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5th Year of painting seems like a great time to actually learn...

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Like the title says this new year marks the start of my fifth year of miniature painting. Though I've managed to learn a lot both through this forum and the internet at large I still haven't learned proper layering. To anyone who has ever stumbled across any of my projects I'm sure this comes as no surprise. So armed with a Reaper gift card, obtained over the holidays, I decided it was time to finally learn layering. 


If it wasn't clear I picked up the 2nd Learn to Paint kit.


With the instructions in hand I started work on the first model (77068 Anirion the Elf Wizard). Oddly enough after four years of painting this will be the first wizard I've ever painted.


Just like the first Learn to Paint kit the instructions are great. I actually got so caught up in going through the steps painting the robe that I completely forgot to take pictures. That may not sound like a compliment but believe me it is.


After just an hour or so I ended the night with a very nice looking cloak. Though I must admit I didn't push the shadows or the highlights nearly hard enough it is still a great improvement over my usual results. 


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Worked through the last areas on the wizard tonight and finished it.20210116_005753.thumb.jpg.371e33a490d124c0d7944985a458be54.jpg20210116_005802.thumb.jpg.cf4c3d99830c856e8406f506b3cd182b.jpg20210116_005820.thumb.jpg.e6fdb157a06276335c7b4fd6dc5b5d23.jpg

As you can see I managed to push everything a little too far tonight, with the worst offender being the highlight on the robe's bottom trim. Unfortunately I didn't realize I had pushed everything too hard until the figure was finished. Once I noticed the problem I thought about starting over and trying again but in the end I decided not to.


Could I do better with a second try? Probably, but do I really want to? Though it's not perfect it's still quite a lot better than my usual standard and I honestly think I'd get more out of the miniature by keeping it as is. Leaving it gives me not only the purest version of my first attempt at proper layering it also gives me a permanent reminder of not going hard enough and going too hard all in one miniature. Besides I still have two more figures to keep practicing with. 


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The colors look good, the only real issue I see is you need to go back and put the shadows back into the recesses of the cloak.  When I do layering its a constant giv and take on the shadows and mid-tones to get the contrast I want (or the judges are looking for ::D:)  


Also, you've done a great job with the red!  It is so easy to get red to either fad to orange or pink in the highlite or tun toa muddy brown in the shadows.  You red is still really clear and that can be really hard to do.


Keep up the great work!

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I made it back to my desk tonight and started work on the second miniature. I only intended to work all the way through a couple sections but I really got into the groove of painting and managed to finish the miniature. 20210118_235302.thumb.jpg.2876a5b20c3c25fd1781baa15912cc05.jpg20210118_235312.thumb.jpg.303db8e1c0b63f91b9cd4bcbfa607bf7.jpg20210118_235322.thumb.jpg.0c9872364dc0be176756f5b0ed95a01e.jpg

Overall I'd say this is an improvement over the first model with one glaring exception, the skin. Whereas the first model used a basecoat and wash this one just uses shadows and highlights. While I'm familiar with this process I've always used a wash as well to tie everything together. Instead of retreating into my comfort zone however I pushed on following the instructions. 


My results weren't great but I do have a better understanding of painting flesh without a wash. I believe the shadows are okay but the second highlight overpowered everything giving her a really pale ghostly appearance.


As with the first miniature I considered redoing the skin but decided not to. As I've already found a way of doing skin that I really like I think this miniature is more useful as a reference piece. I guess you could say I'm applying my usual terrain building mentality to these miniatures in that I'm attempting to learn by doing. Hopefully like my terrain the first piece looks bad so the second can look good but we'll have to wait and see if that holds true.

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Started work on the third figure tonight. I didn't get very far but I'm certainly impressed with the results so far.20210119_222923.thumb.jpg.1bfa52c00dbb93de9fa3d9edd2b246ce.jpg20210119_222940.thumb.jpg.745dbe9f1f225067becffccab1d23f41.jpg

Right off the bat I think the brush I used was too big, making all my shadows and highlights thicker than they should be. That may not be a bad thing however. Upon close inspection the figure doesn't hold up but at tabletop distance it looks great and really pops. I attempted to replicate this distance in the photo below.


As far as mistakes go it could have been worse. Going forward though I think I'll keep it as is and see if I can replicate these results on the rest of the model. 

Edited by Rat13
Dang autocorrect...
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The pirate got a little more attention last night and is nearing completion. Somehow I even managed to keep the exaggerated shadows and highlights going. He's certainly not much to look at up close but he really pops on the tabletop. 20210121_002009.thumb.jpg.6279fbf59398050381cbb86676bcd824.jpg20210121_002022.thumb.jpg.5ccdccb3bab7f25b7024f103b15ce690.jpg

All that remains are the metallics and the treasure chest. Then it'll just be the simple matter of basing all the figures. The other two will probably receive very generic bases but I have something special in mind for the pirate, it'll just be a question of if I can pull it off.

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Metallics and final details were painted on the pirate so he is now finished.



Overall I'm very happy with this figure, I didn't get the "right" results but I did learn a lot. I guess you could say that for all three actually as the only one that came close to the example was the wizard and even he isn't perfect. Though as the purpose of the kit is to learn I'd say it more than lived up to it's intention.


As I said I came the closest to replicating the example with the wizard while learning basic layering. The gnome gave me a chance to practice red cloth again while also teaching me lighter skin tones. I didn't actually get the skin right but I did learn the principle. Lastly the pirate gave me the greatest unintended lesson in tabletop exaggeration. My blends were too stark and harsh but ended up looking great from the tabletop. With all of that I'd say the education was more than worth the price of admission.


The figures may be done and the lesson over but with unfinished bases the project is incomplete. So first up is the Pirate's base as I wanted to try something new. Using two blues I tried to give the impression he was standing on a very small sandbar surrounded by water.


It wasn't bad but I figured it was a great opportunity to try a simple wet blend to smooth everything together.


It's certainly not perfect but just like the model itself it looks pretty good from the tabletop. 

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The wizard and gnome's bases were finished tonight using my regular basing method. Not exactly original, especially for me, but I do like how they turned out.



Now you'd be right in thinking all that remains is taking their nice final pictures complete with a backdrop, but I've got a surprise. As I ordered this kit at Christmas I also picked up Reaper's Krampus set as well. Seeing as it also comes with great step by step instructions on how to paint it I think it fits right in with the layer kit.


In between waiting for the other's base layers to dry I started work on Krampus. Surprisingly I came close to finishing it too, but as tomorrow will be a long day I opted to call it a night after finishing the snow.


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Unexpectedly finished Krampus tonight. I knew there wasn't much left to do but I still didn't think I'd finish it so quickly.


It doesn't look too bad for only two night's work either. The NMM on the barrel turned out pretty well. There is room for improvement but as first tries go, especially for me, I think it looks great. 


The base might have been a bit of a misstep however. My plan is to let it dry and come back tomorrow with fresh eyes before deciding what to do. 

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With everything painted and sealed all that remains are the final pictures.20210124_223602.thumb.jpg.1a3e9f5dac54abcb8c80ce9a40ba5bd7.jpg20210124_223632.thumb.jpg.c956d73d47ce8c986d61879c15c37455.jpg


As for final thoughts on the project itself I found it to be an informative and enjoyable palate cleanser after six months of painting Orks. Going forward I'm unsure how many of the techniques will become regular features in my "toolbox" but it's nice to have a better understanding of them. If nothing else I see a lot of the new paints becoming go to colors for certain things (I'm looking at you Ebony Flesh and Dark Highlights).

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