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"Best Highlight for Black Hair?" Topic

22 Posts

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567 hits since 15 Sep 2021
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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian15 Sep 2021 9:16 p.m. PST

Imagine that you're painting a figure with black hair. You've basecoated in black, now what color do you highlight with?

* white
* light gray
* medium gray
* dark gray
* light blue
* I wouldn't use a highlight

HMS Exeter15 Sep 2021 9:58 p.m. PST

I was asked once to paint an old Elan Merch pack of Nazguls, and was asked to highlite the black in different color shades to differentiate them. That was nine different highlite colors. Woof.

I quickly exhausted the gray options, then gray blue, then deep red. Then I was stumped.

I tried drybrushing an old Armory Paints color, American Drab. It's a sort of olive gray. The result was very good and earned a special compliment from the commissioner. It looks like moonlight.

I've long been out of American Drab, but I think Howard Hues' 1720 German Uniform is pretty close.

Dry brush sparingly.

Hope this helps.

The Last Conformist15 Sep 2021 10:53 p.m. PST

15mm figures, I wouldn't use a highlight.

28mm, probably medium or dark grey, unless blue for a Cleopatra look.

Huscarle16 Sep 2021 1:20 a.m. PST

There are various black triad packs, otherwise I use Walnut Brown, Dark Blue or a very Dark Grey.

Personal logo Aurochs Supporting Member of TMP16 Sep 2021 3:17 a.m. PST

Black is black is black.

I took once a foto of a black dog sitting next to a little girl.

Later on the foto all I could see of the dog was a black hole with the outline of a dog.

advocate16 Sep 2021 5:51 a.m. PST

Which is why painting is an art, not a science.

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP16 Sep 2021 6:25 a.m. PST

I don't.

I'm an army painter (efficiency, for GEtGW standard, only). I am all about speed, and the 98% viewing distance of arm's length/sitting on the tabletop. Block paint, paint on The Dip/Magic Wash, and done -- Matte Coat, if needed. Cheers!

Thresher0116 Sep 2021 7:05 a.m. PST

Dark blue.

Go with a very, very dark gray, or a lightened black, and then do a wash with stark black – satin, or glossy, depending upon the desired effect.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP16 Sep 2021 7:26 a.m. PST

For 28mm I use a faint overcoat of light grey

DyeHard16 Sep 2021 7:54 a.m. PST

An option not given was:

Highlighting with gloss over matte.

It can be a surprising effect, that can not be well captured in a still photograph. As the figure is moved the highlights jump out.

Personal logo Grelber Supporting Member of TMP16 Sep 2021 7:56 a.m. PST

I painted the hair on my Sudanese black with a very dark brown dry brush. I think it looks good.
I thought there would be a lot more votes for blue, since in the comic books, Clark Kent has black hair with blue highlights.
I think it depends on the effect you are going for: I'm happy with my Sudanese, but I'm not sure I would go this route if I were painting Chinese. Payne's grey, perhaps.


miniMo16 Sep 2021 8:47 a.m. PST

Cobalt blue, dark blue, burnt umber are my usual choices.

Comic book blue is my most typical, it shows up nicely on the table.

rustymusket Supporting Member of TMP16 Sep 2021 10:22 a.m. PST

I tend to go for silver or a gray, thereby depicting him as older, more mature, more leader-like. Otherwise I leave the black alone.

Personal logo Herkybird Supporting Member of TMP16 Sep 2021 11:17 a.m. PST

I tend to paint dark slate grey, then wash with Nuln Oil.

jwebster Supporting Member of TMP16 Sep 2021 2:20 p.m. PST

I was waiting to see what other people wrote, but …

Don't use black as the base coat

If you want a warm black hair colour (more common), use a dark brown base coat, such as Vallejo German Camouflage dark brown

If you want cooler colour, a dark grey with a touch of blue

Add a lighter colour to the base for highlighting/drybrushing and then wash with black

Or for a highlight/drybrush colour, use a warm light (bone or ivory) for warm or a light grey, light blue grey for cool

So there could be way more detail here depending on the amount of contrast you like to see, how well sculpted the hair is and how much of it and so on

The only other comment I would make is that something like hair will never be uniform throughout. So do multiple washes or highlighting/drybrush steps


Zephyr116 Sep 2021 2:42 p.m. PST

"Highlighting with gloss over matte."


evilgong16 Sep 2021 9:44 p.m. PST

Depends on the size of the fig.

CeruLucifus16 Sep 2021 10:31 p.m. PST

Gloss black shaded with black wash, and don't matte varnish the hair.

Basecoat midnight blue / Prussian blue, instead of black. Shade with black wash repeatedly, until it's a black stain.

Or paint Prussian blue highlights onto black. Comic book black.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP17 Sep 2021 4:19 a.m. PST

It depends on the figure, I use a lot of the above techniques.

I also use satin and satin/gloss mix with gloss to add variety to a large group of black haired units, like my Amazons (all bronze skinned, black haired).

Nobody mentioned dark purple. I just used that as a highlight on a mostly red tone figure.

I would also use purple as an undercoat with black drybrush as highlighting. When I do a colour with black as a heavy drybrush topper for black hair (feathers, fur, etc.), I usually take the colour and mix in black until it looks black to me. Then when you apply real black on top, you see a slight variation in shade.

Green. Did we say freen? Forest or olive (for a filthy halo effect), but as above, mixed with black.

Personal logo Murphy Sponsoring Member of TMP17 Sep 2021 8:35 a.m. PST

Are we talking 28mm or more? Reaper has an interesting video on how to paint hair.

Griefbringer17 Sep 2021 11:20 a.m. PST

I have not been painting any black hair lately, so I have not really needed to bother myself too much with the topic.

However, I have been painting quite some black clothing in the recent years. Those I have highlighted with dark grey mixed with a bit of black.

That said, there seems to be quite some interesting ideas on this thread that I should maybe consider.

VonBlucher18 Sep 2021 11:13 a.m. PST

Different dark grey shades maybe 3 or 4 different ones going from almost black to a little lighter with each progressive highlight.

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