How to Paint An Alien Creature - From Our Pioneer Collection
This tutorial has been written & painted by our professional miniature painter, Marc 🙂
Before getting into this tutorial, I should openly admit to being absolutely overcome by the cuteness that is represented by the Pugmander 😀 As soon as I saw the renders, I knew that I would enjoy the process of painting the miniatures and that I wouldn't be able to help writing a tutorial on how to bring the Pugmander to life.
I should also mention that despite this tutorial exploring how you can paint the Pugmander, the techniques and approaches are very much applicable to the other aliens in the collection (or indeed in any other collection).
Painting techniques aside, the most challenging aspect of painting the Pugmanders was picking the core colour scheme for its skin. I wanted the Pugmander to look otherworldly, yet still appear natural; as if they evolved on a planet on which humans could also survive. As a result, I went for a combination of colours which are found in nature on Earth, but in a sequence which would be unusual were you to find it on the one animal. You may choose to go for more vibrant colours (I was very close to painting the bottom half purple), and I'm rather looking forward to seeing the colour schemes people pick for their own pack of Pugmanders - use #printminis so we can see your creations 🙂
Finally, I'll mention the paints I use by name throughout the tutorial, and at the end, I'll list them alongside the brand. I'll also list thinning ratios where appropriate, but remember that if you use a different paint, you might need to add more or less water than I do.
Let's get started!
PAINTING THE SKIN
1. Paint the lower half/underside of the Pugmander using Orcish Dermis.
If using an airbrush, thin as necessary. If you don't have an airbrush, you can use a bristle brush. Thin the paint at a ratio of 3 drops of paint to 1 drop of water. Several coats may be required to produce a smooth even finish.
Aim to produce a smooth even coat. I detached the Pugmander from its base in order to easily reach the underside.
2. For the next layer we're going to paint the top half using Surfer Orc Flesh.
If using an airbrush, target the Pugmander from above, spraying down onto the model. This will start to create a transition between the two colours at the midpoint of the miniature.
If you're using a bristle brush, paint the top half of the miniature. We'll blend the two colours together in the next stages.
Pro Tip: Once this stage is dry, I recommend applying a satin or glass varnish. Not only does this protect your foundation coat from chipping as you work on it, but it also provides a smooth surface on which to blend the next paints.
3. We're now going to create shadow and depth. Make a glaze, taking 1 drop of Cobalt Blue, 1 drop of Orcish Dermis, 4 drops of Matte Medium, and 1 drop of water. What I really like about this glaze is that it can be used to create shadows for both of the skin tones.
Apply this carefully into the recesses, focusing on the folds of the skin, and feathering the edges to create smooth transitions. If you put a satin or gloss varnish onto your Pugmander like I did, you'll find this process easier. Ensure your brush is not carrying too much of the glaze before you start applying it to the miniature.
In this stage, we're going to apply a colour to further smooth the transition between the two colours. More work will be needed at this stage if you didn't use an airbrush earlier.
4. Mix 1 drop of Orcish Dermis with 1 drop of Surfer Orc Flesh, and thin with 2 drops of water. These two colours mix together wonderfully, producing a muted transition colour that really helps tie the two halves together.
Apply it along the midpoint of the miniature. Focusing on the shoulders and hips, and on the raised tops of skin folds at these locations. The ear will also need a layer along the midpoint.
When applying this layer, the application needs to be smooth. Allow your brush to follow the curves of the miniature. For example, when painting the ear, start your brush towards the top and gently drag it down the length of the ear, following the undulations of the sculpt.
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DETAILING THE SKIN - GREEN HALF
The great thing about this miniature is that there is lots of interesting skin texture at the transition point between the two different colours. What this means is that you don't need to spend hours creating a super smooth blend between the two, as you can hide much of the transition beneath layers of highlights on the raised skin folds.
First, we'll work on painting the green section of the Pugmander, and then we'll work on the pink/peach lower half.
5. The first colour that we're going to use to paint the raised sections of the green skin is made by mixing 1 drop of Surfer Orc Flesh with 1 drop of Naples Yellow, and thinning with 2 drops of water.
Apply this to approximately 50% of the upper half of the Pugmander, focusing on the raised aspects, such as the spine, hips and shoulder, tops of skin folds, and upper half of the ear.
6. Apply a second coat, once the first has dried to intensify the colour.
You can apply this paint using traditional brush strokes, or you can stipple the paint on. I tend to start by first stippling on the paint, and then – once it's dry – applying a second layer on top of the first using traditional brush strokes; this second layer acts to blend the stippled layer together. This approach can be followed for most of the following steps.
7. Keep developing the highlights. This time mix 1 drop of Surfer Orc Flesh with 2 drops of Naples Yellow, and thin with 2 drops of water. Focus on the parts that would be most exposed to a top-down light source, such as the back, tops of the ears, shoulder and hip skin folds.
8. Now take 1 drop of Surfer Orc Flesh and 3 drops of Naples Yellow, and thin with 3 drops of water. Target the same points as before, but remember to cover less of the surface with this layer than you did in the previous one (creating the impression of a colour transition towards the highlights).
9. Next 1 drop of Naples Yellow and thin with one drop of water. Carefully highlight the raised areas that you've been working on.
10. It is at this stage where the Pugmander really starts to come to life as we develop a rough texture on the surface of the skin. To do this, we're going to need to mix 1 drop of Naples Yellow with 1 drop of Off White, and thin with 2 drops of water.
Stipple this mix onto the miniature, focusing on the high points. However, you may want to apply a few small dots to less raised aspects of the miniature, as this will represent imperfections on the surface of the skin. If you're feeling brave, you can paint fine lines to represent additional skin folds!
11. Finish developing the texture using pure Off White, at a ratio of 1 drop of paint thinned with 1 drop of water.
DETAILING THE SKIN - PINK HALF
12. First, we're going to tidy up the pink section a little. Take 1 drop of Orcish Dermis thinned with 1 drop of water and use this to cover any of the shadow colour that smudged outside the recesses in the earlier stage. I also painted the rims around the eyes and the raised bumps on the animals back using this colour to tie together the two halves.
13. We can now start to develop the highlights. Mix 2 drops of Orcish Dermis with 1 drop of Naples Yellow and thin with 2 drops of water. Same as before, we've added warmth to the foundation colour, and this is used to paint the raised skin folds and other areas exposed to a top-down light source.
14. Keep developing the highlights that you established in the previous stage. This time mix 1 drop of Orcish Dermis with 1 drop of Naples Yellow and thin with 1 drop of water.
15. For this next highlight step, take 1 drop of Orcish Dermis and mix with 2 drops of Naples Yellow, thinning with 2 drops of water. Remember to cover less of the surface of the miniature than you did in the previous steps.
16. Using only Naples Yellow, take 1 drop and thin with 1 drop of water. Apply a highlight to the tops of the most raised aspects of the miniature. You can touch-up the warmth of the upper half at this stage, if you feel a little extra yellow would be of benefit (I certainly did).
17. Now mix 1 drop of Naples Yellow with 1 drop of Off White and thin with 1 drop of water. As with the green section of skin, stipple this mix on to start creating texture. You can use this mix to add definition to details, such as the toes, the beak, around the eyes and the bumps on the Pugmander’s back.
18. Thin 1 drop of Off White with 1 drop of water. Use this to add a final highlight of texture to the most raised areas of skin.
19. To develop the shadows further, adding tonal variety (a slight shift, not a dramatic one), thin 1 drop of Muted Violet acrylic ink with 2 drops of Matte Medium and 1 drop of water. Carefully apply this to the recesses, focusing on the belly and the other areas deeply in shadow. This glaze can be applied to both halves of the Pugmander skin. The key is not to load your brush with too much ink, and to apply additional coats to intensify the colour.
Painting The Pugmander's Eyes
PAINTING THE PUGMANDER'S TOES
To paint the toe nails on his little feet, we're going to start with a dark base colour and highlight up to white. The paint is applied in successive layers in a stripe-like fashion. This approach can be used to paint nails, horns, and teeth of other miniatures too.
25: Start by applying a smooth, even foundation coat using Dark Brown Ochre. Thin 3 drops with 1 drop of water.
26: Once this is dry, apply a carefully targeted black wash over the areas of the nails. To make the wash, thin 1 drop of black with 4 drops of water. This will naturally flow to recesses acting to define the nail. It's important to leave this to fully dry!
27: Now we're going to start creating the texture of the nail by applying very thin stripes of paint along the surface. When applying these, I suggest starting towards the root of the nail and carefully moving your brush towards the nail tip. For the first layer mix 1 drop of Off White with 1 drop of Dark Brown Ochre, and thin with 2 drops of water.
28: For the next step you can simply use 1 drop of Off White thinned with 1 drop of water. Follow the same approach as in the step before. You should aim to paint these stripes inside of the ones that you previously applied, and the start of the stripe should be further towards the tip of the nail.
29: We are almost there! Take pure white, 1 drop thinned with 1 drop of water. Apply a few small dots at the very end of each highlighted stripe.
30: To finish the nail, and to tie all the layers together, create a brown glaze by mixing 1 drop of Transparent Burnt Umber acrylic ink with 3 drops of Matte Medium, and carefully applying this over the whole surface of the nail.
THE PAINTS I USED
- Orcish Dermis, Scale Color
- Surfer Orc Flesh, Scale Color
- Cobalt Blue, Scale Color Artist
- Naples Yellow Scale Color Artist
- Dark Brown Ochre Scale Color Artist
- Off White Scale Color Artist
- White, Warcolours
- Flat Black, Scale Color
- Transparent Burnt Umber acrylic ink, Liquitex
- Muted Violet acrylic ink, Liquitex
- Matte Medium, Liquitex
- Gloss Varnish, Vallejo
- Satin Varnish, Vallejo