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Bones V: Merfolk (Dark Depths)


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I wasn't originally going to do a WIP for these.  I've taken so many pictures and just junked them, and it's not like I'm a competition-level painter.  I always feel like a kid wearing Dad's shoes when I do a WIP--just going around pretending to be of a level that I'm simply "not."  Still, I need to keep some notes somewhere.  So here we go...


Merfolk Rangers:



I have finally gotten the blue to where I want it.  I started off with Ritterlich Blue, but that was too dark, it kept reading as black when I would take pictures. I finally resolved to starting with Brilliant Blue.  I gave it a heavy drybrush with Cyan Blue, and then I bumped up the Cyan Blue with a bit of Sky Blue (2:1 or 3:1).  Now it finally looks "Blue" and not "Black".  I'll be adding some black details later, so it's important that there is enough contrast to be visible.


I feel like I started the skin off too dark.  Those dark lines are all that I can see, now.


I'm starting the fins with Sun Yellow.  I'll be putting some Pure Black (or super dark blue) edges on the fins as well as a stripe and loop design down the side.




I still don't know what I'm doing with these two.  Those greens will not stay, they're just not working for me.  Not even a little bit.




Such a dark brown, made from a 3:2 mix of Red Shadow to Green Black (or was it Black Green?).  I'll be bringing that up a bit with some reddish browns.  Then I've got some orange and white details to do on the bodies and fins.  And I need to figure out where I'm going with the flesh on the female guard.  The male guard is going with some Olive Skin triad.


The crest is the Gory Red triad, and the armor is done with the golds.  I just need to put the top layers on.




I didn't actually paint a tank top on the redhead.


There is such a dramatic difference between tail lengths.  The tails started off with straight Moth Green.  I mixed 1:1 with Maggot White, and then drybrushed straight Maggot White.  Pure Black for the stripes.  I'll probably do some more work on those stripes for some depth.  They should probably be widened a bit, too.


The ginger started off with Carrottop Red and Highlight Orange.  I used Saffron Sunset for the final drybrush.  The black hair is just Pure Black and given a little bit of a drybrush with the same Red Shadow/Black Green mix on the Guards' tails.  Her shells were done with the Bone Colors triad.

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Two steps forward, one step back.  Or at least that's the way it feels.  Details and freehand are rattling my nerves.




Fin edges in black.  Swirl patterns on the flanks and front of the tail.  Spinal ridge scales tipped in black.  I'll need to do a bit of a light drybrush with Ritterlich blue over the black patterning and take in the details of the fins.




Widened the black bands.  Some Black Green on the bands for highlighting the next time I pick them up.  Then it's the eyes (which I should do earlier, but constantly put off) and some skin highlights, the base, and done.




Mahogany Brown drybrushed over the tails.  Chestnut Brown will finish it off.  Then it will be some white and orange patterning on the fins and orange teardrop spots on the flank...probably below the second set of fins.


The kicker of it all is that Strawbonnet won't care.  She'll just be happy that Opa painted up some mermaids for her.  I could probably have just done block color on all of it, not fussing over the details, and she'd love them just as much.


Just gotta keep putting paint to 'em.

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They’re looking great!  As long as you care how they’re painted, it’s worth painting them to whatever level you want to.  Just make sure she takes care not to mess up the paint jobs!


I love all the different color schemes.  I’ve only painted one but eventually I’m also planning to do them in pairs with different color schemes.


i like the brown with the mahogany over it.  Never would have thought to try that.


I think the dark green could work if you shift blue as you highlight up.  That might work better with the yellow tones in the skin.

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Thank you, @rubegon.


They'll get a nice gloss coat to help protect them.  The most important thing is that she's happy with them.  Opa's little mental quirks and derailments just happen to come with the territory!


The brown is working fairly well.  It's a little lighter than I anticipated, but will work.


The green has got to go for another reason beyond it just not resonating with me.  These are all based off real fish (specifically the convict tang, regal blue tang, and achilles tang), and I would like to continue the trend.  But I haven't found many green ones!  I'm thinking about going to an orangy yellow--Maybe based off the Lemon Peel Tang.  Or I could just go sideways and choose the chocolate surgeonfish or orange shoulder surgeonfish.  I'm trying to stay in the acanthuridae family (because I need nonsensical limits ::D:).


My only regret now is that I didn't mix up the tails a bit when I started but my "rules" didn't kick in until I was well on my way.

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@strawhat you told everyones story when you said "I don't want to do a WIP and pretend to be something I am not!"  Mate, we are all just trying our best, and hoping to get some feedback one way or another!  Love what you have going here, from the different colors (which is a definitive representation of ocean life), to the crispness of your colors!

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I was thinking I wanted to base mine off of real fish too, but kinda threw that plan out the window and just painted the one in colors I thought would look pretty.


When I get to the others, each pair will be patterned like a different type of imaginary fish I guess lol 🤷‍♂️ 

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There's so many choices, Rubegon, it's impossible to go wrong (real or imagined)!  I'm kind of wishing I had decided to go with a barracuda-like silver just for something off-the-wall.  But I'm working with Strawbonnet's choices (mostly).  Maybe when the merfolk see general release...


So, to tonight's work (the pictures are a little lower quality than usual, but I'm not going to reshoot):




Lemon Yellow to help even out the fins.  I'll finish those off with some Lemon Yellow mixed with Linen White (I think...maybe I'll look at one of the other yellows to find something to soften it out).  The harpoons are going with Blackened Steel for now.  It's taken me far too long to figure those out.


A light drybrush of Ritterlich Blue (pretty much impossible to see) on the dark patterns to help give a little bit of depth.




A little Black Green on the siren's stripes to do the same thing.  With about the same result (kind of almost visible, and a huge chance to ruin what I've already done).  Still, I'd rather have done it than not.  I just need to finish their eyes and highlight the skin.  It will be nice to finally finish something--almost.  Still have to do the bases.




The brush crest got it's final drybrush and the armor has been highlighted with New Gold.  The tails received their Chestnut drybrush, and the male had the Olive Highlight applied.  I'm still psyching myself out over the fin details and teardrop spot.  The tridents are going to start with the same Blackened Steel the ranger's harpoons received.  I still haven't decided on the female guard's skin tone, although I've nearly decided.


Thanks for looking and bearing with me!

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Boy, howdy.  Nothing can take the wind out of your sails like a child being honest.  I'm now very sorry to every adult that I accidentally brought down (which I'm sure happened more than I was aware).  I was a brutally honest child.


Strawbonnet was visiting the other day and I was explaining things: that I was working very carefully because I want them to be special, that the patterns were based off real fish, the rangers were based on Dory (Finding Nemo), etc.  She's just listening to me patiently and then turns to me and says, "I really like the green ones," meaning the monarchs.  The ones not based on a fish.  The ones that I was going to repaint yellow. 




OK, 'Bonnet.  You win, they'll stay green.  But Opa's got to do something to kick it up a degree or two.  Maybe I'll give them a silver stripe or two or make the spinal ridges yellow.





OK, progress time:


Royal Guards:

Linen White and Pure White on the tail fins and spinal scales.  The orange stripes and teardrop shapes on the flanks are the Lava Colors triad.  Flesh tones were the Olive Skin triad for them both.  I couldn't decide what to do with the female, so I just lightened it a bit with a touch of Stark Naked mixed into Olive Highlight.  The shafts for the tridents have been started with Dirty Bone.  I'm imagining that they're using the bones of some whale or other feisty sea creature.  The head of the trident is, I think, the Natural Steel triad (Blackened Steel, Tarnished Steel, and True Silver).



I was tried making a Rosy Shadow wash to deepen the shadows a smidge on the redhead, but I just ended up with a glaze.  Other than that, they're pretty much unchanged.  I need to work up to attempting the eyes.



All the previously mentioned "next steps" have occurred.  The "tags" around the female ranger's waist will be bone like the harpoon shafts' (same as the Guard's).   The spinal ridge scales have been tipped with Pure Black.  



The queen got the same glaze-supposed-to-be-a-wash that was applied to the redheaded siren with the same results.  I'll have to clean that up a little bit.  All the golden crowns and other adornments have been worked up with a base of Tarnished Brass followed with Clockwork Brass and then Pirate Gold. 


inching ever closer...

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I just seem completely unable to finish these.  I work on them, and work on them, and work on them.  But nothing seems to get done.  


The most recent additions have been the cordage and leathery bits (or bits that I decided should be leathery when they really probably should be metal).  I should have gone darker with the leather, I know that.  The tones I used were too close to the skin tones used, but I'm not going to change it.


The rocks on the bases are done.  They are a mix of Ceramcoat colors: Black, Charcoal, Deep Taupe, Rain Grey, and White.  I've got some paint down for the sand.  That needs to be brought up.  I'm starting with a base of Golden Brown (I think), and I'll hit it with some Khaki and mix some White or yellow in to bring it up a bit.


The pictures are out of focus on the left.





The cordage is based on Rotting Wood, Lonestar Leather, and Rattlesnake Leather.  The leather is Leather Brown, Tanned Leather, and Amber Gold.  Like I said, I should have gone darker. The female ranger's eyes have been bugging me since this whole thing started.  But, as I was mulling things over the other day, considering painting them all black, I heard a voice in my head: "when those black eyes roll over white..." and I knew that I was going to leave her eyes white to represent the nictitating membrane covering her eyes as she goes in for an attack.





No changes to the Sirens beyond the base work.


The guards leather straps and wrist coverings got the same weak leather treatment.  The orange on the tails has been expanded because that's the way the real fish has it (only a thin strip of brown between the white edge and orange).


The next steps should finish everything.  I've gone through and written out a list of everything that still needs to be done.  If I have a list that I can check off, maybe it won't feel so overwhelming.

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20 hours ago, rubegon said:

I can imagine - I painted only one of these and it was pretty daunting.  I can’t imagine painting all of them at the same time!


I like how the rocks turned out, especially the lighter ones!


Thank you.  At some point I got in my own head over all this, and while it produced some interesting tangents it has really slowed me down.


The Charcoal is a little too close to Black to really be effective.  I found that drybrushing with the Ceramcoat was a bit easier than using Reaper paints.  I seem to always be either way too thick or not nearly enough.  

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Thank you, Sharkbelly!


On 11/2/2021 at 9:08 PM, Inarah said:

8 figures at once is a lot of work, and as I recall, these are bigger than your average human sized figure.   Maybe if you focused on 2 at a time you'll see more progress? 


They are a bit bigger.  Mostly the extra seems to be in the tail, though.  I haven't really compared the torsos.


Eight was definitely a little...ambitious.  I'll know better the next time I try something crazy, and maybe keep it to four.  If it weren't for our furnace spazzing out (getting replaced tomorrow), I think I would have been able to finish them over the last couple nights.  But my hands are too cold to paint for now.  We've barely seen the cat for two days she's been so cold.

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OK, these have been done for a little while but I've been too distracted lately to actually get things done.  I had wanted to get some pictures before the gloss coat and that didn't happen, either.


So: closing notes!





That's about all I can show of the ginger, as she lacks the modesty of her sister-siren.  20211207_220035.jpg.a83637d44b6f2e0d5bd603ae47277ae7.jpg



The female ranger has futhark runes painted on all the tags which were painted as bone.








Strawbonnet wanted the green, over my objections, but that's the way things go.  Even after all that, I still had to go rogue (a bit) and went with a silver ridge.


The keen-eyed among you may notice hints of gold in the rocks.  I painted a small vein of gold on most of them for a bit of (not quite) hidden character.  This is most easily seen on the ginger siren.


The eyes, which had given me fits were solved when I pondered this in early November and I heard Quint's voice telling Chief Brody and Matt Hooper about his time in the water waiting to be rescued.  The Guard and Rangers have light eyes as if covered by nictitating membranes.  Since they're engaged in potentially hostile actions, I figured the merfolk would need the extra protection.  The Monarchs and Sirens have dark eyes as if the pupils were opened to the maximum dilation.  Since they're based on rocks and appear to be on the ocean floor, I figure that there isn't much light.


What would I do differently?


Not too much, really.  I would have mixed up the tails, and possibly reduced the number of species used, as this looks more like some sort of aquatic caste system.  The male ranger's skin tone transition wouldn't be quite so extreme, either.  I should have lightened the base or darkened the mid-tone.  The female ranger's top should be a different color as the shades used are a little to close to her skin.


That's it for this project, folks.  Strawbonnet was very excited to find them waiting for her.  Thank you for bearing with me as I've meandered and rambled.

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