Saturday, March 27, 2010

Skellies, and using stages

I thought it would be a good time to explain a trick I use to get through my lead pile.  Firstly, pick soft targets.  These are things that dont require much effort to do, such as chainmail clad dwarves, ghosts, snotlings, knights etc.  'Soft touches' or soft targets are the thin edge of the wedge, and having these 'wins' under your belt will help inspire you to keep going.

The next trick I use is kinda implied in the tutorial page on undercoating, but I will explain further.  I paint my models in stages.  The first stage is to clean, prime and preshade my models.  They can now sit on the shelf and be admired- with the preshading you can see all the details clearly.  Alternatively, and I find myself doing this a lot, they can now go into a foam case and into storage- relatively safe from leadrot.  Either way, it can be a ages until you get around to stage two.

Stage two for me is to paint my models to tabletop standard using layered glazes to build up color over my preshading.  Once this is done to an okay standard, I can happily stop, and call it painted.  A zap of varnish and the models are done.
The third stage for me is to then take my tabletop standard models and rework them, using glazes to smooth transitions and add richer colors.  Finer details are painted in, patterns are added, expressions worked at.  I can now do this at my leasure, knowing that worse case I can just strip it.
Now this technique wont win me any Golden Demons- but it does mean my unpainted lead pile does not crush me.

To show you what I mean, check out these skellies I attacked friday afternoon.

1980s Skeletons, Armoured skeletons, Nazgul, Skeleton champion

 This is an example of stage two painting - battle ready.  These are mainly done with preshading glazes, working six figures on a strip.  Bones and chainmail get drybushed and weathering is glazed on.  I used a screwed up, flayed out old brush to dot on rust and chips, and used black and brown washes over most of the model.  Finally, thin bestial brown was washed into armour, simulating water damaged steel.  Not perfect, but I am sure you will agree, ready for battle.  I can consider them 'done for now'.  (I havent done shields for these yet- I have some custom shields planned).

Later, when I have time, I mount a few of the figures individually on bottlecaps for handling, and refine the paint job at leisure.  I focus on no more than three or four at this stage, squeezing the refinement stage in the gaps in my life.  Got ten minutes?  Fix the paint job on that pouch.  Got half an hour free?  Finish off that champions face.  Start with the command and front row of your units, then sneakily rework the back rows when you have time.  Your opponent will only see the sexy PJ's up front!

1980s Lord of The Rings Witch King of Angmar, Undead Chariot champion

This image shows the battle ready job on a sexy witch king of angmar and skeletal champion (horn head, from the chariot boxed set).  These are both entirely done with glazes over a greyscale preshade.  Yep.
I decided to do something different on the Witch King than classic black, so I started layering on rich colors circling blue, then glazed them down to darken them.  If I keep going, I will end up with a rich black effect, with subtle color shining through.  I decided to keep it as it is for now, he is much more interesting this way.

Hornhead is also just glazed down, and really could do with having his little magical discs detailed, he could do with some hard edging and so forth- but for now I can check him off.

Deadites... Sally for...  Sally for... sally forward.


  1. Very nice. I´m looking for a way to paint up my undead quickly and will try to give some test minis using your techniques a go soon.

  2. sigh, I used to own that Chariot, I was a fool to get rid of it in the late 90's....