Following on from Iron Man I wanted to continue experimenting with glazes, and so that’s the predominant technique I’ve used here.
Firstly, though, I needed to do a little research into a colour scheme. Crisis Protocol’s card for Spider-Man isn’t the most inspirational and so I took to my slightly dated Marvel Encyclopedia.
From here I came up with the following colour scheme, which could be tinkered with along the way – for the blue I decided on a mid-tone of Blue (VMA – paint key at end of post), Highlights Electric Blue (VGC), and shade of Imperial Blue (VGC). For the reds I thought I’d start from a mid-tone of Mechrite Red (GW – and yes, I still have some of the old Citadel range!) and from there run up the highlights by adding Flat Red and Ivory, whilst for the shade I’d mix in some black – I was sure it would come together in the end!
So, I started off with a black prime followed by Zenithal Highlights of Cold Grey (VGA) and White (VMA)
A quick look at Zenithal Highlighting
Once the whole miniature had been primed in black, the grey was sprayed holding the airbrush at a 45°-degree angle, thus leaving the underside and recesses black. The white was then applied from almost directly above to highlight the areas that would be lit by a light source directly above. If I’d wished the figure to be lit from a directional light source then I would adjust the angles as required – for example, I may want a figure lit only from the front and so I would spray the white from the front at maybe a 75° angle, which would leave the rear nicely shaded.
I find there are two big advantages to this method.
Firstly, it immediately gives you an idea of where to place your highlights and what parts would be in shade – It’s handy to take a picture at this stage to refer to later in the process.
Secondly, if you’re painting on thin coats of paint, and especially if you’re using glazes, then these coats become naturally highlighted and shaded. You can then move on to block in these areas with your respective highlight and shade colours prior to blending.
Time to add the mid-tone blue and so I made up a glaze mixing a drop of glaze medium (Vallejo) and a drop of water with the paint. I haven’t done much glazing before and so I’m still trying various mixes to find which works for me. So far, I’ve found that the Air paints, designed to be used with an airbrush, only require a little addition of medium and water or thinners, and are fairly consistent from colour to colour. The thicker paints, however, I have found that I must mix by eye, as the viscosity of the paint just isn’t as consistent.
For a glaze, I’m looking for a very thin coat, one that will just tint the base colour it’s applied to. Applying it to Spider-Man, I was looking for the black recesses to stay black, the grey to take on the colour of the blue glaze almost as it is from the pot, and the white, highlighted areas, to have just a hint of blue. By applying several thin coats and pushing the pigment around to where I want it, I can gradually change the intensity of the blue.
If only it were that easy, though!
Things didn’t look too bad after the first few coats, but there wasn’t enough contrast and the highlights didn’t pop.
Something I’m just cottoning onto is contrast. Getting the contrast right on a mini can really make it come to life and pop, but it takes confidence and I’ve always been far too cautious in my approach.
Having nice dark shading and bright vivid highlights can look a little odd when viewed close up, but place the mini a foot or so away and the difference it can make is quite something. To make things even better you need to get the transition from shade to highlight just right, and there’s a lot of factors that determine how this should be, especially the type of material you’re trying to replicate.
I’m still at the bottom of the learning curve on this, though, but practice makes perfect… or at least a little better!
So, I applied a little Electric Blue (VGC) where I wanted the brightest highlights, and then glazed over with my Blue. Glazing like this, as well as tinting the paint it is applied to, also helps to blend in the transition between the layers.
I still wanted things brighter, and so I moved up to Glacier Blue (VMC), which is a very desaturated blue, almost to the point of being white, and put a dash over the Electric Blue areas. Again, I glazed over with my original blue glaze.
Happy with the highlights I turned to the shading. I wanted something to take it from the Blue mid-tone to the almost pure Black of the underside and recesses, so I mixed a little Imperial Blue (VGC) with Black (MA) and applied it where I thought it was needed. The Blue glaze was then used over the edges to give a better flow from one colour to the next.
Moving on to the red parts I decided to use glazes again, but in a different way this time. I basecoated in Mechrite Red, one of the old GW Citadel foundation paints, and then I had to decide how and when to add in all the black lines of his suit.
Firstly, I thought of doing all the highlights to the red and then do the lining, but if I cocked up (likely) I would have a harder time covering things up, so in the end I opted to do it now, however, I did cheat!
I reached for a Sakura Pigma Brush that I had handy, which is a micro ink pen, but instead of a nib it has a fine tipped brush. Using this to apply all the lines turned out to have only one advantage over using paint, and a couple of disadvantages.
The fact that I didn’t have to keep reloading a brush made the work faster. The tip was accurate and fine, and in many ways acted like hair brush. The ink does dry with a very glossy finish though, but the final varnishing would take care of that (I checked on a gash mini), and, as I found out, the make-up of a glaze causes the ink to run – if I’d known that would happen I could have avoided it by applying a thin coat of varnish at this point.
To do the highlights I started by adding Flat Red (MA) to the Mechrite and applying it where required, which meant lots of small dabs here and there as I had to do each individual square on his suit whilst trying to avoid the lines!
I stepped up to just Flat Red and went over again, layering up over the previous coat, and then started adding Ivory (VMC) and reducing the area highlighted. Finally, a few dashes of pure Ivory here and there.
For the shades, mostly under the arms and around the neck, I simply desaturated the Mechrite with a little black.
Finally, I made up a glaze using Mechrite and went over all the areas I’d highlighted or shaded, just to bring it all together.
The black trim was highlighted using a mix of German Grey (VMC) and Sombre Grey (VGC), and then just Sombre Grey.
Looking at the base, I wasn’t happy with the way the rocks sprang from the pavement, it looked exactly like what it was – stuck on! Liquid putty put that right, running a good squirt all the way around and then running a damp finger over to blend it in.
I painted it up with a variety of greys and blacks, often mixed together, and included a few subtle dots of Heavy Red (VGEO) here and there, just to tie the base into the figure. A quick wash with Nuln Oil (GW) and Umber (VGCW), a bit Typhus Corrosion (GW) around the base of the rocks, and a few drybrushed highlights completed things.
The steel was basecoated Black and a very thin coat of Stonewall Grey (GA), desaturated slightly with the black, was applied. A thin wash with Nuln Oil and the rust effects applied – I made this up as I went along and didn’t write it down – along with a few scrapes and scratches using a light grey.
After several thin coats of Vallejo’s Mecha Matt Varnish, Spider-Man was finished, and I had a big grin on my face!
This has so far been one of the most rewarding things I’ve painted. Everything was my own work – I’d come up with the colours and techniques to use, and everything just fell together; I had also learnt so much, especially using glazes.
Maybe, though, it was just because it had brought back so many happy memories, of me as a young child leaping around the house wearing my Spider-Man mask, singing the tune, ‘Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can,’ at the top of my voice!
As my gaming seems to have dried up due to a lack of gaming space, and my computer time is currently limited, I’ll be continuing with these paint posts. Back to Scythe for the next one, with the Nordic Kingdom, and then it’s Black Widow meets the airbrush!
- VMA – Vallejo Model Air
- VGC – Vallejo Game Colour
- GW – Games Wokshop
- VGA – Vallejo Game Air
- MA – Model Air
- VGEO – Vallejo Game Extra Opaque
- VGCW – Vallejo Game Colour Wash