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Marked_by_Chaos (aka James) back with part 3 of my coverage of the “Enter the Citadel” event on July 12. Alongside the Q&A sessions there were a variety of hobby seminars throughout the day. These included hobby team sessions focused on projects tying in with Apocalypse and the recent Eldar release. I did not attend these due to clashes with some of the Q&A sessions. However, I did make time to catch the ‘Eavy Metal Masterclass presented by Joe Tomaszewski and later also caught up with Dave Heathfield to quiz him for tips at the ‘Eavy Metal stand in the main gaming hall.

‘Eavy Metal Seminar – Painting the Eldar Farseer

The main thrust of the seminar was Joe demonstrating how to paint the red robes on the new Eldar Farseer. However, he also imparted a wealth of other tips that I am sure you will all find of interest.

Eldar Farseer © Games Workshop 2000 – 2013. All rights reserved. Used without permission.

Painting the red robes

Strictly speaking the basic recipe for the red robes was as follows (from shades to highlights) :

1. Khorne Red and small amount of Abbadon Black

2. Khorne Red

3. Khorne Red and Mephiston Red

4. Mephiston Red

5. Evil Suns Scarlet

6. Wild Rider Red

7. Troll Slayer Orange

8. Fire Dragon Bright

9. Yellow

10. Yellow and white

11. Yellow glaze

12. White

However, there was a twist. The base colour was Evil Suns Scarlet.

After a nice smooth basecoat (in thin layers if necessary to build it up) over a black undercoat, the other shades were applied in thin layers to gradually build up the shading and highlights (think milk like consistency).

One of the key points for painting the ‘Eavy Metal style is to use nice smooth thin layers. Do not clog up the model with overly thick paint. People may be discouraged by thinking this will make painting a long drawn out process. However, Joe came armed with a cheap hairdryer to speed up the drying process and was making fairly rapid progress throughout.

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After the initial base coat stage, Joe carefully shaded the recesses in the robes in a succession of thin and increasingly selective layers/glazes down to “stage 1” above.

When painting red Joe was keen to demonstrate, by reference to a brilliant red t-shirt in the audience, that for a realistic red or other vibrant colours (yellow being a prime example) you need to preserve the base coat or predominant colour and should not make the contrasts in the shading or highlighting too pronounced. Naturally, the bigger proportion of a red area that is highlighted or shaded, the less red the area will be.

If you are going for brilliant, vibrant colours, use the more vibrant shades for both highlights and shades. Otherwise you will create a muddy effect. For example do not use Squig Orange as a highlight stage for a vibrant red or an olive type green when you are seeking a vibrant green.

When mixing in a tiny spot of black to stage 1 Joe was very careful to avoid adding too much and creating a muddy finish to the recesses. Simply adding black to colours to darken a mix may create a horrible muddy effect and you may need to consider using other colours to shade. For example, previous published ‘Eavy Metal Masterclasses have used blue or green to shade red.

Similarly, using too much white in a mix to highlight can create an unwanted pastel effect, such as creating pink when you are trying to highlight red.

Eldar Farseer © Games Workshop 2000 – 2013. All rights reserved. Used without permission.

Because the glaze type layers are thin you can blend to a degree if it assists to tie together the stages, however Joe was not using “wet blending” per se. Instead Joe was mainly blending the colours through a succession of thin layers and feathering.

So long as you keep the paint thin, the more stages used the better the finish will generally be, as the transitions will be smoother. If you want a great finish do not be afraid to invest a bit more time.

If you go too far with a layer you can simply tidy up again with a re-application of a previous stage, either to tone up shading or tone down highlights. Joe was keen to emphasise that although the ‘Eavy Metal team may broadly have a recipe in mind you need to use your intuition as you go along. If you use a wet pallet this process is made somewhat easier.

After building up to a very selective use of orange/yellow highlights Joe used a selective yellow glaze to bring together the orange/yellow highlights and add to the vibrancy. The final layer was a very selective white highlight on only the most pronounced areas that would catch the light. This stage can use a thicker consistency of paint as not only will that allow a greater level of control but it will also make the finish less washed out than a more diluted final layer. This is particularly true given that heavily thinned white can leave a cloudy/chalky finish.

Brush control

Brush control is very important if you want to achieve an ‘Eavy Metal quality finish. Firstly, you need to ensure that you control the shape of the brush and that you maintain a nice defined point.

Secondly, you need to ensure that you do not overload the brush, particularly when you are using the thinned layers required for the ‘Eavy Metal finish. You don’t want to flood the area with excess paint.

Joe has developed a technique of rolling his brush after loading up with paint that simultaneously achieves both of these goals.

Thirdly, in terms of brush strokes themselves, less is more. You can always add more brush strokes if necessary. For the darker shades and lighter highlights in particular care should be taken not to overdo it. Stop to think about the application of the brush strokes and take your time for the more decisive stages in particular. It is easier to add more brush strokes and paint as required than it is to undo an error caused by over eager application of paint, particularly with the later highlight stages as you may need to re-do the entire underlying build up of shading and highlights on the area.

Although the ‘Eavy Metal team use a deliberately exaggerated style to showcase Citadel Miniatures, they will still refer to reference material. When shading and highlighting it never hurts to have a look round and think how shading and highlighting occurs naturally on objects in everyday life. Squinting can make this easier to notice.

Base coat choices

For many areas, as with the Farseer’s robes, you are better off starting with a relatively light base coat. After all it is easier to shade down an area than to convincingly build up lighter colours over a darker base. Further, you will then need to paint fewer time consuming layers and the end result will be at least as good, particularly since you will have avoided accumulating a thicker layer of paint on the model.

Joe mentioned his recipe for painting Orcs (or Orks) as an example. He typically starts from a pale green base and then glazes down in successive layers, before adding highlights as appropriate.

Savage Orc Big Boss © Games Workshop 2000 – 2013. All rights reserved. Used without permission.

Washing vs Glazing/blending

You need to use your intuition depending upon the model and its textures. The Farseer is a good example of this . The robes are too smooth to warrant the use of washes, which require a subtler and more controlled effect. Naturally, washes also require a certain texture to an area or they will not pool in the recesses to create the desired shading effect.

As a general rule it appears that the ‘Eavy Metal team will err on the side of using glazes/controlled layer shading rather than washes, however the they will still use washes provided that they can retain the required degree of control.

Undercoat choices

This is very much a matter of preference and a white undercoat can assist with more vibrant colours. However, Joe confirmed that he generally uses a black undercoat and has no problems, particularly given the increased pigmentation of the paints.

Tips from Dave Heathfield

Dave reinforced Joe’s point about brush control and maintaining the shape and point of the brush if you want to achieve the level of control required to paint an ‘Eavy Metal quality finish. To achieve this you also need to ensure that you do not get any paint in the ferrule (the metal band of the brush that pins the bristles together).

Types of brush stroke

Dave reinforced Joe’s point concerning really thinking about the brush strokes used, especially for highlights. Less is often more. However, don’t just think about the number or positioning of stokes but the way of applying the paint. Don’t overload the brush. Also with clever application you can make life much easier. A simple example is using the side of the tip of the brush to apply edge highlights. Just make sure that you keep the shape of the brush intact.

Blending/feathering rather than wet blending

Dave was using a wet pallet while I was quizzing him, however he was not using wet blending. While that can be a fantastic approach, that is often adopted by competition painters, it is also a really time consuming process and while ‘Eavy Metal painter may produce a great finish they are also working to deadlines.

Careful blending is required but this is typically by way of using thin paint in layers and also feathering the paint as necessary. I remember reading a painting guide produced by Mike McVey back in the day and he advocated keeping a separate damp brush on hand to aid with this feathering process.


Considering the degree to which the ‘Eavy metal team thin down the standard acrylic paints I was very interested to ask how they go about painting with metallics. In particular how they go about blending or layering given the different properties of the metallic paints.

Dave suggested that they tend to use glazes rather than layering or blending.

Essentially for a standard steel/iron type metal they might use a slightly watered down, smooth base coat of a medium to light metallic shade such as chainmail (the new equivalent being Ironbreaker) and then carefully shade down the area using controlled glazes.

This gives much greater control and avoids building up thick and clumpy layers of metallics. You can then always add discrete highlights with a brighter metallic shade as appropriate.

Hues and shades

Conscious of previous ‘Eavy Metal guides, I was interested to know how much the ‘Eavy Metal team play around with adding hues of different colours to miniatures, particularly for shading and adding nuance to models  i.e. using blue or green to shade red.

Broadly speaking they don’t mess around excessively, particularly for rank and file type models. However, they may play around a bit more with character and centrepiece models. In particular they will use careful applications of glazes on prominent features such as faces. Dave showed me and example of this with an Ork Boy that he was painting where he had used some very discrete glazes of purple around the eyes for shading.

If you are using hues of different colours to give the model greater nuance, think about the colour wheel. Colours that are opposites on the colour wheel are particularly appropriate and will naturally excite the eye. This is because the colours opposing each other on the colour wheel have the most contrast, and are hence known as contrasting colours (or complimentary colours). This is particularly useful when shading.

This is not to say that adding black or white may not be appropriate, it just creates a different effect. By using contrasting colours you may also help to avoid creating the muddying or pastel effects that can result from adding black or white to a mix for shades or highlights.

If you want a more traditional effect you can use colours that are adjacent on the colour wheel for shading and highlights, such as highlighting red with orange and then yellow. These are known as analogous colours. In a sense they are “safer” colours, but will not excite the eye to the same degree as contrasting colours.

A further factor to consider is the use of cool and warm colours. Colours at the blue/purple end of the colour spectrum tend to be “cool” colours that are more serene and calming and don’t excite the eye too much.

Colours at the red/orange end of the colour spectrum tend to be “warm” colours and are more exciting to the eye. Cool colours are often better for shading and warm colours can sometimes be more effective for highlighting. This is not a hard and fast rule but can be of assistance in colour selection.

If you don’t have a copy of the colour wheel in your painting area it is well worth getting hold of a copy, especially a more advanced one that shows the effect of adding black and white to a colour. Once you understand the colour wheel and its significance (and there are some great articles online) it can really inform your choice of colour schemes and colour placement on models. Even if you don’t want to fiddle around with the use of colour theory too much, it is of great assistance when selecting colours for a broader army wide colour scheme.

Dave showed me a great example of colour theory and the use of different hues for shading by reference to the new Illic Nightspear model in the ‘Eavy Metal cabinet. I believe that this is one of the models painted by Dave and it is something of a master-class in colour selection.

Eldar Illic Nightspear © Games Workshop 2000 – 2013. All rights reserved. Used without permission.

If you look at the face and mask, you will see that this is shaded using purple glazes. The recesses on the yellow mask have been defined with a marked but not overpowering application of purple shading. The recesses directly above the mask, under the cheekbones, have also been shaded with a slightly darker purple. The reason why this works so well is that yellow and purple are contrasting colours. The darker shade above the eyes also helps to define the boundary between the mask and face, which are otherwise similar shades/tones.

You can also see colour theory in action in Dave’s broader choice of colours on the Illic model. The model is defined by a contrast between purple/dark blue on one side of the colour wheel and yellow/ivory on the other. The other colours used are broadly neutral, in the browns and greys used in the cloth and the hair. However, if you look closely you can see that purple, blue and yellow have been carefully mixed in to the highlights and shades on those areas also, which really ties the model together.

Eldar Illic Nightspear © Games Workshop 2000 – 2013. All rights reserved. Used without permission.

There is also great use of internal contrast on many of the areas to really make them pop. For example, the metallics have been painted in golds or bronzes which are analogous to yellow, but the inset gems have been picked out in purple to provide contrast. Similarly, the gun, golden canisters and scenic base have been discretely shaded with glazes that incorporate a purple hue.

Lahmian Medium

Given Games Workshop’s peculiar reluctance to explain what exactly Lahmian Medium is or what it can be used for I was interested to ask Dave how he used it.

He let me know some interesting tips and tricks that I am interested to try out at the earliest opportunity.

Firstly, he uses it with the new washes. I mentioned that the new washes stain the surface areas to a greater degree than the older washes such as the much loved Devlan Mud. This was demonstrated by a great article on Tale of Painters comparing the old and new washes and showcasing their varying effects.

Dave adds Lahmian Medium to the new washes and apparently it helps the wash to flow into and cling to the recesses, leaving less staining on the surface area.

Another advantage when using this approach is that the wash apparently becomes slightly thicker allowing you to tease the wash from the recesses to create different effects, presumably including softening the transition to the shading in the recesses.

Lahmian Medium is also a good medium for thinning the paint as the addition of Lahmian Medium can create a smoother blend than simply adding water. You will note that Garfy is a big advocate of this approach from his excellent stage by stage tutorials. I have read elsewhere that acrylic paint thinners, such as for use with airbrushes, are also understandably good for this. Try an experiment at home. If you thin down one of the brighter new paints with water and compare to one thinned with the addition of Lahmian Medium, you will note that the mix thinned only with water will be a little cloudier, whereas the Lahmian mix will be smoother and there will be less separation of the pigment and base.

A further use for Lahmian Medium is in the application of transfers, as a covering layer to the area. This is because it is thin and won’t clog up the finish in the same way as multiple layers of varnish, but will help to kill off the high gloss of the transfer sheet and tie in the transfer. Dave showed me an example of this with some of the new Wraithguard models. The symbols on the heads and loincloths have been applied using transfers. Lahmian Medium was then applied and they have subsequently been touched up slightly to tie them in.

Sadly that is the extent of my notes from the ‘Eavy Metal team. Stay tuned for the final instalment of my review of Enter the Citadel, concerning the Studio Art Team and the great John Blanche. Also check out part 1 and part 2 of my report about the seminars with the miniature designers and my notes from the ‘Eavy Metal Masterclass back in 2012 here and here.

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