It was 1990 when my GW adventures began with White Dwarf 129. In those nostalgic days there were regular articles guiding readers through creative (and, at times, extremely complex) modelling projects. These Modelling Workshops (mostly done by Dave Andrews, who still works for GW on their scenery I believe) covered the basics: hills, fences, rivers, etc. but, some were far more complex: larger scenery pieces, Ork Battlewagon conversions, even one that guided readers through the process of making a Baneblade tank from scratch (using little more than some cardboard, spare bases and discarded pens)!
Some of my favourite Modelling Workshops detailed the fantasy townhouses, barns, coaching inns and more of the Empire. These really defined the look of Warhammer architecture for me and many of the ideas in those early articles continue in GW's kits today (with the addition of more skulls, naturally!)
The Warscryer Citadel, with its mix of wooden fame and stone wall, the jagged tiled rooftops, the muddled placement of building levels, the mash of architectural styles... Ah, it gives me such fuzzy nostalgic yearnings for those olden days. It's also a great showcase of how far GW's plastic production has come, making the realistic part of me very thankful for progress!
Honesty time - I haven't blasted this paint job out over the weekend! It's the first version of the model, painted back in late 2011, but I figure it's probably worth looking back at it, what with the Warscryer Citadel available again this weekend.
Adding tones to natural materials
Painting this kit was a real learning experience for me. I experimented with coloured glazes through my airbrush, to add nuance and realistic tones to the earth's raw materials on the rock and stone.
I used to approach stone in a basic way, working through a couple of highlights in grey and finishing off with a lighter drybrush. With this project I changed things up and many of the techniques I tried out are part of my painting arsenal to this day.
I still started with several highlight stages in grey, applied from above through my airbrush on a black undercoat. But, before moving to the drybrushing stage, I added a many different colours as nuanced glazes. There are blues, purples, reds, greens, and browns in the rocks here. It's a subtle effect, not too easy to pick out individually, but as a whole I think it brings more interest and realism to the look of the scenery piece.
All of the glazes were thinned until there was barely any noticeable colour coming through the airbrush. It's important to use a really low pressure in your compressor when your paint is this thin, otherwise the mix just blasts through in seconds! You can apply the same touches with a brush, but an airbrush makes the whole process so much faster.
By applying the glaze with some care, aiming strategically, at recesses or areas of interest on the stone, you can create some awesome mood and tone. If you need to shift the colour around after the initial application (or if it pools anywhere) you can quickly stop pushing paint through the brush and use just air pressure to 'push' the glaze around before it dries. Be quick though, or you'll end up with tide-lines from the glaze partly drying then being disturbed again.
You can see the effect quite clearly in some of these detail pictures. You'll also notice that there are areas where I went in with a brush and thicker glazes, applying them liberally to some of the stones. This added even more variety and interest to the architecture.
Since using this technique on the model I've worked it into my terrain painting, base painting and the way I paint skin on larger miniatures.
Details - go for the easy win!
I think models that fall into the 'high-tabletop' level of painting benefit the most from a final pass of smart detail application. What do I mean by this? Well, some people are happy to go back and carefully add one last stage of blending, or one more level of careful edge highlights to make their models pop. I admire those people, but that's not me, and I think that on a time versus results scale, that's not the way to go.
I'm always trying to find the quick wins - little things that will make the model stand out without much time investment. These can be details that really catch the eye from a distance or reward a closer look. In both of these circumstances contrast is very important.
So, the Citadel has heavy weathering on its metal parts (applied quite roughly if I'm honest) to create big impact. By bringing an oxidised blue into this weathering it makes it stand out more than a subtle tone and also works in a cohesive way with the building roof tiles.
And those tiles - they are in a blue that's rather at odds with the natural tone of the rest of the Citadel. I can't say it was intentional - I think I'd have toned down the saturation if I painted this same model now - but it works. It makes the eye skip through the levels of the building because it stands out from the natural rock and wood tones. It's not horribly jarring though, contrast is great, too much contrast can be very bad!
And then, finally, there are more refined details. None of these took too long to add but reward a closer look. From the bird muck splatters on the tiles, to the reflective lens of the telescope, and down to the application of clump foliage and climbing ivy. These things bring dimension and life to the model and took very little time to add.
What would I do differently?
If I painted this awesome kit again (and I'm considering it, believe me!) I think I'd do most of the work in the exact same way. The only major difference is that I'd make sure there were more dark tones in the recesses. The overall tone is a bit too saturated. I could actually go back and do this here, with oil paints, if I so desired. But that's a technique to talk about some other time.
And just to finish up, here are a couple of shots of a gaming display board I made. This, again, uses a load of different glazes to bring interest to the environment. I had practiced with the technique by this point and managed to paint this whole 2'x4' board in something like 5 hours from start to finish. So, if you want to make terrain with impact, but don't want to take ages doing it, it's well worth trying out!