Saturday 9 August 2014

(Don't) Paint it Black

This post was inspired by an article in a magazine called The Artist from August 2003 that Sue had bought for me from a charity shop. The premise of the article was advising novices to watercolour painting on the use, actually how not to use Black (and as it happens White) in your watercolour palette. The author, Julie Collins suggest that Black is too stark a colour (I will use the term colour for Black, some might disagree) when used in watercolour painting. She advises using a number of mixes; Windsor Blue and Burnt Sienna - Dark Blue and Dark Brown as the darkest mix and Ultramarine Blue and Sepia - lighter Blue and Brown.

I was intrigued to see how this approach would work with acrylic paints and miniatures. Here are the results.

I chose a 40mm Cliff Hanger miniature sculpted by Jim Bowen. Frankensein. The miniature was mounted first to a wooden disc and then to a 40mm plastic base. The groundwork was built up with DAS modelling clay and the headstone a piece of 3mm plastic card.

I assure you, no Black (or White was used) - this is a mix of very dark Blue and dark Brown.

The main painting used Snakebite Leather, Blue and Brown, plus some Linen or Ivory paint to build up the tones and subtle colour.

Following on, I wondered if the same could be done with a much lighter miniature and this time I chose a 40mm Mummy from the same range. Here you see the finished figure.

The miniature was based in the same way. I used a small resin pot as base decoration, which I glued in place after sanding the base smooth.

This figure was first painted very dark Green with some Brown to the top. The wrappings were drybrushed with Snakebite and Linen and then washed with Sepia wash.

I am not sure that I will be using this technique on future projects, but found the exercise interesting and thought provoking.

As someone who regularly uses Black to undercoat my figures this experiment has made me think about the use of Black (and White) in the painting of miniatures.

You may wish to try it.



MarkG said...

Very interesting and nice results. Black is my least favourite colour to attempt to represent on miniatures. This approach makes sense but I'd be wary to use it on historical miniatures unless confident the resulting fading would look correct. So I think it would work on Napoleonics, but would it work on black uniforms/kit worn by say modern forces/police. I guess it would mean I higher proportion of dark blue to the brown to represent modern dyes?

snowcat said...

Curious. How do you think this technique would go with 28mm SYW/ImagiNation style figures? Could you see an advantage in not using black or white to undercoat these relatively more vividly coloured subjects?


Michael Awdry said...

Now that's fascinating and the results have a great quality to them that befits the subject matter perfectly. I tried painting a zulu warrior with a green undercoat once after a similar discussion and although I enjoyed the process it wasn't long before I resorted to the more familiar - certainly food for thought.

Tony said...

I am not sure if I will be using the technique on my Flintloque miniatures - figures which I think benefit from a rather more cartoony look, however I see no issues with painting historical miniatures with this paint mix.

As far as modern Black uniforms, I know that some are already using a similar style to paint the Copplestone moderns.

I think it is an interesting style rather than a new painting method for my minis.

I hope that this helps.