I was sitting down on Monday morning this week and wondering what I would do for the Friday blog post. I was also staring at my painting table at the same time when it struck me, why don’t I write about how I paint a given color. I picked up my paint brushes and thought through how I was going to paint the blue on Captain Marvel by Atomic Mass Games.
I started the model with a white primer coat. I have been using for quite a while a Rust-Oleum cheap, flat white primer. I don’t feel that it coats any worse than equivalent products I used to buy at the game store such as Citadel primers. I would note it coats a bit thick so make sure you try to prime your models with a bit lighter coat and keep the can at least 12 inches away from the models when applying.
All paint jobs start with the base coat, and with this model I decided to start with Reaper Paints 09016 Sapphire Blue. This is pretty deep, rich blue that’s probably a hair darker then what I want my finished blue to appear but with some highlights will be a great base. After putting a couple of coats of slightly thinned paint on the model, here’s the updated results:
The next step was to wash the model with my go to black wash. I use Secret Weapon Miniatures Soft Body Black wash, slightly watered down and cover the entire blue surface. This does a couple of things for me. One it further darkens the blue, which will be good because soon we will start working this model’s colors back up in the lighter spectrum. Second, it helps accentuate the detail in the model so that I can more easily see it. Finally, with the wash it flows a little more freely then my paint and will just catch any small white space areas I didn’t quite hit with the initial coat of blue. Areas like where it’s next to a glove that maybe I didn’t perfectly hit.
For the next couple of steps I did them roughly together. First I mixed just the tiniest of bits of Reaper Paints 09037 Pure Black with the base color Sapphire Blue. This made a greyish blue color on the pallet that was darker than the original blue and I extended from the black in the recesses, focusing on those areas where other lighting sources would reach. My target areas are the inside of the thighs, armpits, under the breasts, and under the butt cheeks on a model like this. I also touched up any areas that didn’t get a great wash point with this mix, such as around her left knee pad.
Once that was complete I moved back to the original base color blue and painted all of the raised surface areas pretty fully with the base blue. I was careful to leave the darker color in the more shaded areas. The result is that you can now really start to see definition between raised areas and the shadowed spaces. The textures and definition of the blue surface on this model are starting to really come together. I will start moving on to more of the highlighting of the blue in the upcoming steps.
As I am continuing to progress on the model, I am slowly working the blue highlights up by mixing the original sapphire blue with Reaper Paints 09017 True Blue. To this blend, which is about a 50/50 ratio I added a small amount of Liquitex Slow-Dri Blending Medium and thinned with water. I find that by adding a slow-dri medium to the mix it allows me to do the blends and transitions of highlights a little easier on the model. As I work around the model, I am being careful not to paint any in the shadowed areas and am trying to leave some transition between shadow to sapphire blue to this color. It doesn’t have to be much, but the better the blend at those points the smoother the transition of color.
It’s at this point I want to mention a couple of things. Layering up the same color shade on surface areas will mean brighter colors and make that layer more dominate. If your paint is at about that right thin level it’s a bit opaque and will allow some of the color from underneath to bleed through. This will keep the color on those areas a bit darker. This is a great way to help manage the transition from dark to light when working shadows. It’s also worth pointing this out for the larger surface areas such as the top of the thighs, arms and much of the upper torso I actually want to bring up to almost the full true blue color. This means a couple of layers of paint may be necessary. The thinned paint tends to try relatively quickly so usually as I work my way around the model I can see how it’s dried in an area and add a bit more paint where necessary to get the effect desired.
Another thing to point out the use of triangles in painting highlights. I simplify alot of painting freehand and highlights to basic shapes like crescents and triangles. It’s easier to approach painting a basic shape and repeating that pattern then it is to try to paint in an entire area. Take the thigh on this model. The upper part of the thigh is wider then where it’s at the knee. Working that triangle of light from upper thigh to knee lets me focus in on that highlight region. This is an important concept as we get into the more extreme layers of highlights.
At this point I am really working up to the highest extremes in highlight. I don’t find that there is a massive change in Reaper Paints 09018 Sky Blue and the True Blue from the previous steps, but it’s up to you if you would want to blend these two together as a step. I skipped that, opting to use a bit more opaque layer of the Sky Blue by adding a bit more water to the mix of paint and slow drying blending medium. I am very focused at this point at really narrowing down those key focus points of the highlight layers so hitting smaller points on the tops of muscles, breasts, thighs and those points on Captain Marvel’s costume.
I continue to work with the sky blue in I start to add in a little Reaper Paints 09090 Misty Grey to the mix. Now I am narrowing the focus even more to even more fine details that I want to call out. At this point, it’s really key to maintain a fine point on your brush. All of this highlight work with a Windsor Newton Series 7 size 0 brush. If the point of the brush starts to go, rinse it off with water and then start back up again. Diving to a smaller brush really isn’t a necessity here and if your paint is thinned appropriately then little slips won’t be that big of a deal as the paint is relatively opaque at this point. It’s important to focus a few more layers where necessary to bring the overall tone up to the point you want it.
For the final step, I want to glaze the model down just a touch. The reason I want to do this is to just help those transitions blend together more smoothly. For this step I take a drop of the Sapphire Blue and an equivalent sized drop of Liquitex Glazing Medium mixed and then thinned with probaby five times the water as there was paint/medium mix. The idea is it’s going to be a bit thinner then the standard wash out of the pot. Thinner is better at this point. If you aren’t happy with the result you can always mix it up again and put it on a second time. However, the idea is to then brush this mix over the entire blue area of the model from the darkest recesses to the top highlights. After all of the work you put into the model, this done poorly will wreck what you have accomplished up to this point. To be honest, I was super nervous at this point because I am a couple of hours into painting this model and I really didn’t want to mess it up. However, I am super happy with the final result.
Wrapping it up
This model was a real joy to paint the blues on. Blue is a pretty friendly color to paint and one that many new hobbiest find a pleasure to paint. However, it can be a hard color to really master. I do think I have shown you a way to really take your blue in a new direction
List of products used in this paint guide:
- Rust-Oleum cheap, flat white primer
- Reaper Paints 09016 Sapphire Blue
- Reaper Paints 09017 True Blue
- Reaper Paints 09018 Sky Blue
- Reaper Paints 09090 Misty Grey
- Reaper Paints 09037 Pure Black
- Secret Weapon Soft Body Black Wash
- Liquitex Slow-Dri Blending Medium
- Liquitex Glazing Medium
- Windsor Newton Series 7 paint brushes