Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Painting the Balrog

I have owned this miniature from Games Workshop for probably six years or so.  It has been primed and sitting on my hobby desk for so long that the black primer was starting to look gray from the dust accumulating.  For some reason (OK, for many reasons) I just could not bring myself to start the project.  One of those reasons was that I've never had much luck using bright/warm colors on my miniatures.  The opacity does not agree with my style I think.  I've always been one to paint dark/drab miniatures to represent the gritty and dirty view I have of a fantasy world.  But when it comes to fire, I really have no choice.  So instead of painting the most fearsome beast to appear in the Lord of the Rings, he sat in the corner long forgotten like some lost relic. 

Flipping through an old issue of White Dwarf magazine I came upon an article on painting the Balrog (issue 265).  The Painting Masterclass section showcased a step by step tutorial on painting the miniature and most importantly, tips on bringing the fire to life.  The miniature in the photos certainly looks stunning in its finished form but I did not like the look of the flames on the "mane" of the creature.  They looked too washed out and took away from the realism of the model.

So, like a fool, I decided to try to create my own version of otherwordly fire.  What follows below is my version of the Balrog.

I forgot to take photos before starting to paint so I "cleverly" left one side unpainted to illustrate the process.  Here you can see that after priming the miniature in black, I went into each and every crevice that will eventually be "fire based" and painted an additional undercoat of white.  In doing so, the reds, yellows, and oranges used to create the fiery appearance of the Balrog will show through with greater vibrancy and illumination. 

A view of the Balrog after the additional white undercoat.

After going through the painstaking process I began to wonder if spraying the Balrog white first then going over the high spots in black would be easier.  As I do not plan on painting another Balrog, I guess I will never know.  Have any readers tried doing it the other way?

Another view of the undercoated Balrog.

 My next step was to mix up an appropriate fiery color to represent the flames and burning flesh.  I started with a mix of GW Golden Yellow mixed with Skull White and a bit of red ink.  I used this color as a base for the fire.  I then mixed Vallejo Model Color Orange Fire with a bit of red and orange ink for the next step.  I made the mix quite watery to allow some of the yellow to show through.

The flames of the Balrog are starting to show through.

The plan is to continue the process throughout the model.  In places where I feel that a more subdued "smoldering" type fire would be appropriate, I will tone down the flames with a darker wash.

At least one side of the Balrog is seeing progress.
After getting the initial flames completed, I started to add a bit of detail with orange and red inks.  Again I made the mixes quite watery (even for inks) so that the color would pool in the deeper areas of the flames where one would expect a deeper/hotter flame. 

The Balrog erupts in flames.

As I began to work on the facial areas, I wanted to emulate the fierce heat erupting from the mouth and nostrils as seen in the movie.  I added both Skull White and Vellejo Moon Yellow to the standard mix to bring intensity to the flames.  I also wanted a bit of a different color scheme on the face to differentiate it from the rest of the body.
A sight I most certainly would not want to see in real life.

Once I get the other side painted and matched up I will post more photos then get started on the skin and base.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

What Am I Waiting For?

As Gaffer Gamgee told his son, "it's the job that's never started that takes the longest to finish".  This sage advice attributed to the old Gaffer and repeated by Sam in the chapter "The Mirror of Galadriel" certainly applies to this blog.  Many months ago I spent a considerable amount of time trying to get everything in order and ready for posting.  Oh I had such grand designs and planned to post frequently on my various projects, games, and ideas.  But, as one can tell by the dates, I've failed epically in the task.

It's not that I've ignored the blog.  The problem is quite the opposite actually.  Immediately following my last post, I began to document every project, game, or notion that came along.  Photos were compiled, notes taken, drafts created but absolutely zero output was placed on the blog.  The reason?  I wanted everything to be perfect I guess.  I kept gathering more and more material and telling myself I need to edit this or rearrange that before making a post.  My plans kept getting in the way of execution until I had such a backlog of material and ideas, that the simple task of putting those on the screen seemed overwhelming.

Well no more.  It's time to get started or to retire the blog that never was.  Over the next few days, I'll open the flood gates and let all those posts that have been building for the past several months come pouring out.  Hopefully the outcome will be less of a natural disaster and more along the lines of a controlled damn release.

So Gaffer, I'm taking your advice and getting started.