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Miniature Painting Masterclass
Sculpted by Pedro Fernández
painted by Fernando Ruiz
Rollo, Duke of Normandy, a MPM
painting guide (aggiornato il 12.04.2019)
Join us in this first painting guide that we will be publishing by episodes. Miniature courtesy of FeR Miniatures: https://ferminiatures.com/shop/magna-historica/rollo-duke-of-normandy/ .
We are really happy to publish the first tutorial of this initiative, and the subject is this recent release by a company called FeR Miniatures (maybe you’ve heard about them, they make more or less OK figures and busts :D). The subject is Rollo, Duke of Normandy and the scale is a big (actually huge!) 1/12. The sculpture was done by the always talented Pedro Fernández.
When you paint a boxart, and more if your intuition tells you that the piece is going to be popular, there is some sort of responsibility, as that paintjob is going to define greatly the way people sees that particular piece.
Also, you normally have the impulse of trying new things, but that sometimes is conditioned by convenience and schedule… All that initial planning influences greatly on the final result.
So, as a change, I decided to do most of the sketching work on the face with the airbrush and I used a different palette than usual. The colors used in this stage of the face were (from left to right and up to down) Light Flesh 70.928, Sunny Skintone 70.845, Beige Red 70.804, Black Red 70.859, Dark Sea Blue 70.898, and US Olive Drab 70.887
After a primer coat with the new Vallejo’s Black Primer, I airbrushed the whole face with a mix of Beige Red 70.804 and a bit of Black Red 70.859. Note that I attached the hair optional piece to the head with a bit of blu-tack and painted the whole thing together.
Next, I added more Black Red to the mix and airbrushed a shadow from below to get an initial idea of the volumes.
Then I applied an additional shadow with pure Black Red and a final one mixing it with a bit of Dark Sea Blue 70.898 to get the final tonal depth. I insisted a bit more on the lower right side of the face with this final shadow, as the head is slightly tilted.
Now it was the turn of the highlights. First, I worked in the overall surface with pure Beige Red 70.804 and then I added Sunny Skintone 70.845 to get more intensity, concentrating the final applications in the upper left side of the face. The result is a nice tonality that goes bright and sunny on the upper left and dark and cold in the lower right. The airbrush is the perfect tool for this kind of intentional work
With all the previous tones, I started working on the left side of the face, now with the brush. As the blending is already done, most of the work consists of detailing and enhancing the saturation of the different tones in particular points
A bit more of work, adding some Light Flesh 70.928 to the highlights and pure Dark Sea Blue to the shadows to enhance the contrast a bit further.
After I was more or less satisfied, I moved to the right side, keeping in mind the subtle change in tonality so I didn’t overwork it and obscure the effect.
In order to frame all the work already done, I basecoated the hair with a mix of US Olive Drab 70.887 and Sunny Skintone. Everything started to take shape. Sometimes it is important to take a small detour and go a few steps ahead in order to see the global result.
Ok, now, all that was left was to add the finishing touches to the face, painting the eyes and the hair. The colors used were, from left to right and up to down: Flat Red 70.957, Dark Sea Blue 70.898, Light Flesh 70.928, US Olive Drab 70.887, Sunny Skintone 70.845, Ice Yellow 70.858, Black Red 70.859, and Model Wash Light Rust 76.505.
First of all, I glazed Flat Red 70.957, mixed with the basecoat color of the flesh, over all the fleshy mid-tone areas of the face. It just needed a bit, not too much. With a mix of Flat Red and Dark Sea Blue 70.898, I glazed the shadow areas to get a bit more of depth. Adding these new tonalities to the previous flesh palette, I added the final details and texture to the face.
The eyes were painted in the usual way (we’ll do a really detailed SBS or video on this in the future, I promise) First, I painted first the eyeball with Light Flesh70.928. After that, I painted the iris in Dark Sea Blue, drawing also an outline with that tone between the upper eyelid and the eyeball. Finally, I did some highlights towards the lower part of the iris, adding small amounts of Light Flesh, adding a black dot to simulate the pupil and the reflection of the light with pure Light Flesh. The most important thing to mention is that you have to be sure that you align the look exactly to the point you need, in this case, I wanted him to look eye-to-eye to the viewer.
The final part was the hair. I did first a test on a section to see if what I had in mind was going to work nicely. Over the previous base of US Olive Drab 70.887 and Sunny Skintone 70.845, I added highlights with Sunny Skintone and small amounts of Ice Yellow 70.858. For the shadows, I added Black Red 70.859 and finally small amounts of Dark Sea blue to the base color.
Seeing that the result was what I wanted, I worked on the other side of the head and also the beard and eyebrows. To enhance a bit the color I added some controlled glazes with Model Wash Light Rust 76.505 in selected spots
The hair might require some adjustment later, to add more intensity in the highlights depending on the result on the rest of the elements. I also painted the lower part of it in a simple way, as I planned to finish it when the rest of the surrounding elements were done.
Let’s show some more work. Now it is the time of the gambeson and the decorated sleeves, central elements of the bust that I needed to sort before going for the outer parts. First, I did the gambeson, the central element and also the most hidden one. For it, I used the following tones: US Olive Drab 70.887, Dark Sea Blue 70.898, Black 70.950, Brown Sand 70.876, Chocolate Brown 70.872, and Orange Brown 70.981.
Initially, I was going to paint the gambeson in a light worn tone but, in the last moment, I changed my mind and decided to make it black. That way, as it is the core part of the bust, it would be very easy to make the rest of elements stand out by comparison. First of all, I made a mix of US Olive Drab 70.887, Dark Sea Blue 70.898 and a bit of Black 70.950 for the basecoat. I normally use solid colors and simple mixes, but this time I wanted a bit of each tonality to be present in the mix from the beginning. It looks as black, but it isn’t black, trust me
Then I applied an overall wash with pure Black over the whole thing and insisted in the lines were the gambeson sections are stitched forming a rhomboid pattern.
Using the already applied shadows as an anchor, I added Brown Sand 70.876 to the basecoat mix and created two or three different tones of highlights. With these, I made a rough sketch of highlights, aiming always for the upper edges of the volumes, and intensifying the application towards the upper parts, logically more exposed to the light of the sun. Brown Sand is a good tone for highlighting black if you are aiming for a worn and a bit discolored look.
Also, I faked some small tension wrinkles on the edges of the rhomboid patches to add more interest to the area
Working on one patch at a time, I finished every one of them, blending just a bit the tones to maintain that rough appearance, adding small details like additional wrinkles, imperfections and holes and intensifying the final highlights and shadows with pure Brown Sand and Black. To finish, I added some subtle glazing with Dark Sea Blue towards the lower parts and shadows, enhancing that way the tonal variation between the upper and lower areas
The leather trimming of the gambeson was very simple, I started with a basecoat of Chocolate Brown 70.872, added Dark Sea Blue for the shadows and added Orange Brown 70.981 and Brown Sand for the highlights. I decided to keep it simple as it would be perceived as a background under later more prominent details
Next bit were going to be the sleeves, which I had decided to paint in some light blue with a nice trimming I had seen on a Viking reenactor shirt. These are the colors used in this step: GC Electric Blue 72.023, GC Sombre Grey 72.048, Sunny Skintone 70.845, Dark Sea Blue 70.898, Black Red 70.859, Stone Grey 70.884, Chocolate Brown 70.872 and Black 70.950
Sometimes, when you have a very particular tone in mind, you need to mix a bit to get it. In this case, GC Electric Blue 72.023 was very similar to my idea, but a bit too intense, so I mixed it a bit with GC Sombre Grey 72.048. When trying to obtain a certain tone, it is always important to keep in mind how the highlights and shadows are going to affect it, as sometimes that particular final look you are thinking on will be easier to replicate in later stages, in example making it paler, or warmer, or more worn out depending on the color used in the highlights, or modulating the shadows to add an extra shade that would affect the whole thing. I used that mix for the basecoat.
After that, I added Sunny Skintone 70.845 and Dark Sea Blue 70.898 for the highlights and shadows respectively and sketched them over the surface. The Game Color range is a bit shinny sometimes, but nothing that cannot be mended with some matt varnish after the job is done.
I blended the whole thing together and varnished matt the sleeves with the airbrush. As I explained above, you can see how the highlights and shadows have affected the basecoat, getting it warmer towards the highlights and colder towards the shadows
As in any other freehand painted detail, planning and order is key to success! For the trimming of the sleeves I started with some thin lines in Dark Sea Blue to define the area where the trimming would be.
Inside those lines, I painted lines with Stone Grey 70.884
Again, I painted more lines inside those, this time with Black Red 70.859. When doing it, I reduce the width of the previous ones as desired
Another set of lines with Stone Grey
And another set of lines, this time with Dark Sea Blue
I covered the remaining space with Stone Grey
And finally did the inner detailing bit by bit with Dark Sea Blue. First some perpendicular double lines, then some triangles on each side of the square that would form a thin diagonal cross, and finally some small applications to finish the pattern
Of course, it needed highlights and shadows. For the first, I added Sunny Skintone (as in the light blue tone) to all the previously used colors and highlighted carefully every detail. For the shadows, I applied controlled washes of a mix of Dark Sea Blue, Chocolate Brown and Black towards the lower parts and shadow areas, to mute it down as a whole
I repeated the whole process in the other sleeve. This is the result so far, more advances soon!
Here are some fresh updates on this SBS to help you get through the week I’m going to show now how I finished all the remaining bits on the torso. Keep in mind that the logic sequence when painting miniatures area by area is to go from inside to outside and from up to down to make things easier. The colors I used in this step: GC Charred Brown 72.045, Orange Brown 70.981, Sunny Skintone 70.845, Dark Sea Blue 70.898, Saddle Brown 70.940, GC Violet Ink 72.087, English Uniform 70.921, GC Glorious Gold 72.056, MC Gold 77.725, and GC Green Ink 72.089
The first thing I did was to paint the Shield’s belt, that I had imagined as new orange toned leather that would be quite detached from the background. I started with a basecoat of GC Charred Brown 72.045 and Orange Brown 70.981 and worked mainly on highlighting it without too much texture adding Orange Brown and some Sunny Skintone 70.845 for the final touches. The few shadow points and outlining were done simply adding pure Charred Brown.
As you might realize in the picture, the tone was a bit too similar to the leather I had done in the gambeson’s trimming, so I toned down that one a bit to enhance further the new belt
For the sword belt, I wanted a dark reddish leather finish with some violet hue. I applied a really dark basecoat with a mix of Charred Brown and Dark Sea Blue 70.898 that I highlighted adding Saddle Brown 70.940 and some Sunny Skintone 70.845 for the final touches. That way I got a colder tone, which I enhanced with shadows in pure Dark Sea Blue and some precise washes of GC Violet Ink 72.087
I had painted the non-metallic parts of the sword with the previous tones used in other areas. For the brass pommel and hilt, I applied a basecoat with a mix of English Uniform 70.921 and GC Glorious Gold 72.056. That way I took advantage of the rich tonality of the Game Color tone but reducing its grainy look a bit. For the shadows, I simply added some Charred Brown and enhanced the highlights adding Metal Color Gold 77.725, which has a superfine pigment and works really nice for these final touches. I also added some green tonalities with controlled washes of GC Green Ink 72.089. As you might have noticed, when you try to incorporate the same tones with just some variations in each area of the project, the whole thing gains a lot of coherence.
Now it was time to finish the piece of the axe with the hands, as I really wanted to see how it looked once finished. For this step I used: Glossy Black 70.861, GC Charred Brown 72.045, Dark Sea Blue 70.898, Orange Brown 70.981, Black Red 70.859, MC Jet Exhaust 77.713, MC Silver 77.724, Sunny Skintone 70.845, Ice Yellow 70.858, and English Uniform 70.921
I started with a couple of coats of Glossy Black 70.861 in the head of the axe
Next, I applied some random touches of GC Charred Brown 72.045, applied with a sponge over the whole surface.
And I repeated that step again but using Dark Sea Blue 70.898 this time.
After that, I carefully enhanced a rusty effect in some points, using Orange Brown 70.981 and Black Red 70.859. The effect I was looking for the main body of the axe’s head was rough iron, not cared for, but not really rusted either.
I painted the sharpened edge and the edges of the whole head with MC Jet Exhaust 77.713
And I added the last touch with some MC Silver 77.724 highlights and precise edges.
For the shaft, I wanted a new natural wood look. First I painted it with Sunny Skintone 70.845
And next, I covered it completely adding thin lines of Ice Yellow 70.858 to get a nice wooden pattern
With some careful applications of English Uniform 70.921 and Charred Brown, I added shadows, added tonality and enhanced imperfections here and there.
I finished the hands using the tones previously described for the face. The metallic tone of the ring and bracelet is the same as the one used in the sword, but with less contrast and adding a final glaze of Orange Brown to get a look more similar to gold than to brass.
The result so far. At this point, I was really happy with the decision of a black gambeson, as the rest of the elements looked really nice with that background.
here are some more advances in this process! After finishing all the inner elements and the hands and axe piece, it was the moment to tackle one of the most challenging parts of the bust, the cloak. Why challenging? Well, because being it so predominant on the figure, I decided that I wanted to paint it with a “herringbone” pattern, to avoid a boring surface…
Here are the colors I used for this part: Cavalry Brown 70.982, Sunny Skintone 70.845, Dark Sea Blue 70.898, Black 70.950, Orange Brown 70.981, and Chocolate Brown 70.872
I started with an overall basecoat of Cavalry Brown 70.982
Followed by a rough sketch of highlights and shadows, adding Sunny Skintone 70.845 and Dark Sea Blue 70.898 respectively. There is no point in trying to do a really fine work here, as I was going to cover the whole surface afterwards.
The most complicated part of the design was actually planning a system to apply it and making it look realistic. Sometimes you need a few attempts, sometimes it works at the first try. I started drawing really thin parallel lines with a medium shadow tone, which would serve as a guide for the herringbone pattern. When doing a woven pattern on a piece of cloth, you need to make everything as even as possible, as it cannot be thicker in some points and thinner in others. Every line needs to run in a parallel way and the whole thing needs to be consistent.
Over the space between the previous lines, I drew really small consecutive diagonal lines to simulate the pattern, using a medium highlight tone. You need to be patient with this, trying to make them as even as possible
In order to conceal the guide lines, that are not so striking in the real fabric, I applied a glaze of pure Cavalry Brown, first directly over the dark lines and later as a thin overall coat over the whole surface. That way, I brought back some intensity and make the whole thing come together.
Now that I knew how to do it, I repeated the process in the rest of the cloak sections. This was the single most time consuming part of the whole painting process but, you know, no pain, no gain
To finish the cloak, I added some subtle washes in the shadow areas with the pure Dark Sea Blue and also some Chocolate Brown 70.872. For the decorative trimming, I opted for a simple design that would not distract from the already richly decorated surfaces. The background tone is a mix of Black 70.950 with Dark Sea Blue, highlighted with the last tone pure. The design was painted with the previous tone mixed with Orange Brown 70.981 and highlighted adding more of the last tone.
I confess that I find really fun to document and retrace the steps I did when painting a miniature. It actually helps to understand why I did certain things in the way I did them and get an insight on how my mind works when painting.
OK, the last remaining bits are the shield, the wolf pelt and the optional helmet that comes with the bust. I started with the shield and used the following tones on it: Black Red 70.859, Black 70.950, US Olive Drab 70.887, Dark Sea Blue 70.898, Flat Red 70.957, Sunny Skintone 70.845, MC Jet Exhaust 77.713, MC Silver 77.724, GC Charred Brown 72.045, and Cavalry Brown 70.982
After a previous attempt with a different approach that was not quite satisfactory (mistakes are part of the process, even for experienced painters, let’s face it!), I painted the front of the shield with a combination of two tones, Black Red 70.859 and Black 70.950. I painted the whole surface first in Black Red and then I made very easily the design with some masking tape, cut in the right curved shape and used as a rough template to paint the limit of each area with Black
After that, I highlighted the surface to enhance the wooden texture, using a mix of US Olive Drab 70.887 and Dark Sea Blue 70.898 in the black areas and some Flat Red 70.957 with touches of Sunny Skintone 70.845 for the red areas, For the shadows, I applied a couple of thinned washes with Black and Dark Sea Blue.
Using all the previous colors, I detailed even further the whole surface, adding some imperfections, cuts and bumps that I conveniently enhanced using highlights and shadows
In some of those imperfections and also here and there I simulated chipped spots on the painted surface where the wood underneath can be seen. For that, I used US Olive Drab highlighted with Sunny Skintone. It is better to add a few spots, check the result and add more chipping bit by bit until you get the right appearance without overdoing
The umbo was basecoated with a mix of MC Jet Exhaust 77.713, Black and Dark Sea Blue. For the shadows I used thin washes of Black and added some MC Silver 77.724 for the highlights. A touch of rust was added in the rivets with a thinned wash of Cavalry Brown 70.982.
The leather edge of the shield was painted in a very simple way. A basecoat of GC Charred Brown 72.045 with some Sunny Skintone added for the highlights. I added some washes of Cavalry Brown in the mid-tones to enhance the whole thing a bit.
The next bit was the back of the shield and the wolf pelt parts. I made them at the same time, as some of the pelt is incorporated in the shield piece. The tones I used were: Goldbrown 70.877, US Olive Drab 70.887, Stone Grey 70.884, Chocolate Brown 70.872, Black 70.950, and Orange Brown 70.981.
For the back of the shield, I applied a basecoat of Goldbrown 70.877 to get a vivid look. After that, I applied some thin washes with US Olive Drab 70.887, Chocolate Brown 70.872, and Black 70.950 to add tonality and outline the limits between the planks. Finally, I used the basecoat and Stone Grey 70.884 to draw thin lines along the planks to simulate the grain of the wood. The final points of highlight were made with pure Stone Grey
Let’s talk about the wolf pelt. For me, the right way of painting animal fur is to try to set where the different spots of tonalities are, then blending them together taking advantage of the fur texture and add any necessary highlights or shadows depending on the plane of highlights where each spot is. As the bits of fur present on the figure are not really big and correspond to different parts of the animal, it is easy to work on each detached part without really needing to connect them as whole. The most complicated part is the head of the wolf that required observation of real animals to understand how the different spots interact. I used Chocolate Brown, Stone Grey, Orange Brown, Black, and also partial mixes of these tones to apply basecoats on the different spots of the fur.
Next I refined the sketch, blending together the tones, enhancing the fur texture and adding highlights and shadows where required. After the head, I proceeded in the same way with the rest of the fur parts in the shield
OK, now all was done excepting for the optional helmet. The cool thing about it is that the kit includes 2 different options for the face protection, a simpler nose guard and also a mask, typical of the period. The colors I used were: MC Jet Exhaust 77.713, GC Ink Blue 72.088, GC Ink Violet 72.087, GC Ink Green 72.089, GC Ink Black 72.094, MC Silver 77.724, Chocolate Brown 70.872, Goldbrown 70.877, MC Gold 77.725, and Orange Brown 70.981
As a start, I applied a basecoat over the whole helmet with MC Jet Exhaust 77.713. I like to work alternatively with this tone and also another one, MC Burnt Iron 77.721 (not used this time), as basecoats for steel or iron parts. The first has a subtle violet tonality and the other is more brownish. Both are really useful, depending on the effect you want to achieve.
I wanted a dark battered look for the inner plates of the helmet and a slightly lighter tone for the reinforcement bands and rivets. To get the depth I needed, I worked with several washes of inks to build a certain subtle sheen. I used GC Ink Blue 72.088, GC Ink Violet 72.087, GC Ink Green 72.089, and finally GC Ink Black 72.094 in the recesses
I insisted with the inks until I got the depth I wanted.
With some MC Jet Exhaust, I brought back the basecoat tone, insisting more on the reinforcement bands than in the central plates.
And finally I added some final highlights with MC Silver 77.724 to enhance the edges and rivets.
For the bronze decorations, I applied a basecoat with a mix of Chocolate Brown 70.872, Goldbrown 70.877 and a bit of MC Gold 77.725
I added a first highlight adding more Goldbrown 70.877 and MC Gold 77.725
And some final highlights with pure MC Gold 77.725
The last thing to do was adding some shades and effects to the metal areas. I applied some GC Ink Green on the shadow areas of the bronze, and some subtle rust in the joint areas of the steel parts with Orange Brown 70.981.