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  1. I don't have a blog, and I am not veteran or post enough content to justify making one - so while these musings may be better served in that format, I will leave it here for anyone who is interested to view and chime in. It just so happens that my best friend happens to work at Rustoleum as a colorist; so lately I have been picking his brain since he has an extensive knowledge about pigments, paint make up, and the chemical intricacies therein. As I have delved further and further into the hobby, I have been looking more into the deep subjects of color theory and how paint is made/composed. After reading James Gurney's Color and Light, as well as Michael Wilcox's Blue & Yellow Don't Make Green, I was really intrigued about what exactly paint is and how exactly color interactions work. Now I am guilty as the next person in owning WAY too many paints - not to say anything about minis! While color mixing may seem irrelevant to some, understanding how paints function can help even those of us who own a complete gamut of convenience mixed colors. This post is about exploring more of the technical and "scientific" aspects of paint and color theory to hopefully assist others in understanding the what and why of paint. Rethinking Paint Colors - Subtractive Color: Up until recently, I have always viewed the primary colors as Yellow, Red and Blue, and with those you can mix secondary colors; Green, Orange, and Purple. While this is technically true after a fashion, the difficulty lies with pigments themselves. Pigments do not actually *contain* color. Instead, they absorb most of the light spectrum *except* a specific wavelength of color. As Michael Wilcox states, "Of all the pigments available to the painter, none can be described as pure in hue. There is simply no such thing as a pure red, yellow or blue paint." That means chemically, there isn't a paint pigment out there that returns a pure Red - unlike in say digital art where a specifically purely calibrated hue can be made, paint is limited by the properties of the physical pigments themselves. As Michael Wilcox theorizes with a colour bias wheel (bottom-right), primary pigments almost certainly lean towards secondaries. This follows the concept of the Munsell Wheel (bottom-left). You may have heard of a split-complimentary color palette, and this is the reason why. Artistically, these have been described as "Warm" and "Cool" versions of the primaries, but scientifically, they are colors that absorb or reflect more of a particular wavelength. There are Violet-Reds (Cool Reds, often called "Crimson") and Orange-Reds (or Warm Reds, that lean more towards Orange), Violet-Blues and Green-Blues, and Orange-Yellows and Green-Yellows. One the concepts to understand when mixing paints is that you are not creating a color, but rather you are effectively destroying colors and what remains is what is returned to the eye. Referencing the above color bias wheel, if you were to mix a Violet-Blue and a Violet-Red together, both containing pigment(s) that return a great deal of Violet wavelength, the little remaining Blue/Orange and Red/Green wavelengths in each pigment would cancel each other out, leaving the Violet behind. This would yield a more saturated or more pure hue of Violet. Conversely, mixing a Green-Blue and a Orange-Red ("Warm" Red) would be a very desaturated Violet, with more of a gray tone. Keep in mind that this doesn't make a color "bad"; desatured tones by including more complimentary colors is a very useful tool! In fact, for making shadows, using a great deal of complimentary colors to desaturate is a great technique. The problem is when these colors come about unexpectedly; after all, you can have a very "intense" Red and a very "intense" Blue, but mixing them may not produce a very intense Violet if they are "moving away" from each other. Now that is all being said, it is time to forget it...sort of. RGB is based upon the concept of Additive Mixing, or how colored light interacts. With additive mixing, fully saturated Red/Green/Blue light will produce White light. However, in paint pigments, it should be pretty obvious that mixing pigment primaries of Red/Yellow (or Green)/Blue together will not yield White. This is due to Subtractive Mixing, where pigments effectively destroy each other ala Thunderdome in Mad Max, and only the survivors reflect light back. A more modern approach to color theory and pigments is CMYK or Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and "Key" (or commonly known, Black). Adding these colors into the standard primaries gives us the "Yurmby" wheel. If you have looked at a color printer, for example, the colors used are NOT Blue/Red/Yellow, but rather Cyan/Magenta/Yellow. This is because due to the subtractive nature of pigment/ink mixing. These colors present a larger printable gamut (i.e. range) of color; for example, without White, it is difficult to produce a Pink tone with Red vs Magenta. A thin Magenta will read more Pink than a thin Red. Printers do not use White ink and instead leverage the paper for white, effectively printers are printing in an underpainting style. However, we as artists DO use White pigments and this makes things a bit more complicated as we do work with Tints (White) and Shades (Black). Like most science, the direct answer regarding an accurate color wheel is: it is complicated. For observable light, there is a bit more consistency and repeatability. However, when working with "tiny wavelength absorbing/reflecting mirrors" of pigments, things become a bit more complex. Additionally, there are other aspects that that go beyond the basics, such as the effect of specular and perception of color. It gets really heady when you start dipping into Kubelka-Monk Theory and K/S. Paint Composition: Most paint is made up of 3 parts: Pigment - particles that absorb and reflect certain wavelengths of light. Binder - The 'medium' or 'glue' which holds the pigment in suspension and forms a film. For acrylic paint, this is the actual acrylic part. Solvent - The liquid that allows paint to be viscous; as it dries, it allows the binder and pigment to harden forming the film. For acrylic paint, the solvent is water. Adjusting the ratios of these can have some interesting, and sometimes disastrous effects in terms of the stability of the paint. For example, introducing too much solvent, and the binder and pigment lattice structure can break apart. This can cause "coffee staining" or splotchy spots where the bonds pull apart, leaving areas without a film at all. The pigments in paint are held in a suspension. Like hot chocolate mix, there are tiny particles that are suspended in a liquid. Given enough time or evaporation, the liquid will leave these granules behind. If you have ever mixed a packet of Swiss Miss cocoa, you know that the mix can settle at the bottom - and that attempting to add dry powder to a liquid is more difficult than adding a liquid to a dry powder. This is another reason why mixing your paints is important because it is easy for the heavier pigments to tend to settle out of the binder/solvent solution. Speaking of solutions, that is the main difference between paints and inks. Inks, specifically alcohol inks that use dyes, are a solution. The staining dye actually becomes homogeneous with the liquid. Just like dissolving sugar or extracting coffee/tea, there isn't any particulates that separate out. However, most dyes are not lightfast - a property that will be discussed in more detail further. Acrylic inks that use pigments are not "true" inks insomuch as they are composed just like an acrylic paint. The difference being the smaller size of the pigments and the viscosity of the binder/solvent being much thinner. Paint Additives Outside of the 3 main components for paint composition, there are also some optional additives that some manufacturer's include in their paint. These can be things such as: Extenders/retarders, which delay the setup of the paint film, allowing for more mixing to occur before drying. Thinners, which dilute the pigment to binder ratio, usually increasing translucency and viscosity - commonly this is done with water for acrylic paints. Flow Aid, which reduces the surface tension of paint, allowing it to flow more easily and level - Reaper is known for adding a bit of flow aid into their formulation. Opacifiers, which increase the opacity of a paint - usually some type of calcium or bicarbonate. Matting agents, which reduces the glossiness of acrylic medium. Fillers, which are commonly used in student or inexpensive paints to reduce cost and add mass without adding more pigment. You can add some of these additives yourself to your favorite brand of paint to adjust the handling qualities. The most commonly added is solvent/thinner in the form of water to "thin your paints" to reduce the viscosity and lower the overall density of the paint, building up multiple thinner layers of paint films in a "layering" fashion.
  2. So I have a concept for a mini but I want desaturated colors. I mostly have bright colors. Would it be correct to mix in some greens to brown it up? How do I keep it reading red? Is it ok to still have some of the bright but use it as a highlight? Looking for links to stuff you've painted, free videos that address this, or an explanation of process that will still let me experiment a bit. Thanks for sharing your experience/knowledge.
  3. I saw this posted on another forum, and I thought those of you who are students of color might find it interesting and perhaps inspirational. It offers a color palette analysis of single frames from various movies and TV shows: http://moviesincolor.com
  4. What are the best three primaries in the Reaper line, the ones capable of mixing the largest gamut of colors? What about other paint lines? I'm most familiar with P3 paints, and there I find the best primaries are cygnar blue highlight, cygnus yellow, and murderous magenta, but murderous magenta is actually a bit too purple so it's better to also use khador red base and use them as a 'split primary'. But the P3 paints all run a bit on the shiny side, so I've been using Reaper paints also to get a more matte finish.
  5. Hi there! In Reapercon this year, I took a OSL class with Daniel where we learn the basics of OSL painting a light over a black miniature. Now I want to take the second step and try to do a OSL in a color painted miniature. Can anyone recommend a text (book, tutorial, article) or a video that teaches how to do it? Thanks
  6. I wanted to start this thread because of something I read in another one--specifically, that the MSP "primary" colors were mixed with white and thus of limited usage in some applications. I thought I might clarify a couple of points about how MSP was created and which parts of it are good for what. After I babble on for a while, I would love to see you guys talk a bit about how you use color. So if you want, just skip to the end of this Wall o' Text. First off, when we created the line, I was aiming to provide a good selection of colors that were fairly matte, had great adhesion (i.e. they would stick to the model as well as possible, and stand up to handling with a minimum of wear and tear), and would cover as well as we could manage. I also had some colors in mind that I had not seen in any other line at that time--really dark purples like 9022 Nightshade Purple and 9025 Burgundy Wine, for example. I began to learn paint chemistry and to work with different bases and pigments during this period and found that the brightest of colors inherently lacked coverage for various reasons unless paired with certain base types we weren't using (if you want me to elucidate here, just ask). Because of this, I did not concentrate on creating "pure pigment" colors for the first 54 (the initial release). So, though the first 54 MSP colors in the Core set make up a nice selection of hues, they aren't as good for pure mixing. As the line grew, we got the opportunity to expand to over 200 colors and I added in the Clear Brights--9094 through 9099. These are colors containing only one pigment or one plus a dash of another. They contain no white or any other colors. Because of this, they are very brilliant and translucent, which is why they were named "Clear (red, green, blue, etc.)." These colors are IDEAL for mixing and glazing. You can also gain a lot of "pop" using these over highlights initially laid down in white, or you can shade and highlight in colors that might cover a little better and then brighten and smooth everything with a glaze of Clear X. There are other single-pigment colors in the line, great for mixing, that I have mentioned in other threads--among them, Palomino Gold (yellow ochre), Pure Black, and Pure White. 9071 Chestnut Brown is your Burnt Sienna alternative. I also added in the initial Liner colors (9064-9066) during this period. I have never been one to use pure black in my shadows and found that Brown Liner and Blue Liner expanded my shading options. The Liner base is more fluid, has more flow improver added, and goes nicely translucent when thinned, allowing for subtle shading and glazing effects. We later added three other colored liners (Red, Green, Violet) but they were not nearly as popular and were sadly canceled due to lack of sales. Now I think they may merely have been ahead of their time, because I get requests for them an awful lot! We capped the first 108 with Flow Improver (though there is already flow improver added to ALL MSP's), Brush-On Sealer (works great as a matte medium--wash formula is 3 drops water, 3 drops Brush-On Sealer, 1 drop paint of your choice, adjust to taste), and our Brush-On Primer (white). Additional additives were later added with brush-on Black Primer, Anti-Shine Additive (add a tiny bit to make paints or washes more matte), and Drying Retarder (add a little in place of water to slow the drying time of paint, but be careful not to add too much or it won't dry!). All other additions have just been collections of colors that we thought might be useful to have around in a bottle so you don't have to mix 'em every time. In the HD line, we were looking for coverage, but again I didn't want to change the base too much. So we went with high-coverage pigments instead, and have been very happy with the results. The Heavy Gear line was created as a collaboration with their parent company and has some excellent and unique colors in it--both traditional MSP and HD types. Now--I would love to hear about how you use the colors you use. What do you like for shading, for highlighting, what are your most favorite and useful colors? Doesn't have to be MSP. I'm curious about whether you are shading with complementaries, highlighting with warmer and shading with cooler or vice versa. :) Who are your Color Theory gurus? Any good books to recommend? Online resources? Examples of minis you've painted with unusual takes on color?
  7. Hello all! Here's a quick question and something I'm currently curious about as I have yet to start my next project. What are some books you can recommend on color theory, acrylics, and art in general? I'd like to learn more about what makes things (especially minis) look good. Also, what books specifically on miniatures have helped you develop your skill and technique? Finally, what magazines pertaining to miniatures and/or art have you found helpful? I know these are general questions, but I'm just curious what things everyone is reading!
  8. Hello Fellow Fans of Blue! I love Bones, because they're cheap enough for me to use to demonstrate some fun stuff. I know a lot of newer (than me) painters have lots of questions about color, light and paint mixing, etc, so I was hoping to put a bunch of that stuff here. My goal is to walk through a monochrome blue miniature, using a Kickstarter Mini, Kickstarter paint, and some simple/intermediate techniques while doing some "teaching" on color and light. Er, not ambitious at all! I get to practice while doing it, so we're all having fun! First, the players of our little game: For this tutorial I'll be using Sapphire Blue, Pure White (take my word for it, ignore the label) and Walnut Brown, and of course, 77063 Duke Gerard. Sapphire Blue is a nice bright (saturated) blue. It's a good standard blue as well. When you look at a color wheel, I tend to think of a cobalt or ultramarine blue as "blue" but sapphire is pretty good, and it's a kickstarter color and learn to paint kit color, so most of us have it. Next, what are their painting stats? How do they behave? What can we do to them? Here they are! Simply painted as a flat swatch of color on paper. The picture is a bit dark, sorry! I'm using walnut brown as my black- see how nice a dark it is! Now, for our volunteer Male Paladin I'm going to essentially be using 3 base shades: blue, blue with some white (1:3) and blue with some brown (4:1) Here they are on the palette: walnut, walnut/blue, and blue on top and white, white/blue on the bottom. Here's an example of the Sapphire blue with a wash in the first swatch. The second is by brown/blue mix with a wash, and the third white/blue with wash. Here's where we learn a bit about saturation. The first picture is bright. Nice pretty blue. Like an autumn sky. The second is dark, moody, stormy and intense. The third a bit lighter, fluffier and softer. Each of these shades reflects light to us differently. The more pure pigment in a color, the greater the intensity. The more we dull the color, either by adding it's complement if we're mixing pure pigments or by adding white or black, the more we alter it's ability to reflect it's color back to us. I think of this like hummingbird feathers. The hummingbird's got a specialized air bubble structural pattern in it's throat feathers that literally reflect a single wavelength of light. But- only at the right angle, which is why they often look dull or black unless you catch them just right. Paint obeys the same physics. The more stuff we put it in that can potentially reflect less light, the duller the color. A possible exception/complication is white, which is nice and reflective. White is great at drawing the eye on a miniature, and great for highlighting when you want bright highlights. More on this later. One fun thing you can see when painting is how translucency can affect the way color looks. See below: Hmmn. Those look similar, don't they? The top is a thin wash of sapphire blue. The left my white/blue mix (normal paint layer) and the right my sapphire blue with a white glaze. What I take from this is that you can paint however you want, using whatever technique you want, and get the results you want! There's not one right way to do it. So things like wet blending can mimic layering/glazing or washes! Remember with washes- here I'm painting on white paper, so the surface is very uniform and the wash smooth and flat. Your miniature may have many different surfaces, primers, curves, etc. When painting on the miniature, paint will obey the laws of gravity. It will pool in crevices and drip down surfaces if allowed. Also, washes are by nature translucent, so you'll need a smooth, well-prepared surface to get the maximum effect. Ok- let play with our miniature and actually paint! I've basecoated our Paladin using just our 3 colors. Again, Sapphire blue, Blue/White mix and brown/blue mix. I tried to think about where I wanted my most intense blues, where I wanted my lighter areas, and I decided ahead of time I was going to go for a darker look to the armor. This is a nice, messy, quick "speed-painted" basecoat. No fancy stuff. I thought I had trimmed his mold lines, but I missed a few. Oh well. He's an experiment, so I'll leave it! I did wash him with dish soap and water first. The cloak and hair I'm doing in sapphire, the skin and leather/pouches/etc in white/blue and the armor in blue/brown.
  9. Color theory is a good foundation for painting, but it doesn't deal with some of the surprising and fun things paint can do. Color theory is a limited approximation that works with light, but not really with paint, because in paint there are no colors, there is only chemistry. And that's a good thing. Pigments are chemical substances chosen for their optical properties, but they are more than just their optical properties. And you can do a lot with them. Any two colors can be blended in a myriad of ways: physically mixed, layered one over the other, layered the other over the one, blended optically with tiny brushstrokes -- and each method can produce an entirely different effect and apparent color, just from two original paints. As many of you are aware, in my day job I'm a fine artist and when painting minis I tend to mix my own colors rather than rely on premixed miniatures paints. In a few threads people have asked me about various color mixes, so I figured I'd pull some of them together in this thread to make them (hopefully) easier to find. *** In my current WIP thread, "Pingo Builds a Boat", I said Well, naturally I got some questions. Phthalo green (copper phthalocyanine) is a really intense, pure, blueish green. It's related to phthalo blue, which is also intense and pure and close to a printer's cyan. They are related, but phthalo green is clearly and obviously green when you look at it, and phthalo blue is blue. When I mixed my purple, I didn't just mix phthalo green with any old red (certainly not the flame orange reds they give to unwary kindergarteners). I mixed it with quinacridone magenta, a deep hot pink-red which is close to a printer's magenta. A more muted green, or a yellower one, or a more orangey red would have produced something a lot more brown and mucky. Mixed colors are always more subdued than the colors you start with. But both phthalo green and quinacridone magenta are very pure, intense colors. Even a mix of them is still pretty bright. This is one of the palettes I have been using to paint the boat in the other thread: The phthalo green is in the lower left corner. It's very dark full strength but thinned down even a little becomes an intense emerald green. There's a tiny blob of quinacridone at the top between the two different reddish browns. You can see how the color mix between them snaked out through blue to violet (mixed-in white makes the color easier to see, although I did it for painting reasons originally). Yes, that's right. Not only can you mix green and red to make purple, you can mix a blue from green and red. Isn't color mixing fun? To show things a little more clearly, I've laid out some paint on waxed paper over white paper towels. First, this is phthalo blue (which we're not using at all, but I'm including it to show how it is different from phthalo green) at the top. Below it is phthalo green, and to the right is quinacridone magenta. In each case I've used water to thin the paint out to the right so you can see how transparent layers of it look, and I've mixed a little blob of white paint with each color at its top left so you can see how it looks mixed. (Note that the white-mixed colors are already less intense than even the pale thinned paint) To get an idea of the vividness of the colors, here's that palette amongst my painting set-up. And here is a good big blend from phthalo green at the left to quinacridone magenta at the right, with a few spots picked out for mixing with white to show color undertones. Note that all of the mixes are considerably darker than the original colors, even the one with only a touch of red added to the green, but that they don't really get close to the black color theory says they should become. However, note that that is a pretty nice blue right in the middle. The violet I used on the boat was more from the right third region, where the mix is dominated by the quinacridone and the sample blended with white shows clearly a lavender purple. Finally, here are a couple of minis (still works-in-progress) painted with this green-and-red mixed purple. Illithids are described as having "greenish-mauve" flesh, and by tipping the mix a little this way and that they can have skin that is both violet and green harmoniously. Oh, and the trousers on the one on the right are painted with the mixed blue from above.
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