Sunday 5 May 2013

Arcane Armorials: Painting a Citadelesque Banner Part One

If you recall my last post, I described to you how I built myself an old school style banner. Well, now its is time to start the process of painting one. Large banners of this type are going to be THE central focus point of your army, so getting the paint job right is very important. The skills employed are very similar to those used on freehand shields, only on a larger scale. Now, shields don't take me long. Maybe 30 minutes not including drying time. This first part of my banner tutorial reflects about two and a half hours work, including drying time. I am still a long way from finishing, but I hope I can show you how I went about painting the central 'Ogre Face' design. 

So here goes... 

Step One: Prepare your painting surface with several thin layers of sprayed on undercoat. I chose white, though any colour will do. You should have your finished result in the back of your mind when you choose your undercoat, I wanted a light, bright banner so went for white. More dreary colour schemes, like those of the skaven or Nurgle worshippers, may require a darker base.

Step Two: Sketch on your design with a soft pencil. You can try out all your ideas doing this and have some idea what the final product is going to look like. My sketch is shown above, and I quickly established that the Khorne symbol and the chaos star would clutter the banner so I painted over them in white. I also toyed with a chequered boarder, but also considered that this would clutter the banner so that went too!

Stage Three: Base colours and inking. Here I used watered down paint to fill in the base colours. A dirty yellow for the backdrop and red for the face. Once this was dry, I used black ink to pick out the deepest details of the design and filled in the edge. I then added the Blanche style 'wiggles' (anyone know what the correct terms for these are?) also using ink. There were a few white patches here and there, but nothing to worry about this stage. 

Stage Four: Here I built up the underlying highlights using increasing amounts of orange and white added to my base colour of red. Use a medium sized brush for this and keep the paint very fluid with plenty of water. You are really looking for the consistency of milk for this. Be very painterly; use dots, dabs and quick brush strokes. Try and work in the ink lining and start to build depth using the base colour. Don't worry if your face looks too pallid at this stage, your final highlights (switch to a smaller brush to do these) should be almost white. 

Stage Five: Next I used a mix of inks to build up the vibrancy of the colour over the top of my initial highlights. On the advice of Andy Craig, I invested in a set of Windor and Newton inks from a craft shop. What a difference these made to the colour tones I was able to achieve and I am looking forward to experimenting further when I get on to my chaos lord! Mixing in some brown ink, I was able to create a sense of mid tone depth around the crevices on the face.

Stage Six: Then it was a case of highlighting once more, adding increasing amounts of yellow (and later white) to the mix and building up the character of the face. Again, I tried to be as painterly as possible, employing quick strokes (you'll need to keep your water very watery to achieve accurate results), squiggles and stippling. Try and focus your highlighting on the areas around the initial black lines and reduce them down further until they are the thinnest of thin lines. Ensure that your eyes, nose and mouth stand out with bright highlighting around them. 

Stage Seven: Add the white to create the eyeball and teeth. Again, keep you paint fluid so that it is easier to work with. Be careful with the teeth. Paint from the outside in, starting with the big teeth and ending in the centre with the smaller ones.

Stage Eight: Return to your black ink, using it straight from bottle, to edge the teeth, deepen the mouth and complete the eyes as I have shown you above. This is detailed work, and it is important not to flood your painting by loading too much ink on to your brush. Test your brush on a scrap piece of paper first to check that the ink is flowing as you want it to. Take your time at this stage, be confident with your brush strokes, as this will reduce wobble and ensure straighter lines. 

Stage Nine: Mix some blue ink. Keep the first batch quite watery and start to apply it around the mouth and eye sockets. You might want to mix in a little red or orange to create a colour harmony. Once the initial ink application is dry, add more blue and focus your attention around the very edge of the mouth to create the impression of lips. Do the same, only more subtly, around the eyes. Repeat this process with the teeth, using brown ink (and a little black) around the base of each tooth. Wait for this ink to dry before re-highlighting over with white paint. Tidy up the edges of the teeth with your black in and, hey presto, you are finished. 

Well, so far so good. The face is finished but there is still much work to be done on the banner. Attention must now shift to the background of the piece and, of course, the wiggly things that strike out like the rays of some evil sun. Next time we talk about banners, we will look at how to create a background colour that doesn't look too flat and will discuss adding what my dad (a railway modeller) would describe as 'super details'. 

Namely writing in the Dark Tongue itself!

In the meantime, I hope you found this tutorial useful. Again, your feedback is very important to me, so if you have something to add, please do!



  1. This is lovely - thanks very much for the tutorial!

  2. Absolutely great! Really catches up the spirits, love it, it's truly inspirational.

  3. Very nice. Sadly I think it is beyond my skill level at present.

  4. That's very cool! Have you considered making it battle worn?

    1. I am glad you found the article useful. No battle damage yet. Perhaps when the banner has overseen some victories I may add to it! For the moment its going to be as new.

  5. Your posts about vintage shield and banner design are absolutely great!
    For the first time, I will now try to actually paint a Chaos "vintage style" shield and I'll do it with your instructions next to me on the painting table.
    Keep up the good work, Your blog is amazing!

    1. Looking forwards to seeing your efforts!