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I'm working on Cassie the Gnome Sorceress (bones version) and she's coming along okay, but... Not quite where I want her. See, this image from the store is what I'm going for.

03340_cassie_front_pe.jpg.b931222a91b96949c478bdadd8b15eca.jpg

 

And this is where I'm at now. 

_20180611_220731.JPG.56cd6de597a14e01800ba59f7e0289c9.JPG

There's a bit of a gap between these two... 

 

Thoughts? Comments? Suggestions? 

 

Please be brutal.

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Take careful note of where the inspiration placed the highlights and the shadows, and how intense they are. 

 

Example: look at her extended arm, and the sleeve. Your cloth is almost solid color. There are at least three dominant tones of blue in the example piece on that area, possibly more like four. Work the peaks up to be brighter, and emphasize the wrinkles in the cloth with some shadows. Hit the lower part with darker shadow. 

 

Doug gave me some good advice on the highlighting and shadows - keep pushing the contrast two steps further than you think is okay, then take half a step back (glazing back down). 

 

The inspiration piece is pretty good about smooth blending in general. I don't know how much you want to work that aspect, but it could be worth trying - or at least take smaller steps in layering a gradient. I think that just getting more highlights and shadows placed should come first, before smooth blending though. 

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I noticed you painted her legs as cloth while in the store they are painted as legs..

 

More highlights overall .

 

As for the hair, which pink did you use?

In the store version it is a very bright one.

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Just now, Glitterwolf said:

I noticed you painted her legs as cloth while in the store they are painted as legs..

 

More highlights overall .

 

As for the hair, which pink did you use?

In the store version it is a very bright one.

I haven't actually painted the legs at all, that's just brown liner. She's still very much a work in progress. The hair started with clear magenta, working up with breast cancer awareness pink.

 

@Cyradis the smooth blending, especially for the skin is where I'm feeling the least confident in my abilities, and the aspect I want to improve the most. 

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Just now, Crowley said:

I haven't actually painted the legs at all, that's just brown liner. She's still very much a work in progress. The hair started with clear magenta, working up with breast cancer awareness pink.

 

@Cyradis the smooth blending, especially for the skin is where I'm feeling the least confident in my abilities, and the aspect I want to improve the most. 

 

I often run into graininess, and it is a part that I'm working on too. The lighter skin tones seem to be prone to it. You might give some glaze medium and/or flow improver a try when thinning the paint instead of straight water. I only have just started on this, and like it so far. Granted, that's with like... an hour or two of work on it. My thesis defense is tomorrow, so no painting until Thursday, lol. 

 

Take smaller steps with changing colors and use very thin paint; that way any "mistake" is barely visible and easy to fix. Make sure to blot the brush before taking it to the figure, or else it will gush. You can try feathering out the blends too; put down a layer, and take either a fresh damp brush or swiftly rinse yours, then blur the edges of the application by wiggling the brush on it. Again, still something I'm working on, but it does help. You may even have better luck than me, what with your air not being parched 'n' all ^_^ 

 

Small working area on the face can make it tough to do this sort of thing - I like using the thin glazes and not as much stippling as much as super tiny dash marks and swipes. Apply very little paint in each spot. Seemed to work well on my demoness's face. 

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Crowley use the paint pallette in the store.

You can let it tell you what colours the pic matches with.

That way you could see what you need to apply where.

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Blending will come easier to you with practice.

What I am seeing in your picture is that it is very muddy compared to the store model especially in the skin.  This is due to the darkness of the liner undercoat.  This is why I almost always use white to prime with. It makes the lighter colors look a lot better.

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20 minutes ago, Flit said:

Blending will come easier to you with practice.

What I am seeing in your picture is that it is very muddy compared to the store model especially in the skin.  This is due to the darkness of the liner undercoat.  This is why I almost always use white to prime with. It makes the lighter colors look a lot better.

It did occur to me that the dark primer was a mistake... :unsure:

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This is one of the reasons that I prefer to paint metal miniatures. It's not all about the casting quality, as a lot of Bones figures come out near the same quality as metal ones. For larger pieces where I know I'll be handling them a lot, I don't mind starting off with the very dark Brown Liner because I know that it's going to benefit me in the long run by keeping paint from rubbing off and preventing the beading up issue. But it's a massive pain on human sized figures. On future ones, experiment with mixing Reaper's brush on primer and Brown Liner. It won't give you the same protection as straight Brown Liner, but it does cut down on the beading up and gives you a grey colour to start from instead of the dark brown.

 

It's hard to tell for sure because your picture is a bit grainy, but your paint looks thick to me. Either you're not sufficiently thinning your paints from the start (which is tricky business and thus understandable) or you're putting on too many coats. There's this lasting "standard" that tells people that they need to put multiple coats of paint to get a solid colour and I agree with that sentiment for the most part when it comes to basecoating - so long as the paint that you're basecoating with isn't too thick and there are even some instances where I don't bother with a solid basecoat because I know that the highlighting is going to bridge the gap - but that's only when I've primed with white. But even your application of Brown Liner looks too heavy to me. You don't need anywhere near so dark of an application of it to get the Brown Liner benefit. If you start your prime too dark, then you have to put on too much paint to basecoat and everything after that contributes to a heavy look.

If you are not already using a wet palette, you need to try one out. Homemade ones are fine, but the regular Masterson palette is like $10 on Amazon, it's not a huge investment. I don't know if you have one already, Crowley; that's general advice that I would give to anyone that I see struggling with thinning paints. It's way too hard to judge paint thinness in a well palette, IMO. I know space is an issue for you, but I personally don't use a wet palette with keeping paints for another session in mind because they tend to become too diluted overnight for me. It's all about keeping paint from drying out on me during a painting session and being able to actually see the consistency of the paint. When I take my paints with me away from home, I make a little makeshift wet palette with a little plastic tray (it's about the size of a CD case, and has a flat bottom and the sides are like half an inch high - I got it from a party supply place,) a couple of folded up paper towels and a square of parchment paper. It's great for a single use, then I can toss the parchment and paper towels when I'm done.

 

That heavy look also contributes to the tendency of skintone shades to go chalky or grainy. And I agree with Cyradis, play around with different additives to see what works for you in that respect. I have had good results with adding a little bit of matte brush on sealer to skin tone paints to even out chalkiness, but it's definitely a YMMV sort of thing as that issue can vary from paint to paint and even bottle to bottle.

 

Where I'm going to diverge is in telling you that contrast is not what I think you need to be working on with your chosen example is what you're going for. In order to achieve that look, you need to focus on blending and brush control. Contrast is definitely important overall but if you don't have the blending down, all the contrast in the world is not going to get you where you're trying to go. I could drybrush on an entire spectrum from black and then 10 steps all the way up to white, it still wouldn't give me the result that I'm looking for if what I'm shooting for is something very smoothly blended. Because the trick with a smoothly blended style is to achieve that beautiful, subtle transition from the dark to the light to the point that you can't tell where one colour ended and another began. It's not just about the contrast, it's about hiding the contrast so that your eye doesn't see two different colours, it sees one colour that's being hit by light or shadow. That's not an easy trick to pull off. Sometimes I manage it and sometimes it just looks stripey. 

 

To further complicate things, there is not only one path to travel down on a journey to achieving smooth blends. The most popular method is layering, but most popular does not mean it is the easiest method for YOU. If you haven't already watched Kuro's layering video on youtube, definitely check it out. But then also in the youtube search, type in "Vince Venturella blend" and that's going to give you multiple videos that Vince has done on different blending methods. Start with "Hobby Cheating 107 - How to Achieve Smooth Blends" it is a 40 minute video but it covers multiple methods and I think that anyone struggling with blending should give it a watch. Explore the other videos if you need a topic explained further with his dedicated videos on things like Wet Blending, Glazing, Loaded Brush, etc. I highly recommend watching all of Vince's videos and subscribing to his channel. (Just to be clear, I don't know Vince, I'm pushing his channel because I think he makes great videos.) Figure out what method works easiest for you and work on that.

 

What I found worked best for me was actually to practice multiple blending methods because I found that some methods worked better with different surfaces and different paints work better or worse with certain methods. One of the greatest tools that you can have in your toolbox is adaptability and you can only gain that through purposeful experimentation. This is something that, IMO, is super important for anyone who's transitioning from painting solely for quick tabletop use to actively working toward a particular style's standard. There's nothing wrong with painting to a tabletop standard and using tabletop methods to get a figure painted if "painted" is your goal. But if your goal is instead a particular style ("display level" is a broad term that encompasses a broad variety of styles) and especially a particular standard of a particular style, then you need to be able to adapt away from tabletop methods.

 

It may be controversial to some people to refer to methods like drybrushing, washes, using paint recipes, etc. as tabletop methods, but I personally think that anyone who doesn't acknowledge that such methods are employed to make the process faster to get figures done and on the table is probably not being entirely honest with themselves. I know that sort of opinion ruffles people's feathers and expressing such things is an easy way to get yourself labeled an elitist snob and so since this is not a thread where I'm painting alongside Buglips, I want to be really explicitly clear that there's nothing wrong with painting for tabletop and/or employing such methods. There's no wrong way to paint and your hobby is your hobby. I know that Crowley knows this is what I think already, but in case there are any random wanderers, I don't want anyone to get the wrong idea or worse, to think less of themselves just because tabletop painting is their hobby and they have no interest in aiming toward any other style or improving on a certain level of tabletop painting. You belong in this very broad hobby no matter what your preferred method is, but if you want to paint a certain style and you want to improve to a certain level of that style, then you absolutely have to be honest with yourself about what your current skill level is and the amount of work you're willing to put into attaining anything different.

 

That's my very long-winded way of delicately transitioning into the "brutal" portion of my critique, though I hope you won't feel brutalized by it. But because you're so used to painting for tabletop, I think you're also used to painting a little haphazardly so it's a bit messy. It's hard to tell people that their painting is messy and it's hard to push past the flowery language that is typically used when we're responding to each other's work, especially here on the forum. Words like "Wow", "beautiful", "gorgeous", "great", "awesome", "fantastic", etc. We use these words because we want to respect the work that we know that people put in, but being too nice can be damaging to painters who are actively working toward a goal of improving. It makes it harder to be honest with yourself and the gap between one's current work and what they're working toward can start to seem smaller than it actually is. Which can also lead to frustration because the honest truth is that no amount of advice is going to close the gap between your current ability and the example that you're striving toward on this current paint job. What's going to close that gap is time, dedication, and practice. If you work hard, you could be there 6 months from now. Or you could work just as hard and be there a year from now or two years or ten. There's no direct route from Point A to Point Z for any painter and really, Point Z is a myth. There is no Point Z. Think of the best painter you know of and their best paint job you've ever seen and how amazing and beautiful it is. I can absolutely assure you that painter could tell you 10 things that they think is wrong with it. And that's what so many of us, myself included, are often doing wrong in our pursuit to improve our painting - we're pointlessly chasing a non-existant Point Z when we should be trying to get to Point B. 

 

Your current skill level is Point A and you have a clear goal here that you want to reach. Let's call that Point X since there is no Point Z. First you need to get to Point B and I think that Point B for you is to improve your brush control. So first of all you need to slow down. Not tremendously, don't become a snail painter like me because that's detrimental in its own way. But if it's not your intention to speed paint something, then slow down and make sure that you're purposefully placing your brush. Work on painting clean lines and dots. A great exercise for you to try would be to get a coloring book for kids or google "coloring pages for kids" and print some out. You specifically want kids because you don't need anything too detailed - it's meant to be an exercise, not a new hobby. Then take a brush that isn't one of your best, but still has a decent tip and use something bright but translucent enough that you can still see the black lines through it. On your first picture, use your brush as quickly as you normally would when painting a miniature - be honest with yourself on this, you don't have to share the result with anyone. See how well you do with fully painting whatever the shape is while staying inside the lines that way. On the next page, slow down a bit to fully fill in the picture but stay inside the lines. Repeat until you've found the right speed where you can paint within the lines with ease. Once you've mastered that, now try to fill in the picture, but without painting over the black outlines at all. Repeat until you can do this with ease. Once you've mastered that, try to only outline within the lines without filling in the rest of the inner portion. Repeat until you can do this with ease. Once you've mastered that, move on to painting over straight lines. (You can do this with lined paper rather than a coloring book.) Then paint next to the straight lines without going over them. Then move on to painting straight lines without any guide at all. These are not things that you have to do all in one sitting. You make the time for working on it. Obviously you don't have to do it at all, but I think it would help in an overall way, but it'll also help you to get better with details like eyes, freehand, etc. The greater command you have over the brush, the easier time you'll have in general.

 

.....and that's a giant wall of text.

TLDR; work on thinning your paints, find the right blending method for you and work on that, take things one step at a time, slow down, work on brush control

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First thing, and this might be me typecasting myself, is that it looks like you're using a white background for the photo and that's causing your camera to think there's more light than there is. To get past this, you need to add a bit of exposure compensation (between +1 and +2 stops). This will get rid of some of the muddiness and make it easier to critique your painting.

 

Second, Guindyloo is right (and verbose :poke:). A couple of things I'd add:

 

1) You're probably right that dark primer is hurting you. I've had really good luck with white Stynylrez primer from Badger. It sticks well to the PVC and it's not "nearly black".

 

2) Since you mention your paint starting to break up (graininess and the like), you might want to thin your paints down with acrylic medium instead of water. In the effort to get thinner paints and smoother blends, it's really easy to overthin paint to the point where it starts to break down. Using medium, or medium thinned a bit, gives you lower pigment in each brush stroke but without the paint film disintegrating.

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Lot of good advice here already...

 

I am considering myself beginner since I am not into the hobby since that long but if this can give you some stuff to think or try , here is how I usually go about it ( and that mostly come from looking at other people various way to do it ).

 

I do like the zenithal priming things, with black, grey and white even If I am not using really that underlaying paint ( unless it's really thin, transparent paint ) it just help to see the shadow / lighter area.

Actually you could just take a photo of the figure in a certain lighting condition as reference too , even after have applied base coat color.

 

Then I try to decide of a triade for the color I want to use , I do have some set that already providing tint so this avoid the mix sometimes, but well just dark > base > light ( not too light ) kind of setup and I am just applying those based on the priming so my black spot will get the dark, grey the base etc...more like value sketching if I was to draw something 

 

I am not doing much of blend, not yet at least but once you get your first value you can then do some in between mix to layering over your tone junctions and smooth that out.

 

Then , and I am not really pushing contrast in my case , but just make your dark darker and your light , lighter to add more contrast , highlights.

 

Well that's how I approach that right now , there is so many way I think and everybody have their own way.

 

At least for now it's do work not that bad for me..but can be a bit time consuming :D

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You are all bloody brilliant, generous, and helpful. I know I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me to really level up, but you’ve given me some clear directions to go in, and some specific things to try. We’ll see how well I do trying to get from Point A to B, then on to C… and D… and…

 

I’m not sure how much of what I’ll be practicing will show up on Cassie… and I’m really tempted to just finish her off at my current skill level, and then paint her again in a year and see how different she looks.

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Highlights are the bane of my painting existence as well, and I as well am very hesitant in using bright ones. I fear I might muck up and have to start over.

 

Best advice: get over yourself. It is hard, I know. But mucking up is part of the learning curve. Don't fear it, embrace it. You'll notice it comes out much better in the end. Especially the first layer after the basecoat makes me wet myself, each time. "Noooo, it looks so bad!" But go on, put on the second layer and perhaps third, and it'll look great. Try your hand at some feathering even, have a moist second brush at hand, and when you get the feeling the contrast between basecoat and highlight is too great, feather it down at the edges. 

 

I am very much a beginner as well, but I find just trying various techniques without fearing failure, helps you improve greatly. 

 

As for your figure, maybe highlight her skincolour a bit brighter?

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I'd like to add that a lot of the colors used on the inspiration have base undertones and glazes of different colors into the flesh and cloth besides the one you can see. For example,  around the knees, they used a red glaze over the flesh tone and what looks like green in the shadows (I would assume it's because of the blue cloth near it). Step out of the comfort zone of "x" flesh midtone, plus "X's" flesh shadow, "X's" highlight, are the only way to make flesh contrast. Experiment and I promise you that you won't ever see skin and cloth the same again.

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So here's Cassie as she was, this time with a more neutral backdrop...

IMG_20180616_222440.jpg

 

And here she is after a couple of hours of effort tonight... 

_20180616_221911.JPG

_20180616_221849.JPG

 

Definitely some progress... Wish I'd realized the top picture is blurry. Ah well... 

 

Thank you all again for the excellent advice. I hope that I can continue to show improvement! 

Edited by Crowley
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