7 April 2009

Flying the Overlord's Colors

A Tutorial on Painting Your Descent Lieutenant Miniature




Editor and miniatures painter, Sam Stewart, presents this tutorial on how you can turn your Descent: Road to Legend Lieutenant miniatures from unpainted pewter into full-color works of art.




So you, the evil Overlord and future destroyer of all that is good and pure in Terrinoth, the world of Descent: Journeys in the Dark, have just purchased your new Lieutenant miniature. You’re all set to crush your heroes’ hopes and dreams, when you open the package and find this:

What? Unpainted, unassembled, metal figures? What are you supposed to do with this?

This article is designed to teach those who are new to miniatures painting how to assemble, paint, and base their Descent: Road to Legend Lieutenants. We’ll be looking at two of the miniatures, however the tips and instructions provided can easily be adapted to paint any of Fantasy Flight Games’s Lieutenants.

Step One: Assembly

Assembling the Lieutenant figures is fairly easy, as all but one of the miniatures is a single piece. For assembly, you will need:

Super glue (I prefer a modeling super glue. You do not want to use a super glue that ‘foams’ or has an extremely thick consistency. White glue or plastic glue will also not work, since they won’t adhere to metal pieces.) An exacto-knife or similar modeling knife.

The first thing to do is clean the ‘flash’ off of the metal pieces. Flash is small pieces of pewter left behind on the model due to slight gaps in the mold. Cut or shave off any unsightly ridges or strings of pewter using your exacto knife.

After that, you should wash your pewter pieces in hot water, using hand soap. The idea here is to clean off any mold release agents (spray-on lubricants to get the pieces out of their molds after they cool) that may be left on the model.

Once the model has dried, locate the tab attached to the model’s feet. Coat both sides of the tab with super glue, then insert the tab into the slot in the black plastic base included with the model. Hold the model upright until the glue dries.

If you’re constructing Thaadd the Destroyer, there is one additional step to complete. Thaadd’s left arm is a separate piece, which will need to be attached to the main body. Before gluing the arm in place, figure out how the two pieces fit together by holding them together and moving them around until the fit seems snug. Then, add super glue to the two ends that will be attached together. Hold the two pieces together at the join until the glue dries.

If you’re having problems getting the two pieces to stay together, there are two different tricks you can try. The first is called ‘scoring,’ and is pretty easy. You simply use your exacto-knife, and cut multiple grooves in the two ends that will be attached together. For the best results, make a cross-hatch pattern. The idea is to create groves that the superglue will sink into and ‘grip’ as it dries, creating a stronger bond.

The second trick is called ‘pinning,’ and will require you to have additional tools. You will need a pin-vice (a small, handheld drill, available at most hobby stores), and a paper clip. Take the pin-vice and choose a drill bit about as thick as the paper clip. Then use your exacto knife to draw an “X” on the two ends that will be attached together. Then, take your pin-vice a drill a small hole in the end of each piece, at the center of the “X.” Make sure you don’t drill all the way through the piece!

Once you have done this, trim the paper clip so that you have a small, straight piece of metal. This should be long enough to fit into both holes without any ‘extra’ length. Cover one end with super glue, then insert it into one of the holes you just drilled. Once the ‘pin’ is secured and the glue dried, cover the end (including the part of the pin sticking out of the hole) in super glue. Then combine the two pieces so the exposed part of the pin fits into the hole on the other piece.

Once you have assembled the model, you should consider doing some preliminary basing. Basing is adding rubble, rock, or even sticks to the model’s base so it appears to be somewhere other than a flat, featureless, black plane. The simplest way to base a model, I find, is to coat the base with super glue (avoiding the model itself, of course), then cover it with corse modeling sand or even (clean!) kitty litter. Once you have done so, your model appears to be standing on gravel or dirt.

Now you’re ready for step two.

Step Two: Painting

The first thing you have to do when painting your model is prime it. You prime a model by coating it in a ‘primer’ spray paint. The primer creates a base coat – subsequent layers of paint will adhere to the model more easily, and you won’t have to worry about extra-think layers to cover up that metallic pewter shine. Priming is very important, and not a step that should be skipped.

A word of warning, though: primer is not the same as ‘normal’ spray paint. If you use regular spray paint, you’re likely to end up with an amorphous blob instead of a model. There are several different companies that make primer spray paint, just make when you are purchasing it that it is in fact primer (don’t be afraid of asking a clerk if you’re not sure).

Coat the model evenly, making sure to get in all the nooks and crannies. Just don’t spray too thickly – waving the can back and forth as you spray is better than holding it steady and focusing on the model.

After the model has been primed, select the paint colors you want to use. There are several excellent hobby paint lines available at most hobby stores. Any modeling paints will do, but I recommend water-based acrylics, not oil-based. Of course, house paints or something similar are a bad idea.

When painting a miniature, there are several basic tips and tricks you should keep in mind. First, the model is three-dimensional, so you might be tempted to paint it with single colors, just like ‘real life.’ If you look at your T-shirt, for example, it’s all one color, right? So why not do the same on a model?

Unfortunately, the end result ends up looking flat and without detail. To make a model come alive, you will have to highlight it.

Highlighting is painting the model’s natural ‘high points’ with lighter colors. If you were painting a model’s face, for example, you’d paint its nose lighter than the hollows around the eyes. The simplest way to highlight is to select two similar colors – say, a dark red and a brighter red. First, paint the parts of the model you want to be red with the darkest color. Then, mix a little bit of the two paints together, forming a third color that’s lighter than the darker red, but darker than the lighter red. Return to the red parts of the model, and paint the higher parts with this new color. Then, take the brightest red, and paint the very highest points of the model (being sure that the darker colors still show on the more recessed portions of the model). The end result is that it looks like the model’s high-points are being exposed to light, while the low points are in shadow.

But how does that apply to a real model? Let’s look at our demo model, Thaadd the Destroyer. Thaadd’s a big, intimidating model with a lot of space to cover. However, it’s actually fairly simple to paint. Most of the model is either skin, or loincloth, meaning the amount of different paints is limited. When painting, I prefer to start with the colors that will cover the most surface area on the model. In this case, the skin. I started with a layer of light brownish tan paint. Make sure that any base layers of paint are thick enough that the black primer doesn’t show through.

Then I added a layer of ruddy beige flesh color to the higher areas. Notice that the cracks around his bulging biceps are still the base brown.

Then I took a third color, a very light flesh color, and mixed it with my previous color. I added the mix to the higher areas, but covered smaller sections than the previous color, so that at any point on the model the colors proceeded from the base paint, to the intermediate paint, to the new lightest paint.

After that, I ‘washed’ the skin parts of the model with a mixture of a dark flesh (basically reddish brown) wash and water. The wash is basically an ink (a variety of washes can be found along with paints at local game stores), which I diluted by adding 3-4 parts water for every part ink. The wash should be very thinly spread, almost unnoticeable, but it helps blend the various colors together.

Finally, I went back and added thin lines of the unmixed light flesh color to the very highest skin areas, giving me this result.

The rest of the model is painted using a similar technique, just different colors.

•Loincloth: I started with a very dark chocolate brown, working up to a lighter chocolate brown by mixing the original color with successively larger amounts of the highlight. •Metal bits: Most ranges of model paints have a wide range of metallic paints. For this, I started with a base of dark tin or tarnished steel, then a straight steel color, then a mix of that steel color and a silver. After each layer of metallics, I washed the metallic sections with a black ink wash, mixing one part of ink with three parts water to make the wash. •Bones/Teeth/Nails: I started with an off-white bone color, then washed the areas with an undiluted red-brown ink, to get that nasty ‘dried blood’ look around the edges. Then I highlighted the areas with a mixture of the first color and straight white. •Hair: Dark brown, then a red brown, then a yellow brown. •Eyes: Straight white for the pupils, then a small dot of black paint for the iris. •Blood: You want to make sure he looks dangerous, right? For blood, I started by dabbing a dark red paint onto Thaadd’s weapons with an old, splayed out brush. Then I mixed red ink and brown ink (no water) and dabbed that on over the paint. You want to mix your red ink with a brown ink or wash to get a true, dried-blood look.

Here’s the end result:

For Lord Merrick Farrow, I used similar painting techniques, just different colors.

•Robe: Black is a hard color to get right, because if you highlight it too little, it looks flat, but if you highlight it too much, it looks gray. I did thin but relatively strong highlights starting, of course, with straight black paint. To highlight it I mixed three parts black with one part of a dark blue-grey paint, then half black with half blue-grey. I prefer to use the blue-grey because it makes it look more like a highlight, rather than the actual shade of the robe •Sashes: I started with a dark purplish red. I mixed it equally with a dark red paint, then used the red paint alone for the highlight. •Metal Bits: I started with a base of gold metallic paint. The first highlight was a brass metallic, then the second was a platinum metallic. After the highlights, I washed the metals with a mix of four parts water, one part black inc, and one part brown reddish-brown ink. •Leather Bits: These were done in the same way as Thaadd’s loincloth. •Fire: Fire is easy to paint if you remember one tip. Unlike regular highlighting, where you start with the darkest colors and work up to the lightest colors, with fire, you start light and work up to dark. The reason is that fire is not illuminated by other lights, it is a light source in itself, and it burns hottest (and brightest) in the center. To paint the fire, I started with a bright yellow paint. Then I mixed it with equal parts bright orange for the first highlight. Then orange for the second. Then a mix of straight orange and bright red for the last highlight.

Here’s the end result:

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, this will set you on the right track when it comes to painting your Lieutenant minis. As long as you use primer before painting, and highlight from dark to light colors, you can use pretty much any color scheme you want, and your evil minions will be terrorizing defenseless villages and confounding heroes in no time.Descent: Journeys in the Dark is a scenario-driven board game that takes a party of adventurers deep into the dungeons of Terrinoth for adventure, treasure, and glory, but beware: the Overlord and his minions stand poised to oppose any heroes foolhardy enough to enter the dungeon. Descent: Road to Legend takes the game to the next level, introducing campaigns and long-term character development for both the heroes and the Overlord. Cross the dungeon's threshold and step into a world of adventure today!

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