Julie Guthrie mage face detail

The Solis Media
Guide to painting miniature figures


  The Idea  

Fire Elemental



Make your figure stand out! I like to emphasise the reality of certain figures with a very high contract paint job. These figures dont look that good close up, as the detail is kept to a minimum, but from a distance, they give an overall impression that says I'M HERE!!!

As a couple of examples, I give you the mighty Fire Elementals seen to the left.

How To Proceed

You can use the contouring and shading styles here, plus ink washing to get a glossy sheen. The top figure is mainly contoured, though the bright yellow highlights are blended and feathered to give a flame effect. The lower one has more shading, but the idea was to paint in almost block colour.

Start with a dark undercoat, in a shade that will work well with your main colours, in this case a dark brown with a touch of red. Allow this to dry before continuing. Mix the reds and yellows with the base coat, (or another different dark colour if you experience the top colours becoming muddy) and apply to the majority of the figure. Be sure to leave any shadow areas dark. A key point is to leave areas around the detail dark too, as this makes detail stand out even when you are not going to paint it very finely (which we are not!). Look at the 2nd Djinn and notice how I left dark lines around the arms and flame areas of the legs. In the top one, there is a torq on his arm which I have left dark with just a simple highlight.

(lack of) detail
high contrast
close up djinn
cloase up efreet

Paint a slightly lighter shade on the same areas, leaving a contour of the darker colour below. You can shade this in if you wish, but as you increase subtlety, you decrease impact. Continue with this approach, working your way up to the areas of highest relief with the lightest colour.

When I reached the highlights, I went to a really bright, highly contrasting yellow to try and lift the flames and give a greater depth of field. I think it worked well. Notice the lack of detail, especially in the smoke and flame of the first figure, which helps to concentrate the eye and add dramatic effect.


2000 Solis Media    
faces | flesh tones | gallery page | shields and banners | HIGH IMPACT
15mm examples | Preparation | Dry brushing | Shading | Contouring
Ink Washes | armour | fur and feather | Flags and Banners
trees and rocks | scales, fangs and all things nasty | Varnishing | Clothing and leatherwork