Thursday, 3 December 2015

Marble-ous ;)

I'm currently working on a WH40K Imperial Knight model. It is, imho, possibly one of the best kits from GW at the mo, both in terms of value, construction and overall enjoyment. When I got it a few months ago, I knew I was going to be taking my sweet time with it - doing a bit, going away to work on other stuff and coming back again. I also decided I was going to magnetise the hell out of it!!! There are so many awesome weapon options included in the kit - it seemed like it would be an exercise in sheer stupidity to just settle on one loadout and consign the rest of the parts to the bits box. Anyway - I have already gone into the magnetisation before here -
and I did a catchup post as to what stage the Knight is at now here -

As I mentioned before I'm sure, while I love the 40K, and do stick to it pretty tightly when painting, I also really like to make what I'm painting my own. Thankfully within the 40K 'verse it is very easy to do this. The established Knight Houses and various Forgeworlds are all very good and come with gorgeous colour schemes, iconography and fluff but I wanted to make my own. There are numerous minor Forgeworlds out there which don't get mentioned so coming up with your own is no problem at all and so Achlys Tertius was born. As to the Knights - there is mention in the fluff of the 'Freeblades' - Knight engines and their pilots that have left their respective houses and decided to take to the battles in their own way. Some are cast out for one reason or another, others are lone survivors of planets destroyed, overrun or whathaveyou. Perfect said I!!! My shiny new grey Knight would be a Freeeblade. In that way I had full scope to design his livery, heraldry and own backstory. And so the noble pilot Sarpedon and his towering engine 'Orphan's Wrath' were born!

Now, with that ramble out of the way - on to the purpose and real focus of this post. Marble!
When thinking about and coming up with a colour scheme and livery for 'Orphan's Wrath' I decided on blue (to link with the colour scheme of the Forgeworld Achlys III) and a creamy light beige as I love those to colours used in unison. As the fluff, names and ideas for a backstory for Sarpedon started to form up - it started to borrow from ancient Greek mythology somewhat (not surprising considering my Unversity background) and I decided the cream panels should be done in some sort of marble effect. First thing look at pictures of marble......LOTS of pictures of marble!! Marble is so diverse in type, pattern, colour, makeup and so on you really need to settle on what look you are going for. These are some of the ones that I decided on as the type of thing I was going for
It's a really good idea to assemble a number of examples together and if possible print them out in colour to have on hand for reference while painting.

Now, finding good (any really) marble effect tutorials across the Internet is a lot harder than you'd think. Incredibly hard as it turned out. So after reading what few tip bits I could find I decided to give it a go. Rather nervously I started on 'Orphan's Wrath''s face mask and cowl as a test. Things turned out well and I came up with a method which I was happy with. Of course when I did the initial group of armour plates and weapon shields in this marble effect I didn't think to either write done the recipe, nor the paints I used, nor did I take that many photos. Something that had me swearing a lot last weekend when I went to paint the 2nd load of plates and such and suddenly realised I couldn't remember exactly what paints I'd used not what steps I'd taken. After a few hours of staring at what WiP photos I had, the already finished first batch of plates and a lot of thinking, I managed to piece it together.

This time, I took WiP photos......a lot.!!!!! And also wrote down (and phto'd) the paints used and steps involved!

Ok - so here we go. There are a lot of pics ahead and some 9ish steps but I'll try and go through the whole process in as much detail of what I do as possible.......with lots of pics!!!!!

Marble Paint Palette
I use all Citadel paints but am pretty sure there are equiv. colours in the P3, Val or whatever ranges. It's a pretty limited palette but gives a good range and if you look at the above examples of marble, you can see that marble also has quite a limited palette but a wide tonal variance. I used Ushabti Bone (base colour), Ratskin Flesh (nice orangey tone for the veins, swirls, streaks whathave you into the basecolour), Rhinox Hide (warm, deep brown for deeper edges of the fracture lines and impurities), my old favourite Pallid Wych (I usually use this for lightening warm colours instead of white, here I used it for...well, you'll see), Agrax Earthshade (the master shade! Used here for as a filter and glaze) and finally Seraphim Sepia (used not for shading here but for tracing on the fracture lines) and finally you'll need a mechanical pencil with a light hard lead, 2H or above will do, nothing soft, it leaves too dark a line. Brushes - I used 5. My workhorse - the Winsor & Newton Series 7 #1 brush, the Citadel chisel brush....aka the Large Base brush from their new range (if you don't have this brush...get it. It's a seriously great tool for large open flat spaces) 2 cheap korean brushes - soft, loose bristled watercolour brushes, both size 8, one flat and one round and finally the medium and large Citadel drybrushes, mostly the large one.

White Primed
These are the pieces I'll be doing for this step by step. They're the final batch of bits that need their marble for 'Orphan's Wrath'. Nice variety of big open panels like the pauldrons and down to smaller tighter areas like on the gun shields. The areas for the marble have been primed with the old Citadel White spray which for once behaved itself and didn't give a gritty finish.

Basecoat - 3/4 layers of superthin Usabti Bone
Step 1- Basecoat time - I based with UB using the chisel brush. Great brush and gives a really nice almost brushmark free coat as the bristles are quite densely and neatly packed. You must thin the paint down ever more than usual. Actually this whole marble method uses really really thinned down paint. The UB was thined down to the consistency of milk and then the pieces were given about 4 coats. End result is a lovely thin and streak/brushstroke free basecoat. 4 layers just for a basecoat may seem a lot to some but as you can see from the rivets still poping out, you lose no detail this way.

Basecoat of UB and streaking colour RF
Step 2 - Streaking! Once the basecoat is totally dry, cured whatever - time to have fun! Thin the basecoat some more. Milk consistency at the very thickest - it should be more like a creamy glaze than a layer for the steaking. You can see from the photo how thin it is on the brush. That brush is fully loaded yet you can still see the colour of the bristles a bit. Sorry, should have mentioned - the UB is thinned with 50/50 water and Lahmian Medium. This next stage is wet-in-wet so you need the medium so the paint won't dry too quickly and still retain satuaration even when so thin.
Anyways - first paint on a thin layer of UB and while that's wet, add some Ratskin Flesh to the tip of a UB loaded chisel brush. NOT so loaded that the fething stuff is dripping all over the place mind!! Just like in the above pic. Only a little RF on the very tip of the brush.

Wet-in-wet streaking
Draw the brush across the still wet UB layer. Quickly wash out the brush, dip in your watery UB and draw across the edges of the streak. Just the once really. The big thing here is to not overwork the streak. Otherwise it'll just mix into the basecoat and you'll lose the nice streak. What you're aiming for you can see in the pic above and then dried below.

Wet-in-wet streaking
The most important thing here is letting the streaks melt slightly into the basecoat colour but still retaining some of their definition. That make sense ok?!

Sponging with a basecoat and RH mix and then washing
Step 3 - The first of the stressy steps. Adding some impurities. Marble often has odd mineral impurities which give it part of its distinctive look. I went for a warm brown colour for this as it fits in well with the colour palette we've already put down. I did try black and red as well but they just didnt look right. Anyway - tools to use - torn up sponge and a soft loose bristled large flat brush. Not a tight dense brush as they are too stiff and won't wash the paint off so much as scrub it off.

Sponging done
First up load the Dip the sponge in some nice thinned UB and then into some unthinned Rhinox Hide. Dab on some kitchen towel to get some of the excess paint off and to ever so slightly mix the two colours. Dab the sponge a little more heavily than you would if you were using a sponge to show chipping/weathering. You'll get some nice splotches and patterns. Let them dry just a little (I just counted to 10) and then with your water brush, wash across the panel in the direction of the streaks to remove the excess paint.

First filter - AE watered down
Step 4 - Next I add a filter to bring all I've done so far together a little. Step forward Agrax Earthshade! For a filter we wnat this watered right down - I think I went about 1 part AE to 3/4 parts water. Give what you've done so far a nice thin wash of the AE but don't go all floody floody on it. The AE here is being used not to show depth or shade any recesses but simply as a homogenising filter......or is it glaze....??? Meh - whatever - you get the idea

Pencil on the veins
Step 5 - Time to get those lovely distinct marble lines on. Before you do this - STOP!! Go look at some pictures of marble over a nice cuppa for 10 minutes. Look at the way the lines in marble work, how they grow and travel. They roughly go in the same direction as the streaks and grow like roots. They never just stop dead but keep going - connecting and intersecting with each other. With all that in mind - use the mechanical pencil to lightly draw the lines; see the way they travel around and almost frame some to the darker streaks at times? Do that. Pay attention to that lovely base scheme you now have in place. And relax - let the lines grow and develop. If you fuck of the pencil...there's an eraser :)

Painting the veins with SS
Step 6 - Over halfway there. Out comes the W&N. I used a #1 as it holds more shade but still has a really fine point. Using a fine tipped brush, trace over all the pencil lines with Seraphim Sepia.You may need to go over some lines twice but don't make them too too dark.

Veins then strengthened at intersections and the edges with SS + RH
Once that is done and dry, mix some Rhinox Hide with SS to thin it down and where the lines intersect, at the edges of the piece you're marbling and where the lines are hard to see due to a deeper base area go over them again with this RH/SS mix to deepen and strenghten the lines and give a tonal variety. As you can see from the real marble pics above, these lines in the marble vary greatly in depth and strength so you want to include this element into your effect too. The above is where you should be now. This is a very strong look and you could stop at this stage but I wanted a slightly softer more subtle effect so onto that.....

Powderbrushing time
Step 7 - Ok. Stressy Step #2. To tone the whole thing down I tried using a white (well Pallid Wych) glaze....nope. Did not work at all. So I thought about drybrushing. This step is not so much drybrushing as ....powderbrushing I call it.

Dryer than drybrushing.
Load up a medium or better still a large drybrush and really pound away on some kitchen towel. The paint needs to be way dryer than you would normaly have it when drybrishing some details on a fig. I test it out on my hand to see if it's dry enough and powdery enough yet. Drybrushing usually is picking out raised details but here there are no raised details. The powderbrushing is to basically add another layer which tones down and softens the marble while letting some of the streaking adn veins show through.

Lightly lightly
Really dry that paint out and work in into the bristles so it will brush off in more of a powder form than a paint if you get my drift. Brush quickly but lightly (think of some one putting that powdery makeup know the stuff they dust on with a big brush......ah -whatever it's called, you get the point.....BLUSHER.....that's the stuff.....anyway) keep lightly dusting and brushing over the surface and as you can see above thats the effect you're looking for. As you do this there should be paint dust flying off the piece. No's not dry enough and as it is a flat surface you end up getting nasty streaks which you really don't want.

I said LIGHTLY!!!

After letting the powderbrushing dry totally - steal the wife's makeup brush!
So, with all the powderbrushing done. Go make another cup of coffee and let the powder totally cure. I left it for about an hour just to be totally sure. The gently brush everything with a clean makeup brush like above. You want the longest, softest bristled brush you can find. Brush everyhting to get rid of any loose paint particles. You need everything cured and clean for .....

Final glaze/filter
Step 8 - Final glaze. 1 part AE, and equal parts lahmian and water. Should be thin enough to add light tint to the overall mable, deepen the edges but not make everything dark again. The glaze will also seal the powderbrushing in.

Step 9 - Final step, nearly there - waheey!!! Mix equal parts(ish) RH, SS and water for a final line/vein touchup. Go back over any of the lines that have faded too much or that you want to emphasise a little more. Don't overdo these accents though. Keep the mix light and don't do too many. The photo above actually makes them look way darker then they really are.

And there we go. Done. I went with a nice twilight blue as the opposing colour on the pauldrons and tilting shield here to complement the soft cream marble. Well, I hope that that a) made sense to folk and b) will be of some use to others. Any questions, comments etc please do hit me up in the comments below.

Happy marbling

Jan :)

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