Old dog, new tricks

As I work on these new Marines, the first 40K minis I have painted in almost 20 years, I’m realizing how much my painting style has changed. The realization came about when I tried to incorporate some of master minis painter Finn Kisch’s advice into my technique. I should say I totally understand what he suggested, but actually doing it turned out to be harder for me than I thought. Finn uses a layering technique I think, one that gives very nice results when executed properly (especially by him!).

This made me think about my own technique – what is it actually? I never really thought much about it, I just did it, but what do I actually do? Looking at the Space Marine models I painted back in 1991, and the ones I painted just last week, I can see what I did then and what I do now.

So, to compare, here’s one of the Marines I did in 1991.

Way back then, I primed white…with a brush. Why didn’t I spray? I don’t know. At that point I had been painting minis (with any amount of technique) for about 4 years, and I always primed white. Anyway, I then basecoated and as I recall, I liked to use washes a lot, followed by drybrushing. I did that on this Marine here. As you can see, there’s not a lot of depth or detail. I did not blackline or do edge highlights that didn’t get on there from the drybrushing.

I also liked to do a lot of wet blending, which you can see if you go back and look at my Epic scale minis, particularly the Titans. Didn’t do any blending on this Marine though. I had also not discovered inks.

Somewhere down the line, I switched to priming black using a spray. I still used washes but not as much, and started using inks more (especially after I received a Citadel Mega Paint Set as a present around 10 years ago- yay). That led me to use blacklining, which some say is outdated, but I like the look of it. I won’t use it for everything but for hard surfaces like armor, it works for me. Still drybrushing for highlights but not as much (I really used it a lot in the past). I also began using thinner basecoats and doing more layers and edge highlighting. That’s pretty much the style I’ve used up until recently, like on this Cybertech Bunkerbreaker:

I think I started blacklining things maybe five years ago. Again on this one, not a lot of edge highlights, and I don’t do wet blending anymore.

So, I got those Marines and had a chat with Finn and tried to apply some of the techniques he laid on me, and some that I’d been dabbling with but not really gone whole hog on yet, namely layering and shading with different colors, and hard edge highlighting.

Obviously, I still need lots of practice. Layering with multiple colors is gonna take me some time to get right. I also tried the highlighting to a degree I haven’t done before. I know it’s not an advanced technique, but for some reason I hesitate to really work it. I also need to get better at figuring out the lighting angles. Anyway, I do like the way this Marine came out:

So, interesting to see how my painting style has changed over the years. As a side note, it’s also interesting to see how the Space Marine minis have evolved – they really are better and more detailed than the old ones, IMHO.

One Response to “Old dog, new tricks”

  1. Chris R Says:

    Damn Mike, I’ve always thought you were a good painter but you stepped up the game on that. Nice subtle highlighting on the marine. More pics!

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