Since September 9th was the closing of the voting for Reaper Miniature‘s entries for their Official Quarterly Reaper Group Bones Painting Contest (but this blog was down then…) here are all my step-by-step photos of my figure I intended to post then.
For my disclosure on this or any of my post or pages… please visit my Disclosure page.
The contest was to paint a version of their 77162: Yephima, Female Cloud Giant miniature which I had as part of the Bones Kickstarter I backed some time ago.
When I first unpacked her, this model actually inspired a character in my Blackspire campaign (a vampire frost giantess styling herself “The Snow Queen”) so this contest was really a great excuse to actually paint my version of her. I hope with my choosing frost v. cloud she’ll still “count”.
Below are the various steps I took to take my Snow Queen paint job from start to finish, broken down over the three days I worked on her.
I’d begun with a nice dark neutral blue undercoat, and using a thin blue ink, shaded the dark areas of her skin. As I really want to push the icy/vampire aspect, my focus is on using layers of white glaze to build up over this blue to give her a very luminous/porcelain kind of tone.
As the contest discourages conversions (head/weapon/etc.) but allows for the figure to be based however we like, I opted to push the snow aspect one step further, and so will shoot to create a snowy stone base (with small rivers of blood in the cracks).
So to accomplish this, I took one of the Sculpey coasters my wife Jenny had once made, but which had gotten dropped and cracked. I broke the coaster apart (as artistically as I could) and attached it to a standard 3″ base with the intention of making it look like a broken slab of ancient carved stone. That I also hit with a nice neutral gray undercoat.
Knowing I’d be re-basing the figure later, but still wanting her to stand on her own as I’m working on her, I took this opportunity to use an exacto blade to almost completely remove the figure from its base. This will ensure I don’t accidentally damage the paint job when I later remove her completely (so the feet, club, and the perimeter of the cloth is all separated now).
I’d recently picked up a few new Vallejo paint mediums (a Glaze, a Gloss varnish, and a Matte varnish) at my local HobbyTown store, and since I’m shooting for a very limited color pallet, using different textures is a good way to really distinguish between similar colors so I plan to use all three on this figure. So I set to work mixing up a very thin white glaze and applying it over and over on her skin until I’d caused the dark blue beneath to almost vanish.
For the lightest lights of the skin I then dry-brushed on some opaque white, and then hit it all with a very thin blue wash to pull it all together.
For the larger pieces of her armor, I had the idea to really try to push the icy aspect of it, so to start with I began with a coat of Reaper’s own (old skool) ocean blue, and then used a rich blue ink to accentuate the shadows.
I then went over that same blue with a coat of DecoArt’s One Step Crackle, which when dried will give it a texture I hoped I would be able to make look like cracked ice. Where it cracks the blue below should show through, and I’ll be able to dry-brush over the texture on the raised bits.
I took a really light blue and then later white to pull out as much texture from the cracks that formed on the armor as I could.
Then I went back in again, this time with a blue glaze of Winsor Newton ink and yeah… that’s starting to work…
For the base, simple grey wouldn’t do, so I dry-brushed on a blueish-gray for the mid-tones, then used a very pale gray to pull out the highlights. Much of this will end up covered in snow eventually, but what does show through should look like stone.
I now start in with details of the hair and face. I want to give her those creepy all-white eyes, but beneath them I hit her lower eyelids with a faint blood red wash, which when less is more, is definitely more. I dry-brushed the hair out in various stages using a very light blue.
In the Blackspire world, white marble veined with gold is often considered sacred, so I decided I wanted to go for that effect with her (clearly storied) club as well. To start with I began with a very stony gray and then pulled out the highlights with simple white dry-brushing.
The same from the back. Also you can see some very cool “icy” effects on the back of her armor as well.
Then on to the fabrics of her outfit. I plan to eventually work in some design to the hem, but for now a nice rich blue with a liberal blue wash will do.
I’ll play with gradients on the cloth as I go, but for now I just worked out a few more highlights on the hair and armor before I called it a night.
I was immediately displeased with how the cloth looked, so hit it again with another layer of blue wash. I also used a blue glaze on the icy armor and now it’s really singing.
I started dry-brushing out the cloth texture of her out fit, which now looks a bit “velvetier”.
Now it was time to start working in the metallic bits. As I want to stay with the icy theme, I want to keep my pallet in the silver to steel range.
I start with a mid-range metallic (Citadel’s Boltgun Metal to be precise), but also pull more whites out of the stone club. I plan to play around with the colors of the metals as well, so starting medium, washing to dark and them highlighting like crazy with really light colors is the plan.
I also starting working in a pattern of snowflakes along the hem of the cloth. I could probably have done a better job with this part, but I think they convey what I’m going for.
Now to separate the blue of the fabric more, I give that entire portion a liberal coat of Matte Varnish. After the rest of the metal is all worked in, I give those sections a wash of black shade to give myself the darkest darks. It’ll only get brighter from here.
Now it’s down to brass tacks, so I began with picking out the metal fasteners of her club in a orange gold and washed it with sepia. I also used a silver metallic to start picking out the highlights of the metal.
I then chose a yellow gold for the bits of her armor and washed those with a dark brown. I also began using watered down dark gray to start pulling out the marble textures of the stone club. I also used a light blue to give a slight blueish shimmer to the silver parts. I also start to pick out the gold veins in the mace, as well as those jewel adornments, and gave the stone a gloss varnish to finalize its marble-ness.
Close enough to complete, I figured it was time to free her from her original base and start working on her new one.
Now, the goal here is creating dichotomies of patterns, specifically the pattern of the snowy surface, and the un-snowy relief portions (some which will fill with blood). So to start I began using craft glue ant painting in only the surface portions of the stone and then covering them with white flocking (specifically Citadel Snow which I picked up a while ago from Titan Games and Hobies).
I decided to give it two coats, as the first one hadn’t quite covered all the portions I wanted.
Now I love how visually arresting “blood on the snow” is, and so for a vampire frost giantess what could be more appropriate. I envisioned creating a scene where it looks like the Snow Queen has just brained some poor opponent with her massive club, splattering him across the pure snow.
So to start I wrapped up everything but her club in paper towels and using an old toothbrush and Citadel’s blood medium I gave her weapon a liberal splattering. This stuff dries shiny, so it will always look fresh and wet. Gross. Awesome.
Ah, the pristine white of the snowy base. I’m only going to get one chance at this next part…
Using the same toothbrush and healthy dollops of blood, I splattered it all across the snowy base. The blood actually ended up nowhere near where I was trying to put it, but I think this arrangement looks 100 times better than what my intended placement would have looked like anyway, so happy accident. I went on further to fill some of the little canals with little bloody rivers as well.
So then it was just a simple matter of attaching her to the base. And finally to round out the figure I used the same flocking to add snowfall to her shoulders, hair, and crown. I also added a rivulet of blood dripping from her lips, as well as some running off her fingers and sown her leg… almost as if she’d reached down into the snow to sip her finger in the blood to sample it… vampiriffic!
Then all that was left is the dozens of little fixes and clean up stuff to get her finally ready for the runway so to speak.
Ah… the final glamour shot. This is the image that was sent to the competition.
I hope you like my Snow Queen.
For my disclosure on this or any of my post or pages… please visit my Disclosure page.