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Going Non-Traditional with U'lanThe, Amazon Champion


U'lanThe, Amazon Champion
Product #
DAFA 001
Manufacturer
Suggested Retail Price
€3.50 EUR


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fieldarchy Fezian Inactive Member writes:

Thanks. I think the spots added a nice exotic flare to the mini considering the color. I had so much bare space to work with and I wanted to make it look cool. I figured it was a good and easy way to do freehand.

For anyone who didn't like the shield, here is why I did something so basic . . . I am still learning freehand. I haven't gotten really good at it. I can do basic things like designs and basic holy symbols.


Revision Log
1 February 2007page first published

3,591 hits since 1 Feb 2007
©1994-2014 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

fieldarchy Fezian Inactive Member of Meg's Miniatures writes:

The Miniature

This is a sculpt of an Amazon Champion from the Darkest African Fantasies line that Obelisk Miniatures produces. The overall quality of this miniature is good. There were a couple of rough spots on her legs that had to be fixed using files and an X-acto knife. The eyes were not sculpted all that well (which made them hard to paint), and the hair needs a little more definition. I believe there is a headdress on her, but I wasn't quite sure since it seemed too much like the hair. Inevitably, I just painted it as hair, since I could not quite tell.

Materials

I used a variety of paints on this model to get just the right colors.

Paints:

Brushes:

Palettes:

Basing:

  • Elmer's white glue
  • Corn meal
  • Static Grass (can find at any local game store or online)
  • Epoxy Putty (to fill in the slot hole)

Miscellaneous:

  • Top to a primer can
  • Silly Putty (to affix the mini to the primer-can top, so you don't handle the mini during painting)
  • X-acto knife
  • Flat golden taklon brush
  • Superglue
  • Toothbrush
  • Dish Soap

Prep Work

This mini came in two pieces (not including the base). The shield needs to be attached using some sort of superglue. I painted both the shield and the mini separately almost until the end of the project. It was easier to get all of the details and not have any white spots showing.

The prep work involved was minimal. I didn't like the base she was on, so I cut her off using my X-acto knife (never underestimate the power of X-acto!) and glued her onto a slottabase that I had laying around. Other than that, I cleaned some lines from her, washed her, primed her, and then glued her together. There were no major fixes needed.

To really get minis clean during the prepping, I recommend that you fill a bowl with warm water and dish soap (such as Dawn) and let the mini soak for a few minutes. Come back and use an old, beat-up toothbrush (preferably one you don't actually use to brush your teeth with anymore!) and scrub the mini. This ensures that you are reaching down into some of the recesses of the mini. By getting all areas clean, the primer (and ultimately the paint) will stick better - with less chance of cracking and chipping off.

Photo blocked by adult filter:
"Primed Amazon"

Methods to the Madness!

As you can tell from the pictures, I didn't really go the traditional route on this one. I don't know why, but recently I've had the itch to do alternate skin tones. When I saw this mini, I thought, "Eh, everyone will paint her with dark skin of some sort to make her look African. I'm a fantasy painter though... I need to be different! Make a bold statement." Voila! You have a bright turquoisey, half naked, spear-wielding Amazon!

To help the painting process along, you should always sit down and really take a good look at the mini. This is also when you should really figure out your plan of attack, too. Before you set paint to mini, you always need to have a plan of what you are doing. If you don't, you may come to a point and think, "Well, this really bites! I don't like the way this is going at all. Time to scrap and start over." By having a plan, your painting will go smoother, and you will be able to keep in mind what the mini will look like when it's done.

I always keep a notebook at my painting table. In this notebook, I keep paint recipes from my own experimentation, and also from other painters that I may want to try later. I also write down my plans for complex minis, and names and contact information for my customers (this is if you sell your work).

I have a section devoted to plans for minis, though. For each mini, I write down the area of the mini, and what color I want to paint it. If I mix colors while painting a mini, I will put a dab of the mix on the page, that I can reference later and try to match. This cuts down on having to constantly repaint sections on the mini (which I did a lot of when I first started).

Techniques

I used really basic and easy techniques that any intermediate painter can do. If you are a beginner painter and reading this tutorial, please keep reading. I am going to explain what techniques I used and how you can do them, too. What you are about to read may differ from other tutorials you have read or things you were taught by a friend. Keep in mind there is no right or wrong way to paint - in fact, a lot of my greatest creations have been completely accidental! This is just my preferred way of painting.

Some painters recommend painting a mini in sections. What this means is painting just the face first (basecoating all the way up to highlighting), then they move on to other sections and repeat. I find that this hinders my ability to see how the mini is evolving, I am mixing a lot of paint, and I tend to be messier because I am too concerned with being neat; it just causes me a whole mess o' problems.

Instead, I recommend painting the mini in stages. This helps me to see how the mini is coming together, and if there is anything I need to change (like a color) right off the bat.

The first step is to basecoat everything with your darkest shadow color that you want to appear on the mini. In this case, it was:

  • VGC Jade Green for the skin
  • RPP Fire Glow + VGC Orange Fire for the jewelry, shield and spear
  • RPP Shield Brown + RPP Walnut for the loincloth, fur, inside of shield and boots
  • RPP Walnut + VGC Jade Green for the hair

Photo blocked by adult filter:
"Basecoated Amazon"

Once I got the basecoats done, I let them dry really well. I put this mini down and started working on another for a couple of hours. This is really important to do, especially when using Vallejo because it is latex-based paint. If you don't let Vallejo dry really well, when you go to add another coat to it, the first coat can peel off in places. This makes painting much more difficult, and the surface of the paint is no longer smooth; it looks chunky and uneven (on legs, it looks a lot like cellulite!). You also need to water down Vallejo a lot more than you do the Reaper paints because of the latex base. Reaper paints are acrylic-based, and I find them easier to use. You should always start out with at least one drop of water in your basecoat paints.

Step two would normally have been to blackline this mini to bring out the details a lot better. I found with this paint scheme I didn't really need to do that. Blacklining (or dark lining) is used to show a break in two surfaces. This helps to show contrast between two areas that might otherwise run together. The little black lines help your eye read the paintjob on the mini correctly, and make it look more realistic. The contrast of the orange and green was so great that this mini didn't really need to be blacklined. So, I skipped it. If you want to do this, feel free. I would normally blackline, then go back and touch up the basecoat before moving on the highlighting the mini.

Step three is highlighting. This mini was fairly easy to highlight as far as color mixing goes. For the skin, I just added a drop of VGC Skull White to the VGC Jade Green with every layer of highlighting that I did. I did 3 rounds of highlighting on the skin alone. In order to keep the highlighting natural, I used layering.

Layering is a technique where you keep your paints thinned to the point where they are a bit translucent. You want it to be thick enough so that a lighter color goes on, but thin enough so that some of the basecoat still shows through a bit. This will give you more natural-looking gradients. Each layer that I applied to areas of the mini became smaller and smaller to make the highlighted areas tighter. Your last highlight should always be really small and really bright!

For every drop of white you add to your mix, add another drop of water. This will keep your paints thinned, and also help you achieve the proper consistency for layering.

Paint Recipes:

Skin (same recipe for freehand on the shield, too):

Basecoat
VGC Jade Green
Highlight 1
1 VGC Jade Green + 1 VGC Skull White
Highlight 2
1 VGC Jade Green + 2 VGC Skull White
Highlight 3
1 VGC Jade Green + 3 VGC Skull White

Hair:

Basecoat
1 VGC Jade Green + 1 RPP Walnut
Highlight 1
VGC Jade Green
Highlight 2
1 VGC Jade Green + 1 VGC Skull White
Highlight 3
1 VGC Jade Green + 2 VGC Skull White
Highlight 4
1 VGC Jade Green + 3 VGC Skull White

Fur, Loincloth, Boots and inside of shield:

Basecoat
1 RPP Shield Brown + 1 RPP Walnut
Highlight 1
RPP Shield Brown
Highlight 2
1 RPP Shield Brown + 1 RMS Leather White
Highlight 3
1 RPP Shield Brown + 2 RMS Leather White
Highlight 4
1 RPP Shield Brown + 3 RMS Leather White

Spear, Jewelry, Shield:

Basecoat
1 RPP Fire Glow + 1 VGC Orange Fire
Highlight 1
RPP Fire Glow

With some metallic paint, I use a different method for highlighting. I water down the metallic a lot, so that the pigment becomes really thin and breaks apart a little bit. I then build up the metallic paint in particular areas to really bring out a nice shine. This also helps in keeping metallic paint looking smooth. If it's put on too thick, it has the tendency to look a bit chunky, and light doesn't reflect off of it as naturally. This is what I did in the case of the RPP Fire Glow. With the shield blades, I did the normal layering technique.

Shield Blades:

Basecoat
1 RPP Dragon Black + 1 VGC Silver
Highlight 1
1 RPP Dragon Black + 2 VGC Silver
Highlight 2
1 RPP Dragon Black + 3 VGC Silver

Photo blocked by adult filter:
"Painted Amazon"

Photo blocked by adult filter:
"Painted Amazon"

As you can see from the pictures of the finished mini (not based still), I did some freehand designs as well. I am still learning how to freehand, but I feel I did a good job on her. I wanted to add some odd tattoos to her, but not get too crazy for fear of messing up my paintjob. So, I just added black spots in different patterns on different parts of her body. On her face, they go across the high part of her cheeks. There are clusters of dots on her inner thigh, stomach and butt (you'll be able to see this in the final pictures below). I also have lines of dots going around her arms just above and below the line of her armband. There are trails of dots going up and down her back, too.

The shield is a big flat area, and just wouldn't have looked right without some sort of design on it. I did a basic hourglass design. It's easy enough to do, and still looks good if highlighted properly. I first did an hourglass in RPP Dragon Black, then filled it in with the VGC Jade Green basecoat. I highlighted the hourglass using the same recipe that was used for the skin.

Basing:

The look I was going for when basing this mini was a desert landscape with little tufts of grass here and there - otherwise, it should be sparse. In order to get a sandy or desert look, you can use some common household products.

I first put down a thin layer of Elmer's White Glue using a beat-up, old paint brush. Once I was finished applying that, I stuck the mini in a container of corn meal and made sure to get the whole base covered. I let the mini sit overnight with the excess corn meal. Once that was dry, I took a flat golden taklon brush and brushed off the excess corn meal. I made sure I removed any little bits of corn meal that did not stick to the glue. (This ensures that you don't have little bits coming off on your brush while you are painting the base.) Once the base was clean, I painted it with two coats of RMS Muddy Brown.

Once the paint dried, there were little cracks from where the glue and paint had met. These cracks showed the white primer coming through a bit. In order to really cover this up, I took RPP Flesh Shade Ink and applied a good coat of it (not diluted with water). That covered up all remaining white areas.

I drybrushed RMS Oiled Leather over the corn meal texture for the first highlight. The second highlight was even parts of RMS Oiled Leather and VGC Orange Fire. I only applied this in certain areas.

Once the paint was dried, I then added some static grass to the base in small patches.

Photo blocked by adult filter:
"Finished Amazon"

Photo blocked by adult filter:
"Finished Amazon"

Photo blocked by adult filter:
"Finished Amazon"

Finished Amazon