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Layering...


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Ok, for the last ten years I've painted figures with oils. Lay down a dark colour for the shadow and light for the highlight and carefully blend them together...

 

So I see all these cool paint jobs here with acrylics, and the style called 'layering'. Well I've read everything bit of advice I've found here, I've read though Jennifer Haley, Doctor Fastus, and several other sites I've seen linked here and I still don't get it.

 

Either the paint is too thick and leaves a definate boundary, or it's too thin and it's like painting the figure with my clean-up water. And it flows off the the highlights and down into the cracks.

 

I'm guessing this is a matter of practice, more an art than a science but how many layers should I be using for say a cloak?

 

It seems that the old way of blending with oils is less work in the endrun with better results.

 

 

 

???

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I hear ya JT!  Trying a new technique after years of doing it the same way is frustrating at best.  it's hard to accept that ater 8 hours of painting, you still haven't accomplished anything respectable.

 

I've been a drybrusher for years now, and am trying to break the habit.  (Tough to do since I would rather have painted minis than simply minis with colours on them.)

 

What I have started doing is to ease up a bit.  Instead of launching headfirst into the "This one will be NMM or nothing!", I've continued to paint as I normally do, but try the new techniques out a bit at a time, on one figure at a time.

 

This way, I am getting the feel for layering and such, without toatlly destroying my mini or fizzling out because of discouragment.

 

While the results aren't much different than my usual style, I am noticing that with each new figure, the layering style just doesn't seem so difficult to pull off.

 

I've never used oils, so that might be a different bag of tricks alltogether, but I think it would be possible to layer with them as well.  I know that each brand of paint has a different feel to it, so trying a new technique while also switching brands (or even mediums!) would be a sever headache.

 

Keep at though.  One day we'll get there!

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It's also perfectly legitimate to g4et halfway through a mini, decide to screw the technique, and go back and do it the way you know.

 

Layering is easier for me, being colorblind, since the boundaries between colors are harder to see.  One thing I do sometimes is to paint the color, then if the contrast is too sharp, sort of smear the color with the brush or my finger, which gradiates the amount of sharply contrasting paint at the edge, and makes for a smoother transition.

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I, too, am working on mastering this technique. And, while I am by no means an expert, I believe I can offer some insight to some of your problems, Jerry.

 

First of all, I have found layering to be an exercise in patience. A cloak that my have taken me a half hour or so to drybrush or wet-blend now takes over an hour or more to layer. The results, however, are worth it IMO (and who among us can't use a little practice being patient?)

 

Next: The use of thin paint is crucial. If the paint is too thick it'll leave hard transitions. My paints are generally as thin and watery as a wash when I layer -- maybe even thinner. To judge the consistency, I use the following technique: My palette is generally covered in dried paint. When mixing a paint for layering, I know I'm ready to paint when I can see the old paint beneath the puddle of new paint at the edges or within mixing brush strokes.

 

To overcome the flooding you've spoken of, you're going to have get accustomed to using very little paint on your brush. Painting like this will sometimes make you feel like you haven't even left any paint on the surface. Don't despair. Just keep adding and you'll see the highlights build. Again, this can take a long time. Patience will carry you a long way.

 

I would also advise you to use a good brush - red sable at the very least, Kolinski if you can manage it. A good brush will make this exercise infinitely easier by retaining paint within a sharp point.

 

With any luck, some of our masters will speak up and offer even more insights, but for now, this is what I've learned. Hope it helps.

 

-D.

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Word in one, Whiz.  I couldn't have put it better myself.  Jerry, your paint consistancy should be thus:  when you smear the paint across your palette with the brush, the points where the paint pools should look opaque and strong in pigment, while the places where the paint is stretched very thin should be almost-but-not-quite transparent.  I really need to get a picture of this and put it in a tutorial...

 

Otherwise, as Whiz said, you need a high-quality brush and only a little paint on it so it doesn't flood.  If you're painting with washes your paint is too thin (unless you're adding in shadows "from the top down", in which case wash consistancy is okay).  Brush stroke may also be important--when layering dark-to-light I usually point my brush toward the shadow and draw it back toward the highlight point, getting heavier with the brush stroke as I draw it back.

 

Hope that all helps...

 

--Anne

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Word in one, Whiz.  I couldn't have put it better myself.  

Thanks, Anne. You're very kind, but I can't take any credit.

 

Truth to tell, everything I shared here was first learned by listening to you, Jen Haley, Inge Jensen, and others over on that *other* mini site and then simply applying it....

 

Well, OK. The patience I learned on my own (after several bouts of anguish and despair...   :)  ) That I'll take credit for.

 

On another note: A pictorial would make for a great tutorial.... Would that be a pictorial tutorial?  Hmm....   :D  So many people talk about what thinned paint would look like, but a picture is worth... well... a cliche.   :)

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On another note: A pictorial would make for a great tutorial.... Would that be a pictorial tutorial?  Hmm....   :D  So many people talk about what thinned paint would look like, but a picture is worth... well... a cliche.   :)

Yes. So often I read and read and just don't always understand what people are saying. What's a "milk-like" consistency? Is that whole milk? 2%? 1/2%? Skim? Buttermilk? Soy? Doesn't really tell me anything unless I get a glass of milk and paint it on my thumbnail... but then whole milk is thicker than 1/2% and buttermilk is almost like syrup.

 

Pictures help a great deal to convey things. I'd love a pictorial tutorial on layering and washes. A video would be even better.

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Add another vote for the video idea.

 

It would be great to see all the techniques, rather than just reading about them.  It is easier for me to follow if I can see pictures or a demonstration instead of just reading about it.

 

The "milk-like consistancy" references have always confused me too.  I don't rembember the last time I had a glass of milk.  I haven't even seen buttermilk since I was little and my mom kept some around for making biscits :D

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Video is highly unlikely, as I *detest* having my photo taken and me on film is even more inclined to make me want to throw myself off the nearest bridge.  I *can* take pics of the palette, which should show you nicely.  For that matter, video doesn't catch the nuances of painting, for me; ideally, you'll get an in-person demo.  Ary, I *know* you live in Texas, so if you ever have a bit o' time off or are in the Dallas area for something else, all you have to do is let me know in advance and I'll arrange an hour or so to do a class with you.  Flit, dunno where you live, but I may be able to refer to you someone if you give me a geographical area.  For that matter, I travel pretty extensively; I can relatively often be found in the Baltimore area and the Chicago area, and have friends who want me to visit them in Seattle, Denver, and Philadelphia.  

 

Oh, and, for the record, it's the consistancy of *skim* milk. :;):  But I find the smear across the palette to be a better judge.  :)

 

--Anne

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I'll keep that in mind for the next time I might be in the DFW area. I've been wanting to go for a tour of the Reaper facilities, and now I have my boyfriend interested, too!! (I had him painting with me yesterday, even. I'll make a minipainter out of him yet).

 

I just don't go to DFW all that often. Don't really know anyone there except for my brother's in-laws, who I don't actually know. Hopefully there will be a convention up there soon that my bf and I will want to attend that Reaper will be at. THAT would be cool.

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Thanks everyone!

 

I'm going to try to put this to use. The nice thing about the hobby is that on something with little to no detail like a cloak you can keep painting it over and over till it 'looks right'  :D

 

Who knows? I may end up using a hybrid of both styles. It's just that I'd like to understand both so as to be able to judge which works better in each situation.

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Here's a little bit of advice, for all the ones thinking about using layering:

 

Do your gradients in only one direction at first.

 

By this, I mean start with a base coat of either your darker color tone (The color of the shadow, if you will), or your brighter one (The highlight color, as it is). This way, you will only have to add one color to darken/brighten  your painting area, and you'll be able to concentrate on getting smooth transitions.

 

Say, for my Threvus I started the blue parts with a very dark blue, and added gradually small amounts of GW's Ice Blue until I got the effect I wanted.

 

I find it easier to work this way than from a middle tone, and then having to do two gradients, one from mid to dark for shadow, and another from mid to bright for highlights. Later on, if you feel like it, you can experiment with the middle tone approach, using different brightening/darkening shades to get interesting results. (Like darkening with a warm color and highlighting to a cold color).

 

Hope this makes any sense...

:oo:

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