Friday, July 8, 2016

On Miniatures - Essay The Fourth - Inferences and Choices

Various editons of the Chlen:
Original sculpt, resin in primer. basic colors, detailed and 'weathered';
Tummy scales shown at top.
Let's move on a bit in the painting process, if we may. I'm using a pretty basic paint scheme, that of a Chlen beast, to get us started in the process of color and paint selections.

Back in the day, we didn't have model Chlen to paint, but we did discuss what color Chlen-hide, that common and useful material - this of it as the 'plastic' of Tekumel - might be as we saw it so much. Phil considered the problem, and I brought him a couple of color charts ('chip charts', we used to call them) to look at. These used to be given away for free by paint companies in hobby stores; these days, you can get them from the companies on-line.

So, Phil looked over the Humbrol and Floquil chip charts, and selected a nice green-grey color for basic chlen-hide: Humbrol Authentics HP-4, 'British Army Deep Bronze Green'. I used I don;t know how much of the stuff over the years, as anything made of Chlen-hide that wasn't going to be dyed a different color - like weapons or armor, for example -  got this color.

Now, this particular color - like the rest of the Authentics line - is no longer available; however, we look at the IPMS Stockholm chart, and we see that it has been replaced by Super Enamel 075, 'Matt Bronze Green'. So, off to the hobby shop, and four of the classic Humbrol tinlets go into the drawers of my painting stand.

Two bits of very hard-won advice for anyone thinking about using Humbrol:

1) When you are using the stuff, keep a supply of toothpicks handy and stir the paint every now and then. Humbrol has a very high density of very fine pigment -it's why it's such a good model paint - and keeping it stirred helps keep the stuff at it's best.

2) After each time you use the stuff, clean off the cap / lid of the tinlet and make sure it's clean. Any air leaks into the little can will cause the paint to dry out with truly astonishing rapidity, and the stuff is not cheap. An occasional drop of the right thinner doesn't hurt, either, but one much be judicious about this.

Nowadays, we happen to be able to get a very nice Chlen from Howard Fielding of The Tekumel Project; this is a model done for me by one of my players, and is of the full-grown mature Chlen. Phil once commented that the beasts are big and slow, and this one certainly fits the description he gave as well as the drawing he did that was on the game board of "War of Wizards".

The model has belly scales, and these had been mentioned in our of our games by Phil as being the same sort of greyish-green, but much lighter. So, enter Liquitex Artist's Acrylics, stage right. Phil was an early adopter of these for his models; he didn't go to the art supply store, but being both clever and thrifty went to the University of Minnesota Bookstores' art supplies section. He pointed these excellent paints out to me, and I took the suggestion and have been using them ever since.

Back in the day, Liquitex made a very handy device like a circular slide rule, but with colors instead of numbers. one spun the inner wheel to get the colors that matched the sample printed on the outer wheel, and so got the color matches for the base color. It's a lot like the complimentary shades one finds in various paint ranges - the Reaper 'triads' come instantly to mind - and it makes it very easy to select colors. I don't know if this handy device is still made, or if a similar device is available from other companies; I'd be willing to hazard a guess that there is an on-line tool that does this same function.

Be that as it may, a little comparison work and we get out the bottle of Liquitex 'Baltic Green'. This color is in the same chromatic range as our 'Bronze Green', and a fair bit lighter - I used this lighter color because the beast's belly is going to be hard to see - it's always going to be in shadow, on the game table - so the lighter color makes it stand out when a player does have a look across the table. Details, like the yellow for the eyes, is simply one of the yellows from the Liquitex range. I also used the 'Baltic Green' to drybrush the beast, to bring up the details of the horns, toenails, and bumps on the hide. It looks good, I think, and brings out the details on the beast.

We'll let the beast(s) dry, and in the nest installment of this series of essays approach a more complicated subject...