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Firebrand Drone - Studio McVey

Firebrand Drone Studio McVey

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#1 CashWiley

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 10:22 AM

Ok, I warned you guys about inviting me to your forum! Tremble with fear. Or is it jiggle with mirth? Whatevs. For behold, my cutting and pasting of a WIP already somewhat in progress shall begin! I've got this in a couple spots (including my blog), but it's primarily working from a thread on the Studio McVey forums about painting this very mini. I'm using it to learn new techniques and try to advance to the next level of painting to satisfy my inner perfectionist. As it's been moved around a bit, some parts may no longer be sensible as I reference things and people in other places. Please ask for any clarifications!

Also, I talk/type/ramble A LOT. So, with apologies thus submitted in proper tone and timbre, let the cutting and the pasting ensue!

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The 2-brush style...Ali makes it look so easy! Base coat on, just finished the shading pass. I'm a pretty sloppy painting, so this kind of thing is going to be a struggle for a while; this is the first time I've really tried for a 'good' paint job. The main problem I seem to be having with the technique is maybe it's drying too fast? I'm getting a bit of a line that the technique is pretty much aimed at eradicating. The other thing is I salivate a lot so maybe my 2nd brush is too moist, but it seems to move paint a bit more than I intend, a lot of my base coat got covered from the blend brush moving paint all over.
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The paint edge was dry before I could get the blending brush down, and sometimes the middle wouldn't be, and I'd have to go retouch that section (though that was easy enough given is was surrounded by the proper color). I was thinking I'd need to put in some slow-dry retarder into the mix, but I could try with thicker paint. I'm only adding a drop of my water/flow improver mix (10:1) to between 5 drops of paint. My concern with using thicker paint is obscuring detail and the flow of the paint as it goes on.

I also need to get a proper camera setup. I do have a tripod I'm using (the first images came out good, I got lulled into a false sense of accomplishment! All the base coat pics came out blurry (too close with camera zoom, I think) or with way too much light on them. So we'll just have to skip to the shaded and highlighted skin shots, such as they are. All paints are Vallejo Game Color. As more paint was added, I'd add my water mix to keep it around 5:1.

For the base coat, I used 3 drops of [40 Leather Brown] +1 drop of [43 Beasty Brown] + 1 drop of [45 Charred Brown], with a drop of my water mix. I am pretty happy with the way that came out, wish the pics had survived! A nice warm brown with the charred knocking back the yellow just a bit. My first mixed color! Previously I had only used black or white to mix (mostly just white mix for drybrushing).

For the shading, I went with base + 1 drop [43 Leather Brown] +2 drops of [45 Charred Brown]. Gave it a nice tone that didn't seem to jarring off the base coat. Going off the suggestion for putting a cool tone into the deepest recess, I added just a hint of Ultramarine Blue to the shading mix. That is my favorite part of the mini thus far, it really adds a depth and complexity to the color. I /never/ would have thought of such a thing, and it works so well!

For 1st highlight, I used the base + 2 drops of [36 Bronzed Flesh]. A bit of a yellow cast to it. Not horrible, not great. Wasn't sure how to tweak it, and since I didn't hate it I went with it. For the 2nd highlight I added 1 drop of [41 Dwarf Skin] and the 3rd highlight (just a dot, really) I added another large drop of [41 Dwarf Skin].

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The right bicep is a 'known issue'. The poor blending really got out of hand over there, but it shouldn't be too tough to fix.
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Slight delay as I had to tear apart my den to fit in my new desk, which will be the permanent painting station. I also want to get a light box for photos set up and I'm broke from all these KS, so here's my first attempt (corrected in Gimp) at that.

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Should be ok when I add another layer of tissue paper to reduce those hotspots on the arm; and when I get three lights that are in the same color temp range...

Back to painting this weekend!

(note from the narrator - I've put a pic of the lightbox I'm playing with in the lightbox thread here!)
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I dunno, I'm still having the paint dry out before I can get the blending brush on it. I've tried both pre-moistening the surface and the last batch of paint I mixed had hardly any medium in it at all. Once I got to the highlight mix, it was a double base mix (10 drops of paint) plus the regular highlights I'd used (+8 drops) and a few more drops of bone white; with only a drop of medium (1:1 matte medium:water/flow-aid mix (10:1)).

I'm going to keep trying, but it's frustrating that it keeps drying out on me, maybe I'm using too little paint? But any more and it just seems to be too much paint on the mini.

Anyway, I cleaned up a few blends and did some highlights but between the technique not gelling yet and being a bit of an off day (I'm a sloppy painter, but I was getting it everywhere), I didn't get around to the deep shadows yet.
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And that brings us to the present. I hope to get the deep shadows done tonight and call it finished for now and move on to the rest of the mini. Not entirely unhappy with it thus far, given that it's a whole new way of painting with new brushes, using a Winsor & Newton Series 7 #2 brush for everything thus far, I REALLY dig these brushes. I'm also trying to set up a wet palette, which has extended my open time to much more acceptable levels - I'm a slow painter, actual brush on metal time so far is something like 3 hours.

Comments, constructive criticism are not only appreciated, but sought after! Help me be a better painter! Thanks for enduring this massive tome, gentle reader.
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#2 Panzer_Engel

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 10:45 AM

I find progressive thinning helps with blends. Try adding more water/medium as you lighten the mix, so that by the final highlights you're almost applying a glaze. Mind, I am a notoriously slow painter. . . .

Be interesting to see him when he's finished, and yes, I think more people should try painting over a grisaille.
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#3 CashWiley

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 10:59 AM

I'm beginning to think that's where I'll settle as a painter. I never used to thin my paints before this mini, and I love the way the paint is going on. I'm still dedicated to making this method work and I'll be using it for the rest of this mini, but I think I might break and try thin layering on my next project.

For reference, here's the 2-brush blending technique Ali McVey uses:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cw6QjE2a7A0

My current suspicion is that I'm not putting enough paint on the mini, afraid to overload it given that I've always painted straight out of the pot. That might be another reason to go with thin layering, it uses my natural tendencies to my advantage.

My first grisaille, I was familiar with it from the art world, but I am addicted to it already. While this one was a bit heavy in spots, it's amazing for seeing detail and giving you a basis of shade and highlight to paint up from.

#4 DixonGrfx

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 11:53 AM

Well it's fairly obvious that Ali has be at this for a long time. Things you should pay attention to are how wet his paint is before he loads the brush. It looks pretty wet and thinned out. Second is look at how much paint he is loading onto the brush before he puts it to the mini, it's tons more than will actually go onto the model. When he is blending on the model he is switching between brushes very fast, faster than I could, and he is putting the brush onto the model with practiced confidence and control. It looks to me like he is using a glaze method, it's just more advanced, a wet blending glaze method if you will. I like to think that I am pretty good at blending with one brush and building up color layers. But I think I would go a little batty trying to manipulate two brushes at one time. I really like the last picture you posted of your paint job. It looks like your getting the technique down.

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to paint techniques. Everyone paints in their own way. And the most advanced painters use a variety of paint techniques that work best for each situation. But you can't really discern what works best for you and when they are appropriate until you have painted a bunch of minis. It's great that your pushing yourself to try new things, you reap a ton of rewards from just trying out new techniques even if you never master them, but it looks like your right in line to get this two brush thing down. Well done!

#5 DixonGrfx

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 11:57 AM

The other thing that tends to help me eliminate hard lines on my blends it to brush the surface I want to paint with just enough water to make the area damp, not wet, damp, before i apply the paint. That tends to help me keep those blend lines from coming up so often.

#6 CashWiley

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 12:09 PM

Oops, forgot to post part 1 of the WIP, indeed the giant wall o text was even gianterer!
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Taking Lug's advice, I'll be doing my WIP for the informal competition in this thread, as I'm using this model and Ali's tutorials. Thanks a lot for this thread, it's been very inspirational and I hope I don't mess up this Drone too badly trying to implement this new technique. I painted a bit in the 80s (rather poorly), and some in the 90s (rather mediocre), with a single mini in the last 14 years. My technique until now has been prime> base coat> wash> base for first highlight > second highlight > drybrush. Pretty basic standard stuff. So. Here we go!

Unboxing:

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Assembly. A bit of mold line to deal with, but not bad at all. Very rusty with the xacto, so I did nick a few spots, I think this drone might get practice for a wound on his arm...

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After that I glued him into the slottabase and instantly didn't like it, my aversion to slottabase took hold. I went into the garage, grabbed a hacksaw and off goes the tab! A bit of filing of the soles (A bit of filing is good for the soul, my mother always said, but she's a secretary). Then I got to try out my brand new pin vise! Found a bit that fit a paper clip I had lying around, a bit of drill, glue and snip later and the Drone was mounted on stilts. Popped him on a cork and primed him with Army Painter white primer. Of course, not feeling the greatest yesterday I forgot to photodocument all this.

I mixed up some wash per Ali's post. Throwing in a hint of Les's wash recipe, I used (10:1 distilled water:flow-aid)+matte medium mixed 1:1 with two drops black and one drop brown. I then went over the hard spots/boots/etc but it seemed a bit subtle. So in a bit of haste I added another drop of black, it may have been a bit too much.

So here's the Drone pinned, mounted, primed and washed:

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I also missed an assembly detail, forgot to connect the hose from the gun to the backpack! So /after/ priming, I maneuvered it more or less into position and glued it in there, which accounts for the poor adhesion of the wash around that join. Hopefully it will be easy to fix later.

A final note - This was the inaugural duty of my new W&N 7 #2 brush. I was skeptical as I've always used 5/0 as my main brush. As soon as I opened the package and saw the pinpoint at the end of the bristles, I had a serious grin. Love the way the reservoir holds the paint. I'm a big brush convert and I haven't even begun actually painting!

#7 chaosscorpion

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 01:16 PM

Nicely put together WIP will be looking for more.

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#8 Heisler

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 02:11 PM

And just as a point of interest Ali McVey is a woman.
* It's NOT denial. I'm just very selective about the reality I accept. -- Calvin (Calvin and Hobbes)
* Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war - Shakespeare's Julius Caeser
* Artificial Intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.
* We occasionally stumble over the truth but most of us pick ourselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened. Winston Churchill
* Tardis Express: When it absolutely, positively, has to be there yesterday
* Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more, ... - Shakespeare's Henry V
* My two hobby blog; Wargames and Railroads

#9 CashWiley

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 02:28 PM

Indeed, wife of Mike McVey; both incredibly talented folk.

#10 chaosscorpion

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 05:06 PM

I kinda like the look of the black and grey of the primed fig.

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#11 smokingwreckage

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 03:11 AM

I didn't read all this because I'm a jerk, but personally I often use two or more techniques together. Your guy looks like he went well but could use some judicious transparent layers to crisp up the highlights and shadows. Sometimes with thinned paint you can put the brush where you want least of the colour, move it to where you want most, and lift it, dropping more pigment at the point of whatever you call it when you lift your brush.

Also, try some dry-time extender or "retardant" for paint that dries too fast.

Oh, I learned to twist the brush when doing wet-blends. No idea if it helps but it's what I read I should do, back in, oh, 1995 or so.

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#12 CashWiley

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 05:28 PM

Blog updated with a couple base coating shots and a minimal commentary!

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We're getting there...speed and accuracy improving, too.

#13 smokingwreckage

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 05:18 AM

Love watching your progress with the piece; more please.

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#14 Pole

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 07:34 AM

I am loving the color choices here!

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#15 chaosscorpion

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 07:38 AM

Pole I was thinking the same thing

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