While I’m in between units to write about (I need to dedicate some time to getting the lightbox out and shooting my recent projects, but time is one of those things I never seem to have), I figured I’d address a popular request. I’m often asked how I did the molten Daemon skin on my Bloodletters and Bloodthirster, and while explanations are buried in those respective articles, I’ve not really put a step by step guide in one easy-to-find place so far.
Since I have some photos lying around from when I painted my Daemons, I’ve put together a tutorial for painting molten skin below – it’d probably work well for an Avatar of Khaine, a Balrog, a corrupted Salamander, a Fyreslayer Magmadroth and anything else that is going for the ‘inner heat’ look. Have a read and let me know what you think!
Paints needed (GW unless said otherwise):
- White undercoat Corax (White in my case)
- Flash Gitz Yellow
- Fluorescent Yellow (Vallejo)
- Fire Dragon Bright
- Troll Slayer Orange
- Fluorescent Orange (Vallejo)
- Fluorescent Magenta (Vallejo)
- Wazdakka Red
- Rhinox Hide
- Lamentor’s Yellow
- Dark Reaper
The basic approach can be boiled down to ‘reverse shading’ – we start with a very bright (and warm) colour, then drybrush and layer darker and cooler colours on top, to create the impression of an inner heat that gradually cools to black skin or volcanic rock the further from the heat source we get.
I’ll be using photos from my Bloodthirster primarily, but in some places I might demonstrate a stage with a different model where I forgot / didn’t bother to photograph a certain stage with the ‘Thirster.
Step 0 – photo references
When attempting something new, photo references are always a good idea. As I was going for a lava theme, looking up photos of.. well, lava, made sense. I found some lovely pictures of the this that demonstrated what I wanted to achieve:
You can really see what I mean about the cooling – the colours quite rapidly go from a glowing yellow, through orange and red to a dull hot-metal pink, and finally an almost bluish grey in certain lights. It’s a really nice contrast that I thought would look great on a model.
Step 1 – Unremarkable White
…not a lot to say here, other than that a light undercoat is pretty much mandatory. I’d advise a white spray over a yellow one, as even things like an Aveland Sunset spray (is there such a thing?) would be designed to have brighter yellows over the top. We’re starting at maximum brightness and dulling it down, so white it is.
I used Corax White spray with a thin coat of White Scar over the top, but to be honest – a white spray is a white spray.
Step 2 – Oh-God-My-Eyes Yellow
Paint it yellow! With this step we’re laying down the brightest, hottest part of the model, getting right into the recesses where the molten core would bleed through most prominently.
I started by laying down a mix of Flash Gitz Yellow and Vallejo Fluorescent Yellow all over the model, at about a 2:1 ratio. Fluorescent paints are not to everyone’s tastes, but they really make the model pop. However, fluorescent yellow used neat (you can see some on the pallette) has an almost greenish tinge in natural light, so some Flash Gitz was used to help get the hue right.
The entirety of this guide can be prefixed with “adjust to taste,” by the way. For my Bloodthirster I wanted it to look really hot and elemental, so my deepest layer was as hot and vibrant as I could get it. My helbrute from my previous post however, I did with a much cooler, more smouldering look – have a play around with recipes.
The photo’s actually of step 2, where I had started to lay down the next colour and add some depth to the model. As I said, these photos are cobbled together rather than shot for purpose, but still, if you look at the above you can see the two stages clearly enough.
Step 2 – Slightly-Less-Violent Yellow
Once the fluorescent basecoat was done, I started laying down cooler colours, the first of which was a heavy overbrush of a Fluorescent Yellow / Fire Dragon bright 1:1 mix. For those unfamiliar with it, “overbrushing” is a term GW (I think) coined a while back, which is more or less heavy drybrushing without getting rid of as much of the paint on the brush. The result is a more even coat than the dusting effect of drybrushing, while still avoiding the recesses of the model – a good way to lay down a midtone quickly over a textured piece.
As you can see on the above picture, overbrushing leads to relatively flat colours on smooth areas like the individual muscles, but it leaves some pure yellow in between them.
Step 3 – Presidential Orange
With each stage, I used less paint and less vigour with my overbrushing, moving to darker colours. This stage was a 2:1 mix of Troll Slayer Orange and Fluorescent Orange. I started to fade out the fluorescent paints at this stage, but a small measure of them still helped keep the orange vibrant and hot.
Step 4 – Englishman-At-The-Beach Red
With this stage, I was done with the overbrushing, and switched to more traditional layering. The mix for this stage was approximately a 2:1:1 cocktail of Wazdakka Red, Fluorescent Magenta and Lahmian Medium – the medium thinned it out to a heavy glaze-consistency, and the Fluorescent Magenta kept the vibrancy up while moving out of orange and into red territory in terms of heat.
I’m not really sure what to call the technique, as it’s not quite layering and not quite glazing either – I basically put a globule of the thinned paint in the ‘coldest’ part of the area I was painting (say, the Bloodthirster’s bicep), washed my brush and then quickly dragged it around the area, spreading a smoothly thinning area of paint toward the hotter areas. The result is a fairly decent gradient from the pinkish red to the yellow, for not too much work.
Step 5 – WIP-Barbecue Brown
This stage was a huge relief, as it was when the model started to finally look a bit like the inspiration images and the idea in my head. The recipe I used was a roughly 1:1:1 of Wazdakka Red, Lahmian Medium and Rhinox Hide – Now done with the fluorescent paints and definitely working on the colder, less volatile areas, a splash of brown helped cool down the red without transitioning straight to black.
I finally put away my big brushes at this point too – this was now all being layered on traditionally, painted in parallel lines that followed the shape of the musculature. The effect was instantly dramatic, I have to say. For areas like the wings – we can see I’ve started on its right one – I stuck to drybrushing, treating each membrane like one muscle for the purposes of figuring out what was hot and cold on the model – so the skin furthest from the bones was coldest, and thus got the heaviest drybrushing.
Step 5 – Overdone Barbecue Grey
Almost done at this stage! Now that I had moved from yellow through orange and red to cooling brown, the only parts left to do were the ‘black bits’ – the lumps of re-solidifed rock that give lava that dynamism and contrast. I did consider doing them actually black or neutral grey, but decided instead to add a subtle hint of bluish green to them – a complimentary and contrasting colour to the reddish orange of the model’s recesses.
The technique was initially the same as the previous stage – a layering of a 2:1 mix of Dark Reaper and Rhinox Hide, followed by a highlight of pure Dark Reaper. Depending on the area, the highlight was done as either a sharp edge, such as the horns or cheekbones, or a gentle drybrush on parts like the wing membranes or the Khorne scar on the chest.
Step 6 – Glazing and focal points
The final stage! All that was left was to ‘bring it all together,’ so to speak. The model looked pretty damn striking as it was, but I found that by using the Bloodletter and Lamentor’s Yellow glazes in varying ratios to each other, I could pull the transitionary areas together much better than I could ever hope to with just overbrushing. A 1:1 mix of the above two glazes between the pectorals helped link them together nicely, for example, suggesting that the ribcage overall is fairly uniform in depth. I also used it to just cheat in a few areas, and tidy up spots that I’d forgotten to layer up properly. 🙂
I also went back in with Fluorescent Yellow to pick out the absolute hottest areas of the model anew – in this case, the eyes, the nose and the inside of the mouth. You can see that greenish tinge I mentioned in its mouth, so perhaps the latter wasn’t the best of ideas, but for the eyes it really helped make the grinning face the focal part of the model.
Step 7 – The Rest of the Model
..And that was it for the skin! Fortunately for models like Daemons, that’s actually the vast majority of the model and the rest is as simple or complicated as you choose to make it. Hopefully as this rambling tutorial’s demonstrated, the technique’s not actually that hard, just a bit of a foreign method for those of us used to painting ‘normally.’
Hopefully this is of use to someone, and if anyone does try the technique, please let me know – I’d love to see the results! And if you guys are interested in this sort of blog post in general, tell me – I’ve got a few other things like lava bases, blue-black power armour and so on that I could write tutorials for.
I’ll leave you with some snaps of other models I’ve used this on – nothing new for those that follow this blog, but pointers in one place that the technique can work on big and small models alike. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more!