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I finally tried out the airbrush I got this past year. Spent the day getting used to it and testing it out.
I've had a set of Croak Raiders from Hordes that I've been excited to paint up. I figured an airbrush would really help speed up the process.
However, I knew better than to test out a new tool on something so detailed that I cared so much about.
So I broke out this Great Worm that I got for use in Rangers of Shadow Deep.
I documented my process for once as I was sharing it with some friends, so I figured I'd show it off here too.
The worm got glued to a 2in base and I used sand to help build up a transition from the rocky sculpt to the base.
More super glue and some baking soda were added to the whole thing to create a finer texture that looks better at scale. This is my go-to basing method. I use more or less sand depending on my purpose.
I don't yet have a primer for the airbrush so I primed this mini with craft paint as usual. I did use a darker gray than normally as I had a feeling this would work better for airbrushing.
So I broke out my new airbrush. Got an Iwata from some friends last summer. I've only ever used an airbrush a few times before but never for minis.
Decided to paint this as a Purple Worm so it could serve double duty in D&D. Slapped on a few shades of purple. My takeaway here is that I could use colors with more contrast and really push the light values.
I had a bit more contrast in the under belly, painted the mouth deep red, and then slapped some brown on to the base. I figured this was as much as I could accomplish with the airbrush.
I wasn't happy with the contrast so I added some washes to darken the shadows before moving on to some layering for highlights and detail work.
I'll get around to taking better pictures later, but this was the final result. I still spent nearly 4 hours working on this after the airbrush, but I think it saved me a lot of time at least with the base colors.
The airbrush was definitely helpful but also annoying. Spent half the time I was using it cleaning the dang thing. Also just getting comfortable with paint it techniques.
You might have spotted in the background that I did work up the confidence to put some color on the frogs.
I was inspired by the box art for these guys so I tried giving them lighter yellow bellies and orange hands/feet.
I also tested out zenithal highlighting a bit. Unfortunately these guys were primed grey like I usually do so the contrast wasn't that noticeable. Will have to try it out properly next time.
A breezy, cool night in the high desert. Heat lightning crackles on the horizon. Gusts of wind bring the faintest scent of far-off rains.
The full moon illuminates a strange crater in the parched earth. Was that there yesterday?
All at once, a rumble. The earth quivers and vibrates. Grains of sand begin to dance about near the lip of the hole; then, pebbles.
A frenzied writhing that sets the land in tumult! A great roar, the sound of it almost a solid thing, impossibly basso. Again, and again. There is a faint reply on the desert wind: an echo? or another of the unfathomably great burrowers beneath? It's hard for you to tell, but eventually the titanic bulk subsides and the desert is quiet once more, save for a faint shifting of sand and a ripple on the dunes heading for the horizon.
This was an old project I never posted; painted back when washes were almost all the paints I had. A great sculpt, dynamic and expressive. The purples are alternating layers of midnight blue and a sort of pinkish red. I should go back and add some razzamatazz to that belly, now I'm seeing the big photographs.
While a lot of people think purple worms are D&D cribbing Frank Herbert's sandworms as it did Margaret St. Clair and John Wyndham's fungal underdarks and dark elves--and they ARE pretty rad--I'm convinced that the genesis of both was far earlier, in a 1929 David Henry Keller short from "Amazing Stories." It's called, appropriately enough, "The Worm," and is worth the few minutes of your time to track down and read.
Come to think of it, this story might have also partly inspired Ray Bradbury's "The Fog Horn," though the tone of that story is much more wistful and melancholy and less increasing dread. And without THAT, and another tonal shift, monster movies and kaiju movies might have been very different indeed.
I'm just really proud of this, my first work with an airbrush ever. Maybe it's not the best skill & craft work out there for finishing a figure, but I think I win some points for originality.
What I learned...
Sometimes, inspiration comes when you think your finished (my son said "I thought you were going for a nebula") Sometimes, your wife says "It needs something iridescent" when you think you're done and she's right. Sparkling Amethyst on the spines Airbrushing means mixing and getting your consistency exactly right - I got lucky on my first try Airbrushing base colors is insanely fast, uses almost no paint and produces something much more even than I could dry-brushing Dry brushing is great for aging/leathering a piece - airbrushing is all about consistency of coverage. Trying to add red-shifted & blue-shifted stars to the star field looked like birthday cake sprinkles. Nature always has better color schemes than I can come up with on my own. I still need to figure out how to layer/thin/build up my colors.
After initial airbrushing with Violet Shadow and Clear Magenta and maybe a mix with aged bonne for the belly.
First pass at layering for the spikes. I've got some learning to do.
Another angle at the "ready for detailing" stage.
My son said "nebula" and I broke out the clear blue and thinned it, but probably not enough.
Here's the "finished" product. I detailed so many stars in the blue areas. Then my wife said "iridescent" and I added Sparkling Amethyst to the spines. It's a great touch and highlights the raised part of the body instead of leaving it the same as the rest.
For scale against another recent work, my lizardman army.
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