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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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South Cheshire Militaire 2024

On Sunday, I attended the first miniature show of 2024. Well, first for me and in my area. The South Cheshire Military Modelling Club hosted the event for the 39th time this year.

I’m not the most reliable person to provide a detailed report of the show as I tend to chat with people the whole day and forget to take pictures. However, I made an effort this time and captured more photos than usual, even though some may not be the best quality. I’ll try to do better next time.

First like to draw your attention to the amazing work of Adrian Hopwood. You can view his other works on his website. He started with a Siamese Fighting Fish from Robot Rocket Miniatures and from that created this beautiful scene. Everything in the scene, except for the male fighting fish and the body of the female fish, was sculpted by Adrian. It’s truly stunning, isn’t it?

Here are some pieces of work created by Rose Hopwood, a new and promising painter (as far as I know, no relation to Adrian). She has already been painting for 18 months, and if she continues to practice, she could have a bright future in the field. It’s always great to see younger people taking an interest in painting.

Last but not least, take a look at this incredible Death Star. I have no idea how it was constructed, but it looks absolutely amazing.

The painting competition on local shows like this cannot be compared to SMC, Euromilitaire, and other international shows. Usually, the emphasis is on scale modelling. But you can also find beautifully painted figures and busts in these shows.
I believe I managed to take photos of all of the entries. Once again, it could be better photography here, but I’m a bit rusty.
I brought only busts this time, so I entered category 6, ‘Busts and flats’. I was lucky to receive a gold medal for 3 of my busts, Alfonso, Pilot and Noir. I’m thrilled with this result.


There weren’t many figures to buy. But, the painting supplies and tools were well-stocked. However, I managed to control my temptation and didn’t buy anything. To be fair, there’s only one miniature that I’m interested in buying right now, and I already have sufficient materials in stock. So, it was pretty easy for me to keep from spending money.

The club displays were mostly full of scale models, but I’ve spotted few figures as well.
There is very little I can say about scale modelling, so I’ll simply leave you with the photos.

Thanks for reading my first show report. I hope you enjoyed it. Let me know your thoughts and if you would like to read more articles like this.

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Painting Leather on Miniatures – Case Studies.

Over the years, I have painted many different types of leather. I would like to share a few miniature paintings that I have done, focusing on the leather elements.
This will not be a step-by-step guide. Instead, I can give you insight into the thought process behind each piece and the colours I used.

This bust is basically covered in fur pelt, not much else. The inner side of the pelt, visible around Warrior’s neck and at the back, is painted as I would paint suede. Warm in colours to contrast with the colder colour of the fur itself.

I started painting it with a sandy colour to keep the tone warm. Most likely, it is the Vallejo Model Cooler Dark Sand 70847. I used ‘Jack Bone and Menoth White, both from P3, for highlights. They have been my go-to bone/leather colours for years now. Both are cool and yellowish, working perfectly with all the leather I’ve painted so far.

For shadows, I used some Graveyard Earth (back when it was still available at GW). The closest replacement right now would be Steel Legion Drab. It is a good match, but not perfect. The old colour is a bit more yellow in the undertone. It suits the leather better, in my opinion. I’ll check if adding dark sand will fix it, but I’m not overly optimistic.
I really love this colour. I might cry when it runs out.

The other colours used for shading were GW washes: Gryphon Sepia and small amounts of Agrax Earthshade in the darkest recesses. Because this side of the pelt is relatively light in colour, I didn’t want to go too dark with the shadows.
Some extra thin lines were added with ‘Jack Bone or Menoth White in strategic places to mimic scratches, and the hide was ready.

This is one of my most recent busts. At least one recently finished. It sat on my bench for years, lost in a sad painting limbo, waiting for better times.
The leather of the hat is dark and cold in tone, with very little yellow in it.

I was sure I painted it with Graveyard Earth as a base and then shaded it to almost black in the shadow areas. But judging by the photos, at least at some point, it was painted very dark brown, nearly black. From that, I started lightening the areas that would be in the light. I used many thin, uneven layers, building up texture in the process. First, I worked mainly with Graveyard Earth, then mixed it with ‘Jack Bone. For shadows, initially, I used thin layers of Agrax Earthshade to tone down the warmth of the browns. Then, I used thinned-down black and small amounts of deep sea blue and greens to keep the shadows cool and interesting. I also mainly used diluted regular paints, not the washes.

To build up back the highlights, I used Graveyard Earth first. Then, I started mixing in some ‘Jack Bone to push them further. The ‘Jack Bone was used very sparingly, though. I added some extra damage to make it look like scratches and breaks in the leather. The thin light lines with black ones right next to them make things more 3 dimensional.

The whole hat lacks the coarseness I usually paint on the leather. It looks softer, but there is enough texture to make it eye-catching.
I painted the belt using the same method. To add edge damage typical to belts, I painted many thin perpendicular light lines. I also added a few washes of warmer colours in the lights to keep it different from the hat.

The hat on this little fella is painted as Vachetta Leather would look if it was not adequately cared for. I started with Graveyard Earth as a base, then added a generous amount of ‘Jack Bone for highlights. Then, I applied a lot of different washes of Seraphim Sepia, Agrax Earthshade, and Reikland Fleshshade. I used Burnt Umber, black and small amounts of other colours to get the darkest shadows how I wanted them. I used Dark Sea Blue (Vallejo Model Colours), Burgundy Wine (Reaper Master Series), and some dark green.

From the first photo to the last, you can see I added quite a bit of shine to the leather in the shadows. I did it on purpose, imagining him in some sort of workshop with greasy spills and stuff. Why not the same level of weathering on the clothing? Cloth is easier to clean than leather.

I painted the leather coat on this miniature in a completely different way.
Like with most of the busts, I started it on a light grey primer, so I had a nice light canvas for painting his face.
The coat had a lovely texture, so I decided to try something new here. I wanted to paint it all with washes. So, using GW washes Nuln Oil and Agrax Earthshade, I started building the shadows. I added nuances in colour by adding Seraphim Sepia and Reikland Fleshshade to the lighter parts of the coat. I also added small amounts of Biel-Tan Green in the deepest shadows. I did it to contrast shadows with warmer tones in the lighter areas.

Kinda like working with watercolours; I was careful to leave the highlight clear. In the end, it turned out that the grey in the lights didn’t look like I wanted, so I gave it a light, dry brush with ‘Jack Bone. I focused on the areas on his shoulders and where the leather would fold repeatedly.

I’m happy with the result. The colours look rich enough, with enough coarseness of the texture shining through. I definitely will be using this method when it suits the model.

I’m not crazy happy with how I did leathers on this bust. Well, except for the bit under his chin. The leather there would be soft to mould better under his face. So, I painted it relatively smooth, without too much contrast. But I made sure every crease was clearly visible.
Colours I used would be ‘Jack bone, Graveyard Earth and Seraphim Sepia and a touch of Agrax Earthshade.

As you can see, painting leather can be a very creative process with various approaches. By combining different colours, highlights, shadows, textures, and damage, you can achieve a realistic leather look for your miniatures. Feel free to experiment with various colours and techniques so each leather element you paint has a unique look.
Thank you for reading the article. If you enjoyed it, please let me know your thoughts, and I’ll cover more miniatures in the future.

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Simple Technique for Enhancing Fabric Texture.

Hi there! Today, I want to share a simple technique to enhance the texture of your fabrics. Let’s dive in and discuss how we can make our materials look more interesting. I’ll guide you through my process and show you how to take your fabrics to the next level!

This article is a remastered repost from my old blog twistedbrushes.

First, we will inspect Grinder, who has a red ribbon tied around his top knot. Then, we will move on to Wraith and Viking Chief, as the technique varies slightly.

In the beginning, I was going for plain and smooth red. I did all the lights and shadows as smoothly as possible. Then I realised it didn’t look good enough. Especially when I compare it to the leather elements. Besides, it’s almost a sin not to try some freehands with this scale.

I noticed that the folds and recesses of the cloth looked almost like feathers. So I thought about emphasising it with adequate freehand, but then I worried it may look too girly. And Grinder is anything but girly, so finally, I decided against it. Then, I thought about a simple fabric pattern. It shouldn’t be too difficult to do and should look real/believable enough.

I had only a general idea of how to get the effect I wanted. So I jumped into deep water. I took the brush with a bit of ‘Jack Bone (P3) and started to paint thin lines on the brightest parts of the cloth.
Why ‘Jack Bone? No idea, honestly. It might be because it was already on the table, and I was too lazy to look for off-white. I genuinely doubt there was any clear thought behind it.

Of course, not every line was nice and thin, but I decided it was OK. Sometimes, manually woven fabrics have thicker threads as well.

I did some red lines on the bright areas to keep the fabric nicely red. It helped to create even more contrast between threads. Then, I used the same red to create light threads in the shadows. And finally, I also used some Leviathan Purple/Druchii Violet (GW wash) to make dark threads there. After a while, I added a few beige lines in the shadows at the back of the cloth in the shadows.

When the threads were almost done, I applied a layer or two of red ink (Deep red W&N). After a few more touch-ups and corrections, the cloth was ready.
As you can see, the red ink changed the hue of red quite significantly. It’s now a colder shade of red, which I quite like.
Using wash instead of ink would also do the trick. I’d need a few more layers (as inks have more pigment than washes while still being transparent). If there are washes with such intense pure red, of course.

OK, so I used Oils for the first part of the painting, and I have no idea what colours they were. If I did it in acrylics back then, I would most likely use:

  • Flat Red (VMC 70957)
  • Burgundy Wine (Reaper Master Series Paint 9025)
  • Black (VMC 70950)
  • And the colours that I did use for sure:
  • ‘Jack Bone (P3)
  • Flat Red (VMC 70957)
  • Leviathan Purple/Druchii Violet (GW wash)
  • Deep Red (Windsor & Newton Ink)

For this piece, I was planning to do a mantle full of mystical symbols and signs… But I was too afraid I’d spoil the paint job, so I decided to do something simpler.

The technique I used here is pretty much the same as with red cloth on the Grinder. First, I made sure that the blending was smooth enough. I wasn’t overly worried about the contrast yet. I knew I’d increase it further with texture and glazes at the end.

When I was happy with the base, I painted thin and faint white lines all over the mantle.

After that, I used some turquoise glazes, followed by turquoise lines and more glazes. I decided not to introduce really dark lines in this piece. The whole mantle should stay relatively light in colour, ethereal. I tried to do the lines thinner than on the Grinder as well. Mainly because the mini is much smaller. I didn’t want the fabric to look fake or extremely thick-weaved.

  • Off-white (VMC 70820)
  • Blue-green (VMC 70808)
  • Medium blue (VMC 70963)
  • Black (VMC 70950) – used extremelly sparringly only in deepenst shadows

As a side note:

The noticeable differences in the hue of the cloak are mostly the results of my experiments with painting. And only a slight inconsistency with lighting.

I used the same technique while painting Viking Chief.
You can see a few steps in the photos below:

First clean base. I painted it neatly enough, even knowing I would cover it with texture later. Then, I did initial lights and shadows.

Then, I painted all the thin lines, in this case, light and dark. I chose the colours corresponding to the base to increase the contrast and make it look natural.

After that, I painted layers of glazes to unify the whole coat. The glazes are integral to this process, making everything look coherent.

I can’t remember what colour I used for the base for the life of me. All the time, I was sure it was some grey-blue, possibly French Mirage Blue (VMC 70900). But after looking at the paint right now and comparing it to the photos, I realised it’s not it. I honestly don’t remember. So any blueish colour would do. I basically covered it with texture anyway, so it’s barely visible.

The rest of the colours are as follows:

  • Off-white (VMC 70820). I used the pure off-white only in the highlights on his shoulders. Everywhere else, it was mixed with French Mirage Blue.
  • French Mirage Blue (VMC 70900) – I’m sure I’ve used it for texturing.
  • Basalt Grey (70869)

The easiest way to answer this question would be to say: I pick colours that would naturally be highlights and shadows. That would be boring, though. I usually introduce at least one colour close to the main colour scheme. It is close but not what you would imagine as natural light or shadow to add some interest. I don’t introduce intense colour variation, just a bit of interest. You can add bolder colours if you want, but it might be too distracting.

This way of adding interest to your miniatures is relatively simple. It requires only a brush with a good tip and patience. Well, a lot of patience. In fact, the sheer amount of work to make all the thin lines in at least 3, ideally 4 colours, might be the single biggest challenge here. Especially if you decided to try it for the first time on a big area. Start small, and you won’t get discouraged;]

I hope you found this article helpful and are excited to try these techniques and see what you can create. Don’t be afraid to try new colours and textures to make your miniatures stand out. And hey, if you have any other techniques you’d like me to cover, let me know! I’m here to help you take your miniature painting skills further. So, keep painting and have fun creating!

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Checking Contrast in Miniature Painting: A Practical Guide.

Have you ever finished painting a miniature and thought that something was off? Yet you couldn’t quite put your finger on it? It’s possible that the issue lies with the contrast. Contrast is one of the most critical elements responsible for our tiny figures’ readability. It is also an element that is often quite difficult to judge.

In this article, I will demonstrate a simple exercise that you can use to check the contrast on your models. I will delve deeper into contrast types in a future article. For now, I will give you a practical tool to quickly assess contrast. This method is an efficient way to evaluate the contrast in your miniatures. It also helps you identify areas that may need improvement.

I want to keep this information separate from the rest of the article. It should stand out and not get lost, among other details. Separating it will also help you to use it right away.

For this to work, I need you to trust that I know what I’m talking about here. A well-painted miniature will look good in colour and grey scale.
That is the foundation of this method. It is also very much true:)

So yeah, the well-painted miniature will look good when turned to grayscale. You will still be able to see it clearly, and all elements will be well-defined. Every element will be visible and 3 dimensional on its own, and they will look good and be easy to read together. Nothing will be lost in the sea of grey.

Take a photo of the miniature you want to check, and turn it into greyscale. By doing that, we will remove the colour information. We will focus on the brightness and readability of the elements. On top of that, we will see if the colour scheme we’ve chosen works well together.

The quickest way to check the contrast in black and white is to turn off the colours on your phone while looking at the photo. Or, turn down the saturation in the photo editor on the phone. You will have the added bonus of looking at a smaller picture of your model. So, all parts blending together will be more apparent. But I’d say it’s a first-glance method.

Working on a computer in graphic software will give you more options, though. You will see all the small details that could be done better. You will also have the option to modify the photo to see if it makes a change in the right direction. Then you’ll know what to do with the brush later.
The software I’m using is Adobe Photoshop, but I’m sure others also give you that option.

Let’s look at some examples to better explain what I am talking about.

Below, you can see Alfonso (Sad Pirate from Latorre) and the Pilot (JMD Miniatures). Both pieces are examples of sound contrast, if I may say so myself.
Both are easy to read in greyscale, with faces clearly the focal point of the whole piece. All elements are dynamic and work well together. The colours I used don’t blend into each other in greyscale.

Here, we have Landsknecht (SK Miniatures) and Veteran (Medieval Knight JMD Miniatures) – both paint jobs, even if still pretty nice, have some issues in the contrast area.

The main issue I can see when looking at Landsknecht’s paint job is how red and black look almost the same in the photo. To be fair, all the details on the lover part of the bust, under the beard, blend together too much. To fix that, I could darken the black. It’s highlighted too much, turning almost blue. I could also add some green into the shadows in the red. Maybe I could increase the highlights further as well.
I still very much like how his face looks, both in colour and black and white. I could add red to the nose area, but I’m nitpicking now.

The Veteran is pretty much a mess in greyscale. The greens and leathers look almost the same. The face is heavily fragmented and disappears in the beard and chainmail. To be fair, the face actually has an issue that is opposite to the rest of the model. It has too much contrast. Looking at it now, I pushed the contrast on the face a tad too much and added dark lines separating the planes of the face. It is slightly less obvious in the colour version, where the colour itself helps read this as one element. It should be painted more as a whole, not separate elements. The beard could also benefit from more general light and shadow. This can be done on top of the separation of the hair strands.

Frankie (FeR Miniatures) and Shroom Troll (Figone). I’m on the fence when it comes to these two models. There are no grave errors here. They have some nice contrast in certain areas, but I feel it could be better.

Frankie is still clearly readable in greyscale. However, I’m losing the red-green contrast on the face. Maybe if I used a different kind of red, I’d be able to contrast those colours better. Still decent work, and I’m pleased with all the small details of the face being visible.

Shroom Troll looks clear in greyscale. However, the contrast between blue and yellowish green is wholly lost. The cold pinkish? Red under the eyes and in the ears is lost, too. I’m not sure how to fish it, and I’ve not decided I should.

Of course, you can use this method on your work in progress. You’ll quickly reassess if you are going in the right direction.

Reichdoctor (Large scale model from Smart Max).
Even though this is still an early WIP, I can already see that the skin looks quite, and the coat has nice tonal changes. This is partially due to the scale of the model, of course, but no one said we couldn’t take advantage of this.

Bad Santa.
This miniature is still a WIP, but looking at it in greyscale, I can see that the red and green don’t work right now. Both of them look flat and almost identical in greyscale. If I ever decide to finish the guy, I will have to do something about it.

In conclusion, checking the contrast of your miniatures in greyscale is a quick and easy way to assess the effectiveness of your painting. This method is a valuable tool that can help you enhance the contrast of your minis. Whether working on a computer or using your phone, this method is useful. It can help you manage your miniatures’ contrast better. Remember, a well-painted miniature will look good in colour and greyscale. So, don’t forget to step back and check
your work in black and white.

And don’t forget to check my other articles and tutorials.

Happy painting!

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Ein Stein’s Leather Apron

Orc miniature painted by Minichix studio. Leather apron distressed. Orc with googles and big pointy ears

This time, I’d like to show you how to paint the leather like I did on my Ein Stein.
Ein Stein (or Da Rock) is a beautiful bust sculpted by Alan Carrasco many moons ago.

This article is a remastered repost from my old blog twistedbrushes.

The bust was released by Figone under the name Einstein. In German, Einstein means Ein Stein, which translates to one stone; hence, Da Rock is on his plaque, and Ein Stein is on the back of his work overalls. I guess I was watching Sons of Anarchy when I was painting this bust… Trust me, it all makes sense, I promise.

As you can see, the leather apron Ein Stein is wearing is very distressed. It’s dirty and full of all sorts of discolourations and stains. Almost like he was working in some kind of Orkish motorcycle shop or something? Initially, I didn’t plan it this way; it was a spontaneous decision.

I don’t have any photos picturing particular stages of the process. So, I had to recreate the same effect on something different. I decided to use cardboard as a nice flat surface. It looks almost the same, yay me;]

The first step was basic. I applied more or less even layer of a base colour. It was some sort of mixture of Graveyard Earth (GW), Desert Yellow (GW) and ‘Jack Bone (P3).
The exact colours are not that important; you can use your own paints and mixtures. I’m listing them in case you find it helpful.
I’ve used an airbrush for this and the next stage, but you can easily do this with the brush. You don’t need an extra smooth surface to paint leather. In fact, some imperfections in the gradient will add more character.

For this step, I also used an airbrush and sprayed some Graveyard Earth on the bottom of the apron. I directed the airbrush nozzle from the bottom of the bust, making sure I hit all the recesses. Then I added a few thin layers of ‘Jack Bone on his shoulders to readress highlights.
I didn’t care too much about the shadows on the edges at this point. I was planning to take care of them closer to the end.

After blocking the first shadows and lights, I moved to glazing. I used various shades of brown, green, and black to create colour variations and more contrast. Then, I used more ‘Jack Bone and Dessert Yellow to brighten the top parts of the apron.
At this stage, I wasn’t really going for smooth transitions. In fact, some roughness, especially in ‘light’ areas, was deliberate. I used it to create a leathery texture of vachetta leather. It has no shine and is rather dull compared to grain leather).

After finishing step 3, I could move to the fun part. With a stiff brush and a toothpick, I speckled the apron with various paints. I used washes and diluted paints to ensure the specks were small enough. I concentrated them on the middle part of the apron, where they’re most likely to happen in real life.
This method is entirely random and seems messy. But with all the non-leather parts of the mini covered with Tamiya tape, I could go to town with it. And with a bit of practice, you can create great effects. And if it goes seriously wrong, you can always repaint it with base colours and start again. It not only won’t ruin the piece but can even add a bit to the texture.

It’s entirely up to you what colours you use for that step, but here’s the list of those I used:

  • ‘Jack Bone (P3)
  • Badab Black (GW Wash)
  • Agrax Earthshade (GW Wash)
  • Ogryn Flesh (GW Wash)
    Seraphim Sepia (GW Wash)

You can add some with the brush if you’re not entirely happy with the splashes and dots created by the toothbrush. I used diluted washes to create a ‘coffee print’ effect. But it’s really up to you how diluted paint you will use.

I used some Graveyard Earth, brown, and black washes to blend the whole surface. Then green, red and maybe even blue to add some colour nuances to the leather. After years of extensive use, some stains and discolouration were expected.
The effect on the photos is not exactly the same as on Einstein’s apron, but you got the idea of how I did it so far. Changes I was doing from now on are somewhat difficult to reproduce on the cardboard, so I will move back to the mini.

I then used a few more glazes to blend the whole surface slightly. After that, I reintroduced contrast with dark glazes. I put them on the bottom of the miniature and in the recesses. Then, I used light colours in the brighter areas. A slightly ‘chalky’ finish in the highlights added some texture and a worn finish.

With the middle of the apron more or less ready, I took care of the edges. I applied bright colours with the side of the brush to the apron’s sharp edges. Then, some glazes in the little holes and indentations under them did the trick.
The same goes for all little holes in the surface. I applied some dark/black wash inside and then highlighted the bottom edge with Menoth White Base (P3).

When the rest of the bust was fully painted, I reassessed the leather again. I added a few extra highlights and shadows to the uneven edges of Ein Stein’s apron to make it stand out more next to the intense orange of his jumpsuit.

And that’s it! With these simple steps, you can achieve a beautifully distressed leather effect on your miniatures or other projects.
You can use this method whenever the leather you are painting is worn in a place where it could get dirty.
Remember, imperfections and textures only add to the character of the piece. So, have fun, be creative, and happy painting!

If you want to learn more about painting different types of leather, you can check out my other articles.

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How To Make Magic Mushrooms

Little Alice from Smog1888, painted on a base with whimsical mushrooms sculpted by Minichix Studio

I don’t know how about you, but I prefer to make everything on my base by myself. Well, within reason, of course. I’m not going to make my own plinths. And sometimes, I use pre-made parts, like wooden planks or cobblestones. But whenever it is reasonable, I do my own stuff. Or repurpose things that otherwise would go to the bin.

This article is a remastered repost from my old blog twistedbrushes.

This base for Little Alice was done basically from scratch. The only exceptions are the wooden planks I used as the door and the cobblestones creating the pathway. The rest is either natural materials or sculpted. It’s full of issues and imperfections. But it’s still very special to me. It was my first elaborate base, and I did it after more or less a 10-year break in painting. And it (with the miniature, of course) gave me my first Gold at Euro Militaire in 2011. Yep, it’s that old.

Alice is a beautiful girl from Smog1888. It’s a range of 1/35 models sculpted to represent Steampunk adventurers and cultists. Unfortunately, the company that released the miniatures (Smart Max) is long gone. You can sometimes find their miniatures on eBay or other second-hand selling sites.
She is one of the more benign-looking miniatures from this range. Clearly based on Alice in Wonderland with the pocket watch and giant rabbit in her arms. Did I mention the rabbit is wearing glasses? It is.

It won’t be a step-by-step tutorial on how to build the base like I did for Alice. I don’t have enough documentation to do that. I will focus only on how I made my mushrooms. I don’t have enough photos for every stage of the process, I’m afraid. But I’ll explain and show you all I can; you’ll see they’re pretty simple things to make.

Here are a few reference photos I used to understand how I want my mushrooms to look. As you can see, they are all tall with long, thin stems. Combined with the rest of the base, they should give me the eerie feeling I wanted to achieve.

  • Putty – it doesn’t matter which one. Pick whatever you’re most comfortable working with – I used Green Stuff mixed with Milliput; you can use the baked one if you’d rather work with this kind.
  • Thin wire – to create stems. It has to be sturdy enough to keep shape before the putty hardens.
  • Sculpting tool that can create thin lines – whatever you are comfortable with. I used a thick sewing needle if I remember correctly. Only because I had it at hand.
  • A primer that goes chalky and creates a nice texture – as you can see in the photos – I used Vallejo grey in a can.
  • Texturing paste if you’re lucky and don’t have bad primers.

I took a small amount of putty and formed more or less a ball. I wasn’t looking for a perfect shape; I just wanted to get the putty slightly warmed up and formed in roughly a round shape. Then, I flattened it into a disc, making it thicker in the middle, with significantly thinner edges. Then, I bent the sides downwards to create the shape I wanted. At this point, I didn’t worry about leaving any fingerprints. I was going to cover it all with a texture later, anyway.

The bottom line of the cap can be imperfect, too; it’s even better if it’s uneven. Many mushrooms, especially older ones, are highly asymmetrical and irregular.
Depending on the size of a cap I was creating, I formed them on my finger, the end of a brush or a pen. You can choose anything that works for you size-wise. I used chemically curing putty, so I had to give it some time to harden. If you use putty that requires baking to cure, follow the instructions for your kind of putty.

Here is a picture of ready caps. They are already covered with primer, but I couldn’t find any without it in my ‘treasure chest’. As you can see, shapes are slightly irregular and differ a lot.

If I made the mushrooms now, I would add more irregularities and damage to the cups. I’d focus on the bigger ones, which could have weathered more. If you google photos of older mushrooms, they often have broken caps. It’s either a clean break line going to the middle or more organic damage, like some bugs munched on the shroom.

When the caps were hard and ready for further work, I took a bit of fresh putty and placed it inside the cap to create gills. Because I wanted the gills to be quite sharp, I used Milliput without the Green Stuff. I pressed the putty to stick nicely to the sides of the cap. I made sure the putty didn’t fill the cups completely. I didn’t reach the edges, making sure they were thin.

While the putty was fresh, I created a hole in the middle for a stalk. Then, with the sculpting tool of choice, I made some gills. I dragged the tool from the middle to the sides, creating a slight indentation. I tried to be somewhat symmetrical with it. It’s good to go around in intervals and add more and more lines between the existing ones. Once again, it doesn’t need to be perfect.

All the mushrooms I found in this particular style that I wanted had gills under the cups. If you wish, you can go for other options: Pores, teeth or ridges. Whatever works for the project you are doing.

I wanted my mushrooms to be wispy and fragile, opposite to the stocky ones sitting low on a thick leg. So I took long pieces of wire and wrapped them in putty. I made steams pretty smooth and even, with only slight thinning closer to the cup. I left the top and bottom few millimetres of the wire clear to help fix them to the ground and the cup.
Before the putty hardened, I formed the steams to the right shape.

As I said, I made the steams thin and simple, without any extra elements. You can add the veil to the top of the steam to give more visual interest, but it’s optional. With some practice, you can make them thin, wispy and irregular.
Once the putty on the stems was cured and ready for further work, I attached the caps with some putty. Once again, I didn’t worry about fingerprints or other imperfections. I wanted the mushrooms to look natural and organic.

For this part, I applied a thick layer of primer that I knew would go chalky on me. I simply sprayed on the cups from the top. I didn’t shake it too well to make sure it would give them the texture I wanted. Unfortunately, it wasn’t even a necessary precaution. This sucker just never sprays smoothly. If you don’t have primer like this, you can use any delicate texturing paste. Or simply plaster of Paris mixed with PVA glue. Experiment with the consistency that works best.
To be fair, working with a texturing product can give even better results than using a faulty primer. You can localise the texture to the places you want to have it. For example, you may like to keep the middle of the cup smooth. Then, you can introduce texture gradually, making it more visible on the sides. Or the other way around, textured middle with smooth edges.
You might also prefer to keep your mushrooms smooth altogether. In this case, ensure you’re not leaving fingerprints while sculpting. Or even if there are fingerprints or other marks on the shrooms, sand them down.
I primed the bottom and stems with a different primer that gives a smooth finish.

It all depends on the scene you are building and your chosen colour scheme. I wanted my scene to be subdued, not very colourful and trippy. So I went for very mute colours.
I first painted the whole mushrooms with ‘Jack bone (P3 064). Then, I gave them a thin sepia wash, skipping the cups’ middle. Then, I applied layers of washes to the cups, making them progressively darker the closer they got to the edges. I mixed Sepia with Agrax Earthshade to keep the tone of the mushrooms on the colder side. At the end, I added a few brush strokes with ‘Jack Bone going from the centre and slowly fading closer to the edge.
This painting scheme suits the whole scene. But honestly, the options here are limited only by your imagination. Mushrooms are truly fantastic in their colours and textures.

And that’s it! Creating these mushrooms is pretty straightforward. You can use them to add an eerie or mystical feel to your miniature bases or dioramas. So why not give it a try? Who knows, maybe you’ll discover a new passion for sculpting and creating unique bases.