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BLENDING!?!?!!!!


MamaGeek
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I have been working very hard to learn how to blend, and I wanted to ask you all if you think its worth trying with the tools and materials I currently own.

 

I plan to upgrade to sable brushes and Master Series paints, but that will have to wait on my budget. For now, I'm using just a dozen bottles of Games Workshop paints, which I mix to achieve the colors I want, and a couple of cheap synthetic brushes. With these, I have not been able to achieve a good blend. I've read many online tutorials, watched some video tutorials on YouTube, and experimented with different paint/water mixes and techniques, all to no avail. I keep trying, and practicing, and working at it, but the frustration is really mounting. I have no intention of giving up altogether, but I wonder if it's worth beating this seemingly-dead horse until I can invest in better quality materials.

 

I know that practice can only take an artist so far, that talent and creativity play a major role for top painters, but I should be able to achieve a decent level of technical competence, at least. I have improved over time, but blending is a big roadblock I just can't seem to get past. Here's a gallery of all my work so far, if that helps anyone in providing tailored advice.

 

Is it even possible to achieve a good blend with my current toolset, or should I give up until I upgrade? If so, should I bother? Will I have to completely relearn with the better materials?

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You can achieve good blends with citadel paints. You might want to buy at least one Reaper sable brush. They are 10.00 Which is a good price for what you are getting. Citadels tend to be more "rubbery" and need a little more thinning than reaper propaints or the masters paints, but they work well.

If anything maybe pick up a bottle of reaper masters flow improver. That is a good help to get the paints a bit more manageable than just water. If you want some examples of figures painted with citadel paints I can insert some.

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Yes, it's possible, but your brushes in particular will fight you. No, you will not have to relearn with new materials- in fact, you'll find it much easier. Switching paints might take a little getting used to, but not much.

 

I think the fairy with the acorn shows a good start at blending, and going from red to blue is pretty difficult.

 

This is going to sound counterintuitive, but have you tried NMM? For me, that's when blending really clicked. Find a figure wearing plate mail. Pick one part, like a shoulder. Mix up six shades, going from black to white in as smooth a progression as you can. Paint the entire shoulder black. Now go to your next shade, and paint over 90% of the shoulder. Then go to the next shade up, and do 80% of the shoulder. Continue until you get to white. This should give you a decent progression of dark to light. Now you just go back and smooth out the lines. Make sure your paint is thinned well. Just focus on that one shoulder. Don't even plan to finish the mini, just use it for practice. Take the pressure off.

 

Now, I have trouble with GW paints. I find it hard to get them just the right consistency, but you can do it. If you can learn how to blend with GW paints and synthetic brushes, you'll be a pro when you upgrade.

 

Also, is there anyone near you who can show you?

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You absolutely can achieve good results. I've know painters to paint stunning models with .99 cent craft paint. You just need to remain patient and work diligently to correct mistakes and improve your technique. Time. That's the magic key. ... Damn, I've spilled the beans.... ::):

 

If anything, buy a good brush. $6 for a W&N Series 7 size 0 from dick blick is great. Use good brushes. Crap paint just takes more time to work. And GW isn't crap paint.

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Yes, it's possible, but your brushes in particular will fight you.

 

If anything maybe pick up a bottle of reaper masters flow improver.

 

Perhaps an intermediate brush and flow improver upgrade is in order, then, even if I don't get all the goodies I want just yet.

 

This is going to sound counterintuitive, but have you tried NMM? For me, that's when blending really clicked.

 

Yes, I've tried it, and it was even more frustrating than anything I'd done before. Here's the WIP thread. Scroll to the bottom for the current state of the mini, which I haven't touched since.

 

Also, is there anyone near you who can show you?

 

Unfortunately, no, not that I know of. I was unable to attend the last couple of painting classes at my local gaming store, and I don't know if they would have even covered blending. I'd LOVE to go to a ReaperCon or GenCon, but they're pretty far from where I live (Fredericksburg, VA).

 

You absolutely can achieve good results.

 

I'll keep trying, then.

 

Can you all please point me to your favorite blending tutorials/vidoes/advice? There may be some out there I haven't seen yet that will key me in to what I'm missing.

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You can get good results with what you are using but it might be easier to try something else. When I started painting I was using synthetic brushes and enamel paints because that is what was available at the time. Then some acrylic paint became available and I started using that with my synthetic brushes. I eventually got frustrated with the brushes because they seemed to get a hook on the end as soon as they touched pewter. Aruggg! I had to buy new brushes every time I started a new mini and felt like I was fighting m tools to get any painting done. That's when I bought my first sable brushes.

If that is the point you are at I say get new tools, if you aren't there yet keep working with what you have. I do reccomend Dick Bilck for brushes. The Series7's are about the same price as good synthetic but work better and last longer.

Keep practicing and trying different techniques. Not everyone is comfortable with what works great for another painter. I stil can't wet blend but layering and glazing work just fine.

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Layering is different from wet blending and is exactly what Matt described early when talking about NMM. Unfortunately the terms tend to get used interchangeably. We tend to do a lot more layering in our high altitude dry climate because the paint dries so fast.

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If anything maybe pick up a bottle of reaper masters flow improver.
Perhaps an intermediate brush and flow improver upgrade is in order, then, even if I don't get all the goodies I want just yet.

IMO you would be better off getting a high-quality brush - ie. kolinsky sable like the W&N S7 that was just mentioned and a cheaper flow improver, than you would be spending less on a brush and more on a flow improver - one of the craft paint brands makes one that is labelled as "acrylic thinner" (possibly Delta, but if not that it's definitely one of the craft brands at Michael's etc.). It's very cheap and comes in a bigger bottle than Reaper droppers. I think you'll notice a bigger improvement with a really good brush and cheap thinner than with slightly better flow improver & a mediocre brush.

Can you all please point me to your favorite blending tutorials/vidoes/advice? There may be some out there I haven't seen yet that will key me in to what I'm missing.
- This article from Vallejo touches on blending, though recommends combining what they refer to as layering and feathering when using acrylics to achieve similar results. Lots of other goodies in this one too, though strictly speaking it doesn't actually give much advice on the type of blending that is sometimes referered to as "wet blending" or "wet on wet blending", which I take to be what you are shooting for.

- Here's one that's actually about wet blending.

- And one about what they are calling feathering, though they use the term to mean something different than in the vallejo link I posted first. This looks much like what I have seen described elsewhere as "wet on dry blending". Or something along those lines.

- And of course Olliekickflip's blending tutorial from right here in the Painting Tips & Advice forum - yet another type of blending, using lots of glazes & a wet palette; more clearly explained than many other tut's I've read over the years, and worth clicking on even just to take a look at the painted mini itself.

 

These terms don't have much consistency from one paint company or minis-community to another, as you'll see.

 

Anyhow, good luck. I hope these are helpful; didn't take me too long to find them, so if you hunt around on different mini sites you can probably find others without too much trouble. Hey, once you figure it out, maybe you can teach me how to blend... :poke:

 

Kang

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I think you were starting to get it with that NMM wip. The only thing you're missing is contrast. If you made those shadows black, and did the same blending, you'd have it. I suggest NMM only because grays eliminate color from the mix, so you only focus on blending tones.

 

I'm a big fan of the Miniature Mentor videos, www.miniaturementor.com. The "Complete Guide" one is really good.

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<blatant plug>I had to check but I currently have three copies of that exact Miniature Mentor DVD as prizes for my convention.</blatant plug>

 

Seriously, to me blending means mixing the transitions while the paint is wet. It's sometimes more explicitly called 'wet blending'. You lay down a base coat and let it dry. Then you put your dark and your light colors on and use the brush to mix them in the transitions.

 

Layering (aka feathering) is the application of successive layers of paint to achieve the transitions. Here you use successively lighter colors in successively smaller areas to achieve the effect.

 

Each has their place and everyone has their own opinions on them. As I said, I just don't like doing wet blending but there are a few times when it's been the way I've done an effect. Mostly I layer.

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I feel your pain MG, I really do...I have been in your seat for what seemed like years wondering why I couldn't figure it out. I read every tutorial I could find but just coundn't get it. That being said I eventually got better. My first bit of advice is don't quit! I know it is frustrating but keep pluggin away at it. My second bit of advice is to get the proper tools for painting...it should cost you between 10 and 50 dollars total. You don't need new paint or anything like that...at least not yet. You need a good brush or two and possibly some glaze medium or that delta paint thinner. As for brushes, here is what I use http://www.dickblick.com/zz050/48/ Its the Raphael 8404 series and I mainly use the size 0 and 0/3 brushes. Order them on line and you should have them in a week or so. Without the right brushes you are going to be spinning your wheels. Believe me, I fought it for years and I am a idiot for doing so. The Windsor Newton Series 7 brushes are nice too...I just don't have a link for them. Anyways, now that you have a good brush, find a really easy mini to paint. Get something with a big cape or something with very little detail that will allow you to practice without things getting in the way of your blending. Also choose colors that you have had success with (however small that success may have been) and work with those. I would suggest the GW browns ie: Bleached bone, bestial brown, dark flesh and snakebite leather...all blend very easily. If you don't have those colors, tell me what you have and I'll see what I think well be easy to blend with. Also take a look at my blending tutorial and let it sink in a day or so then get back to me. I'll see what I can do to help you!! Don't give up!!!!

 

my tutorial

http://www.reapermini.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=32050

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