Tuesday, 13 January 2015

On The Desk: Painting Gems and Elf Hair

Last time in "On the Desk" we painted up a Bolt Thrower crew member, but we only really looked at the basics. I showed you how to paint up the main parts of a High Elf. This time, I want to go into some of the more technical aspects of painting elves: gems and hair.


Gems are a common feature on High Elves. Our crew member from last time has no less than ELEVEN gems on him. He's not even a character or particularly fancy model. This is pretty standard across the board for High Elves, you can expect at least a couple of gems on every model.

I'm going to go through two techniques for painting gems. Getting the hang of these techniques will be really helpful in all forms of Warhammering and miniature painting. I use the same technique for the lenses on rifle scopes and eye lenses on my Space Wolves.

The first technique is really simple and is a great way to quickly get a good looking gem on your troops. I recommend using this method if you're new to painting or on your rank and file troopers. You'll have a lot of them and you won't necessarily want to get bogged down painting each individual gem. It's also very effective for those smaller or hard-to-get-at gems that are scattered all over the High Elf range.

What you want to do is paint the whole surface of the gem whatever colour you want it to be. I would recommend a mid-tone or lighter. If you go too dark it won't show up very well on the model.

Once you've done this, it's a simple matter of painting a tiny, white dot at the top of the gem, slightly off centre. The dot is the light glistening off the shiny surface of the gem. Remember to think about where the light would be coming from and keep it consistent across the miniature. To do this step, get your finest brush and put a bit of thinned white paint just on the very tip of the brush. Then carefully dot the paint on.

An important thing to remember (for all your painting) is that you're using paint, so if you make a mistake, or slip with your brush, you can always just paint over it and try again.

This next technique is a bit more advanced. Once you've gotten the hang of brush control and painting in general, this is another fairly easy and super-effective technique.

This is a four-stage technique. Start with a dark colour. I've used Liche Purple, a deep, dark colour. Coat the whole gem in this colour.

Next, paint the bottom third, slightly off-centre, of the gem in a mid-tone. Although it covers only a portion of the gem, it is a brighter colour and will be the "true" colour of the stone. I used Warlock Purple.

Then, get a highlight colour for your mid-tone, or simply add white in a 1:1 ratio to your mid-tone. Thin this down (with water or a medium) and paint a flick across the bottom of the gem, following the line of the mid-tone. Here, I mixed white with Warlock Purple to get a pale pink.

Then, just as with the simple method, paint a tiny, white dot at the top, making sure it is opposite to the lightest part of the gem. This gives the impression that the light has hit the gem and is coming out the opposite side. 

You can expand as much as you want on this method. If you feel confident blending or doing more gradients of colour you'll achieve a very nice and shiny gem. I often paint a gloss coat over the gems and lenses. This gives it a natural shine that won't conflict with the lighting effect you created. 

Typically, Elves in the Warhammer World are blonde, unless they are sneaky Dark Elves. The thing I struggled most with when I started painting my elves was that blonde hair isn't white, it isn't yellow and it isn't bone-coloured. It's an unholy mix of them all! This is a nice 'n' easy way of painting a golden-blonde for your elves.

The first step is to paint a layer of sandy yellow as a base coat. I've used Iyanden Darksun from GW. I think the new colour is called Averland Sunset. Cover the whole hair area and make sure to get into the crevices and even underneath, don't leave any gaps!

Once you've done this, use the edge of your brush to highlight the edges of the strands of hair with a bone colour. I use GW's old Bleached Bone. There is a new colour that is the same, but pretty much every paint range has a similar colour. I'll usually paint these highlights all the way to the tips of the hair and leave the strands near the part the original colour as this will be a darker shade. 

The next step is to wash all of the hair with a Sepia wash. The yellow-brown of the sepia is the perfect colour for blonde. It will tint the bone colour yellow, while providing a nice shade in the recesses. 

And the final step is to once again highlight the prominent strands of hair with that same bone colour. This time, leave a bit of the shaded bone showing and concentrate on the strands that protrude the furthest and the tips of the hair. This will leave a nice gradient that will give the hair a nice, healthy shine. 

There you have it! With the gems painted and the hair done, you've got yourself a fancy new elf, ready for battle. Of course, these techniques can be transferred to other models as well. 

With this Space Wolf Scout, I've used the exact same methods and principles, just using different colours to paint the lens on the sniper rifle and the hair and moustache. Don't ever be afraid to experiment with colours, washes and different techniques. You'll find out your own ways of doing things that will really help your models to stand out from the crowd.

Thanks for reading, I hope you got some useful tips out of this.
As always, if you have any questions or suggestions, put it in the comments
and I'll be happy to get back to you.

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