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Bonehenge Priestess

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This is coming along pretty well, but have you thought about thinning your paint at all? You're losing literally all of the resolution of the miniature -- that's why the eyes keep going off. You're having to guess where the eyes are underneath all that muck, instead of actually being able to paint the sculpted eyes and lips themselves.

Like, as an acrylic painter, and painting detail on a flat canvas, you're doing well. But there's detail that you can enhance if you used thinner paint. It's a slightly different painting process.

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The eyes look great now. I mostly cheat and just paint them black, no colored eyes. Looking at your work I may try it however. You show that putting in the time is the way to improve. Inspiring.

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2 hours ago, Xumenicus said:

have you thought about thinning your paint at all?


I mean, yes?  I am.  I add water until I get to the point where adding any more water causes the paints to fall apart.


I'll admit I do have a tendency to go thicker on base coats and super tiny details.  The base coats are mostly due to learning on painting Bones, I think. Bonesium is sufficiently hydrophobic that you can't go straight to thinned paints or it'll just bead up on the surface.  Even on a primed metal mini, getting too thin is super easy, and you just wind up with splotchy pools all over the place because it doesn't adhere to the surface well enough.


As for tiny details, well, I like slightly thicker paint there so that it will actually stay where I put it instead of immediately sliding all over everywhere.


This is one of my pet peeves about mini painting, actually.  Paint consistency cannot be adequately explained or discussed by word, image, or video. It's a tactile thing: you have to be able to push it around on the palette, put it on a figure and work with it there.  Trying to learn it from instructional materials is an exercise in frustration; and advising other people about it is equally difficult, particularly because local conditions -- particularly the humidity -- make a huge difference.  This is one area where I have many times wished for a teacher, physically present in the room with me, so we could talk about paint consistency when we're looking at the same paints on the same palette under the same conditions.  It's a huge barrier to learning the hobby.


Not that that's a silver bullet by any means. I went to ReaperCon in August and took a class on two-brush blending.  It was super cool, and I felt like I was figuring it out!  And then I did a bunch of it at home, and it just didn't work quite the same way. I'm pretty sure I was doing the exact same thing at home as I was in Denton, but the paint didn't behave the same. I was baffled for a while and then went back to what I'd been doing before, which is mostly glazing, I think.


Anyway, sorry for the rant. It just bugs me that it's so easy to say "thin your paints" and so hard to actually take that advice.

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About a day late, so maybe too late to help, but I would leave the eyes the way they are.  They not only look good at a short distance, they look good in extreme close up.  For something so small, it doesn't have to be absolutely perfect to read right.  

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5 hours ago, wdmartin said:

It just bugs me that it's so easy to say "thin your paints" and so hard to actually take that advice.


Amen, brother.  Learning to thin my paints is an ongoing lesson for me. I've watched YouTube vids and talked with fellow enthusiasts, painted with experts -- similar to your own experiences, it seems, and I share your frustrations.  I rotate through techniques and I've been learning stuff. Slooooooowly. ;-)


Currently, I use a plain white, glazed ceramic tile for my palette and I thin with 09106 Flow Improver. I use water to clean my brush and keep it wet, but I don't use water as my primary thinner any longer. I use MSP Bones paints, and of course your results may vary.  I start with 1:1 Flow Improver to Paint and then go for a consistency around that of 2% milk.  I tried with water and had not been successful at thinning paints to a glaze because they seem to start to break at about the 2:1 point.


That said, I've experimented with acrylic floor polish (WAS:Future, NOW:Pledge Floor Gloss) and water for a paint thinner and it was pretty good. (water:polish 3:1) So good that I may fill a dropper bottle with what I have left and see how it stacks up against Flow Improver.


I have a wet palette, and I'm considering getting it out again. I enjoyed it because my paints seemed to reach a perfect consistency without any thinning at all.  But you must maintain a wet palette (keep it in the fridge, use your paints) and if you don't paint for a few weeks, you have to start over.


I hope this is helpful.  Keep going!

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It's been a busy evening. I think I got the highlight taken care of. I used @LittleBluberry's suggestion of just redoing the pupil, leaving the upper portion of the highlight intact




There's an annoying diagonal slash of white at the top left of her left eye. So far I haven't attempted to do anything about that, but I might.


I spent the rest of the evening working on other things.  First up, sleeves.  I base coated her right sleeve in Palomino Gold, and her left sleeve in 2:1 Snow Shadow/Blue Liner:




Then I highlighted and shaded them, in very thin layers.  Her left sleeve went down to Concrete Grey, and up to Misty Grey with a bit of the blue mixture of the base coat mixed in.  Her right sleeve went up through Linen White to Dragon White at the top, and down into the Misty Grey/blue mix from the other sleeve.


I also took this opportunity to base coat her belt in black, and then highlight up to Tempest Grey in the bright areas.






Next up, the skin of her face.








First I cleaned up some edges with the base coat color (1:1 Fair Skin/Oiled Leather).  Then down to Dark Highlight on her left, and up to Fair Skin on her right. That's not done by any means -- I need to push that contrast more to really sell the illusion of light emanating from her lamp.


Then I started working on her lips.




















Up to this point, I'd mostly messed been using a mixture of 1:1:1 Oiled Leather/Fair Skin/Maroon Red for her lip color, plus Walnut Brown for the dark lines, and the assorted skin tone of her face for adjusting the shape of the lips.  I made an attempt at a cupid's bow by dotting a bit of her midtone skin color directly under her nose, then highlighting its right with Fair Skin and its left with a half-step between her midtone and Dark Highlight. It's not entirely successful.  For one thing, it's not exactly in line with her nose.  Hrm.


At this point, I decided the Maroon Red mixture was not bright enough. So I went over it with some very thin Clear Red, which brightened it substantially.




Then I did a bit more to clean up the shape.




I'm not entirely happy with them. I think they may be too large. And the corner on her left isn't quite shaped right compared to the corner on her right.  The line should be pointier, and thinner.


It looks better from further away.




But even from a couple of feet away, the side on her left isn't working quite right.


Sigh. Faces are hard. Everybody knows what they look like, on a deep instinctual level, so if you mess one up, it's immediately obvious.


After six years in the hobby I feel like I'm finally getting the hang of eyes, but lips and eyebrows are still ... problematic.

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I would call the eyes done and not go back in. The look very good as is. There is a German word Verschlimmbessern which means to make something worse in trying to improve it further.


The skin looks good, too. Nice and smooth. 


The lips are, in my opinion to thick. I would try a slim line around the mouth. If she is smiling try to get use a reference pic to see how the lips are shaped. I also wonder if it would be better to use a darker skin tone for the mouth instead of the stark brown.


On the gown I would push the shadows for contrast. Something I struggle with all the time. 


This will be a stunning miniature in the end no doubt and you challenged yourself to push your art further.

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Okay, about another three hours spent mostly on the face.


First, I went and found some face references.  I was looking for women with sly sideways smiles, preferably looking up and away at something.  Searching Google Images for "sideways smile" yields a surprising number of silly photo manipulations that aren't particularly helpful as anatomical references.  But I did find some useful ones.








I think that last one is a young Emma Watson, but I wouldn't swear to it.


Anyway, what I noticed about this is, yes, the lips I had on the model were much too thick. Also, when your mouth is curled up into a sly smile like that, it pushes up the muscle of your upper cheeks, allowing a curvy shadow to fall and underline them.


I also decided that the Walnut Brown is probably a little too dark for this purpose, and went with Dark Highlight instead.


So, with that in mind, I covered her existing mouth with the base skin color and put in a new set of lips.  I could probably have taken more pictures of the steps here -- basically it was a line of Dark Highlight in a slight curve, which I then used as a guide for the lip shapes. Honestly they're not very good -- I think they're closer to the right height now, but they should thin out more into pointy corners at the ends, and instead they're sort of blocky.




I worked on fixing that by thinning down the corners of the lips by painting them over with other skin tones.  I also put a highlight in place to suggest a philtrum above her upper lip.




At this point I decided to to darken the shadow under the side of her face away from the lantern. I really want there to be strong, strong contrast between the lit portions and the unlit portions to help sell the OSL when I get that far.  This is Walnut Brown, and I think some of it got into the sclera of her left eye when I erased a mistake by flooding the area with water. Dangit.




And some more work on her skin highlights, in Linen White.  I also took this opportunity to put a thin highlight of Linen White on her lower lip.




And here's a shot from slightly further away, i.e. not an extreme close-up.




I started blocking in some Walnut Brown on her necklace, and a couple swipes of light and shadow on her throat.




She's got a little bird skull that she's apparently using as a ... button? Brooch? Anyway, I missed that detail in my paint plan up top.  I coated it in Aged Bone, did some highlighting with Linen Whtie, and some shading with 1:1 Aged Bone/Ruddy Brown.  I had the Ruddy Brown out anyway to clean up the splotch on her hair.


I also spent a little time cleaning up the lines between her flesh and her robe, though those bits don't show up clearly here.





And here's where she's at right now.





I think that bird skull needs some lining to make it a bit more distinct from its surroundings.  The color values are pretty close.  But I'm much happier with the lips than I was before.


It feels like I'm making good progress, but at the same time there's still so far to go.  (Looks glumly at the clump of belt doodads.)

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The lips look more natural now. I would reduce the thickness of the upper lip further and I think the highlight tone you have on the bottom lip is overall a better lip colour. It really works from afar and looks very good.


That slight darkening of the eye doesn't strike me as a bad addition. 

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She is really coming along! I agree that the lips needed thinning, but i think you have landed on a pretty good thickness at this point.  The eyes are fantastic. The highlights look good with the face and upper body. You definitely made the right choice when you decided to strip her and start over.

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Another couple hours' work.


Base coat of Suntan Flesh on the leather doodads, and a layer of sepia ink wash on the antlers.




And then some shading and highlighting on both.  I neglected to take a photo of the back view -- most of the shading on the antlers is back there, opposite the light source.




Then I went back to the lips.  First, I thinned out that upper lip a bit.




Then I painted the philtrum back in, and also did a little to increase the contrast of the shadows defining the curves of her cheeks a bit.




Oh, and I did bit of lining on the bird skull -- some Muddy Olive down around the edges.  Same along the bottom of her left collar to divide it from the adjacent fabric.


The color values on the leather doodads are not right.  The ones on her left should be considerably darker because they're further from the light source.

Edited by wdmartin
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The smirk really works now. I think the face would overall benefit from a glaze to make the transitions smoother. However, this only applies to the close ups. Looks smooth enough from a usual viewing distance.


If you have washes at hand you can use them to darken the leather bits to the right a bit.

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Okay, spent a few more hours working on the doodads.  First I darkened up that leather on her left by glazing on a layer of Muddy Brown, followed by another of Walnut Brown.




At the same time I put a base coat of Grey Liner on the metal bits (sickle blade, ring, short sword hilt and crossguard, locket, chape).


Next, I attempted some NMM on the metal, and also darked the skin tone on her left hand (which should be darker since it's further from the light source).




It still feels like the pouches stay too bright as they get further from the light source.  In particular I'm not happy with the pouch above the sickle, which is supposed to have two little strings hanging from the front, which are indistinguishable from one another.


As for the NMM, I'm not very experienced at that.  This is the third mini where I've attempted it.  The sickle and the little ring are okay, I think.  The chape on the scabbard is passable at best.  The rest of the short sword makes me unhappy.  Especially the crossguard.  It's such a complex surface and so very, very small that it seems quite difficult to build a convincing illusion of reflectivity.


Incidentally, although I'm generally happy with the face, there's one thing I still want to tweak: the transition up and down her face on her left side is too abrupt.  There needs to be a thin step between the midtone on her cheek and the darkest shadow where her head curves back away towards her hair.


Speaking of the hair, I spent some time working on that:






The highlights are no good.  The shadow's slightly better, but the transition between the two is too abrupt. I mean, hard shadows are a real thing.  But even so, there ought to be at least a small transitional zone between the midtone and the fully dark areas, and currently there isn't.


Putting that aside for the moment, I went ahead and got a base coat on the snake, the staff.  I also touched up the white surface of the lantern in a couple places where it didn't have full coverage or had missed a corner.  I still need to clean up the frame a bit on the upper front.








- More work on NMM, especially short sword.

- Hair, especially highlights.  I'm not sure how to really make the hair closest to the lantern bright.

- Adjust leather saturation further. Highlight on scabbard extends too far into dark side.

- Right hand needs attention.

- Hair vegetation. Leaves. Berries? Is there a vine in there?

- Maybe do some glazing to darken the shadows on the robe, especially further from light source


Overall I've been making good progress, but I don't really feel as though I've really sold the illusion of light from the lantern yet.  And there's still a crap-ton more detail work to attend. Sigh.


I am really looking forward to finishing her, so I can go work on something a tad less busy. Besides, I've got at least one or maybe two figures that I really need to paint because they'll soon be making an appearance on my table.

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Hi Will-

Really like how much energy you are putting into this model and WIP thread. You're clearly trying to do a really good job on this model, and it shows. You asked for a critique, but many of the things I would suggest you already have on your to-do list. In particular, my main suggestions would be:


11 hours ago, wdmartin said:

there's one thing I still want to tweak: the transition up and down her face on her left side is too abrupt.  There needs to be a thin step between the midtone on her cheek and the darkest shadow where her head curves back away towards her hair.


11 hours ago, wdmartin said:

- Maybe do some glazing to darken the shadows on the robe, especially further from light source


Since you have put so much time into the face already, I have a few more suggestions for it, in addition to smoothing the shadow on the cheek:

1. I think the white on both eyes extends a bit too far down. I would remove some from below by repainting the lower line with your dark eye socket color, and then repainting some of the skin of the lower eyelids. You should be able to do this without messing up your great work on the pupil/iris.

2. I think you should have a bit more shadow around the nose, both on the bottom and on the far side from the light source.

3. You could benefit from more shadows generally, especially on the neck, hair, around the face.

Here's a rough example sketch from the "markup" feature on my phone.



For making the OSL effect work better, I think you would benefit from a lot more shadows everywhere the light from the lantern wouldn't reach, such as her entire back, and the entire left side of her body. For example, I would do something like this with the back of her robe:


In addition to making everything darker, shading the bottom of the sleeves would help provide better visual separation between the sleeves and skirt. I would also leave some light on the top of the far sleeve, but not as much as the sleeve under the lantern, to portray the environmental light. Other elements can be shaded and highlighted more like I'm showing with her robe, in order to sell the OSL effect more strongly.


Looking forward to seeing how she turns out!

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@althai -- thank you very much, that's extremely helpful!  I'm excited now, and looking forward to getting back to her this evening.  You know, after grocery shopping and cooking and laundry and other boring grown-up nonsense.

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