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  • Telcharion: painting the flesh, robes, textured apron, and building the base

    Telcharion Article

    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.


    The Flesh

    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.

    The next step was to add a little more colour to the flesh – the colour can sometimes become a little washed out during the shading and highlighting process, and I wanted the flesh to look healthy and vigorous, to suit the blacksmith subject, rather than too pale and wan. To add the extra colour, I applied glazes with a variety of colours, such as orange-brown (GW Bestial Brown), red-brown (GW Dark Flesh), red-purple (P3 Sanguine Base and Sanguine Highlight) and a little blue-green (GW Scaly Green, perhaps mixed with a touch of grey, or VMC Dark Sea Blue, mixed with a little bright aqua). I also painted the tattoo at this stage.

    To finish, I applied some final highlights using P3 Menoth White Highlight, with some white, and also some light blue added for the final lightest points. I also painted most of the face at this stage, following the same process as the rest of the flesh, with a little more colour – a bit more of the purple colours, especially.


    The Robes

    I kept the base colour for the robes quite light, both because I wanted the colour to stay quite bright and lively, and also so that there would be plenty of room to add darker shadows and various colour nuances. The base coat was a mixture of RMS (Reaper Master Series) Spring Green, P3 Necrotite Green, and a touch of P3 Menoth White Highlight.

    After the base coat, the first stage of the painting was to begin to add some shading, and define the shapes of the folds in the fabric. Using very dilute paint (I only use water to dilute), I gently painted thin glazes over the areas that would fall in shadows, according to an imagined zenithal source of light. I mixed a little dark orange-brown (like GW Bestial Brown) and dark grey-green (like P3 Cryx Bane Base) with the base colour for the first shading.

    Next, after looking at the colour and the way it was developing with the rest of the scheme, I decided that the colour was looking a bit too yellow, and I wanted to make the green a bit stronger. To do this, I mixed a very dilute, but quite saturated green (like P3 Necrotite Green), and painted some glazes over the whole surface, tinting the colour.

    Once I was satisfied with the colour modification, it was time to continue with the shading, and add some of the first highlights as well. For the shading, I mixed more dark brown and dark grey-green with the base colours, to make darker tones than the initial colour I used for the firs shading. I tried to use a little more of the brown in the lower parts of the robes, and more of the green-grey in the upper parts, to create some variation – this effect will become more apparent later. For the highlights, I mixed P3 Menoth White Highlight with the base colour, and also a touch of P3 rucksack tan to make the colour slightly more yellow (warmer).

    Next, after examining the overall colour, I again decided that I needed to turn up the volume a bit on the colour, by increasing the saturation a little. So I mixed up some stronger colour – a strong green, and an orange-brown, and applied some glazes over the surface of the robes. For a bit of variation, and continuing the effect I mentioned earlier, I concentrated with the green glazes on the upper parts of the cloth, and more with the orange-brown on the lower parts. This was mainly just to make it a little more interesting, rather than maintaining the same colour all over the robes. Also, the lower parts of the robes stick out more, and therefore catch more light, so it makes some sense that they would also be a little warmer – but of course, I have greatly exaggerated this, as a ‘fantasy’ effect.

    Then I went back and added more highlights, and emphasised the shadows even more. For the shading, I introduced some dark red-brown (something like GW Dark Flesh with a touch of black), and for the highlights, more P3 Menoth White Highlight – pure for the lightest parts.

    To finish, I added some little touches for the final highlights with P3 Menoth White Highlight mixed with white. And then I added some dirt and ‘weathering’ around the bottom parts of the robes. To do this, I mixed a variety of brown colours, and then used a combination of stippling and random strokes with the brush (with diluted paint) to create the dirt effect.


    The Apron – Creating the Texture

    One of the reasons I chose this figure, was because I wanted to do some experiments in creating a texture for the apron. A blacksmith’s apron, of course, is invariably dirty, scratched burnt, and marked all over, so it was a perfect opportunity to try something a bit more interesting than just a normal, flat colour.

    The base coat for the apron was a dark orange-brown – something like GW Scorched Brown with a little GW Bestial Brown, and maybe a touch of black. Next, I quickly blocked in some basic shadows and highlights, to provide a base over which to paint the texture. No need to be too neat or smooth – it’s going to be mostly covered up anyway. I mixed dark blue and black with the base colour for the shadows, and a little flesh colour like P3 Khardic Flesh or Midlund Flesh mixed with the base colour for the highlights.

    Once this was done, I prepared some colours to use in making the texture. On a wet palette, I mixed the following colours, as seen in the photo below:

    From left to right we have: a neutral grey (e.g. GW Fortress Grey); a dark orange brown (e.g. P3 Battlefield Brown or GW Scorched Flesh); a sandy yellow (e.g. GW Desert Yellow); a strong orange brown (e.g. GW Bestial Brown); a ruddy flesh (e.g. P3 Khardic Flesh); a mid-range brown (e.g. P3 bootstrap leather); a light grey (e.g. VMC Silvergrey); a light flesh (e.g. P3 Midlund Flesh); a very dark blue-black (any dark blue mixed with black); a blue grey (e.g. P3 Greatcoat Grey); and, a dark blue green (e.g. VMC dark sea blue). I think it is important to have a wide range of colours to create a convincing texture.

    Using these colours, the first step was to start to build the texture by stippling the surface. ‘Stippling’ is a technique whereby a brush that has been loaded with paint and then wiped off (in a similar way to drybrushing) is used to jab at the surface, with the sort of motion as if you were drawing dots with a pen. The important thing is to make quick pokes at the surface, rather than rubbing or brushing across the surface. A brush with a flat tip works best, because the bristles spread out to leave a series of little dots on the surface. It is very rough on the brush, so it is best to use an old brush for this – you can cut the tip of an old brush to create a flat-end perfect for stippling.

    I tried to use all of the paints I had mixed, for a wide colour variety of texture dots across the surface. But at the same time, it is important to maintain the integrity of the lighting (the shadows and highlights). You can do this by taking care with the distribution of the texture dots according to colour: the lighter colours should be more concentrated in the highlight areas, while the darker colour dots should be more concentrated in the shadowed areas of the surface. However, it is still important to place some lighter coloured texture in the shadowed areas, and vice versa; it is a matter of ratio: the darker texture colour should be dominant in the shadows, and the lighter colour dominant in the highlighted areas of the figure.

    After the first layers of stippling, I built up the texture further with more layers:

    At this stage, I wanted to add some slightly different elements to the texture, with some longer, thinner marks like scratches in the leather. So for the next stage of painting, I used a very dark blue-black colour to paint on some thin, dark lines on the surface of the apron. The placement was fairly random; I tried to make use of any natural marks occurring on the paintwork, and extended any little imperfections in the surface. This was especially the case for the edges, because the edge of the apron was quite irregular, with little chips and marks in the surface. These are easy to extend and emphasise to create a slightly frayed, distressed looking edge to the fabric.

    For the final stage of the painting process, I neatened up the dark lines I painted in the previous stage, and emphasised some of them with some thin underlines like highlights, to give depth. I also added a few more texture marks with some gentle stippling, on any areas that needed a little more blurring. And I added some little patches here and there, using diluted orange-brown ink, for some subtle colour and variation. I also emphasised the shadows and highlights just a little more, using very thin glazes painted in thin layers over the texture.


    Constructing the Base

    As this is a slightly more complex base than usual, I thought it might be interesting to show the construction process.

    First, I knew I wanted to have a fireplace on the base, but there was not enough room (and no real point) in having the whole fireplace structure on the base – I just needed the front part. So I built up and extended the back corner of the base to form the back side of the fireplace, to be painted black behind as part of the base edge. To do this, I used stiff plastic (the clear plastic from a blister pack works perfectly) cut to shape and stuck on the back and left side of the base. This was supported with some milliput to give it some strength, and to fill any gaps and create a smooth surface.

    Next, I made the structure for the fireplace using cork. This was just to build up the shape quickly and easily, to create a foundation over which to build.

    Over the cork structure, I sculpted the fireplace using milliput (standard yellow-grey. First I applied the putty and made sure it was smooth and even on each side. Then I roughly marked out the shape of bricks, using a sharp tool, and then smoothed it all out by gently brushing the surface with a lot of water. Once the putty had dried a little, I went back and perfected the shape of the bricks. Then, once the putty was half dry and not so soft, I used a series of stiff-bristled brushes (black bristled synthetic brushes, from a dremel) to create the texture on the surface of the bricks. This was done by brushing repeatedly in one direction across the surface of the bricks, and also adding a few irregular marks by jabbing at the surface.

    Next, I sculpted the floor tiles, again using milliput. It was a fairly simple process – I just put a thin layer of putty on the surface, and made sure it was flat and even. Then, once it had dried a little, I carefully cut the shapes of the tiles with a scalpel, and neatened up the edges.

    The next stage was to add a few details to the base – the materials should be fairly self-explanatory from the photo, they were just little bits I had lying around, like brass rod, bits of wire etc, and a few commercially made bits.

    To finish off the base, I added some sand on the edge, and a few more little details, to try to make the environment a little more interesting.

    And here is the finished base after painting:


    The End!

    I hope you have found this article interesting or useful – best of luck with your own painting!

    Visit my site at,  or find the Guild of Harmony figures at the online store:

    Here are some photos of the finished figure:

    Comments 3 Comments
    1. hdan85's Avatar
      hdan85 -
      This was very helpful! Thanks
    1. dancingplanet's Avatar
      dancingplanet -
      ^ indeed. Thank you.
    1. TheLost's Avatar
      TheLost -
      awesome piece, absolutely AWESOME! I wish I had just a 1/4 of your skill!
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