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02243: Robert O'Mannon -- Tartan Project

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I've been working on painting tartan a bit (Ian MacAndrew Show Off)


A while ago I said I would post a step-by-step of painting a tartan(Painting Tartan).



So here it is:  02243 Robert O'Mannon sculpted by Bobby Jackson.


I started by deciding what colour tartan I would paint.  On the last project I used the Afghanistan Memorial Tartan ( Tartan reference material  ) but changed the blue to green and left off some of the highlight colours.  I've found that most patterns of tartan are really far too complicated for me to attempt to paint, so I pick out one that I can simplify into easily painted elements.  These elements often combine multiple lines from the original tartan into a single line of a similar colour.  The result is a pattern that suggests a tartan but without having to paint a lot of very fine lines.  Painting very long, fine lines is the particular challenge of painting tartan, so the fewer you can get away with the better.  So for this project I decided to use the same tartan pattern again, but to keep the blue colour and to add in the red and white lines.  This is risky because the white lines in particular can be very hard to paint smoothly and they stick out like a sore thumb when they are messy.  Mistakes will be highly visible, as you will see. 


Another consideration for selection of the tartan and the colour of tartan is the overall composition of the final miniature.  The very fine lines can be hard to notice, so adding a similar colour elsewhere on the miniature can help make the colour more easily noticed.  This is why I painted Robert's hair red and his amulet blue. 


Step 1:


Draw out the main lines for the pattern and select the colours.




I also test painted a swatch of the pattern.  From this I knew that the blue would need to have the intersection squares painted in darker or it wouldn't look right. 

Edited by Geoff Davis
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Step 2:  I painted everything else on the miniature first.  Why?  Because I can fix a splotch of white line on the skin, but it is much harder to fix a splotch of skin colour that gets on the finished tartan.  So, I paint everything else first. 


I also do a bit of pre-shading and highlighting.  The tartan is not a very reflective fabric, so the highlights are not going to be as bright as I would usually make them. 








Step 3:  Prepare my palette with all the paint as per my plan from my notes.  I am using a mix of 50% water, 25% liquitext flowaid and 25% liquitex slowdri (the white blob) for painting/blending the kilt and the first few thick lines.  Then I am using pure liquitext flowaid (the big transparent blob in the middle right of the palette) to thin the paint for the very long, thin lines. 




Step 4  I paint the kilt in the tan colour. Shade, highlight, blend, the usual, just not as bright for the highlights.  You could stop at this stage and call him done.  It's tempting and he wouldn't even end up on the shelf of shame. 






Edited by Geoff Davis
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Ok, he didn't end up on my shelf of shame, so here comes the next step. 


Step 5:  Select the position for the first line.  I always start with a horizontal line with one of the fatter more easily painted colours.  I always select the starting point so that I will be able to paint the complete pattern at that spot.  This is important because I am going to use the starting point for a reference for everything else to keep the pattern the same size throughout and I will adjust the orientation of the pattern relative to this start point in areas where the fabric is curved, like the plaid over his shoulder.  The pattern on a tartan is parallel to the hem at the bottom, always, even if it is out of alignment in other places.  I therefore start the first line parallel to the belt line on the mini and therefore also (presumably) parallel to the hem.


First Line:






Step 6:  Put on the rest of the horizontal lines from the pattern parallel to this first line.  Note that the sculpt does not have to play by the rules of a real world fabric.  It is more important to keep the lines from intersecting with the hem than to keep them parallel.  I try to keep the lines basically parallel and may have them converge slightly if necessary, like close to the back of this figure with the second line (the one closer to the hem).













Edited by Geoff Davis
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Step 7:  Putting the first lines on the portion of the plaid which is wrapped around his waist.  The fabric here has been twisted into a roll that wraps around his waist and so the pattern is no longer parallel to the belt line or the hem.  I made the choice in this case to treat the roll of fabric as though the sculpted ridges of cloth were parallel to orientation of the pattern on the fabric.  The first lines I painted on this part were therefore perpendicular to those sculpted folds.





Step 8:  I did some initial highlighting of the blue stripes.  This was to help me identify where to put the vertical blue stripes so that they didn't end up being in crevices on the sculpt where I wouldn't be able to reach them to apply the very long thin lines that will be coming later. 




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Step 9:  Laying out the pattern for the vertical stripes.  I laid out the vertical lines on the kilt at the same width and spacing as the horizontal lines, as per the reference material. 




Step 10:  Converging vertical stripes on the plaid.  The pattern has to wrap around to the inside of the plaid as well.  I therefore chose to put the first vertical strip right on the left edge of the plaid as viewed from behind so that I would more easily be able to carry on the pattern inside the plaid without having to guess too much. 




I then continued the pattern at roughly equal intervals across the plaid.  Note that this piece of fabric tends not to be folded and creased as precisely as the kilt, so I made the vertical lines slightly closer together than the spacing of the horizontal lines. 




Once I was happy with this placement, I carried on with this step and finished placing the vertical lines on the plaid.  Note that the fabric is compressed at the top, so the lines converge and become very narrow, as does the spacing between the lines.  I carried the first line right over the top of the shoulder and all the way to the waist on the front. 




Continuing the same line on the front.




I then filled in the rest of the lines on this part of the plain as per the pattern. 







Step 11:  Placement of the vertical strips around his waist.  This is basically the same as doing the piece over the shoulder.  The pattern is compressed in some places where the fabric looks 'squeezed'.




Step 12:  Highlighting of the vertical stripes all around the figure.





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Step 13.  I knew I would have to darken the blue squares where the blue lines intersect, so that is what happened next.  I added a bit of blackened brown into the blue and then painted in all the squares.  I was not too precise in this, mostly because my hands are not very steady at the moment.  The messiness is not TOO noticeable though, because the contrast between the light blue/dark blue and the tan is not very high. 






Step 14.  Apply Chestnut Gold glaze over everything except the dark blue squares.  As noted above, the contrast is not very high, but it is still too high.  This is a flat wool fabric and the colours should also be somewhat muted.  So, I made a glaze of the Chestnut Gold using a mixture of water, flowaid and liquitex glazing medium and applied it. Note that the slodri and the glazing medium both make the finished surface a bit shiny.  I will apply a matte coat over the whole thing when I am done. 






You could call him done at this stage and be happy.  It's tempting. 


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Step 15  Resist the call of the shelf of shame!  It is time to start applying those dreaded very long, thin lines.  I have tried various brushes and ways of thinning the paint to achieve this in the past.  However, I want to mention that I watched one of the Hobby Cheating videos and found the answer (its called "How to paint sharp, thin lines").  I don't use ink, like he demonstrates, but I did use straight liquitext flowaid to thin the paint and I was really pleased with how it turned out.  The issue is no longer thinning the paint, now its just keeping my hands steady. A couple of hints:  Paint when you are well rested and well hydrated.  Don't drink a ton of energy drinks right before doing this.  Also, don't work out right before trying this!  Your macro muscles will impose too much vibration over the micro muscles you use for this type of work.  Also, don't mow the lawn!  The after effects of using heavy equipment with a lot of vibration will make this kind of work very difficult if not impossible. 


Okay -- enough chat more painting lines.  It actually gets very easy now.  Yes, seriously.  All the hard work is done.  Because the pattern is laid out precisely, all you have to do is lay out the very thin lines parallel to the pattern.  The freehand experts out there will probably have some very useful hints here.  I found that long smooth brush strokes works a lot better than short precise strokes.  Its ok for the line to not stay perfectly spaced between the existing lines of the pattern.  It does not look good when you fail to accurately line up the ends of the lines when painting with short strokes.  This is why it tends to look very splotchy in the deep recesses in the folds.  I have to go back and fill in the gaps afterwards, sometimes with a different brush. 


By the way, for the long thin stripes I am using a Winsor&Newton Round #0 Series 7 (the standard length, not the miniature one).  I am using the same brush, but the miniature one, to go back and fill in some of the gaps in the deep recesses.  Hence the rough connections -- the two brushes don't have the same qualities and this compounds the problem of shaky hands. 


Horizontal lines applied first.  These lines are blackened brown.






Then the vertical lines. 






You could call him done here and be quite happy.  Its tempting. 



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Step 16 -- If your hands are shaky, skip the next steps and just put him on your shelf of finished miniatures.  Or, keep going and accept that its likely going to get very messy until you get practiced at applying those long thin lines.  I encourage you to try this, its actually not that hard once you get an eye for it, it just looks a bit messy the first few times.  Like this time!


Ok, time to keep moving forward.  The next colour on the reference pattern is the red.  The red lines will border both sides of the wide blue stripes.  This means you are painting twice as many red lines as all the blue lines you just painted.  That's ok, it's good practice.  If you just finished doing the brown lines, you are all practiced up and ready.  Or, as in my case, you are tired and should probably take a break, rest your eyes, get a drink of water, etc.  Either way, its all good.  I started with the Carrot Top Red and thinned it with only Flow Aid.  You can pretty much start anywhere you want, you just want to be systematic so you don't miss any spots.






You could probably stop now and be quite happy, its tempting and maybe a good place to stop.  He looks a little messy, but pretty good overall. 





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Step 17 -- prepare to make a mess.  It's okay -- it's all in the name of science, or art, or whoever.  Next colour from the reference material is the white lines.  However, pure white lines will be way to bright and ruin the overall effect.  In fact, I have found that even an off white is far to bright.  So for this pattern I chose Golden Blonde.  For immersion purposes, I'm claiming that its because the sheep wool is slightly off white anyway.  The process is the same as in the previous step, except now you are laying down the long thin lines in the middle of the fat blue stripes, neatly spaced in the middle between the two red lines.  I found that if I drew the brush along very slowly, the movement of the brush and the surface tension of the paint pulled the pigment into a straight line behind the brush, even if it was a little uneven when it was first laid down as I pressed down on the brush.  I feel like with more practice, it will get easier to make these lines smooth. 






You could stop now and be quite happy with the result, hey wait a minute, I'm done!  He is still a bit shiny but the matte coat will sort that out.  Thanks for reading along and I look forward to your comments, criticisms, suggestions and or questions.






The final show off pictures are here:Robert O'Mannon


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