Advice needed: how to make armor look like armor and not paper?

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stayhandsome
Shas'Saal
Posts: 20

Advice needed: how to make armor look like armor and not paper?

Post#1 » Nov 06 2017 08:48

Greetings

I have only been painting for a month or so but have run into a frequent problem when trying to paint the armor on my units—it tends to have a two-dimensional appearance, like it’s been painted on parchment and not on a plastic model. This creates an undesirable effect of the armor surfaces not really looking like armor.

Can you take a look at my WIP Fireblade and help me discern what it is that’s giving this unfortunate appearance? Color choice? Lack of blends maybe? Edge highlights too thick or something? Hmmm...

Image

stayhandsome
Shas'Saal
Posts: 20

Re: Advice needed: how to make armor look like armor and not paper?

Post#2 » Nov 06 2017 08:52

For reference my workflow was:

Primer -> Black spray -> XV-88 -> Tau Light Ochre -> Vallejo Umber Wash (recesses) -> Vallejo Sunny Skin Tone (edges) -> Vallejo Game Elfic Flesh (corners)

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Arka0415
Shas'Ui
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Posts: 1945

Re: Advice needed: how to make armor look like armor and not paper?

Post#3 » Nov 06 2017 09:06

I admit I think the model looks great, but if you're worried about the appearance I think it's because there's little wash/shading and very thick highlights. So, that gives it a 2D, almost cell-shaded appearance. If you go for more subtle highlights and use your wash a little heavier, that would probably be good.

I think the model looks fantastic though!

stayhandsome
Shas'Saal
Posts: 20

Re: Advice needed: how to make armor look like armor and not paper?

Post#4 » Nov 06 2017 11:03

Thanks dude. I am pleased with how it’s turning out so far, I think some parts came out better than I expected (namely the braid across the chest and the eye/mouth area of the face.

I’m gonna see if an ochre/wash blend will help create some depth and I’ll try to thin out the highlights. I agree it looks “cell shaded”. I don’t know how GW’s painters get such incredibly smooth edge highlights.

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Bloodknife92
Shas'La
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Re: Advice needed: how to make armor look like armor and not paper?

Post#5 » Nov 07 2017 01:01

I don't know if you've glued your Fireblade's head in or not, but I've noticed it isn't sitting properly. It should be able to go maybe 1mm or 2mm further into the body of the model.
The days of goodly English is went
Ziss old dog still has a few tricks!

stayhandsome
Shas'Saal
Posts: 20

Re: Advice needed: how to make armor look like armor and not paper?

Post#6 » Nov 07 2017 03:41

Bloodknife92 wrote:I don't know if you've glued your Fireblade's head in or not, but I've noticed it isn't sitting properly. It should be able to go maybe 1mm or 2mm further into the body of the model.


I have glued it already and it felt like it was snug in its spot correctly. That’s unfortunate if it’s not in the right spot but I THINK it may just be that a cell phone camera distorts images pretty badly at such a short distance. In person it doesn’t look off.

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Bloodknife92
Shas'La
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Re: Advice needed: how to make armor look like armor and not paper?

Post#7 » Nov 07 2017 04:29

stayhandsome wrote:
Bloodknife92 wrote:I don't know if you've glued your Fireblade's head in or not, but I've noticed it isn't sitting properly. It should be able to go maybe 1mm or 2mm further into the body of the model.


I have glued it already and it felt like it was snug in its spot correctly. That’s unfortunate if it’s not in the right spot but I THINK it may just be that a cell phone camera distorts images pretty badly at such a short distance. In person it doesn’t look off.

After inspecting images of my own Cadre Fireblade, I can't fully tell if it is off or not. The image just looks odd :) That may just be the perspective of the picture though.
The days of goodly English is went
Ziss old dog still has a few tricks!

stayhandsome
Shas'Saal
Posts: 20

Re: Advice needed: how to make armor look like armor and not paper?

Post#8 » Nov 07 2017 06:58

Bloodknife92 wrote:
stayhandsome wrote:
Bloodknife92 wrote:I don't know if you've glued your Fireblade's head in or not, but I've noticed it isn't sitting properly. It should be able to go maybe 1mm or 2mm further into the body of the model.


I have glued it already and it felt like it was snug in its spot correctly. That’s unfortunate if it’s not in the right spot but I THINK it may just be that a cell phone camera distorts images pretty badly at such a short distance. In person it doesn’t look off.

After inspecting images of my own Cadre Fireblade, I can't fully tell if it is off or not. The image just looks odd :) That may just be the perspective of the picture though.


It’s definitely “off” but not so much as to bother me. I pulled the head off and refitted it, nothing really changed. I think all the layers of paint shrunk the space for it to socket into, even after filing it down with a hobby file.

Another lesson learned! Don’t paint too much around sockets that will be glued on later.

Here’s what it looks like after refitting and some attempts at cleaning up the rough edges. Probably not off enough to matter.

Image

Image

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Bloodknife92
Shas'La
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Re: Advice needed: how to make armor look like armor and not paper?

Post#9 » Nov 07 2017 06:30

That looks 100% normal to me :)

As for painting, I decided to change my technique to one not often used.
I used to use spray for base coating, and I did when I prepped and painted my Fireblade, but now I've switched to applying my Base Coats by brush. The advantage this gives me is that I can choose where to paint and where not to paint. For example, I can easily avoid painting joins and magnetised areas for a nice snug fit :) I also avoid wasting paint completely too, because I'm not spraying miniatures, therefore no paint is missing the miniature. I still hace yet to workout what is more cost effective, but given that a can of spray costs around as much as 5 pots of Abbadon Black, I thibk brush may end up being cheaper! We'll see soon enough.
The days of goodly English is went
Ziss old dog still has a few tricks!

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n1md4
Shas'La
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Re: Advice needed: how to make armor look like armor and not paper?

Post#10 » Nov 07 2017 08:13

stayhandsome wrote:I have only been painting for a month or so ...


Seriously!? You already have a respectable paint knowledge, and are shading and highlighting, even pining the model and painting off base. Really only just started?

p.s. looks great!
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stayhandsome
Shas'Saal
Posts: 20

Re: Advice needed: how to make armor look like armor and not paper?

Post#11 » Nov 08 2017 12:09

n1md4 wrote:
stayhandsome wrote:I have only been painting for a month or so ...


Seriously!? You already have a respectable paint knowledge, and are shading and highlighting, even pining the model and painting off base. Really only just started?

p.s. looks great!


Thanks! Yeah I’m very new to this, but I’m like a sponge for information and have been watching YouTube tutorials and reading about mini painting since before I bought my first model.

I think anyone who wants to learn has so many fantastic resources available. I must have watched 10 different peoples’ beginners tips, like Miniac’s How to stop painting like a scrub, and Tabletop Minion’s interviews with pro painters.

Plus the sculpts are so good they kind of paint themselves. :D

stayhandsome
Shas'Saal
Posts: 20

Re: Advice needed: how to make armor look like armor and not paper?

Post#12 » Nov 08 2017 12:16

Bloodknife92 wrote:That looks 100% normal to me :)

As for painting, I decided to change my technique to one not often used.
I used to use spray for base coating, and I did when I prepped and painted my Fireblade, but now I've switched to applying my Base Coats by brush. The advantage this gives me is that I can choose where to paint and where not to paint. For example, I can easily avoid painting joins and magnetised areas for a nice snug fit :) I also avoid wasting paint completely too, because I'm not spraying miniatures, therefore no paint is missing the miniature. I still hace yet to workout what is more cost effective, but given that a can of spray costs around as much as 5 pots of Abbadon Black, I thibk brush may end up being cheaper! We'll see soon enough.


Don’t you find it very time consuming to do base costs with a brush?

I’ve found that Tamiya’s Mini spray “TS-6” has an identical finish to Abaddon Black in my limited experience. So if you ever decide to go back to sprays, try that one, it should be about the cost of two pots, not 5!

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Bloodknife92
Shas'La
Shas'La
Posts: 579

Re: Advice needed: how to make armor look like armor and not paper?

Post#13 » Nov 08 2017 01:44

stayhandsome wrote:Don’t you find it very time consuming to do base costs with a brush?

I actually find it easier to do because: When I paint, I paint almost completely unassembled, so I end up sticking each little part to a box, then spraying, then flipping the parts, then spraying again. When I base coat by brush, I don't need to wait for the weather to permit me to spray not come up with the motivation to go outside and do it, I can just paint whenever I want. Granted, I'm dealing with some painter's block right now combined with the birth of my son just this weekend gone by, so I haven't picked up the brush in a while, but I still like the method :) Everyone is different though! My method may not be your preferred, but I like it and that's what is important :)
The days of goodly English is went
Ziss old dog still has a few tricks!

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Panzer
Shas'Saal
Posts: 3548

Re: Advice needed: how to make armor look like armor and not paper?

Post#14 » Nov 08 2017 02:35

I always basecoat with a brush. Don't confuse it with priming (two very different things!). ;)

stayhandsome wrote:
n1md4 wrote:
stayhandsome wrote:I have only been painting for a month or so ...


Seriously!? You already have a respectable paint knowledge, and are shading and highlighting, even pining the model and painting off base. Really only just started?

p.s. looks great!


Thanks! Yeah I’m very new to this, but I’m like a sponge for information and have been watching YouTube tutorials and reading about mini painting since before I bought my first model.

I think anyone who wants to learn has so many fantastic resources available. I must have watched 10 different peoples’ beginners tips, like Miniac’s How to stop painting like a scrub, and Tabletop Minion’s interviews with pro painters.

Plus the sculpts are so good they kind of paint themselves. :D

Informations is one part of the equation (something I picked up very quickly as well since I had someone to teach me back in the days). The other is practical skill. Looks like you have a very steady hand and a good eye for where to apply highlights. You already are at an extremely good standard even for people who paint for way longer than you. ;)

stayhandsome
Shas'Saal
Posts: 20

Re: Advice needed: how to make armor look like armor and not paper?

Post#15 » Nov 08 2017 04:33

I’ve been doing spray primer, spray black, then the rest by brush. Seems like we’re actually all doing the same basic thing then.

Well thanks very much for the input everyone. I think I’m done with this guy for now, 0.7mm-width masking tape came in handy for the sept markings

Image

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Persifal
Shas'Ui
Shas'Ui
Posts: 188

Re: Advice needed: how to make armor look like armor and not paper?

Post#16 » Nov 12 2017 06:40

I really like what you done in that short time in hoby. Maybe you and others will accept some tips.

Painting miniatures is not same as real big objects, which have natural lights and shadows even the surface is painted with one color. You must support light with some shading and highlighting on small scale models. You must paint some highlights and shadows yourself directly on the model for better and more realistic looks. I'm in hobby since 2010 and I'm still learning. I can say, if something looks imposible for you now, it will be normal for you in few years. So if some my advice will be too hard to execute, just keep trying.
This is my version of Cadre Fireblade from 2013(so after 3years in hobby) just after releasing of the model. As you can see, I used some trics to make model more interesting.

ImageCadre Fireblade by Tomáš Pekař, on Flickr (image is clickable and if you click on the picture after redirect, you will see better picture)

1. Edge highlighting(EH). Line should be thin, precise and consistent as much as you are able to. It is better to use more than one color for EH. I use up to 3 colors.
The color of first layer is little bit lighter than the base color of the armor. I paint all edges with this color so I mean all armor plate have edges painted by this color, no exceptions(sometimes the armor part is too tinny and EH left no base armor color).
The second color layer of EH is the tricky one that improve your model more than you expect. The color of this layer is something between the color of first layer of EH and white. Painting of this layer need some practice to master, but tau models are idelal for it, lots of edges :). You must chose some rules of directing of light for it and need follow these rules all over model. For example if you chose that light will be top left in front of the model from your point of view, all edges faced to this ligh must be highlighted with the color of the second layer. Simply highlight the top and left edge of the all areas. Often you realize that edges do not have ideal direction against your light source. In this cases you need second rule. The part of the edge close to your light source must be lighter than part of the edge far from the light source. So often you paint second layer of EH only on the part of the edge. It is important if you do not finish second highlight on the end of edge to smoot transition between this layer of EH and previous one. No sharp ending of highlights in the middle of the edge! Intensity of second highlights is only on taste of every painter. Other edges that are not faced to the light source are not painted with the second layer of the EH. In my example it is the bottom and right edge of areas.
The color of third layer is white, or color very close to it. This layer is very useful if you want enhance sharpness of the edge. More white, more sharp. It consists from dots or very short lines of color on parts of edges the most close to you light source. Mostly on the joints of edges. In my example you make dot on the join of top and left edge.

2. Area shadding and highlighting(AS). The rules for shadding and highlighting of areas are the same as for EH, it must be, if you want consistency over the whole model. Closest part of the area is lighter than the rest of the area. Areas faced to the lifgt source are lighter than areas aren't faced to light source. I used both balanced, shadding and highlighting, on my Fireblade or characters. On regular firewariors I used only very decent highlights and more shadows. It is faster to paint and character stands out from the squads. GW and 'Eavy Metal team do not use too much AS for tau models, so it can be skipped for save some time but remember, do AS before EH :)

On this picture you can result after using both these steps, EH and AS(if I remember only shadows are used here). Left drone is after basecoat. Right one is different drone with fully painted disc. Result is much interesting and eye catching model.
ImageDrones WIP by Tomáš Pekař, on Flickr

I think these two techniques are basement for every painter. Of course you can use lots of different techniques to make model more realistic. Like different style of highlighting in scale modelling, battle damage, rust and dust techniques, water efects but I recomend leave them for later.

I hope it helps and sorry for my English. Good luck.

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