Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Colour Theory for miniature painters

Today's post is all about the thing above this text. The colour wheel and how it can make you a better painter with virtually no effort! Now, hopefully this should be going up automatically as Mulder, Mrs. PVP and I are all on holiday:

Mulder doesn't pack light...

So, on with the show. The colour wheel is a method of determining which colours work together. Essentially it is a circular rainbow with the colours evenly distributed. I bought one for reference but you can make your own by using the primary colours blue, yellow and red. Look at the blue and yellow section of the colour wheel above. The green directly between the blue and yellow is a 50:50 mix of the two colours. The turquoise next to the blue is 2/3 blue, 1/3 yellow. The yellow-green is the reverse, 1/3 blue, 2/3 yellow. This is true for all of the colours in the wheel. These are the hues of the colours. The lighter colours of each - extending into the middle of the wheel - are the shades. A shade is essentially adding white (technically called a tint) or black to the base hue. I don't recommend doing this to mix colours though. It's flaming hard to get right. Anyway, this isn't about mixing colours, it's about choosing them. The colour wheel has several ways to pick colours. Let's start at the easiest:
Analagous Colours

Analagous schemes are the easiest to work with. Essentially any two colours adjacent on the colour wheel will work nicely together. Technically you can use up to five colours in an analagous scheme but I would recommend that the outer two be tiny spot colours. In the example above you can see a nice green triad where the turquoise would be an excellent choice for edging and jewels. The red-purple pairing is classically what is used on Fire Dragons. This is easy but sometimes struggles to create contrast between areas of detail. That is where using the third colour as an edging between areas of detail works nicely.

Complementary Colours

Complementary - sometimes called contrasting - schemes use the colour directly opposite to the base shade to create complementary but highly contrasting schemes. They are used everywhere, take a look at a row of movie posters at the cinema sometime. I guarantee that the blue/orange complement will be used somewhere. This is an easy way to create very striking colour schemes for an army but you need to take care. These are such classic combinations of colours that a lot of them have very strong pop culture associations. The most obvious being the red/green combination. Unless you are very careful your army can look like christmas elves. This is where the more subtle version of Split Complementary (see below) comes in.

Triad Colours

Triad schemes are chosen evenly around the colour wheel. Usually they work best where one colour is a spot or edging colour and the other two are the main scheme. Care should be taken to avoid the primary colours as otherwise you will have that pre-school paint set look. Compare the two examples above to show that particular problem!

Split Complementary Colours

This is one of the more sophisticated options available and my current favourite. Instead of choosing the direct complementary colour to the base shade you use the colours either side of it. Essentially you are combining analagous and complementary schemes. You need to use both of the split colours though. Look at the example above. The "A" example has the turquoise/orange contrast and the blue/orange contrast above it. Now the turquoise/orange sort of works, but not quite. The blue/orange works much, much better. Now check out B, even using the pinkish red (a lighter shade of the red hue, see you did need to know the difference!) as a spot colour it just makes it work. This creates some lovely and unexpected schemes that are different but pleasing to the eye.

Tetrad Colours

Tetrads are hard, they essentially are formed of pairs of complementary colours. They can create very busy schemes with a gaudy look unless very carefully handled. Frankly I would leave this one to the interior designers and stick with a maximum of three strong colours on the model.

Well, that is the basics, there are many more elements. Balancing warm and cool colours on a model, using neutral shades to break up schemes. Contrasting textures, using metallics as colours. All sorts. I'll expand this guide in the future to include these options. But for now, we are done! Try using these principals next time you paint. I guarantee it will help you be happy with the finished result!


Friday, 20 April 2012

My First Sherman (awww)

Greetings all, as promised, here is a shiny new model!

I'm off on holiday next week so I gave myself a Friday afternoon treat and decided to do some armour modelling. This is an M4A1 Sherman in Canadian service. Your first job is to guess how big it is, expand the image and take a look then guess its size:

If you guessed very, very small then you are correct! The model is a Plastic Soldier Company 15mm Sherman from their excellent and ever expanding range of WW2 plastic vehicles (so, so happy they are bringing out M5 half tracks as the cost of the Battlefront ones are nasty). I love this range. The detail is as crisp as you can expect a 1:100 scale model to be. Certainly much better than the cast metal ones I've seen. Assembly is fairly straightforward (although watch out for the "handedness" of the tracks, they only go on one way and it is not immediately apparant which!) and the variety of turret, mantlet, glacis and gun options make having a varied look to a squadron a breeze. This is kinda important where Sherman tanks are concerned as their uniform green doesn't do much for visual interest.

My Sherman is part of the 4th Canadian Armoured Division, specifically 4th Brigade, 21st Regiment. This is indicated on the tank by the green rectangular mark with the yellow maple leaf (the 4th Division insignia) and the white 51 in the red square (paradoxically indicating the 21st, go figure). The black 30 in the yellow disc is actually a bridging mark indicating the weight of the vehicle (the Firefly varient of the Sherman has a 32) which was used by the MP's directing traffic to determine at a glance the weight of the vehicle and thus the maximum number that could cross a given bridge without it collapsing!

The stowage on the back is my first attempts at 1:100 scale scratch building and I have a long, long way to go! Hopefully by the end of the regiment I shall have it sorted! Painting wise, the Sherman is actually very straightforward. Basecoat in Russian Uniform Green, give it a glaze of a mix of R.U.G. and Black-Green ink with a dollop of glaze medium. Once this has dried, lightly drybrush the tank with a R.U.G. and Rotting Flesh mix. Tracks were picked out in Vallejo Track Primer (brilliant colour), washed in Badab Black and then the many, many decals were applied. These are from Dom's Decals available from Maelstrom Games and were a lifesaver. They really made the scale appearance of this vehicle as I couldn't have even attempted to freehand on the vehicle name let alone the service numbers!

Finally I attacked the sherman with a whole range of weathering products, Forgeworld weathering powders, AK Interactive rain streaks and fresh mud for the tracks and yet more powders to give this mud some bulk. I'm going to do a full look at these products when I've had a touch more practice, don't want to pretend I'm expert just yet. Still making rookie mistakes!

This Sherman was the first of the above army. It has been designed to be part of the Armoured divisions that relieved my Paras during Operation Market Garden. As you can see there is a long way to go! Thankfully, with the reletive cheapness of the Plastic Soldier Company tanks and the fact that I can paint one in about 4 hours it shouldn't be too much of a chore. Anyway, I've got a post set to go up next week (that is assuming that Mulder can be trusted to push the button) and I shall see you all week after next.


Monday, 9 April 2012

New Service! Pirate Viking Photo Processing!

Announcing a new service from Pirate Viking Painting!
Miniature Photo Processing

Do your photos leave something to be desired? Dull, difficult to see details? 
Not showing off your colours correctly? We can fix all of that.

We can correct the white balance, remove any tint from the lamps you've used to correct the colour settings. We can even supply a background to show off your models to best effect.

We can even do mad stuff like this! If you have a background that you want to use then we'll use that, if not, pick one from below or heck, just go for basic white backgrounds.

Obviously we cannot perform miracles, we ask that you shoot your models against a white background (a regular piece of paper is fine) and use a couple of lamps to try to avoid shadows.

So if you are entering one of the increasing number of online painting competitions give yourself the very best chance possible, let us fix your photographs and show what you are truly capable of. 

We charge just £5 for 3 photos with another £1 for each additional image you want us to process. 
Special requests like merging into custom backgrounds are by arrangement.

Of course, there is another option, if you like we will photograph your creations in our studio. Simply arrange postage and we will work for you as your own personal photographer for £10 an hour. Email us if you are interested in this option.

We believe that everyone should be able to showcase their pride and joy just as they painted them.

Contact us today!

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

He shall from time to time...

150 Posts! Good lord, thats a lot, if you read one a day then you would still be at it in five months. This feels like an appropriate juncture to do a "State of the Nation" bit (that's what the subject relates to by the way for anyone non-American who doesn't watch the West Wing).

"My fellow Askeletons..."
So, to start off with, how are those new years resolutions going Jeff? We're at the end of the first quarter, surely you've kept them all so far right? Let's review:

Personal Goals:
  1. The Night Goblins army will be finished. Ideally in the first quarter as there really, really is not much more to do! Finished means that 2500 points will be painted and based.
  2. I will paint the 2000 point Nurgle Chaos Warriors army that is to tie into the Beard Bunker Blog's 2013 campaign.
  3. If I paint 40k stuff for myself it will be the new Imperial Guard I have waiting in the wings.
  4. I will paint my Napoleonic British army to 1000 points.
Site Goals:
  1. At least one post with pictures of finished work every single week. No dry spells. There will be weeks where I upload three or four times, doesn't matter. At least one in every calendar week.
  2. More full tutorials. I actually like doing them and people seem to like them. I'd like to do one every couple of months but I will resolve conservatively and say four this year. I've got one in mind on painting horses for openers...
  3. I will support the Beard Bunker with content more skewed toward gaming and practicalities of Wargaming. Pirate Viking Painting will remain a pure painting blog
 So, personal goals first, the Night Goblins... oops. Off to a bad start here! They are not finished although work has been done. I had a rash of half finished units (half a horde, half the spider riders) and then finally got a KR case for the lot of them and they sort of went out of site, out of mind. I'll have to get my little green dude yen on again. The 2k Nurgle army has been planned and begun, loads of conversion work on the marauders and warriors and painting has begun. This means that I'm nicely on track.

The 40k stuff is one that I have conciously dumped. The rumours of 6th edition impending firmed up in the first months of this year and I decided to put my Guard on hold until then. I have decided that they will use the AWESOME Victoria Lamb kilted legs and balmoral caps and that they will be mostly mechanised to contrast with my previous guard army. So what am I painting instead for 40k?

Yeah, more Blood Angels! Who knew huh? I thought I'd make my army a bit more Apocalypse-y by adding a load more tanks and some bikes (not pictured). Truth be told, at that point I won't be far off the entire 3rd company so I might just do that. Now, the Napoleonics, I had hit one hell of a wall on these, painting the Brit's is a nightmare. They have something like eight white straps over their red jackets. This is pretty much the worst colour combination on Earth as the red stains white instantly so any mistakes are catastrophic, painting the white over the red was proving annoying. The new citadel paint range, though, includes - drum roll - a foundation white! Hopefully this should speed up this heinous task and with a quick slosh of Vallejo Pale Wash over the top might, just might, allow me to paint these awesome models!

Now, on to the site goals, so far I have achieved my goal of at least one post in every single calendar week (there is even a post ready and scheduled to go up when I am on holiday!) so that is going well. I have been doing more tutorial work so that is working well too! My support of the Beard Bunker has been a little patchier, must try harder Jeff.

If you can't spot who Mulder is dressed as then be ashamed!
So what of the future? Well, quite a lot is going to be happening to Pirate Viking Painting over the next few months, firstly we are going to be moving locations. Mrs PVP and I have been lodging with friends for the last couple of years but we are finally in a position to get a place of our own again! This means a purpose designed working area for Mulder and I and all of the stuff I have had languishing in storage to hand once more, hurrah! We are also taking the first steps in learning the arcane arts of sculpting and model making and are in the process of writing some of our own games. Hopefully there will be more on these long before we hit post 300!

Image from Games Workshop for illustrative purposes
Finally a word on how we are going to be handling the transition to the new citadel paint range on the blog. We will not be rushing out and replacing the current mega paint set that I own with the new one. That would be insanity. Of course if any wealthy fan of PVP wishes to donate £300 then I for one will be overjoyed! Instead we are going to pick up the "new" colours starting with the base and shade range. Will also pick up one of the textured ones to have a go with and a couple of Dry paints as my curiosity cannot be sated without experimentation. As paints run out I will replace them with their new equivilents. As a result you will be seeing colours on the blog that no longer exist. Use GW's colour match chart to find the nearest new paint as quite frankly I cannot be doing with cross referencing every single colour I use!

Well, thus ends the first PVP "State of the Nation", thanks for staying with us. I've been looking at the site stats ahead of Mulder's second birthday and the growth in readers has been phenominal. I am deeply touched. You are all people of magnificent taste and are all especially handsome.