Julie Guthrie mage face detail

The Solis Media
Guide to painting miniature figures


  The Idea  

A Cloak from a Ral Partha Wraith showing both shading (main cloak) and contouring (hood).

This is a tricky one to master! Shading is almost on-figure-mixing of paint. You attempt to blend shades together while they are still wet, to give a smooth transition from dark to light. It is similar to contouring, but smoother. I use the two techniques in conjunction to get the effects I want. The difficulty increases in warm weather, or under a hot light, as the paint dries quickly leaving a skin that can tear or wrinkle. It works well on flat area you need to give some dimension to, such as belts, bags, trousers and boots. Its very good on large areas of bare skin, but can be troublsome. Start adding washes of thinned down mid tone colour (paint or ink) if you need to reduce contrast between light and dark.

  How To Proceed  

A Julie Guthrie Ranger with shaded boots, cloak and face, from the Fantasy Personalities range

Face detail from the 'Beast Maiden' acieved using shading and ink washes to blend tones.

Start with a dark undercoat, in a shade that will work well with your main colours. Allow this to dry before continuing. For the really dark shadowy areas, mix some of your undercoat with your top colour. Use this to paint over the whole area except for the darkest places. Whilst this is still wet, add a lighter shade and run this over the raised areas, taking care to blend the edged so no contours are visible. Keep the brush moist whilst you are doing this. If you end up licking the brush a lot (as I tend to) do make sure your paints are non toxic. Keep going with progressively lighter tones until you are finished.

Notice I said tones, not colours. By this I mean you should choose two colours, one the darkest, and one the lightest and blend them together to make the lighter or darker tone. You can add the light colur directly at the end for your top highlights but still blend it in with the previous coat.....

This technique can result in a thick paint coat, so apply the medium with care. If a layer starts to dry too quickly, rescue it with a wash of the mid or base colour. It's also a problem if the medium is too liquid - you just cant win!


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