Category Archives: Tutorial

Some thoughts on blending

I’ve been asked recently for some tips on blending, and I thought that is something that would make a good blog post. For me there are a few different methods for blending:

1. Gradually changing the paint color on the palette and applying full coverage layers – this is the most straightforward, easiest method. It also uses a ton of paint. I rarely, if ever, do it.
2. Wet blending – Applying wet paint in one color and then applying wet paint of another color and blending the two different wet paints on the model – I rarely do this as well, although when I’m painting textured surfaces like feathers and fur it is my preferred method. I know some people don’t have this problem, but I actually have a tougher time getting smooth blends on smooth surfaces with this method.
3. Two brush blending – Applying thicker wet paint and then taking another clean, wet (but not too wet) brush and sticking it into the edge of the paint and feathering it down across the transition. This is what I used to do the most, but on larger areas this method annoys me because paint tends to dry awkwardly. There are a lot of people that use this method. It is relatively easy to learn the mechanics of, and it doesn’t require a lot of patience. Practice makes perfect here, and additives can be your friend. Don’t worry about the folks that want to say you don’t need them – some people need them, others don’t, there is nothing wrong either way. The weather even has an effect on your paint, so don’t be afraid to try different things.
4. Glazing/layering with super thin paint – This is what I usually do most often now. Paint a base coat – it can be the highest light, the darkest shadow, or anywhere in between…it just doesn’t matter too much where you start, just do what feels right to you. I start in different places depending on what I’m doing, and it’s a thing I feel my way through rather than decide on intellectually. Maybe it can even depend on your mood. After the basecoat dries, take a color in either a shade or highlight direction and thin it a lot, get some paint on your brush, and then run it on a cloth to remove most of the moisture. Take that barely moist brush and gently apply successive thin layers where you want that color to be. Color will build, and you will gradually move across the area as your transition forms. It is also possible to paint a hard transition between two colors and use one or both colors thinned like this to smooth the transition. This method can require some patience, but it is not as slow as it might sound. How much to thin the paint is something I just “feel” now instead of measuring. You can test your paint on another surface to see if it is right. It should be transparent, but still have a little color to it.
I think a lot of people use a variety of methods to blend, depending on what they are doing. I rarely think about what method to use or how to do it anymore, I just do it. The best blends (for me at least) typically come from going back and forth between colors over a transition. For me, the hardest thing to learn (and probably the most important as it allowed me to just paint instead of overthinking it), is that any transition can be blended after the fact. Even if you mess up, it can be fixed.

How to: Reaper Hydra with Marsh Base

Here’s how I did the Reaper Hydra with a marsh base!

1. Clean mould lines, boil, dry fit while cooling to reduce gaps.

1 boiled and dry fit so less gaps when cooled

2. Prime black

2 primed black

3. Paint the scales on his back VGC Jade Green, highlight with mix of Jade Green and RMS Linen White.

3 back scales VGC Jade Green and RMS Linen White

4. Wash back scales with Army Painter Blue Tone ink. In this picture the left has not been washed yet.

4 wash army painter blue tone ink

5. Paint the rest of the hydra VGC Falcon Turquoise.

5 vgc falcon turquoise

6. Wash with GW Nightshade.

6 wash nightshade

7. Next it was time for the faces – which there are a ton of!

7 mouths

8. Build the bases.

8 build bases

9. Paint the bases when they are dry.

9 paint bases10 paint bases11 paint bases12 wash bases camoshade13 drybrush fow camo shade

10. Add stumps to bases.

16 add stumps

11. Finish the faces and assemble the Hydras!


12. Paint stumps.

17 paint stumps

13. Add grass.

18 add grass


14. Add water effects mixed with Flames of War Camo Dark Green paint, also mix in GF9 Marsh blend flock to “gunk” it up.

19 add water effects gf9 march blend attach to base

15. Pin back feet, attach to base.

final base2014-03-29 18.31.44

How to Elven Ruins base

Recently I built Elven ruins bases for the High Elf Prince on Griffon I painted. Here’s how I did it:

1. The first step is to create the rocks and pieces of ruins from Sculpey. I used a Woodland Scenics rock mold to create the rocks by pressing Sculpey into parts of them, squishing it in until the part of the Sculpey not in the rock is pretty flat, and then bending the mold to peel out the newly formed rock. I also created a couple small Sculpey “bricks.” Then bake!


base tools 2

base tools 1




base 1

2. Next, I carved the Sculpey “bricks” into weathered stone with a craft knife.


base 2


base 3

3. The next step is to arrange the stones on the base and glue them on.

base 4


4. Then, I put Vallejo Red Oxide Paste (still love this stuff, although I could do without the red color) in the crevices and around edges. I also put various sizes of Woodland Scenics ballast on areas of the base. Weathered ruins and rocks are certainly accompanied by smaller rocks!

base 5

5. Prime the base! I used Vallejo Black Surface Primer.

base 6 primed black

6. Now for the fun part – painting! First, I coated the base in VGC Goblin Green.

base 7 vgc goblin green

7. Next I added some stone colors – RMS Bone Shadow then RMS Cloudy Grey.

base 8 rms bone shadow

base 9 rms cloudy grey

8. Next I used RMS Linen White on the ruins.

base 10 rms linen white

9. Then I used RMS Golden Shadow for more variation in color.

base 11 rms golden shadow


10. Now it’s time to wash the base. I used several colors – GW Athonian Camoshade, Army Painter Red Tone Ink, Army Painter Blue Tone Ink, Army Painter Green Tone Ink.

base 12 wash athonian camoshade red ink blue ink green ink

11. Next, drybrush the base with the colors used previously, as appropriate.

base 13 drybrush with colors used earlier

12. The next step is to put in the flight stand. I started the hole with a pin vice, and then finished it with the craft knife since the pin vice couldn’t make a hole big enough.

base 14 put in flight stands

13. The last step was to use Vallejo Matte Medium to attach Woodland Scenics flock and Secret Weapon leaves.

base 15 matte medium attach secret weapon leaves



Prince on Griffon final 4

Quick Tabletop High Elf Prince on Griffon

This is just a quick-and-dirty (but not actually dirty!) how-to for a tabletop level High Elf Prince on Griffon from the Island of Blood boxed set.

First, clean the mould lines, assemble, fill gaps, etc. as desired. Next, prime with zenithal lighting. This will give you basic, strong lights and darks to start with.


Next it’s a good idea to get the base started so it can dry while you paint the griffon. I used Vallejo Red Oxide Paste and added a little large-ish ballast while the paste was still wet (it’s an excellent glue). You could just as easily coat the base with PVA glue and apply sand.

2 start base

Now you need to select a light, medium, and dark shade for the flank of the griffon. I used RMS Golden Highlight, RMS Golden Shadow, and RMS Olive Skin Shadow. For the quickest work, use an airbrush to apply the paints. If you don’t have one, then a large brush will go a long ways to speeding things along. As long as you maintain your brush tips, even very large brushes can paint very tiny details. Details as small as eyes can be painted with the tip of a size 3 W&N Series 7, so the flank of a High Elf griffon should be no problem. Also, paint the base coat on the feathers. I used RMS Creamy Ivory.

3 flank and feathers so far

The next step is to wash the feathers on the wings. You could also wash the feathers on the body at this point, although I didn’t do that until later in the process when I painted this model. I used a watercolor wash, but you could use a premade wash, watered down acrylic paint, or an oil wash. All will have results that are a little different, but all should still turn out fine. If you plan to use an oil wash, make sure to remember to satin varnish before you apply it so you can effectively clean it up after.

Here’s my watercolor wash before clean-up:

4 watercolor wash on the feathers

After I cleaned up the watercolor wash, it was time to drybrush the wings. I used RMS Linen White, which is a little lighter than the original base of Creamy Ivory, but not a stark white.

5 wings cleaned and drybrushed

At this point, check your base. If it’s dry, then it’s time to start applying paint to it. I airbrushed it, but if you don’t have that option then make sure to use a large brush. Make sure to switch away from your really nice brushes so the rough texture of the base doesn’t tear up the bristles! I covered my base in VMA Black, then RMS Olive Skin Shadow. I also applied a little VGC Goblin Green and RMS Sandy Brown to make it more interesting.

6 base

Now it’s time to work on the details of the griffon. First, paint the legs and beak a color of your choice. I used RMS Explosion Orange. After, wash the legs and beak. I used Army Painter Strong Tone Ink. I really like the Army Painter inks for making quick, neat work of things like this. I feel like they apply a lot easier than GW washes, and they stay where you put them.

7 wash eagle legs strong tone

After, I applied VMA Black to the tip of the beak and the talons.

8 black on beak and talons

At this point I washed the rest of the feathers, but it would have been fine to do that earlier as well.

9 watercolor wash on rest of feathers

Drybrush the body feathers the same as the wing feathers, and now it’s time to get to the tiny High Elf Prince. If you’re airbrushing, mask off the top of the griffon under the cloak. I used a couple small strips of blue painter’s tape. Because of the zenithal priming, a shadow color really isn’t necessary on the cloak and banner, so pick a mid-tone and a highlight. I used RMS Sapphire Blue and RMS Sky Blue. Apply these colors to the cloak, banner, reigns, griffon’s eyes, and the rest of the cloth on the prince. I washed the tiny bits of cloth on his body with Army Painter Blue Tone Ink before highlighting for a little extra contrast.

Next, apply a skin color to the prince’s face and wash. I used VGC Elf Skin and Army Painter Strong Tone Ink. After that, apply a silver to the armor and lance. I used VMA Aluminum.

When that paint has dried, wash the armor. I used a thinned VMA Black as a wash.

While that dries, drybrush your base. I used RMS Terran Khaki.

When your wash has dried, clean up the silver metal where necessary. Then apply gold where you choose. Also, paint in the gems on the elf and any other tiny details that are left.

Apply flock to the base, attach the model, and you are done!

10 fin

11 fin

12 fin

Picture of him will go up in the gallery soon!

Rocky base for Feral Warpwolf

I had a Feral Warpwolf sitting on my shelf that was just waiting for a base, and he had been waiting for that base for going on a year…no idea how that happened! So I decided to just go ahead and get that taken care of. I had some spare sculpey bits and some wooden craft sticks sitting around, as well as some leaves for basing that I really love.

First, I tore the edges of the sculpey and stacked a few bits together. I also broke off bits of some craft sticks. I then assembled all of this with some super glue. PVA would probably be fine as well, but I accidentally bought a HUGE bottle of super glue that turned out to be 30 minutes set time (I didn’t read the label thoroughly…), so I use it for basing a lot.

1 begin building base with sculpey and sticks



After the glue set, I used Vallejo Red Oxide Paste to fill gaps, smooth transitions, add texture, and glue additional rocks on.

2 red oxide paste and various ballast


Then I began airbrushing. First was a mix of RMS Woodstain Brown and RMS Golden Shadow. It doesn’t matter too much at this point to be neat.

3 golden shadow and woodstain brown mix


Then I started adding color, because straight grey or brown is so boring! Also, nothing in nature is truly just one color, a brown rock is more than just brown if you really look at it. I used VGC Goblin Green next.

4 VGC Goblin Green


And RMS Bloodstain Red, then VGC Falcon Turquoise…

5 RMS Bloodstain Red then VGC Falcon Turquoise


After that I washed it with GW Agrax Earthshade to tie it all back together.

6 wash agrax earthshade


Here is the wash dried:

7 dried wash


Then I began drybrushing, first with RMS Aged Bone.

8 drybrush aged bone


Next, I drybrushed several more colors – RMS Rust Brown, VMC Azure, VGC Goblin Green, RMS Golden Shadow.

9 various drybrushes RMS rust brown VMC azure VGC goblin green RMS golden shadow


Then it was time to black out the edges, drill holes for the pins in the Feral Warpwolf’s feet, and attach the model. Once that was done, I put Vallejo Matte Medium on the base wherever I thought it looked like it needed fallen leaves, and then applied  Secret Weapon Summer Color Mix fallen leaves to those areas.

10 leaves with matte medium

11 leaves with matte medium


Now that it finally has a base, this model will be listed for sale soon!

Stone and Skull Scibor Resin bases

Recently, I painted a set of 18 resin Scibor bases for a unit of Dwarfs that I painted previously.

The first thing I did was wrap some craft sticks in painter’s tape, and then put the bases on the stick for airbrushing. This is probably the easiest way to hold them for airbrushing, and it can really help speed up the process.

1 bare bases set on sticks for airbrushing

Then, I primed them with black Vallejo Surface Primer.

2 primed black

Next, they were drybrushed with a medium grey.

3 drybrush cloudy grey

After, they were washed first with Army Painter Green Tone ink…

4 wash army painter green tone

Then with Army Painter Purple Tone ink. Adding many layers of unexpected colors can help create depth and interest. Many other colors would be fine to use, just go with what feels right to you. I wanted the overall result to be cool colors with the skulls really standing out, so I thought blue, purple, and green would be great hues to include. The Dwarfs have quite a bit of blue on their own though, so I left that color out of the bases.

5 wash army painter purple tone

Then they were drubrushed again with RMS Cloudy Grey.

6 drybrush cloudy grey

Next, the skulls alone were heavily drybrushed with RMS Cloudy Grey to pick them out.

7 pick out skulls cloudy grey drybrush

Then the skulls were drybrushed heavily with a mix of RMS Cloudy Grey and RMS Amber Gold to gradually bring them to their final color, but still keep them tied into the base overall.

8 drybrush skulls mix of cloudy grey and amber gold

Then, the bases were washed in some areas with GW Agrax Earthshade and GW Seraphim Sepia, and the skulls were drybrushed with RMS Yellowed Bone.

9 a little sepia and earthshade on bases and drybrush yellowed bone on skulls

The skulls were then washed with GW Seraphim Sepia.

10 wash skulls sepia

After that I picked out some areas of the stone with a light drybrush of VMC Light Sea Grey, which has quickly become one of my favorite paints.

11 drybrush pick out some edges of bases vmc light sea grey

After that all that was left was to black out the edges and take them off the sticks.

12 black out edges and remove from sticks

Then attach the Dwarfs!

13 attach dwarfs


This whole process was very fast and very simple, but the results speak for themselves!

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.

Tutorial: Scibor Moscal Strielec part two

In case you missed it, here is Part One of this tutorial. And now to finish the Scibor Strielec!

17. Basecoat the bag and strap with RMS Chestnut Gold.

18. Highlight the bag and strap with RMS Tanned Leather.

19. Basecoat the gun and chainmail metal with RMS Stormy Grey.

20. Basecoat the hat with RMS Amber Gold.




21. Wash the chainmail and line the crevice in the gun with Army Painter Dark Tone Ink (I’m starting to really like these inks!)

22. Start highlighting the gun and chainmail with RMS Cloudy Grey.

23. Gradually add RMS Ghost White to the RMS Cloudy Grey and continue with the non-metallic metal on the gun and chainmail.

24. When that mix has gone as far as it can add RMS Pure White.

25. Shade the dark areas of the gun barrel with Army Painter Dark Tone ink.

26. Drybrush the hat with RMS Creamy Ivory.

27. Wash the hat with Army Painter Soft Tone ink.

28. Basecoat the skull on the gun with RMS Polished Bone.

29. Wash the skull with Army Painter Soft Tone ink.

30. Drybrush the skull with RMS Polished Bone.

31. Wash the skull with GW Seraphim Sepia.

32. Drybrush the skull with RMS Polished Bone while the GW Sepia is still wet.

33. Drybrush again when dry, very lightly.


34. Basecoat the brass with a 1:1 mix of RMS Chestnut Brown and VMA Orange.

35. Shade the brass with RMS Brown Liner.

36. Mix a little VMA Yellow Ochre into the Chestnut Brown/Orange mix and begin working up the brass.

37. Gradually increase the VMA Yellow Ochre in the mix and continue on the NMM brass.

38. When that mix has gone as far as it can add VMC Golden Yellow.

39. Wash the brass with GW Seraphim Sepia.

40. Final highlights on the brass NMM with a mix of VMC Golden Yellow and RMS Linen White.

41. Put in glints with RMS Linen White.




Tutorial: Scibor Moscal Strielec part one

I’ve completed a test model for a Chaos Dwarf army using Scibor Strielecs as Infernal Guard with Blunderbusses. Here’s the step-by-step:

1. Basecoat the beard and skin with Vallejo Model Air Mahagony.

2. Use Reaper Master Series Tanned Skin mixed with VMA Mahagony and coat the skin.

3. Highlight the skin by adding RMS Rosy Skin gradually.

4. Paint the eyes with RMS Linen White.

5. Line the eyes and paint in the pupils with RMS Brown Liner.

6. Use RMS Flesh Wash on the cheeks and between the fingers.



7. Highlight the beard with RMS Rust Brown, then mix in RMS Palomino Gold and gradually increase the Gold as you layer highlights.

8. Wash the beard with Games Workshop Seraphim Sepia.






9. Paint the gun haft RMS Shield Brown

10. Wash the gun haft with thinned RMS Brown Liner.

11. Basecoat the coat with RMS Dark Skin.



12. Wash the skin with a mix of RMS Flesh Wash and GW Seraphim Sepia.

13. Airbrush shadows in the coat with RMS Blackened Brown.

14. Airbrush highlights in the coat with a 4:1 mix of RMS Chestnut Gold and Dark Skin.

15. Use a brush to touch up the shadows on the coat with RMS Blackened Brown.

16. Touch up the highlights with RMS Chestnut Gold.

The rest is coming up tomorrow!

Upcoming Post: How to tell Forge World recasts from the real thing

Recently someone I know bought what he believed were Forge World Chaos Dwarfs. They were second hand, and he had no reason to believe they were anything other than what the seller claimed they were. As used models they were a little worse for the wear, but still a great deal overall.

Unfortunately, the models turned out to be counterfeit. Now he is having to deal with a PayPal claim and the legal department at Forge World to get this resolved. Selling counterfeit goods, even unknowingly, is a violation of patent, copyright, and trademark laws. There seems to be a lot of Forge World recasting going on out there (especially on eBay), and not a lot of information available about how to spot it.

In the next week or so I plan to post about some of the ways to spot a fake Forge World model and how we determined these in particular were fake (aside from the confirmation from Forge World!).