Privateer Press welcomes back guest blogger Lauren Fahey (twitter: @griffonsroost). Check out her previous entry here. She currently works as a freelance artist specializing in painting miniatures for hobby gaming and display. Drawing from a background in art history and medieval/renaissance studies, she takes inspiration for her work from history, nature, and her favorite parts of nerd culture.
Today, she tackles the Megalith and shows off some techniques for achieving a great look for stone, gems, and rope!
Step 1: Prep and Prime
Assemble, clean, and remove the mold lines from Megalith with a sharp hobby knife. Prime with a couple of light coats of P3 Black Primer.
Step 2: Gray Granite Stone
Basecoat the stone with Bastion Grey. After this, I usually do shadows first followed by highlights, but in order to get a granite look, the order has to be reversed. Highlight first by two-brush blending with a 50/50 mix of Bastion Grey and Trollblood Highlight, and then do a second highlight with straight Trollblood Highlight.
Base coat, left; Full highlights, right
I wanted to make my Megalith look as if it were fashioned from granite, as granite is one of the hardest and most durable of the naturally occurring stones. Granite has a sort of speckled appearance, and to get an approximation of that look on a miniature, you have to get a little messy! Grab an old toothbrush, wet it, and dip it in Thamar Black. Holding the model 4–6 inches away from the toothbrush, run one finger over the brush and flick the paint, trying to get a fine spray. Repeat separately with Underbelly Blue and Menoth White Highlight for additional variation in the speckled stone.
Gray granite example, left; Megalith speckled, right
The final step of making a gray granite is to add in the shadows. This step occurs after creating the speckled effect because fine details tend to disappear in dark shadows. To start the shadows, make a 50/50 mix of Cryx Bane Base and Greatcoat Grey and apply it using two-brush blending on the model wherever shadows would naturally occur. Use this mix to lightly outline the hard edges of the stone to add further definition. Add a little Thamar Black to the shadow mix and apply to the deepest recesses and underneath overhanging areas.
Step 3: Wood
Basecoat the wood with Gun Corps Brown and any of the exposed core areas with Hammerfall Khaki.
Shade the wood with Umbral Umber, painting in as much of the wood grain texture as possible. If you feel you aren’t getting into the crevices, the Umbral Umber can be applied as a wash. Next, add a little Thamar Black to the Umbral Umber and use this to shade the deep crevices and outline the main elements of the wood. Shade the cores with a wash of Guns Corps Brown.
Highlight the wood by focusing on the texture of the wood grain and by painting the ridges with Hammerfall Khaki. For the highest highlights, use a mixture of 50/50 Hammerfall Khaki and ’Jack Bone with a little Menoth White Highlight added in. Focus this color on the upper branches as well as anywhere that would catch a significant amount of light. Go for a really high level of contrast, as the next step will tone down the colors significantly. Highlight the wood cores with the same mixture used for the highest highlights on the wood, focusing on accentuating the rings.
Make a mixture of two drops Brown Ink, one drop of Turquoise Ink, and one drop of water to glaze this over the wood in two thin coats, letting each coat dry completely in between. Do not use any of the ink mixture on the wood cores. The ink glaze helps the wood grain texture look more natural and less stark.
Step 4: Ropes
Basecoat the ropes with Rucksack Tan. Getting a good, solid coat can take 2–3 thin layers over black primer. Then shade the ropes with a wash of Gun Corps Brown.
Now the fun part… To highlight the ropes, make a mix of 50/50 Rucksack Tan and Hammerfall Khaki and pick out each coil except for where the rope would be in darkest shadow. Then take straight Hammerfall Khaki and highlight further where the ropes would catch the light, particularly on the front parts of the legs and arms. It’s painstaking, but in the end I usually feel like the precision is worth the frustration.
Step 5: Glowing Runes
To start the runes, thin down some Menoth White Highlight and paint them all white without letting any flow over the sides. (I might have gotten a little carried away and forgotten to take a picture, but I’m sure you’ll get the idea.) Next, make a mixture of two drops Green Ink, one drop Yellow Ink, and one drop Turquoise Ink to glaze this over the white. Try not to let any ink pool in the corners. A good trick to prevent this is to dab some ink out of the paintbrush on a paper towel before going at the runes.
Now go back with the thinned Menoth White Highlight and and paint the bottom parts of the linear runes to lighten them. With the more open areas, like around the gems and in the shoulders, use the white to lighten the center as if the glow were radiating outward. The Menoth White Highlight was thinned down and blended outward with a second brush to get a smooth transition. Next, make a mix of two drops Yellow Ink and one drop Green Ink to glaze with this mixture only where you lightened the runes. This will give the runes a more lively appearance.
The final step for the runes is to use straight Green Ink to glaze the top parts of each linear rune, the outsides of the larger areas of the shoulders, and around the gems. This gives an illusion that the glow is fading out toward the edges.
Step 6: Gems
Basecoat the gems with Thamar Black. Then take Gnarls Green and blend it up from the bottom of the gem, leaving the top third black. The smoother the blend you can get for these, the better. I like two-brush blending for just about everything, but go with what makes you comfortable. My camera couldn’t quite seem to get a good shot without a slight glare due to the dark colors and satin finish of the paint, but I think things are still mostly visible.
Next, in the bottom third of the gem, blend Iosan Green into the Gnarls Green. The brighter colors are focused in the lower part of each gem because of the way light passes through the translucent stone and hits the inside. For the final highlight, blend Wurm Green into the lowest half of the Iosan Green.
Next take some Green Ink and, in thin layers, glaze over the entire gem. Make sure to build up enough layers so that even the black appears to be a very deep green. Finally take a brush with a very fine point and use Menoth White Highlight to make a few reflective dots on the top of the gem. I’ve used a red arrow to point out where they should be as the glare from my painting lamp slightly overlaps.
Step 7: Finishing Touches
To finish off the model, I painted in the few bunches of leaves and touched up the stone where any of my glow might have gotten a little carried away. I then sealed the model with Testors Dullcote to kill any shiny spots of the inks on the wood and on the glow and to help protect it, as I’m sure it will be finding its way onto the table soon. Once that was completely dry, I took an old brush and some paint on gloss varnish to give the gems a good coat for an extra dose of realism. I finally based Megalith with a bunch of forest foliage, including some ivy and a fern, and it’s all done!