To answer the questions on how I paint and get that clean, smooth look:
I've adopted the following way of painting partly by watching Golden Demon winners paint. I set of my painting area as follows:
- Set out a big mug of clean water.
- Take two sheets of paper towel and fold them together down to quarter size.
- Place the folded paper towel on a plate (I use an 8" plate which is the folded paper towel fits into nicely).
- Add water to the plate until the paper towel is completely soaked and there is extra water sitting in the plate (I fill the plate up enough so that I can still carry it from the sink to my painting table without it spilling easily - so not totally to the brim of the plate).
- Cut out a square of wax paper, about the same size as the folded paper towel. Put that square onto the wet paper towel, at an odd angle so that it rest on the paper towel but four corners of the wet paper towel (all you need is the tips) are not covered (this will make sense later). No water should be running onto the TOP of the waxed paper sheet.
- Lay out a folded up stack of dry paper towel with your brushes.
So basically my paint area is a mug of fresh water for cleaning brushes, paper towel for drying and wiping off excess paint and a "wet plate" for working my paints. The wet plate allows you to place drops of all the paints your are using and they will stay moist for a longer period of time as well as provide a great surface for mixing. The wax paper lets just enough moisture through to keep paint from drying out quickly but without washing down your paint at all.
I achieve the smooth color by keeping a damp brush and moist paint. Wet paint is great to work with as it blends easy and mistakes can be removed if you act quickly. Ssimply take the brush, dampen it on the paper towel underneath the wax paper, and wipe it across a mistake to "erase" or even move the paint where you want it.
It makes for a great surface to take daps of your base paint and a lighter color to blend right there on the wax paper. So for these suits I put out a big drop of Vallejo red and a big drop of Vallejo Game Color Scrofolous Brown. The red is my base and I will dap my brush and take some red and move it in between the two colors and then take some Scrof Brown (using the same brush) and move it to where I moved that red and then mix. I continue doing that until I have the right level of highlight I need for the area I'm working on. When ready to paint just slip your brush along the side of the plate, wiping the wet paper towel and it removes the excess paint and reshapes your brush for painting. Then wipe the brush into the new mixture you just made on the wax paper and start painting. As I paint that color I am continually making sure my brush is still damp and shaped by wiping on the wet paper towel and then going back for more paint. You want a damp, properly shaped brush, with just enough paint on it so that the paint is not building up or balling up on the brush. The trick is to have your paint going on wet enough to create a smooth thin coat, but not so wet that it runs. For anyone that has made their own pancake batter it's the same concept - and if that analogy doesn't make sense please ignore it
I'm by no means a Gold Demon level painter, but I have learned a lot about how to make your paints work for you by watching professionals paint. Games Days are great events to attend if you want to observe proffesionals paint. Don't bother with seminars, just pull up a chair to the booth (real close), introduce yourself and ask if they mind if you squeeze up and watch closely. They will be pleased as bunch and say yes and then proceed to talk your ear off if you start asking questions. And you'll end up getting a private lesson that I find ends up being tailored to the way you paint, because you're asking the questions. That's how I learned anyway.
I should also mention that to turn a whole army around and maintain good quality I use the following process:
- Prime the entire army at once with thin coats until I achieve coverage. This requires patience (don't rush it) and a clean, dry, warm space.
- The next day (after primer is cured) I airbrush my entire army at once with thin coats of the base color (in the case of my Mech Tau that was Vallejo Violet Brown, in the case of this Farsight unit it was Vallejo Red). Again this requires patience (keep those layers thin - achieve coverage by using several thin coats), well dilluted/thinned paint (50% water or acrylic thinner), and attention to flushing the airbrush as often as needed to prevent clogging.
- Next I choose a large group of like models, mix a darker tone of the base for shadows and paint that on (you can make lots of mistakes here and clean them up later).
- Next I work up the high lights on that group.
- Next I go back and fill in mistakes with the base color (have a squiggly or thick highlight line? Just brush some base color alongside it).
- Finally I go back and select the most visible high spots on the model (the places people will tend to focus on when looking down at a 45 degree angle) and I blend the highlights into the base and down to any shadows. Blending an entire model is for Golden Demon entry, for a table top or Tourney army you only need to blend where people look
I don't know everything and I have a LOT to learn. But that is a bit of what I have learned and I hope it helps someone. Someday I hope to have the courage to try a GD entry.