Painting: Grey Knights Part 2: Highlights  

Posted by Michael Hogan in , , ,

Hello everyone! Sorry for being late with this post, as my blog decided to explode overnight. You probably didn't notice, but all of my images broke, again. This has been the third time. So I tried hosting all of the images to blogger (again), and all of them worked... except one. Whatever. Good enough for me. Anyhizzle Anyways, onto the real post.

What you will need:
Mithril Silver
An old brush for drybrushing
A highlight brush

I'll go over the idea of drybrushing first. The concept is quite simple. You have a brush which is very dry of paint, meaning you have only chalky paint left on the brush, and then you lightly brush over the model on the desired areas, so that the edges barely catch the blade and take on the new paint. At first, when gently brushing your model, you might not see anything. If you look very closely or brush over the same area multiple times, you will finally notice a large difference. Before you touch the model with the brush, though, make sure you have taken enough off. I usually rub the brush on a napkin until I see near nothing and then test it on my thumb. If I barely see it or it looks like it immediately has dried, that is good. Here you can see my napkin just after I brush off some chainmail.

Generally, you want to stroke the brush over the model in one direction, often from the top to the bottom. You won't be going from the models head to foot, but small areas at a time. I'll draw a small picture.
You would only be highlighting that area, and then you would move onto the next.

I should warn you that some brushes will be killing quickly doing this method. Therefore, you should use a brush made for this technique (Games Workshop sells one) or use an old brush that is already damaged. I used my wash brush my last time, obviously after rinsing it out heavily and drying it off.

Now, grab your brush, dip it in some chainmail, brush off majority of the paint, and swipe at your model. Try not to go up and down over the same area, instead go down, move the brush back and then back to the top and back down, if that makes sense. That way, your brush is hitting the same points each way and has a "zenith" lighting.  Zenith generally means from the highest point going straight down. So the light would only catch the higher areas that aren't shadowed by others, something drybrushing often achieves. So you want to go over all of the silver areas with this drybrushing method, not worrying all too much about the iconography and black sections between armor sections, we can always paint over these later

After giving your Knight a nice glint of the brighter chainmail, he should start having some basic shading to him. It will be darker in the recesses due to the Badab black and lighter on the edges due to chainmail. In between is a slightly darkened Boltgun metal. If you feel your shades aren't dark enough, you can apply Badab black exclusively to these areas or water down Chaos Black. I've done a 1:7 Chaos Black:Water ratio to achieve a darker recess that reflects less light, doing many layers in the darkest regions and less in the others. This is probably a bit much for a newer painter, so you can simply apply Badab black to the areas that should be darkest. It shouldn't be too tough to tell where this is, but I often do it on the lowest portion of the ceramite collar and off to the sides of the armor, where the arms overlap and where the purity seals generally are located.

After drybrushing, my Knight looked like this (I apologize for the poor photo, it was tough to not flood the mini with light in my current setup and still have it be bright enough to see the highlights)

I hope you can pick out some areas that picked up drybrushing better than others. By the chest, the book that will be gold got hit by a bit, but so did the areas just around that. The top of the color has a nice chainmail glint to it, as does the area around and just above the eyes. You can definitely see the top of the helmet has a much brighter lip on the crest, looking very natural. Not the best drybrushing I've done, but it is pretty quick and usually looks nice.

Before I go over some hard-edge highlights, I want to scribble over a picture of my Knight with some pro-paint skills. When you look at 'Eavy Metal painted models or top notch painted Grey Knights, you can see some general themes where the model looks brightest.

Now, I'm no John Madden with scribbling, so please, don't mock me. Here is my best effort to pick up some "bright spots" on Grey Knights.
Now, I'm calling this hard edging, but it really isn't. This is a bit more advanced than that. In hard-edging, you just go over pretty much every edge of armor with a thin line of a highlight. While this works well, especially for Space Marines, it generally doesn't look fantastic for metallics. So, you are going to have to put some paints that reflect more light and are lighter themselves where you need it to be bright. I gave pretty much all of the areas that "glow" on most beautifully painted models in the codex (which I envy oh so much), but most of them were covered by drybrushing or the natural lighting of your surroundings. So, when it comes to doing this final highlight, I generally only pick out a couple spots.

Before you start painting, you need a nice thing brush.
That is mine, an Army Painter Wargamer: Detail brush. Ignore the painted shoulder pad and purity seal wax, I took this picture much later in painting.

Now that you have your brush, you need to know where to put it. When I do highlights, I often use Mithril Silver on three main places. First, I highlight the head. Just below the eyes, where the two eyes and the "jaw" looking part of the power armor meet, and just above the eyes. Next I move onto the chest. I do just around the book iconography and curve up to just below the runic part of the armor and up on the tip of the collar. I occasionally also do below the usual area on the opposite side of the runes, like in the picture above with the red markings. Lastly, I do small highlights on the legs. On the lower leg, I put thin lines along the edge of the top and on the leg which is facing front (if you put your Grey Knight in its most natural looking pose, generally where the Storm Bolter or face points, the closer of the two legs I paint. If they are both about equal, I will do this on both of them) I lightly draw out a triangle like shape from the top edge and bring it down the leg a bit, just like in the picture in red. I usually don't go down quite that far, but this is all personal preference.

In order to paint these areas, I dip my brush in Mithril Silver so that the very tip and the edges are the only parts with paint. When painting the areas just above the eyes or on top of the leg, I generally use the side, as the "hard-edge" is easy to follow and gives a nice looking highlight. When the surface is more smooth and near areas I don't want to highlight, I will usually use the tip as I need a bit more precision. It is a bit confusing to describe, but use the "flat part" of the brush on the edge when you can but otherwise use the tip. Oh, and be sure to wipe a bit of paint from the brush before painting, you don't want this to go on as thick. I will usually draw a line on my thumbnail, and if it seems alright I'll move to painting the model (instead of making myself look like a pretty girl). After covering the areas I wanted to, my model looked like this:

Generally I would use more highlights, but I just wanted to do the very basics. If you are getting a bit more advanced, try watering down your Mithril Silver a bit and lightly applying it to the areas you want in layers. You can get much more dynamic highlights this way. If you want to get the highlights a bit stronger, just pay attention to the red areas in that picture above and it should hopefully look natural. Just flip through some pictures in the codex and online to try and find one of the particular pose you are painting if you aren't sure, that will hopefully give some good ideas.

I hope you find he is coming along nicely. Not the best I've painted, but he doesn't look too bad for the time I put into him. And trust me, even the newest painter can replica this.

As always, concerns and questions can go into the comments, I do my best to answer anything that is asked. Any recommendations are always appreciated.
Next up I'll be showing you how to paint the accessories and gold trim. I'll be using Devlan Mud, Shining Gold, Mechrite Red, Graveyard Earth/Calthan Brown/Khemri Brown (they all work), Blood Red, and Dheneb Stone/Bleached Bone.
Thanks for reading and following,

This entry was posted on Thursday, October 14, 2010 at Thursday, October 14, 2010 and is filed under , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .



October 14, 2010 at 7:52 PM

He's spot on on painting metallics.

If you do decide to do the shine effect (highly recommended) but are still having a tough time finding the areas to highlight lighter colors, turn the lights down low then shine a really bright lamp on the model from where you want the lighting to come from. It will become very clear where to highlight. And if you hold a painted model away from the light, it should look somewhat similar to the one the actual light is coming off of.

If you use a similar height light for different models it gives the army a consistency to it. Advanced painters can eyeball this, but for poor painters like me that need to take a lot of time and prep to get models looking decent, it helps.

November 4, 2010 at 10:32 PM

I've tried this once or twice and it really does help. I recommend you even take a picture of it so you have something to refer to, even if it is on a small cell phone screen.

November 6, 2010 at 12:56 PM

You can also try a light wash before high lighting, it makes it stand out more and generally flattens everything else down.

I'd also say you always drybrush so as not to get the brush into the crevices (deep areas) rather than in a simple direction. This means it can vary from area to area and will yeild a better result.

Another trick to getting good highlighting is using a darker colour as your base, say boltgun metal.

Also if your hosting images, try and do it via your own blog, there should be a images folder (or make one in the root folder) and put everything in there. Then use direct linking. It does use your bandwidth but they won't go anywhere unless you delete them.

November 6, 2010 at 11:52 PM

Well, the issue was that some of the images scale oddly when I host them on Blogspot. I don't know why, but I'll try to solve it eventually. Hopefully it won't be an issue for a while.

November 7, 2010 at 12:08 AM

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