Tuesday, April 10, 2012

So you want to continue airbrushing?

Welcome to the final installment of my little airbrushing trilogy. Today we will look at actual miniatures and try to apply the techniques we've discussed to them.

If you look at this boar, you'll notice it has three main colors on it: light brown, dark brown and black (and some tan on the snout, but don't mind that now). These were applied from the lightest to the darkest on a light gray undercoat.

That approach serves three goals. Firstly, you can apply very diluted paint, making transitions and shades as easy as making or not making another pass with the same color. Secondly, there are no problems with coverage, as darker colors cover the lighter ones better than vice versa. Thirdly, once you get the hang of it, no mixing is necessary: in extreme cases (like batch painting twenty Space Marines or so) you can make the shading/highlighting just by applying more or fewer layers of the same color.

Of course, the painting does not end with airbrushing several layers. You still need to make the deepest shades and the lightest highlights. Airbrushing only takes care about the larger surfaces, but it does it very, very well.

On our boars, we achieve the fur texture by employing the easiest of techniques, but only after giving it the color proper by airbrushing. By combining the tried and true ink-then-drybrush routine on an already shaded and highlighted surface, we achieve a nice, naturalistic effect.

So, after all the browns and black were in place, I mixed some devlan mud and badab black in a 2:1 ratio. I applied this mix towards the boar's back, rather than its belly and head (and also on the fur near its hooves; by the way, it's high time someone actually told GW boars don't have horse-like hooves at all, they have four "fingers" - I mean, haven't they ever seen pork shanks?!). I diluted it, but only slightly, GW washes don't take diluting very well. I applied pure devlan mud nearer to the belly and head, and pure badab black nearer to the back.

To bring out the fur texture, I simply drybrushed the boar with VMC Beige, going against the "grain". I wanted the beige at the very tips of the hair, just to make an extreme highlight and make the texture pop.

After that it was just the matter of detailing.

To wrap things up, it has to be said that the airbrush will not make your life easier overnight. It is simply another tool, a very useful one, but still a tool. It will not, by itself, improve your quality of painting (undercoating and sealing aside, perhaps). It will simply broaden your arsenal. What you do with it is your choice.

I can hear the cries - what about masking? What about stencils? What about patterns?

Well, all I can say is that I'm still learning. Neither do I have the experience nor the materials to cover masking and stenciling properly. But these will come, sooner or later - that much I can promise.

Take it from here folks.

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