Tutorial: 28mm Pulp Painting to Tabletop Quality II

This post continues and completes the earlier part of the tutorial. Once again, I’m not an expert painter but always try to speed paint to a reasonable tabletop quality. If you recall we left the half painted Anglian Miniatures Moroccan drying after applying a chestnut brown ink wash.

This left the figure looking rather dark and very shiny because of the wax in the Klear floor polish I used. That’s fine though because once the wash dries you’ll have a very stable, hard coat you can easily paint over.

Pulp Painting Tutorial 5. Painting Over the Magic Wash. The point of the chestnut ink wash was to define the folds and edges in the figure. In a sense the quick ink wash provides a similar effect to the ‘black lining’ others paint with. This is where you prime your figure black and build up the colours over that while leaving thin black lines between the various areas of the figure.

However I prefer priming white and find that a simple ink wash is easier to apply than a lot of careful painting over black, and yet has much the same effect. The translucent nature of ink is also an easy way to give the flat base colours some more depth and character.

Once the magic wash is completely dry (usually overnight) I start repainting the figure in exactly the same colours I used to base coat the figure over the primer. Although of course I’m not attempting to entirely cover the ink wash, but rather using the way it has dried on the figure as a guide to highlighting the figure. This is a little hard to explain in words, so have a look at a few of the photos. The inked areas are always fairly easy to spot because they’ll remain shiny until we varnish the figure.

At this point I usually also spend some time highlighting any areas of flesh on the figure. I do this now because they’re usually relatively small areas on most of the figures I’m painting, and the face is quite a central feature on any figure. As an aside I use Games Workshop paints fairly exclusively as they’re easy to source locally and I’m familiar with them. However I really detest the GW range of flesh tones, because not a single one of them is remotely flesh coloured in my opinion! I regularly buy a couple of GW mixing pots and blend up my own basic flesh tone from a mix of Bestial Brown, Scab Red and Bronzed Flesh. I find since GW changed to the new style of paint pots their empty mixing pots are a fine investment because they’ll hold paint for quite some time without drying out.

I paint my highlights by simply mixing a couple of colours between the base flesh tone on the figure and the lightest flesh tone I want to appear on the final figure. I invariably mix these on the top of my GW pots as I paint, which can make it hard to find a pot of a certain colour on my paint station! I really should get around to throwing together a wet palette because that would be less messy in the long term.

6. Highlighting the Figure. From this point on I’m simply painting smaller and smaller areas of the figure with lighter and lighter tones. I don’t blend the paint on the figure, but tend to blend three or four intermediate tones on my pot lid ‘palette’ as I apply one colour of highlights to the figure.

For example this figure has had roughly six rounds of highlighting applied to it. Red for the fez, a custom blend for the skin tones, Desert Yellow + Bleached Bone for the cloak and puttees, Scorched Brown/Bestial Brown + Bleached Bone for the leather work, Sun Yellow + Bleached Bone for the trousers and various metals for the pistol and grenade.

Pulp Painting Tutorial Pulp Painting Tutorial Pulp Painting Tutorial

You may have noticed above that I’ve been lightening my basic colours with Bleached Bone (a creme colour) rather than a hard titanium white like Skull White. I find mixing colours with Bleached Bone means you tend to retain the same tone to the original colour, whereas Skull White tends to change the base colour more radically, moving red to pink for example. I’m sure a more learned painter could explain this in terms of colour theory, but I’ll just offer it as a piece of simple advice.

I paint my figures based on the assumption that the natural light is usually falling from almost directly above – ‘high noon’ style if you will. Also keep in mind that as a gaming piece, this figure will spend most of its life viewed from a ‘gamer’s eye’ view of about 3′ away at an angle of around 60 degrees. This means you can often avoid highlighting any part underneath the figure and rely on the base coat + ink wash to provide adequate coverage over the white primer. For example this Moroccan figure has been painted with yellow pantaloons, although only his right knee has seen any attempt at highlighting.

Since we’re speed painting a figure for the tabletop I always try to cut corner if it’s not going to have a large effect on the final figure. For example this chap, like most of my Pulp figures, has no painted eyeballs. This can look a little odd if you examine the figure closely, but trust me you’re not going to notice the missing eyeballs once he’s on the game table – plus you can always say he’s squinting in the harsh North African sunshine.

I’ve dodged some more painting too by simply leaving his beard as it was after the ink wash. It’s a little redder than is probably common on a gentleman most likely of Semitic descent, but hey the Vikings made it down to ancient Spain which is a stone’s throw across the Mediterranean to North Africa! Just keep the ‘three foot’ rule in mind while you paint for the tabletop. If you can’t distinguish a particular piece of detail on the figure from three feet away, don’t spend a lot of time finely painting it.

7. Killing the Shine – Varnishing the Figure.

Pulp Painting Tutorial Once you’ve finished painting it’s finally time to do something about that awful wax shine! Let your painted figure completely dry over a couple of hours and then varnish it. I double varnish my figures these days, first hitting them with a good dose of cheap artist’s matt varnish that frankly isn’t terribly matt at all. Once that’s completely dry I give the figure a final dusting of an excellent local New Zealand spray varnish called ‘Moana Matt Varnish’. This is a stellar product available from Gordon Harris art stores. It’s not cheap, a small can will cost you $10 but you only need a light dusting to get a really matt coat on a figure.

So there you have it, I hope you’ve enjoyed this slightly disjointed series of tutorials where I’ve taken a raw metal figure and painted it, and as always feel free to ask questions or add your own painting advice in the comment section below.

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