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Brand the Barbarian (Dark Heaven: 2529)

by Derek Schubert

It's time for a lesson on skin. Brand the Barbarian happily obliges, stripping down to a loincloth and shinguards to stride into battle. I paint his skin tan, but people come in billions of colors: compare your arm to your best friend's arm, or even your arm to your foot. A pot of paint may say "Caucasian" or "Ruddy Flesh", but you can shift the tone with Chestnut Brown, Woodland Brown, Hawkwood, Dragon White, or Olive. (Save the blues and purples and bolder greens for aliens and zombies!) And no one says that your miniatures have to be Caucasian anyway; real-world humans are of countless skin colors and ethnicities, so shouldn't a fantasy world have even more variety?

Step One (Primed):

Step Two (Base Coats):

The base coat for the skin is Ruddy Flesh mixed with Woodland Brown. The brown keeps him from looking like he used too much sunless tanner and turned orange. His hair, sword hilt, sandals, and miscellaneous straps are Walnut. The shinguards and armguard are Volcano Brown, the sword blade is Dragon Black, and the handgrip (made of bone) is Caucasian. The loincloth starts off with Dove Gray. The base is Olive.

Step Three (Shading):

The shading on the skin is a thick wash of Woodland Brown plus Chestnut Brown, followed by a selective wash of Walnut at the armpits, jawline, and at borders with other materials. I wash the loincloth with Night Sky, the limb-guards with Walnut, and the sword handle with Hawkwood. This step shows the metal of the sword at an intermediate highlight, like Step Three of the swordswoman: Steel Plate (with some Walnut near the hilt) for the blade, Dragon Gold for the hilt. I wash the base with a mix of Olive and Walnut, with more Walnut around the feet.

Step Four (Highlighting):

I apply several layers of highlights to the skin, going from a mix of Chestnut Brown/Woodland Brown/Ruddy Flesh, to Ruddy Flesh/Pink, with Dragon White for the final highlights, which look too bright now. I drybrush the hair with a mix of Walnut and Dragon White, again overshooting the highlight that I want. The sandals are also Walnut with Dragon White. The loincloth gets Dragon White highlights. I layer the limb-guards with Chestnut Brown (and Ruddy Flesh for warm highlights) and the straps with Woodland Brown plus Dragon White. I finish the sword blade with Truesilver and the hilt with Bright Gold plus Truesilver. The base gets a highlight of Olive mixed with Hawkwood and Spring Yellow.

Step Five (Glazing/Details):

I paint the eyes as looking to the side to give the figure some motion; is the charging Brand surprised by something to his left? The nipples are a detail, painted with Chestnut Brown, Caucasian, and Dragon White. I even paint fine lines of Chestnut Brown around his fingernails and toenails. On the sword crossguard, I paint a pattern (as if engraved) with Walnut. Likewise, I add a Walnut line at the bottom of the loincloth. And I want the barbarian to look fierce, so I put some blood on his sword with a few controlled washes of Blood Red and tiny dots of Dragon White for reflected light off the wet blood. (But he hasn't even a scratch on him! What a great warrior!) Restraint is crucial when you add blood or mud or other dashes of realism: don't add so much that it detracts from your other painting work. I think about painting a tattoo or warpaint on the figure's arm, but decide against it.

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