Painting, Quick and Lazy the Uncle Phil way.

        Recently I painted an Ambul, and not including the base/undercoat it took me less than half a day.


        Some of my other projects have been surprisingly brief, such as my nurgle figures and ripper jacks.


        The common feature to all of these has been I could paint most of the large areas with drybrushing and/or washes. It is a pity that more figures cannot be painted with drybrushing and washes I reflected.

        I am well known among friends and colleagues as someone who will usually find the easiest way to get something done, so I began looking for suggestions on how I could speed up my painting. I didn’t invent the techniques I will describe in this tutorial, but do feel many painters will benefit from them if they are more widely known.

Preparation.
        Drybrushing and washes will really pick out any mould lines on a model, so be as thorough as you can filing these off before you can apply any undercoat. If your figures use slota bases or you glue the figures onto coins or larger bases this is the time to fill in the gaps and reduce the steps using putty. I use ready mixed putty from a hardware store for this which is better than more expensive greenstuff.

Undercoating/Basecoating.
        Undercoat you model(s) black. A spray can of acrylic paint from the automobile parts store is fine for this, no need to buy modelling brands that do the same thing for more money. Once your sprayed figures are dry brush some black paint over any areas the spray has missed. If just painting a couple of figures you may brush on the overcoat rather than setting up to spray. Thin your black paint so it does not apply too thickly. When dry, check for more mould lines, file them off and recoat.
        Once the black undercoat is dry get yourself some grey paint and a decent sized brush and drybrush/overbrush your figures with grey. Let this dry and then drybrush again with white. My first attempts were with just white over black but I soon started using a combination of black, grey and white.
        You now have a figure in black, grey and white, or possibly just black and white. Use a smaller brush to highlight any parts you think should be white that the drybrushing missed. Let your figure dry. Again, check for mould lines you have missed, swear, remove them and repaint. For a figure that is mainly wearing white it may be better to have a dark grey such as Tamiya German Grey as the darkest undercoat. Be open to different options
        For some models you may decide on a warmer basecoat and use a mid to dark brown instead of black. Bear in mind this may affect some of the colours you paint over it.
        I have a number of figures I have previously undercoated in white and not got around to painting. These I may give a wash of black paint to add some shadows. Zombies and Gladiators tend to feature skin tones and contrasting garments so in the past I have always basecoated these white. I still have a can of white spray paint to use up so I will probably be undercoating these models white and giving them a black wash.

Blocking.
        You now have a number of models in black, white and grey. It is time to colour them in.
        An advantage of this method compared to undercoating in just black is that it is easier to see the details of a figure. In the past I have sometimes drybrushed an undercoated model with a lighter colour just so I could see things better!
        As a general rule of thumb, work outwards when blocking in colours. Paint the skin before you do the shirt or hair, for example. This is not a hard and fast rule, however and you can save a lot of time by painting a non-adjacent area while another part of the figure is drying. I also like to paint the weapons early on in the painting process, since somehow this helps bring the figure to life.
        For this method to work you are going to thin your paint so that it is semi-transparent. Do not have too much paint on the brush. If it is too heavily loaded the paint is either too thick or it will run over to places you do not want it. Remove any excess before you apply it to the model. A thin coat will dry quicker, which also cuts down painting time. Instead of paint you can alternately paint ink directly over the undercoat, which can produce some nice results.
        Some parts you may choose not to paint over so that the black undercoat is visible, providing shadows or delineating boundaries.
        Paint a thin coat of your thinned colour over the model where you want it. You will see that the black, grey and white of the basecoat underneath will show through and affect the appearance of the colour coat above. Folds will look darker and the raised areas lighter. Instant highlighting! Block in the rest of the model and let it dry.

More Painting.
        By now your figure should be looking fairly good. Some of the areas you have blocked over may need a second coat. Two thin coats are generally better than one thicker one.
        Some parts you may want to highlight with a lighter colour, other parts you may want to make darker. The different colours of undercoat showing through should make it really obvious where you need to do this, so this undercoating method is a great boon to the novice painter.
        Highlighting can be applied as drybrushing, painting or glazing (qv). Shading can be applied as painting or washing. Keep you paints thin and do not overload your brush. Make your mantra “less paint on the brush, more where it is needed”.
        Generally I don't bother mixing paint colours and prefer to use ready made colours for highlighting and shading. It saves time and is more consistent. Foundry paints come in triple sets, each of a basic colour, a darker shade and a lighter. You can also use a light shade of one colour on a darker shade of another colour. You will find that paints from different manufacturers sometimes make good shades or highlights for colours from other companies. This chart gives highlights and shade suggestions for the old GW paint range and will also be relevant of the Vallejo Game colour ranges.

Washes.
        Washes either come ready made or are created by thinning paints or inks. A wash can be applied all over an area, which will result in it tending to settle in the lower parts. Washes can also be applied to specific areas, such as the folds of a cloak or the underside of an animal. A wash made from a light colour can be applied to a raised area as a highlight and this is known as glazing. If a highlight contrasts too much you can often smooth it out and tone it down with a glaze of the base colour.
        Washes sometimes need more than one coat. Like any painting two thin coats are better than a single thick one. Interesting effects can sometimes be created by using a wash over another (dried) wash.

Painting Flesh
        Another innovation that I have adopted with these methods is the use of a flesh wash when painting Caucasian flesh. In the past my usual technique has been to paint flesh with GW Dwarf Flesh and highlight with GW Elf Flesh. GW Tanned Flesh is used for the eye sockets and sometimes under the cheekbones. Since GW have discontinued these colours I will be using the Vallejo Game Equivalents when my pots of GW run out.
        Using my “new method” the first coat of Dwarf Flesh is applied quite thin to let the undercoats show through. I now also use an additional stage of Coat d’arms Flesh Wash. Dwarf or Elf flesh washed with Flesh wash will appear redder so by using washed and unwashed flesh tones I can get skin closer to the multiple shades of Caucasian flesh. I have even used a similar method on 1/72nd scale figures. Paint the face flesh, flesh wash then highlight and you get a pretty realistic face for very little effort.

Black Inking.
        Once I am happy with the model one of the last things I will do is black ink it. This is a general wash with diluted black ink and is described in more detail in my article here. Black inking adds shadow and shade, fills in any little gaps you may have missed and generally makes a figure look more realistic.

Conclusion.
        I am still in the early stages of experimenting with these techniques but initial impressions are very encouraging.

        Here is the first trio of figures I have painted using the above techniques. I wasn't in a hurry to paint these but I estimate these took under a day's work, probably less than half that.


        Here is my second attempt, using a white, grey and black undercoat. Took me an evening and a few hours tinkering the next day.

        To see all of my figures painted using this method, click on the "3 colour" tag or try this link.

        If you have enjoyed this article or it has been helpful to you please feel free to show your appreciation. Thank you.