WIP: Devona Female Mage and Verdaccio Underpainting

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately about a technique called underpainting, specifically about verdaccio underpainting. Underpainting is something that many classical oil painters such as Da Vinci and Vermeer did. Verdaccio underpainting is done in a soft greenish-brown often made from white, black, and yellow. In essence, you paint the mini in this color with all the proper highlights and shadows in as much detail as you like. From what I’ve read, this technique has several purposes. It can allow you to view your composition in monochrome, and this lets you accurately view the composition and all its lights and darks and how they relate. This can allow you to make adjustments to lights, shadows, etc. as needed, and making these adjustments in a monochrome palette is much simpler than when you have painted in many colors. The second purpose is to give more depth and realism to the colors of your miniature. The green represents the darker tissues beneath the surface, essentially. With the transparent nature of acrylic paints, we are essentially glazing over our previous layers. At the very least, I can easily imagine this underpainting will have a significant impact on reds and skin tones. Other colors it may be more subtle, but I won’t know until I try it.

Some excellent information can be found here:





This technique is something I’ve wanted to try out ever since I first read about it on the Reaper forums (sadly I cannot find the thread now! I accidentally found it in the first place Google-ing something else anyways).

Reaper Devona, Female Mage is my first victim *ahem* attempt. Since it’s my first time, and I’m really just trying first of all to see the effect this has on the final colors, I decided to just wash the model with GW Camoshade instead of getting too involved in the verdaccio. If I like the basics of the effect, I will go further with it on another model.

Here she is bare bones plastic. The mould lines weren’t too bad. I boiled her for good measure, which hardened up the bones plastic significantly.

1 bare

I do like bones plastic over all, but the tiny filigree stuff on some of the models may as well not bother existing.

Camoshade wash:

2 underpainting wash

3 underpainting wash

First color is RMS Clotted Red (first shade color), and it’s immediately apparent the wash made a huge impact:

4 first color rms clotted red

5 first color rms clotted red

Honestly, depending on what level of painting you’re going for, this is already pretty well shaded. A highlight of a bright red of some sort and the skirt could easily be called done with the Clotted Red as the mid-tone instead of a shade and it would be a very nice tabletop level. I’m not going to call it done at that, though.

Next step for me was to deepen the darkest shadows with a mix of RMS Clotted Red, RMS Military Green, and a hint of black.

6 first shade clotted red military green small pure black

The difference after the shade is small, but it’s there, and I think it’s enough. At this point there are three shade colors – the mix of red/green/black, the red/camoshade, and the clotted red. Next is my mid-tone: a mix of RMS Clotted Red and VMC Carmine Red.

7 first highlight vmc carmine red rms clotted red

First highlight of  VMC Carmine Red

8 second highlight vmc carmine red

Second highlight of VMC Carmine Red and RMS Linen White

9 third highlight vmc carmine red rms linen white

Third highlight same as before, but with a little more Linen White

10 fourth highlight vmc carmine red more rms linen white

Next I began the skin (the purple on the tunic isn’t staying, I had quite a time picking the right colors on this model). RMS Rosy skin over the camoshade, RMS Flesh Wash to glaze in the shadows, mix of RMS Flesh Wash and RMS Rosy Shadow for final shadows. RMS Rosy Skin and Linen White to highlight. Then I finished her face. Blue irises, lighter blue in the bottom, linen white reflected light, lined with RMS Grey liner, clotted red lips, carmine red highlight, carmine red mixed with skin tones for blush. I also basecoated the metal RMS Stormy Grey and her hair Palomino Gold. I don’t see much effect here from the camoshade, but it wasn’t very intense in those areas.

11 rosy skin base shade with flesh wash mixed with rosy shadow

12 face

13 hair palomino gold

After that I washed her hair with GW Seraphim Sepia and began layering up the trailing cloth with RMS Linen White.

14 hair wash sepia cloth linen white gloves black

At this point her under-tunic and gloves have also been painted black, and I think it’s the right color finally. Originally, I wanted to make her a series of reds/purples, but it just didn’t feel right when it got down to it.

Sorry for the fuzzy picture. VMA Gunmetal on the silver, shaded with RMS Clotted Red (reflected color from the skirt), highlighted with VMA Aluminum. Her hair was highlighted with a gradually increasing amount of linen white in palomino gold.

15 tunic clotted red metal vma gunmetal shaded clotted red highlighted vma aluminum

16 highlight hair palomino gold linen white

Aside from picking the colors for her tunic and trying to paint that damned almost-invisible filigree, this model has been super easy and a lot faster than usual, especially to shade. The skirt took me less than 20 minutes total. I know the reds are all because of the camoshade wash, but I think I’ll have to do more (and better) underpainting to tell what effect it has on other colors. I plan to use this on the Be’lakor I’ve started in great detail to see what help it is in determining lights/darks/composition.

Posted on February 2, 2014, in Reaper Miniatures, Tutorial, WIP and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Looks great. I enjoy the walkthrough. Will have to try and incorporate some into my minis.

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