 and 2 on a clock face (and 10 and 11 for cuddly fisters [left handed]).
    That, he said, gave the best modelling for highlights and shadows.
    I believe in Karma, what you give, is what you get returned. Affirmation; Savage Garden
    Oh look my IQ results came in:-
    , and proud of it.

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