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What made u a better painter?


Iksdee
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I am wondering what techniques made u a better painter. I am trying to up my painting skills and i thought it might be helpful for more people. 

The first thing that made me paint better was realizing that minis have a focal point. Painting part brighter and some darker makes it more realistic.

The thing that made me paint better recently is trying different colours instead of using 1 colour in different shades. I am so used to the GW way of painting i didnt think of using yellow for highlighting green and using blue for shades. It makes painting a bit less dull when trying blending different colours.

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First and foremost, practice and brush control. The more hours you sink in the more your brush goes where you want it to go. Alot of the good techniques you see, for ease of example lets say 'Eavy Metal, require a steady hand to place those various layers of very fine highlights that doesn't come for free for those of us without an artistic background. This allowed me to actually put painting techniques to use in a way that didn't take a demotivatingly long time.

Secondly, the plethora of videos out there that help you learn. Though you must apply them critically, thinking about what you're doing and why. Too often when I began did I copy a warhammer video paint scheme and just had no real understanding of why I was doing it. It just 'was' the next layer, or edge highlight with some weird GW named paint/

Thirdly understanding colours and colour theory. When I started again in April of 2021, I couldn't tell you why fenrisian grey was different from any blue, or how teal interacts with colours from the opposing colour wheel, or how blacks and whites desaturate colours for a less interesting model. This has probably been my biggest 'wow' moment when colour theory began to sink in, my conception of what made a model look good became about contrast and opaque colours relative to the space around it. I began to take control of my painting which made me move from essneitally 'colouring in' to becoming somewhat of an artist (this is not to say I'm particularly good, simply that I can 'create' schemes and colours organically'.

And finally, having an army that allowed me to try different units of all sizes and stripes. Soulblight gravelords gave me the opportunity to try, flesh, bone, dirt, cloaks and everything in between without being tied to a colour scheme. This has reached a point where I feel spoiled, so painting most other armies (the worst offenders probably being space marines or even something like Nurgle!) which have the 'one scheme' would feel strangely limiting and boring. I've yet to try it though so perhaps I'll be proved wrong.

Anyway, hope this helps!

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2 hours ago, Iksdee said:

I am wondering what techniques made u a better painter. I am trying to up my painting skills and i thought it might be helpful for more people. 

The first thing that made me paint better was realizing that minis have a focal point. Painting part brighter and some darker makes it more realistic.

The thing that made me paint better recently is trying different colours instead of using 1 colour in different shades. I am so used to the GW way of painting i didnt think of using yellow for highlighting green and using blue for shades. It makes painting a bit less dull when trying blending different colours.

A few points in no particular order:

I have a rule of thumb that I like to follow, which is to, when in doubt, paint brighter and higher contrast. Even (or especially) for darker colour schemes. Painting brighter is good miniature painting practice because miniatures are a lot smaller than what they depict and thus reflect less light, which means that if you want them to look like the thing they are supposed to be from a distance, you need to paint them brighter than the real thing would be. Painting higher contrast just means to make sure that your darks are actually dark, and your lights are actually light.

To that end, the most important techniques for a clean paint job in my opinion are black lining and highlightling. Black lining is outlining details and filling in recesses with a very dark colour like black. You get a similar effect from all-over washes (if you use the right ones, GW washes are not dark enough), but I find a more deliberate application that does not darken and desaturate the base colour to be more impactful visually. Learning how to properly highlight (with the side of the brush, using thicker paint than usual) is the other side of the coin. At the same time, I think it's important not to feel like you are too good for beginner techniques like washes or drybrushing. They absolutely work great and can be very impactful if used on the right type of model.

There is such a thing as overworking a model. If you have ever zenithal primed a model, you know that the stark contrast between black and white often already looks really good. But then when you start painting, there is a temptation to give the black and white areas equal attention, which can lead to you losing the contrast that made everything look so nice in the first place. A model can often look more impactful if there is not just a contrast between light and colour, but also detailed and sketched areas. And shadowy areas on a model are a great place to start putting that into practice: Just leaving them black or giving them only one coat of which ever colour you want them to be will often result in a better looking paint job than painstakingly layering them up until all contrast is lost.

Finally, there are some things that just kind of difficult and you have to do them the hard way. Like painting faces and eyes. There is really no trick there besides the basic technique, and if you want to be able to do good looking faces, you kinda just have to bite the bullet and learn to paint them the hard way. I find that while general painting skill really does improve by just putting in the time and painting, if you really want to get better at a specific thing, you need to start doing exactly that thing. Which means pushing through the phase where you suck at painting eyes and need two hours per model for them to look right. It does get easier after a while, and probably a lot faster than you would expect.

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10 minutes ago, Neil Arthur Hotep said:

I have a rule of thumb that I like to follow, which is to, when in doubt, paint brighter and higher contrast. Even (or especially) for darker colour schemes. Painting brighter is good miniature painting practice because miniatures are a lot smaller than what they depict and thus reflect less light, which means that if you want them to look like the thing they are supposed to be from a distance, you need to paint them brighter than the real thing would be. Painting higher contrast just means to make sure that your darks are actually dark, and your lights are actually light.

This makes sense, i want try painting brighter than i normally do and see if it looks any better. 

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I would say it certainly does. A lot of people who are new to painting will often comment that they want their models to look 'gritty' or 'realistic' and view high contrast as too cartoony for their tastes. But I think a realization does come that high contrast is required no matter what look you go for. It's just about doing it well.

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I actually like a more cartoony style to my painting. I think cel shaded games look great. Dont know of this can be applied to painting minis easily as they arent really flat images. Does anyone know of a painter who does this kind of style? 

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You can do a fairly good representation of this is you exaggerate your black lining so its even more visible. Just put black lines to seperate details and if you want a more cell-shaded / cartoony look, make them a little bit thicker :).

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lots of good advice above which I certainly agree with. I would like to chip in that I also think doing some research on materials helps. eg get Vallejo air metal paints if u dont have they are simply miles better than citadel. Try oil wash (,plenty of tutorials on YouTube and it's easier than one migth think, at least speaking for myself) and finally get an airbrush if u dont have one, u can get one from Amazon relatively cheap and u by no means need an expensive one to get good results. Also buying stuff is fun! 😂

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8 hours ago, Wordy9th said:

I would say it certainly does. A lot of people who are new to painting will often comment that they want their models to look 'gritty' or 'realistic' and view high contrast as too cartoony for their tastes

I wish this view on painting minis wasn't so prevalent... I get it's Warhammer, but seeing so many "grimdark" takes on minis gets tiring. I'm trying to incorporate more/lighter colors in my minis, even the ones I put mud and gore on.

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Lots of good advice here, I’ll try not to repeat what’s been said  

Work in other media. Sketch, try watercolours, oils, pencil crayons, lego, macaroni… find different ways to be creative. It’ll knock you out of routines and habits, and force you to look at design in a completely different way. Breakthroughs often come when you’re out of your comfort zone. This can also give you a break from repetitive painting tasks. 
 

It’ll also free you up to make mistakes that you might not want to risk on a $70 model. Try crazy colour combos with pencil crayons or play dough, whatever, and your mind can start going down roads you’d never considered.  
 

In another life I worked as an illustrator, before computers were an option. Some of my designs were used for silkscreening, so I had to learn to stipple (tiny dots to create texture or gradients), and I had to use India ink and a fine brush for line work. Those gave me different skills to apply to my minis. 
 

Learning to draw or paint effectively in 2D pays dividends when you switch to 3D. Learn how to give shapes volume through pencil shading on a sketch pad. I still do this sometimes on complex shapes. Train your brain to see how different textures reflect or refract light. 
 

On that note, study renaissance paintings. The masters had to mix their own paints, worked in drafts or sweltering locations, reused canvases two, three, ten times… but created literal masterpieces. NMM? They mastered it. OSL? They mastered it. It wasn’t technology that gave them an advantage; it was copying the work of their masters and peers, repetition, education, observation, and passion. 
 

As I said, if you can give a cloak depth and texture in 2D, think how much your 3D work will improve. 

Edited by Ravenborn
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I've been finding that I've been doing strange things lately to improve my painting. 

I've started painting my corpse cart, a model I was meant to just quickly bash out because, well, who cares about a corpse cart right. 

But I've found that these models are great opportunities to, ironically, put more time into than my big pieces. Those techniques, colour palletes and other painting styles that I'm not 100% comfortable with on say, my vengorian lord, I can try out and improve on with something like this Corpse Cart (there's a lot of skin and hilariously posed bodies).

Here’s a work in progress example of me trying out textures on the corpse master(?)s cloak for the first time and attempting to make the corpses look alive, but the zombies dead.

TLDR: Try new things on models you aren't too bothered about!

 

34FEBA26-DF09-475B-AF5B-86821B0B5B70.jpeg

Edited by Wordy9th
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12 minutes ago, Wordy9th said:

I've been finding that I've been doing strange things lately to improve my painting. 

I've started painting my corpse cart, a model I was meant to just quickly bash out because, well, who cares about a corpse cart right. 

But I've found that these models are great opportunities to, ironically, put more time into than my big pieces. Those techniques, colour palletes and other painting styles that I'm not 100% comfortable with on say, my vengorian lord, I can try out and improve on with something like this Corpse Cart (there's a lot of skin and hilariously posed bodies).

Here’s a work in progress example of me trying out textures on the corpse master(?)s cloak for the first time and attempting to make the corpses look alive, but the zombies dead.

TLDR: Try new things on models you aren't too bothered about!

 

34FEBA26-DF09-475B-AF5B-86821B0B5B70.jpeg

Did u use stripes to highlight the cloak? I cant see it clearly. Looks good though!

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17 hours ago, woolf said:

I would like to chip in that I also think doing some research on materials helps. eg get Vallejo air metal paints if u dont have they are simply miles better than citadel.

I have recently switched to Vallejo Metal Colour paints (Metal Colour is the name of the paint line; it's different from Model Colour, Model Air and Game Colour). They are super interesting, since they behave very differently from other metallic paints that I have used. They are made for airbrushing, so they are very liquid, but they still cover extremely well in even a single coat, and even over white primer. Their biggest selling point might be that they use extremely fine pigment, so they don't produce the kind of glittery finish that other metallics have. They smell like marker pens and give me head aches, but it's still worth it.

I have used their steel, silver, copper and gold paints. Steel is very dark and works great as an undercoat for other metallics, even over white. Silver is bright enough to use as a main metallic, and mixed with steel you can achieve pretty much any intermediary shade. The gold and copper paints are as good as the silver and steel, but their colours are kind of weird. Copper is a strange shade of red for what it's supposed to be and gold has a slight green tint to it.

However, Vince Venturella has a recipe for gold paint that works super well and uses the two. It's three parts gold to two parts copper, which results in a brown base gold. To that, you add Green Stuff World Pure Metal Pigment Gold (a small amount). That gives you a gold paint with a great colour and most importantly a real metallic luster. The paint also retains all the properties of the metal colour line, covering in a single coat over any other paint. I find that adding gloss artist's medium helps make it even more shiny and can be useful to thicken the mixture for brush painting, because it's otherwise somewhat hard to control. Green Stuff World pigment mixed with gloss medium makes for a great second layer, too, producing a brighter but more transparent paint.

This might sound like a lot of effort, but I think it's 100% worth it. The paint you get just stands head and shoulders above anything you can buy pre-mixed.

 

13 hours ago, CommissarRotke said:

I wish this view on painting minis wasn't so prevalent... I get it's Warhammer, but seeing so many "grimdark" takes on minis gets tiring. I'm trying to incorporate more/lighter colors in my minis, even the ones I put mud and gore on.

I find it's less of a problem with the grimdark style in general, and more a problem with beginner painters not knowing how to pull it off. Marco Frisoni on youtube has some great example of grimdark miniatures that are still really high contrast and very readable. But I think a lot of beginners make the mistake of trying to paint grimdark by using dark, desaturated colours and then slapping a dark wash over the top of them for more grime, which just ends up looking like a dark, muddy blob on the table most of the time. I certainly made that mistake when starting out. I thought I was so clever making one of my army's main colours black, because then I would be able to just leave black primer showing in those areas. It did not work out well, haha.

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For me it was binge watching Vince Venturella on YouTube.  I rarely have the same paints he uses but it's more the general painting knowledge you acquire. He doesn't have a video titled "believe in your process and don't be so hard on yourself, just keep painting and keep doing your best and that's what's important" but that's really what you pick up over the many many videos I watched and it helped me a lot to just relax when I'm painting and stop stressing if I over paint a single line on a belt or something.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I think, at it’s core, improvement comes from mindful practice. Learning techniques, experimenting with paints, learning theory on things like color, light, are all useful, but must be processed together through practice where one is focused on observing, critiquing and trying again. I think, for intermediate painters (most of us) some of the pitfalls are

  • Becoming satisfied and stagnating/just doing what we are used to
  • Difficulty seeing the “next level” - pinterest and instagram are helpful here, and also talking to oainters who are better
  • Bad advice (drenching something in acrylic wash instead of controlled glazing or using an oil wash that can be tidied easily)
  • Very rarely, using the wrong tool for the job

Note that the above aren’t pitfalls per se. For instance, it’s often great to paint within one’s comfort zone to decompress from work for instance. Alternatively, what I think of as “bad advice” (ala uncontrolled acrylic washes) may have merits in other ways (I cannot think of one for uncontrolled washes though 😅) They just happen to be pitfalls for becoming a better painter if that means producing beautiful pieces ala kaha, masclans, mihausz, etc

 

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Interesting topic to read.

For many years I was a very irregular painter (I started in the early eighties), with brief periods of (obsessive) painting and long periods of not painting at all in between. During this time there wasn't much improvement I think. Except that over time the available tools and paints improved a lot, and you got a lot more to choose from.

I was basically a base-wash-drybrush style painter for most of this time. Which was fine of course. I also did some layering, but I am a bit limited there due to the fact that have what they call "tremors", a superlative degree of shaky hands :) One day it is better than the other. Not really something that affects my daily life, but with this hobby it is a bit of a handicap of course. So a perfect edge highlight is out of reach for me, at least for applying it on every single miniature.

Now in the past few years, starting with the 2nd edition, I gradually started to paint more frequently, and it it became a more serious hobby to me . Also motivated by what I see and read on the TGA forums . I started to watch and read online tutorials, including a subscription to the Grimdark Compendium, and was able to learn different technics and tools. Some I applied with less success than the others, but overall I think it improved my painting.

To summarize:

  • First of all the obvious...practice! I notice that now I paint on a more regular basis than before, my painting is improving or at least considerably faster.
  • Wet Blending.. I use this a lot now. Basically on any mini I paint. It also gives me an alternative to  realize highlights without needing the skills of applying perfect thin edges. Painting a Nighthaunt army gave me the opportunity to practice it a lot.
  • Oil washes/paints. I learned this to be a valuable tool in the toolbox. Since drying time for Oil paint is much longer than for Acrylics, they blend perfectly. Another great characteristic is that you can activate it again with white spirit. One technic I use frequently is using a cuetip with  white spirit. By dabbing the painted area, you can achieve a sort of reverse highlighting with very natural transitions. Oil washes  have often a very nice vibrant color too.
  • Enamels. I learned Enamels are great for achieving all kinds of weathering effects, especially when you prefer a more grimdark style.. I mainly use the ones from AK Interactive, but guess other brands have equally good products. My favorites are: Decay Deposit (great on NH Laterns and curtains/cloth), Streaking Grime, the various rust deposits, Rust Streaks, Moss Deposit.
  • Glazing. I use it for light effect among others. My favorite is waywatchers green, but my last bottle is almost done now. Looking for an alternative.  But also to get more color nuances (like in faces) I recently also started trying to glaze over a Zenithal undercoat. I am happy with the first results.
  • Matt Varnish. I prefer a more muted look, and also wondered how all these displayed minis at my local store had such a nice matt finish, while mine always ended up so shiny all the time. That changed after I start using a good matt finish Varnish ( I use AK Interactive.s)...real game changer for me.
  • Using bark for Rock on bases. Tried a lot of things, including Cork. But never got the effect I was looking for. Recently I noticed that a lot of people mentioned Bark. I tried with a few mini's now, and really happy with it. So now my eyes are on the ground all the time looking for pieces of bark :D

Probably a lot more to add, but these are the things that immediately pop up

 

 

.  <edit> two more things that popped up:

  • Using the colorwheel...recently tried to choose colors based on the Colorwheel, and use opposing colors. Still lot to learn for me regarding colortheory
  • Make sure having enough contrast. Good way to  check this is to make a phot and apply a mono/greyscale filter. With gpood contrast you woudl still see plenty of detail and definition

 

Edited by Lowki
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  • 4 weeks later...

A lot has already been pointed out. But for me a very important improvement was starting to work with a wet palette. It makes blending easier and simply not having my paint dry every other minute was a big improvement. 
black lining was something that was pointed out to me and it makes models look so much more crisp and clean.

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