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Adding Blood Effects To Miniatures

Miniature painting market has undergone significant changes in the past few decades. Right now, a wide variety of genres and models are available to suit everyone’s interests. We can choose between historical, fantasy, contemporary and futuristic subjects. Still, quite a lot of our miniatures and figures are warrior types. Many of them are depicted in poses, suggesting that they are in the midst of a fight or right after. This brings us to the topic of this article, which is blood on miniatures.

This article is a heavily remastered repost from my old blog Twistedbrushes.

Let’s talk about creating realistic-looking blood and gore for your projects to add more realism and dramatic flare.
To illustrate my thought process, I will use two of my miniatures that are heavily covered in blood.
The first will be Menhom the Dark Shadow from Andrea Miniatures. The second one is Templar Knight from Pegaso Models.
This article will be a combination of a short step-by-step and a more theoretical approach.

First, let’s look at how to create a blood-like substance that we can use later on the model. 
I guess there are a number of paints and products you can use to make blood. As always, I worked with what I had at hand.
For this project, I used a mixture of:

  • Tamiya Clear Red (X-27),
  • Nuln Oil – old Badab black – (GW wash),
  • Druhii Violet – old Leviathan Purple – (GW wash),
  • Smoke (70939 VMC).

The last one is to get a more opaque look. After all, blood is not a very transparent fluid, even when fresh. Leviathan purple is bringing back some redness to the otherwise brownish mix.
You can try using red ink if you don’t have Tamiya Clear Red. For example, you can go for Deep Red from Winsor and Newton, Pyrolle Red from Liquitex, or any other clear red.

I made a few samples while trying to get the colours right. The photos below show the mixes I used and the results I achieved with them. I was almost happy with the Tamiya, Agrax Earthshade and Smoke combination, but it was slightly too brown in real life. The next combination just works better.

As you can see in the last picture, I added some UHU glue, attempting to add more volume and some stickiness. But the result is far from expected. My UHU glue (UHU Power, to be exact) is not the best for the task; it simply didn’t mix properly with the paints. Instead, it’s giving me something that looks like bits of coagulated blood and tissue. It’s not something I can use in this project, as I’m going for fresh blood, but I will definitely save it for the future.

After getting the right colour and consistency for my blood-like mixture, I made a bigger batch. I wanted to mix enough for all the work I had planned to do with Menhom. Then, I began applying it to the miniature, paying close attention to the crucial areas.

The way he keeps his right hand reminds me of the bird’s claw or him getting ready to rip someone’s guts out. This, and the fact that I wasn’t thrilled with the paint job here, pushed the narrative here. I decided that he was using his hand in combat. Ripping enemies’ throats and tearing their hearts out with great vigour.

So, it’s only natural that his hand is completely covered in blood. Some of it even drips on the ground. In this case, I coated it with a relatively thick layer of bloody goo. I used a hair glued to one of the fingers to do the hanging droplet, with a little blob of paint at the end. Then I covered that with paint to hide the hair. I used gloss varnish on the top because I wanted the blood to be freshly spilt.

The small shield attached just above his wrist received similar treatment. The proximity to the hand didn’t leave me any other choice. It wouldn’t look natural if it was left clean.

First, before applying the blood to the blade, I had to make the metal a bit brighter. This way, dark blood would stand out better. I applied a few layers of thinned Chainmail (GW). I focused on highlights and midtones, making sure I left the shadow parts unaffected.
I looked for pictures showing how the blood on a sword should be placed to make it reliable. For the sake of realism, I even watched one episode of Spartacus (the only show I knew was full of blood, gore, and swords). At some point, I considered using dried blood with some gross bits and bobs of ‘stuff’. Finally, I decided against it, going for fresh blood. “Fresh’ in the case of blood means runny and without any clots.
But then, after all this research and thinking, I simply went crazy with the gore on the sword. You can see the result in the pictures below. Menhom’s right hand suggests that he spilt a lot of blood recently and with a very much ‘hands-on’ approach. The sword being bathed in blood is very justified.

First, I did a few drops on the ground under his hand. I would do the same under the sword, but it hangs outside the base, so there was no way to do that. I did these drops with the brush because they’re not splashes from a hit or something.

Then, I had to decide what to use for more dynamic splashes on the robe. Yes, I know red on red doesn’t look that impressive here, but that’s a different shade of red. Besides, a clean robe without any splashes would look weird. It also allowed me to hide a bit of this awful head in the middle of his trophy chain.
After a few tests, I used a flat and rather stiff brush and a toothpick and then added a few more spots with the brush.

The results are in the pictures below.
Here are the overall pictures before and after. I’m not entirely sure if I made Menhom look better, but at least it is different. I managed to cover a few weaker elements with blood, so my changes should benefit him.
Besides, I learned something new, and that’s always good. I’m happy that I tried a new technique, and for the first time, Menhom’s looking pretty decent, isn’t he?

I used the same method when painting Templar Knight, 90mm in scale, from Pegaso Models.
He is clearly in a very dynamic fighting pose. The arrows in his shield strongly suggest he’s in the heat of battle, so the blood splatters suit him very well.
I used the blood more sparingly here than when painting Menhom. My goal here was to enhance the model, not cover issues.

The photos show that I focused on the blood splatters in the areas that make the most sense in his story. I covered mainly his sword, shield, and the front of his tunic. Of course, there is also quite a lot of blood on the ground and some on the bottom of his cloak.
There is also quite a bit of gash on his left temple. With blood flowing from the wound down his face, into the ear, and down the neck under his armour. I am pretty sure I did this to cover some imperfection in the painting of the side of his head. It does suit the figure, though, so it’s a win.

You can compare him with and without blood in the photos below.
I hope you’ll agree that it adds a lot of realism to the whole piece.

To sum up, adding blood effects to your miniature can be a great way to enhance its realism and add an extra level of drama where appropriate.
I hope you found this brief guide on creating blood effects helpful and inspiring. If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to share them below. Happy painting!

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