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BLZeebub

Attempting to paint generic backgrounds for miniature photography

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So...  I haven't posted anything that I've painted lately.  Partly this is because I haven't finished anything, and I hate to start a WIP and leave it that way.  Another part is I don't like the photos I've taken sans background, so I'm making a few of these in various colors.  Finally, I think completing some simple projects will help me get back into the swing of sitting down and painting again.

 

I purchased two grades of water-color paper from my local art shop and a bunch of cheap "art paper" from a box store (for practice).  This is the cheaper paper taped to my desk.  When wet it wants to curl and will hold a ripple until it completely dries--tape nullifies this.  Currently this has a coat of watered down gesso to provide it with "tooth," essentially priming it.  Then I mixed some cheap art paints to the proper color (this was much more teal in my mind...), thinned with a little water and a little more of the clear liquid I skimmed from some long-frozen house paint (it lets me thin the pigment without making it too watery).  I applied this with one of those angles grey foam brushes--for this step, the lines don't matter.  The next step (pics forthcoming) I used a fat makeup brush so there aren't paint strokes evident.  The end goal is for this one to be rather dark overall, like a false-colored nebula or clouds of varying colors.  This blue will only be seen in sparse glimpses.  Enjoy, and more to come...  like tonight maybe.

 

Second layer added and dry.  The gold will only be sparsely visible in the end as well; a contrast to both the blue and the greys coming.

 

Any comments, critiques, advice are supremely welcome!

 

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Edited by BLZeebub
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Nice start. Are gonna do a variety of colors (ex. a grey background, black, etc etc)?

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31 minutes ago, haldir said:

Nice start. Are gonna do a variety of colors (ex. a grey background, black, etc etc)?

That's the plan.  Once I find a good medium I want a nice, nebular looking one (this one), a golden/parchment colored one, and the third to be determined.  Once I'm in the flow, I want to actually have a stone wall, a forest, and probably various combinations of those.  Maybe even a generic steampunk style one--pipes and smoke and stuff.  Just nothing too interesting or contrasting, so as not to take away from the actual minis.

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OK, learned a few things already!  I was hoping  the dark green would end up a bit fluffier-looking, like clouds, rather than stippling, but it will be largely obscured in the end anyway.  I think my previous layers have actually made a water-tight enough seal that new layers don't absorb as water-colors, but pool as if painting a mini.  Hence the effect here, sort of beading.  It'll work for now though.

 

The purple was my first hard lesson.  Confirmed above discovery, for one.  I tried to really get a good gradient from quite thinned to solid pigment, but it pooled badly and never dried--luckily it pooled so much I could wipe it off.  Next attempt at purple, I went with a much drier solution and got essentially the desired effect.  In the left two blotches of purple, my intent is most evident.

 

Up  next:  The final-ish coats of greys and blacks.  I'm thinking these may be nearly straight paint, rather than thinned.  I plan to essentially dry-brush over what I have--just with more of a poking/blotting action, rather than dragging over the paper.

 

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Edited by BLZeebub
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Starting to look more like my vision.  Added the first of a few darker, greyer layers of stippling--with that fat old brush pictured.  Trying to make sure none of the actual strokes are apparent, as this should look cloudy or smoky in the end.  I have added another layer, but it's still wet at the moment.  More to come!

 

Let me know what you think!

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I'm assuming you are planning to throw this out of focus in the photos, which will remove some of the hard edges of various spots. (Watch out for your camera wanting to focus on the background instead of the figure.) You'll need to keep the background back a bit from the figure and use a moderately long lens to make sure it's out of focus.

 

Being very nearsighted, I took my glasses off to look at this rather in the way that it would look when well out of the depth of field of a camera, and what I'm seeing is a yellowish-green cross-shape with four fairly prominent purple spots. For some figures, this might work well (it's your artistic vision, after all), but for me it wouldn't work very well for a general background.

 

On technique, you might consider trying to make something like this with pastels or colored pencils and a "blending stump". When you rub the pencil or chalk marks with the blending stump, it will soften the edges of the pigment you lay down and can give you the kind of cloudy look that I think you're going for. (One of the advantages of this method is no drying time.) If you try this, you will probably want to spray a fixative to protect the surface of the sheet.

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Yeah, the end goal is to not have any obvious hard edges, but to slightly lighten toward the midground.  I may just go with charcoals/pastels for the next lot, as thinning/washing on paper is waaay different from on minis.  This darker layer kind of spotted up and developed a bit of a sheen as well, which didn't thrill me.

 

I think your idea of having the background a bit farther than usual will knock it out of focus enough to work a few times though.

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