GTM #204 - By the Numbers - Miniature Painting Techniques Part 2
by Corey Perez & Luke Hardy

We are truly living in a wonderful time to be painting miniatures. So many different manufacturers are producing such beautiful sculpts and today we’re going to take a closer look at two non-bipedal figures from Corvus Belli’s Kerail Preceptors Tohaa Box Set (CVB 280925-0563), the Symbiobeasts.

For this exercise, we’ll be using the Non Death Chaos Paint Set (VAL 72302NEW) from Vallejo to work on shadow and depth on miniatures.  This set includes six paint colors and two washes (see the inset box for the full list) and is well-suited for the more “otherworldly” miniatures out there.

The eight colors included in the Non Death Chaos Paint Set are:

  • 72.003 Pale Flesh
  • 72.016 Royal Purple
  • 72.024 Turquoise
  • 72.033 Livery Green
  • 72.035 Dead Flesh
  • 72.048 Sombre Grey
  • 72.086 Red Ink
  • 72.091 Sepia Ink

Aside from the colors themselves, this set includes a step-by-step guide with photographs to ensure that we get the best results from the included paints.  When it came to color choices and techniques, I deferred to these instructions rather closely. 

With that disclaimer out of the way, this will be a medium difficulty tutorial as some of the techniques like glazing and washing can be tricky until you have a bit of practice.

Symbiobeast #1

  • I began by priming each mini with a mid-ranged value (“Value” is defined as the lightness or darkness of a color) as this will allow us to easily darken in order to create shadows or build up lighter colors to produce highlights in later steps. I used an airbrush for the base coat for expediency, but this is not necessary; you can apply the primer normally via brush.  

  • After priming, I began to drop in the shadows using a blend of 70% Sombre Grey and 30% Royal Purple. I also used the airbrush for this step, but a wash can be used over the entire mini focusing on the recesses.

  • The next shadow layer is a wash of pure Royal Purple used in the deepest folds. In addition, several layers of glaze consisting of Red Ink and Royal Purple were used on scar tissue and where the armor meets the flesh. Also in this step, I built up the highlight using several thinned down coats of Pale Flesh. I blended this by dragging the pigment on the brush from the bottom of the highlight towards the top of the highlight, concentrating the pigment at the top. Depending on how thin you make the Pale Flesh, you may need to go back with a clean wet brush and feather the lowest part of the highlight.

  • To create a more vivid and uniform color I glazed the main muscle mass with Turquoise. I then went in with a glaze of Red Ink on the distressed areas such as the mouth and where the flesh meets the armor.

Symbiobeast #2

  • I began by priming the mini with Dead Flesh.  I used multiple coats of paint, thinly applied, to maintain the detail of the mini.

  • Next, I mixed a wash using 50% Red Ink and 50% Sepia Ink.  Then I began to define the scarred areas or where the armor plating meets the flesh with the wash.

  • Excluding the scarred areas, I then built up the green tones by applying a wash of Livery Green.

  • Again, avoiding the scarring, I added contrast to the Livery Green base with a wash of Sombre Grey, and then three more additional washes in the recess further darkened the shadows.

  • Next, I completed the shadows by using a wash of Royal Purple to really bring out that sense of depth. 

  • After that, I brought the highlights back out by dry brushing the raised areas with Pale Flesh. (This may initially look a bit extreme, but it will tone down after the next step.) 

  • I then re-applied the washes we used in Steps 2 and 4, as well as a glaze of Livery Green over the green sections while avoiding the “shadows.” This took several coats, but helped bring the entire piece together. Finally, in order to complete the definition, I applied a final highlight of Pale Flesh to the highest raised points of the mini such as the top of the shoulders.

Final Thoughts

This is a good set overall, but it doesn’t have the range of uses that some other Vallejo kits offer. If you need a kit to paint either blue or green fleshtones then this kit is perfect, but your options are otherwise limited. The instructions are very good for showing concepts of shading and highlighting and include handy infographics to illustrate these concepts, but is vague on consistencies and methods of paint used.

I think the instructions included are focused on larger-scale models with more texture than the models I used. However, these kits still give you the tools for creating some striking and unique demons, monsters, or even orcs. I would recommend this to anyone looking to go beyond the beginner level or for someone more advanced who wants to add some new color themes to their miniature repertoire.  Beginners could make good use of the color scheme included, and this kit would also be helpful in teaching them some more advanced techniques.