Step by Step - Barracuda

by Roman aka jar

posted by roman, jarhead, kong

Welcome reader to another step by step article.
This time it is about a bust - a small bust, which is about 4 centimeters in height, Barracuda by Tales of War's Ron and Bones. Sadly the Ron and Bones series is not available anymore. I recently found out and this made me sad. I had at least paint this bust as I really do like the character very much. He looks like an evil guy from a Walt Disney movie.

In this step by step I will tell about my way of working on the bust, some failures, my remorse and in the end I can say that I am still happy with the result. Sounds interesting to you? Then read on ...

Step 1 - Priming

I primed the bust black only. Usually I am up to the 2K priming method explained here, but lately I enjoy starting my figures very dark as it feels easier to paint smaller lights in the end. It helps me to avoid too bright areas where I can't place a light.

Step 2 - Basic Colour 

I used my airbrush to bring on my basic skin tone. A mix from a dark brown and a drop of black to make it even darker. I applied it for about 3 times to make this first layer opaque. Let each layer dry first before you apply the next one. At this point I already realised the figure had some dirt on it, like somelint. I did not understand why, as I was cleaning the figure properly and so I went on, instead I should have stripped it again as these little lints made some areas strange during the process.

Step 3 - Finding the skin tone

Now I choose to find my skintone by applying a brighter skintone on the bust via airbrush. Again I applied it for 2~3 times. I did not spray the figure from the downside as I want to keep the dark skin there for the shadows.

I repeated this with more brighter colours in my airbrush mix. While the mix gets brighter I tried to spay from above to already bring out some light areas. In fact this is some kind of sketch. Another failure I realized was on the figures lips. There was a hole in the white metal I did not fill while in prep, damn. I was too lazy to do it in these early steps, but I knew I should do.

As you can see the final light I did put on the figure has a little drop of some yellowish colour in it. This makes your lights always pop out in the end. You can brighten up a colour by mixing in a lot of bright colours, not only white. The sketch is now over.

Step 4 - Basic tones of other material

I did place a bright brown on the leather area and washed it twice with Smoke by Model colour, also a quick sketch of what will happen there later. The metal parts have been painted black as prep and his bandana was painted with a black grey. That means I did not use pure black, instead I did mix in some Andrea colour, german field grey, to the black. I did this to avoid having a strong black area up there. If an area is started at pure black it is hard to paint darker shadows later on. Photo above lets the skin look to yellowish, strange photo, sorry.

Step 5 - Using Watercolour for skin variations

Right, watercolour.
Now this step needs soem further explanations for sure. Back on german Games Day 2012, Mo told us about painting water colour. I once gave it a try before but somehow it failed. We were up to give it another try in the end of 2012 and well it is cool, but somehow we don't yet understand what is truly happening there.

Now I try to explain. First of all this won't work with cheap watercolours as the pigments are not good. We are using watercolour from the german company Schmincke which is pretty expensive but great to use due its strong pigments. In fact you can use watercolour for glazing over an acrylic base. Works nice and you can quickly bring in some colour variations, BUT you can not glaze again over another area done with wc (watercolour) as the water from your second glaze will wash away your first glaze. Wc's always are removable with water, that is indeed a bad factor. 

I found a way for myself to handle it. I am not sure if I can explain it but I will try. So let's leave the upper photos away, skin variation has been done here, mostly in the shadow areas with wc. Now to the tricky part. If you are getting back to acrylics again you can now mix them in your wc - like blend them in. I yet have no idea what I am exactly doing there but it works. I try to explain more detailed via a graphic I have done:

1. Basic Skin tone
2. shadows with watercolour
3. Acrylic colour again

4. By using your brush you can easily blend it in (that is the point where I can't explain exactly as what is happening is just: "Put it where you want it!" I think after some tries you will soon get a feeling for it. What I remember from my process is that for the blend I often use thicker acrylic paint and wet it with my saliva. Mjam! Mjam! In fact this sort of painting feels like oil colours somehow, but tastes better. Much better.

You can repeat those steps as the wc's are not drying, even after days. For example you can mix in a stronger shadow somewhere or a cool colour variation like some red by just mixing in some acrylic to it. A small amount for small area, a bigger amount for big areas. Just that simple. If the amount of acrylic colour becomes more than the one of the wc's at a specific area it will stay fixed and the blending part is over, but as we all know: Sky is the limit and you can just put some wc on top of it again ... really it is hard to explain what is happening there. Kind of magic, but future will bring me more experience to explain this properly.

Step 6 - starting details

After my shadows were placed with wcs and gentle lights were put in place with acrylics (mainly at the facial area) I took some time highlight the black bandana a little bit, paint the eyes, bring some detail to the leather and paint a basic tone of metallics. The pirate recieved a beard too. First run on the eyes made one good and the other one ready for detail surgery, no sharp line here:

What I like is to check my range of contrast by looking at a black and white photo of the figure. On my example I can see the ear has a lot, the face is ok but still worth intensing and the chest and shoulder area needs much more.

In this step by step I failed again, because ... nah, I don't know!
In fact I did paint on, intensed a shadow here and therem brought shadow to the metallics by using some washes, intensed a light with the strange "watercolour-acrylic-blend-in-technigue", painted more lights to the bandana, redone his right eye, intensed the shadow of the beard, worked on the leather. This is always a very intense and concentrated work and while I realized I should do a photo again I was already mostly done with everything. FAIL.

Step 7 - Cleaning up, final work
I did apply some tatoos to the figure and some breast hair. For the tatoos I used a mix from dark blue/basic skintone/black. The skintone in the mix is important as it makes the tatoo look natural, not like done with with a black pen. I did use the airbrush again to make the chest skin tone darker overall.

I went for some red glazes of wc to the nose and eyes, even the nipples and the mouth (more dark brown here) but painted back some lights to the areas with acrylics as they faded away due the glazes. I intensed the contrast from light to dark even more but only in small areas. Worked on the leather for more structure with some brighter colours, glazed them again. Gently put some red tone to his facial scar.

Step 8 - Last steps

As final steps I did not much. Adding some glazes of black to the shadows of the bandana. Adding some final edge lights at the metal, painted his eyebrow and ear ring, added a little highlight there too and put some satine varnish to his skin via airbrush. I remember some brown dirt to the bandana too.
I did clean up too strong colour transitions in the skin with the use of aglaze of the basic skin tone.

I closed ... ok, let me say I tried to close the material hole at his upper lip. I was kind of scared and did not well. I took some liquid green stuff for it and repainted it, but somehow it cracked open again so I did again and again it cracked open. I was somehow in mode of finishing this piece and left it, just did put some red there to show that he maybe has a wound there or even herpes, who knows.

Step 9 - failure and remorse

Let me be honest. I am happy with the result of the painted bust. In fact I do love the face and the leather, but I have remorses too. I am angry at me because there are some unclean areas, that appeared from the fuzzy beginning and I did not solve them in the early start. I just closed my eyes and painted on. Even from preparing the figure I left some not nice places and I found them all while painting- I did not solve them, I just painted on, because it was a fun project, just wanted to paint him. Unfortanetly right now I think: Damn, 15 Minutes more in preparation and maybe a strip because of the fuzz and I would be even happier. My fault, my failure, but as said I am happy wit the result as he was planned for just this article and a happier me.

Next time I know better!
Hope you enjoyed this little mad article!

Keep on happy painting!
Best Wishes


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