Tutorial: Streak Painting
Painting via Small Brush Streaking
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No long list of supplies to create this effect: all that's required are your normal variety of paints and one very good thin point brush, such as a Winsor & Newton Sceptre Gold II 101 size 00.
Glassy smooth blending is a damned difficult thing to achieve. It takes only a little practice and a drop of dedication to get good blends, but a truly perfect transistion is tough. For a Golden Demon entry it's an excellent goal, but if you're interested in painting an army's worth of figures, it's prohibitively time consuming. In addition, there's a law of diminishing returns: one hour spent may result in a fine effect, but two hours spent does not mean that the effect will be twice as good.
This is the problem I encountered regularly. Since much of my work is time sensitive -- commission work, finishing a figure in time for an upcoming game, or simply making sure I don't spend twenty hours on a piece that might only sell for $40 on eBay -- I really wanted a faster means of finishing miniatures without sacrificing quality.
As visitors to the site likely know, I have a growing collection of tyranids (and in fact an entire second army from years past consisting of yesterday's models -- these aren't in the galleries since they no longer represent my best work). In painting my tyranid colour scheme, I often use an adaption of Tyson Koch's carapace technique. It's a speedy technique for finishing shells and exoskeletons especially, but quite by accident I discovered that it can be used to successfully mimic even smooth surfaces like swords.
"This can't be!" I hear you scream. "Such a technique is too sloppy; you've got to work at the glassy smooth blending to make Non-metallic metal is the technique of using non-metallic paints to create the illusion of a metallic surface. It relies heavily on the proper placement of highlights rather than 'real life' shine. It's very commonly used -- just look at the logo on your average White Dwarf magazine.NMM work right!" Let me just ask you to stop screaming, crazy mini-painter person! I'll show you how it works -- but first, let's bring everyone up to speed with a review of what I call the basic streak painting technique.
Kep's Footnotes: The Importance of Good Brushes
An extremely important aspect of the streak method is the use of a good brush. Those with long, fine tips are best. Winsor & Newton makes a number of affordable brushes with such tips, available at local Hobby Lobby and Michael stores (in the United States). Two types I use often are the W&N Sceptre Gold II 101 Sable/Synthetic (size 00 on the left) and the W&N University Series 233 (size 000 on the right -- in fact, the Sceptre Gold has a much thinner tip).
- 1 The first stage is the darkest. In this case, a thin wash of dark brown over VMC #914 Green Ochre.
- 2 Streaking begins with pure VMC #914 Green Ochre. Note that even with a single colour, the pattern is applied consistently as streaks.
- 3 The next layer is a 50/50 mix of Green Ochre and VMC #837 Light Sand. Every stage has been applied with a small brush to make the striations more apparant.
- 4 Streaks of pure VMC #837 Light Sand are applied. This method is very forgiving, but focus on the edges of the carapace, leaving the previous layers visible.
- 5 VMC #918 Ivory makes up the final highlights. Optionally, you can take this entire range from a darker shade all the way to pure white if you prefer.
- Carapace flipbook: Hover your mouse over the steps above to follow along with the process.
We'll start by learning how this method can be used to make natural patterns, such as those found on shells, carapaces, and even skin. Natural patterns have inherent imperfections so they make a perfect starting point for learning the streak technique and give the beginner some wiggle room for making mistakes.
Begin with your base coat. This is applied normally and should be the darkest colour you plan to use. For exaggerated effect, make it a shade or two darker than that. After this point, all applications of colour will be done exclusively with the streak method.
Pick a colour that is a shade lighter than the your base coat (or mix a lighter colour in with the base coat colour) and thin it down slightly. With this technique, it's not completely necessary to thin the paint as later layers tend to cover previous ones, but I find it helps immensely in keeping the colour scheme cohesive. Paint this first colour in even streaks down the entire length of the area. Focus on making the streaks as thin as possible and pay attention to how the paint flows from your brush.
You need not be limited to carapaces and distinctive shell appearances with the streak technique. It also works well for rubbery tentacles, muscled skin, or even clothing.
This is a lot of talk to explain something that happens very quickly (and usually quite naturally) in practice. Don't overthink it! Paint your streaks, observe what's going on, react to it, and keep painting. The bottom line: Just streak the area with thin strokes as if you were using a pencil.
Additional layers are done in the same way with lighter and lighter shades, but covering less and less of the total area so that previous layers show. This is exceptionally similar to basic layering -- the difference here is that we're using quick, thin strokes to paint our layers rather than covering the area with a solid coat. Doing this also lets us see previous colours between the streaks, which is what creates the effect.
By varying the colours and density of our streak method, we can make great use of it on plenty of other things: skin, leather, clothing, etc.
Non-Metallic MetalsDon't believe me? Then here's the real test of this technique: to create a Non-metallic metal is the technique of using non-metallic paints to create the illusion of a metallic surface. It relies heavily on the proper placement of highlights rather than 'real life' shine. It's very commonly used -- just look at the logo on your average White Dwarf magazine.NMM finish using just thin, streaked paint.
Since we're using thin greys and whites, this technique works best over a dark basecoat: either black or a very deep grey.
Don't panic. The first step is simple. For this example, I'm creating the appearance of steel so I base coat the area with black. In addition to black, the colours I'll be using are VMC #816 German Blue, and VMC #918 Ivory (I'll also use GW Codex Grey as a wash). The black is just a normal basecoat, no streaking involved.
After the basecoating, however, the streaking begins immediately. Using very thin German Blue, I use the same technique as the carapace painting. Note in the picture how the strokes are focused on the lower edges of the weapon.
Non-metallic metal work is a bit deceptive. The colours are not as important as the placement of highlights. While the theory of Non-metallic metal is the technique of using non-metallic paints to create the illusion of a metallic surface. It relies heavily on the proper placement of highlights rather than 'real life' shine. It's very commonly used -- just look at the logo on your average White Dwarf magazine.NMM would take a tutorial itself, the simpliest way to look at it is to highlight opposite of normal. That is to say, paint the lower sides of the metal object lighter while leaving the upper sides darker. This should hopefully become evident as the tutorial goes on.
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