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Porn King!!!
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Layering is a basic technique for applying highlights to a model that are both more precise and cleaner looking than your basic drybrushing. While drybrushing certainly has its benefits, when applied to an entire model it gives the model a dirty look and is hard to control exactly where you want the paint to go. With layering, you decide where the highlights will be. Some basic things to remember before you go ahead and start painting them:

1) Determine both the starting colour and the final colour that you want to aim for. Don't be upset if the final colour comes out a bit different however, that is normal. Choosing the colours you want to start and finish with will help with choosing highlight colours.

2) Determine where your light source is coming from. This sounds like a silly thing to worry about but it is actually very important. A model that is lit by noontime sun will be highlighted substantially different than one that is lit by the sun from behind at dusk. Personally, I like to do my layering as if lit by the sun from directly above as it is easier :)

3) Decide on just how many layers you want. For quicker painting on models you just want to look decent on the table, 2 is enough (not including the base colour) but for models that you REALLY want to look impressive, you are going to need far more. I tend to paint everything with at least 4+ layers but that is just me.

For a reference, here is the Thousand Son model I posted here along with the how to on how I did it:

For the Steel Blue

50/50 FolkArt Metallic Sequin Black/DecoArt Metallic Ice Blue
3-4 layers of Metallic Ice Blue mixed with increasing amounts of Mithril Silver

For the Gold

Tin bitz base
50/50 Tin Bitz/Shining Gold
Shining Gold
50/50 Shining Gold/Mithril Silver for the extreme highlights


Vermin Brown
3-4 coats of vermin Brown with increasing amounts of Bleached Bone
50/50 Bleached Bone/Skull White
Skull White (extreme highlights only. Will look fine without this step as well)
The design on the tabbard is done in pure Ultramarines blue iirc

Hoses and gun clip/basic metal parts

Boltgun Metal
Black Ink wash (no water added, straight Ink)


FolkArt Lime Yellow
50/50 Lime Yellow/Skull White


Blood Red
Blazing Orange
Skull White (dot)

Barbed Wire

Vermin Brown base
Boltgun Metal heavy drybrush coat. just shy of a wet coat actually

In order to paint with layers, you simply start with a darker colour of what you want to end up with and add more and more of a lighter highlight colour to the mix in order to continue the progression from dark to light. Each time you go a step lighter you paint a smaller area within the previous one. Depending on how many coats you want to do and how smooth you wish the transition from dark to light to be, you can paint successive layers either very close to the outside edge of the previous colour or you can go smaller and leave a fair bit of the previous colour showing. Going fairly close to the edge of the last colour will result in a smoother looking blend of colours but takes a lot more layers than leaving a larger amount of the previous colour. However, leaving larger layers is perfect for tabletop quality minis and requires much less time. Seems like a ton of work but it really isn't as more often than not, you are going to be adding just a bit more of the lighter colour and doing another coat immediately after the first so it goes fairly fast. I will use the steps for the Steel Blue as the basis for this article.

In this case I use a 50/50 mix of Metallic Sequin Black/Metallic Ice Blue to achieve the initial colour. This is then painted on the entirety of the surfaces you wish to be the colour you are going for. Don't be afraid to get paint on other surfaces at this point as you can simply clean up these areas with your black/white bascoat when you are done. Keeping the paint you have just used, add a small amount of Mithril Silver to the mix and paint the next stage in a slightly smaller area than the last coat. Repeat this step 3 or 4 more times, adding in more Mithril Silver as you go until you reach the desired effect. A good spot in the pic here to see the separate layers is on the loincloth. You can see the dark first layer and the next few layers within each other fairly clearly. This method can be applied to any mini with any colour and once you get the hang of it is extremely easy to do.

Hopefully this will help anyone here who has been wondering just what layering is and how it is done.

924 Posts
This is actually a very fun technique and wraith uses metallics to achieve this effect and i use NMM, but honestly it's fun to paint in this manner and in my opinion generally looks much better than the usual GW edge lining.

The main thing is to visualise the light source and what areas are being hit by the light, and how surfaces can diffuse the intensity of the light too. A trick to helping you is after you've primed the model, grab a lamp or torch and shine it from the angle you want and take a photo of the model. This will show which areas are being hit by the light and the intensity too.
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