Wednesday 14 May 2014

How To Paint White Robes

Many painters struggle with painting white, I know I did for many years. The traditional method is to start with grey or blue and layer up from there, adding more and more white to your highlight colour. It works, but it's not easy to do and it takes a long time. I reckon much of the problem stems from the old system of priming black and working up from there. If you start with the white, then shade, then re-highlight, it's much easier, much quicker and thus highly suited to painting an army. Here's the recipe I have settled on for my relaunched elf army. As you read through the guide, click to enlarge the images. White is a subtle colour and you need to view the pictures at full size to understand the text.

First I primed the unit with a white spray primer. I used Halfords car primer, available in the UK, there must be similar around the world. Any bits I missed got a little splodge of brush on white surface primer by Vallejo. When the white primer was dry, I glazed thinly over the whole model with this dark grey colour. I am aiming for a cool, clean white. If you wanted a warmer, creamy white you would use a mid brown or tan at this stage.

Once the shade colour is fully dry, it's time to bring the white back. I simply drybrushed these models, first with a light grey, then with a white. Now I realise that many will be shocked here, surely drybrushing is what you do when you are a complete beginner before you progress on to layering and other "proper" techniques? Maybe that's true for some, for me it's a question of using the tools and techniques at my disposal. Drybrushing is quick and easy and really picks out the raised areas that require highlighting, especially on these old metal figures, though I suspect the new plastics would yield just as good results. Yes, the finish is chalky, but that will be fixed in the next step.

The final step is a glaze. This removes the chalkiness of the drybrushing and really whitens the white. I applied a white glaze over all the model to remove most of the chalky effect. When that was dry, I added a more specific glaze highlight, on just the raised areas, or the areas that were extra chalky and messy. It gives a nice, smooth highlight and really does not take much time. In fact, the whole unit of 10 archers I primed and got to this stage in about 2 hours, which for me is a good, fast result.

There's still a long way to go on this unit, but the tricky white robes are now done. The white primer and wash will serve me in other ways too. It acts as a guide for where the light and shade is. It also acts as an under colour for some of the details. I should be able to complete many other areas with a thin base coat and a glaze or two. I never thought I would be able to speed paint elves, with all the details they have, but this is a promising start.


JimmyGrill said...

Wow, very impressive results. It just shows, again, that speed painting is really only a matter of technique.

Personally, I never was a subscriber of High Elves being white and all that, but certainly a promising start here.

Stygianheart said...

Very nice. I'd been discussing painting white with some friends, but I didn't have an example to show.
Now I've just sent them a link to this which does a better job of what explaining I was talking about.

Nord said...

Cheers guys. On the white elf thing, my other armies are all grimdark, so I'm happy to go with clean and white, makes a nice change.

Dazza36 said...

very impressive. Could you just explain your method for doing glazes. Do you use a name brand glaze or do you have your own recipe

Nord said...

My own recipe, which is paint, a few drops of matt varnish, and water.

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