Sunday, February 12, 2012

Learning those paint shades!

My business cards are so useful for so many
things besides their intended purpose. 
So here is a cool little exercise that I engaged in this week.  Prior to painting the engine block, I noticed that three of my paints, Citadel's mithril silver, boltgun metal and chainmail look really, really similar.  In and out of their containers.  So what is the difference between these paints?

The painting guides usually call for painting metal items boltgun first, then highlight in chainmail and then just add a bit of mithril silver on the edges of the chainmail.  But why?  They look so alike.  Sometimes when I paint I can't even tell after the work is done what parts have the highlighting and what don't.  What is my eye looking for?  Is it brightness?  Finish?  Are some of those paints matte, and some more shiny?

So I decided to do a little experiment.  I took one of my small brushes and painted a bit of each paint on the back of one of my business cards.  Since the surface is a solid, uniform color, I figured I should get a good idea of what I am looking at.  And voila!  The difference became quite clear.  Boltgun is by far the darkest color, followed by chainmail, and then mithril, the lightest.  And ding!  It all makes sense.  Layering paint is often all about putting lighter colors on top of darker ones- hense, the older the guides suggest you put down the paint.  I also noticed that each color is about as shiny as the others.  They are metallic paint, so it makes sense that they would all reflect some.

The picture does not quite show this because the light was coming from the right side of the image- making the chainmail reflect more of the light, and hence, looking lighter than it i in general, but you get the idea.

I can (and will) use this technique again on other colors to see exactly what order I want to use them in when I am working on other laying projects.  There are a lot of paint shades that look close to alike both in their containers and on the work piece.  Even when I'm a doing a model more or less paint by number, which is where I was and am just starting to mess around with a little creativity, knowing the 'why????' of the logic behind the instructions I am following is useful for me to become better at my craft.  This is one of those situations where a I can read something in a book, but I don't necessarily get the concept until I play around with it a bit and make it mine.  And that's a useful skill in a lot of different situations.

Until next time,

David D.

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