Wrinkles in Clothes – Step by step.
A while ago, someone asked me to post a step-by-step on how I paint clothing wrinkle and crease patterns on 15mm figures. Well . . . here it is. Finally.
Once you see how this is done, you’ll realize that anyone could paint figures like this. One big drawback is that it is so slow, that painting an army for gaming would take a long, long time. Then again, when one gets as bored as me, you really won’t care. If I were painting for gaming, with a deadline, the style would be considerably loosened, just to have enough figures to use for a game. Not only that, but when these figures are on a game table, no one would notice details like wrinkles in clothing. Therefore, it isn’t for everyone, but if you like the style, it isn’t that tough to do, if you have the right equipment and patience to pull it off.
The first thing to consider is the equipment you have. There are a few things that come in very handy, especially given the small scale. The first is some sort of optical aid – here is a picture of mine, a pair of OptiVisor binocular magnifiers. The binocular part is really important; if you just took a magnifying glass, or light with a magnifier on it, you’d lose depth perception, which is essential. By magnifying both eyes independently, you can see not just the figure better, but you can see the contours sculpted into it, and you can tell where your brush meets the figure. I think these are 5x. I used to paint without optics, but you can go blind that way. Not the way my mother thought I’d go blind . . .
Another useful tool is something to hold your figures steady at various angles. One hand can be shaky enough; two hands are doubly shaky. Therefore, I have these weighted clamps that can be used to hold the figures. This helps a lot. I think these clamps can be found in almost any decent hobby shop – I bought this at a HobbyUSA store.
An item that is not to be without is a good paintbrush. I’ve found that it is impossible for me to paint in the style I paint without just the right paintbrushes. These two are sizes 00 and 10/0, but more important than the size is the sharp point at the end. You’ll see why in a minute. Suffice to say that without the right paint brush, painting details like folds in clothing is a non-starter.
The last big consideration is the figure manufacturer. Lately, I’ve been using AB figures because they are so well sculpted. For wrinkles in clothing, it’s hard to find a better brand. Most of the major wrinkle and fold patterns are sculpted into the figure – subtly but enough to notice. Other brands are o.k., like Warmodelling or Old Glory – but with either of them, the features of the figures are exaggerated in a way that makes them look great from a distance, but not so much when up close and personal.
For this demonstration, I’ll be painting Portuguese Cacadores (I need a battalion for my Arroyo scenario). Again, the manufacturer is AB, which always turn out nicely. The first thing to do is to paint the major clothing areas with your base color. The Cacadores wore brown uniforms that faded to tan after time. I painted the base color with Vallejo Flat Brown (70984). The next thing to do is choose the highlight color (I only use two tones on 15mm figures). In this case, I have Delta Ceramcoat Raw Sienna (02411). You’ll want enough contrast between the dark and light colors to see the detail, but not so much contrast that you paint a cartoon. I always start with the delicate stuff first with the small brush (10/0), dipped in water and rolled to a very sharp point. It is important not to dip the brush too far into the paint – just enough to put a little paint on the brush. Then I roll the brush one or two rotations on a palate to make sure that the point of the brush still goes down to just about the last hair.
|Basic background color painted on the figure's clothes.|
|One shouldn't sink the brush too far into the paint. That will eventually ruin the brush and keep you from achieving fine detail.|
|Brush rolled a couple times to sharpen the point.|
|A comparison between the shade color and the highlight color. There's contrast enough to make a nice figure without being too contrasted.|
I usually start by doing the intricate parts first with the small brush. This includes the crinkles in the pants around the athletic cup, bends in knees, and elbows. At this point, the figure isn’t anything to write home about. In fact, Martha Stewart would have a cow.
|Here I have a couple of the minute details done. I use the bigger brush for the larger areas.|
After that, I use the bigger brush (still with a sharp point on it, though) to fill in the bigger parts (thighs, back of legs, back of arms where the tension of the arm in the uniform doesn’t leave creases or wrinkles.
If you don’t like what you have, you can touch the whole thing up in reverse. Just take the small brush with a fine point, and add wrinkles with the shade color. You could do this forever, but really what you want to do is leave soft and subtle changes in shade in the shape of the wrinkles of the clothes.
Then, as an aside, I’ll paint the tunic between the strips of piping. This is the secret to painting piping and lace – turn the figure on its side so that you are using the brush vertically. Why? The muscles of the hand operate differently when you use a vertical stroke versus a horizontal stroke. I think you’d be amazed at the accuracy of your brush strokes just using this simple trick. If you make a slight boo-boo, you can just paint over it with the piping base color (in this case, black). That way when you highlight the piping, you can just let the very tip of the small brush ride along the raised contour of the piping, leaving what appears to be an impossibly small strip of piping. In this case, I use Vallejo Dark Gray (70994) to highlight black on the figure, including the piping.
|Figure held sideways to allow for vertical brush strokes while doing the |
|The same figure with the piping and belts highlighted.|
|A finished figure, ready to be mounted.|
And that's it. It's enough to keep the hobby challenging, but without going batshit crazy. Below you can see a pic that this guy fits in o.k. with his line infantry comrades. Happy painting! BTW, I'd like to see your stuff, too. If I could figure out how to have you put your stuff on here, I think that would add to the quality of my blog. Best wishes!
|A Cacadore next to the line infantry.|