Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ask the Bastards #4

 In Ask the Bastards #4, we'll be posting our thoughts about the great paint conundrum:

How the hell do you paint the color BLACK?

Our cathartic querent communicates:
I think i'm a semi-decent painter, but I'm struggling to paint "black armour" for my Empire and Bret forces -- I'd like to end up with something that looks like a slightly cleaner version of what the Black Orcs look like. Any help would be deeply appreciated.


Black is an extremly difficult color to paint. Back in the day I once painted up an entire Union Force for Vor all in black. All I got for my effort was a strong ribbing that the primer did all the painting for me and no apprecation for the time that went into the paint job (thanks Dan!).

From traditional painting I learned that in nature, there really is no true black. Rather than actually using black, try going with a charcoal which will blend better than black. Instead of blending in skull white on the highlight layer use a lighter color from another part of the model. On my Usahabit I highlighted the skin by mixing in bleached bone to the base color. Also never drybrush black as dark colors, especically black, come out very chalky when drybrushed. Here are a couple of other links that you might find useful:


Interesting question. I'm definitely of the opinion that less fuss gets you better results when it comes to black on an army. Anything more than a single highlight or two looks like a dark gray or dark blue to me, depending on which gray colors you are using in the GW color line.

So what do I do? Stick to one *thin* highlight with a gray midtone color, and only at creases/edges/etc. They key for me is thin here. Assuming you have some depth from layers or washes on every other color you're using, a mostly flat black won't look out of place.

For armor, in particular, I think a gilded look would be best if you're set on black armor. Keep the plates flat black and paint the edges gold or silver with a steady hand. The overall look will depend on the straightness of your lines, so take your time and redo the rough edges. It's easy enough to paint the plate black and try again.

I took a look at the GW Black Orcs and it looks like they've done just about that. Most of the 'eavy metal skill came in getting the roughshod silver fleck look down on the flat black armor.


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