Here are some quick, dirty shots of the experiments I've been working on with my Carnifex plates.
This is the first thing I tried, on a plain carapace:
I tried five different things on this piece:
Right side is two thinned coats of RMS Pale Olive applied with my standard size 0 brush. I'm not a fan of this one, as applying it with the small brush seems to both take forever and cover poorly. You don't do big, flat areas with a tiny brush.
Top center is a straight wash of Thraka Green over the white primer. I wanted to see what it looked like. Meh.
Bottom center is a super thinned coat of Pale Olive applied with a size 2 brush. I actually liked the effect here, but don't feel it's sustainable or visually interesting. It looks a lot like watercolor.
Left bottom is another double coat of Pale Olive, again applied with the size 0 brush. I then put the Thraka Green wash over top of it on the left top. Looks like crap.
This is another smooth carapace that I painted with RMS Forest Green. I tried not thinning the paint a all, and simply applied it with a moistened (not soaked) size 2 brush. I put a quick coat on that covered poorly, and then picked up my desk a little. I went back to the carapace about 5 minutes later and tried another coat. The brush pulled off some of the prior coat and pushed it around. I used that and started pulling the paint in streaks back to the bottom points.
It's a neat effect, but it's not a skilled application of paint. I could probably use it as a base for something, but I think it would just end up looking a mess when I was done.
This is a slightly thinned wash of Pale Olive applied with the size 2 brush on the spore cyst carapace. I actually like this effect quite a lot. It's got nice contrast, and the pale effect I was going for. The problem again is that it just looks like watercolor, not a skilled application of paint.
I sat and thought about these samples as I tried to drum up an 1850 Nid list for the third annual Standish Standoff in November (which is hard to do).
I think the problem I'm running into is that I'm trying to achieve too much with a single color of paint and washes. Looking back at some of the Tyranid armies I've admired online, the painters don't go straight from their primer to their base color/shading. They apply a SOLID coat of the core color, then wash down, highlight back up. I was using the white primer as a shortcut to get the palest color I could, instead of mixing proper shades. The Cult of White Primer is a whole new religion for me after six years of being a Black Primer Cultist.
I also think I'm starting with the wrong bits to practice on. Big, flat plates are simple work, and don't lend themselves to any real technique. I have some thing I will ultimately try out on them, but right now I should be working on the non-plated parts of Tyranids. I think the trap I fell into was attempting to get that mottled crab look on every piece of a model. It's just not going to work for two reasons: it doesn't carry well to a painted medium, and Nids are not crabs and they do not share a complete anatomy.
If every single part of a Tyranid was plated like a crab, I could see the blends and mottling working. I could simply mimic the blends on the appropriate body parts and be done. However, Nids have some very non-crustacean features, especially their limbs. This means I have to think up a more organic paint job for them. Attempting to smoothly blend each segment of a bio weapon or scything talon would look crappy, and make me insane.
I need to refine my color scheme to something more traditionally Tyranid. I need a single palette for the body sections, another for armor plates, and a third for all the little detail parts like the exposed musculature you see on a lot of parts. There's a batch of new paint colors on its way to me from Reaper right now. I put the order in the other day. Once that arrives and I test out the new colors, I can decide on my final color palettes. Until then, I will have to get out some of the many spare arms and bio weapons I have in my new bits collection and start priming a few. I'm considering switching to a spray can primer, as I simply do not have the time to sit down and airbrush prime so many Nid parts. I'm commuting or at work from 7am to 5:30pm every day, and the boy is in bed by 6:30. No time to spray on a weeknight, ever.
Any tips, suggestions, or feedback on the above samples or my musings today?