Painting models to an awesome standard is one thing. Having your models stand out is another thing. A more awesome thing, even. Learning the basics of Color theory is just what you need.
Ask not what you can do for color theory, because that’s stupid. But what can color theory do for you? A whole damn lot.
Paint for Points: And It Must Pop Pop POP!
The Paint for Points articles series originally appeared on the blog Torrent of Fire. Since it is no longer around, here they are, re-posted in their former glory. These articles tackle the checklist painting approach, or painting with results in mind, if nothing else.
Sketchy ‘Fifth Element’ reference aside, devoted readers might have read in my last article the clever subtitle «Colors, much like buttholes, are meant to be tight». If you didn’t, here it is.
Curious reader Charles asked me to go deeper in color theory, as the previous article only grazed the surface of this complex subject.
A short disclaimer: My art classes go far back, and I must admit that I didn’t attend that many and was barely sober those rare times I did show up. This article being about art theory, I might make up names and get terminology wrong, but I assure you I know which end is up.
Color theory in itself is hard to explain in such a small article; in fact, many colleges offer color theory as the subject of an entire semester.
The thing I want you to get your head around about color theory is this: Different colors put next to one another create a different feeling. A clever use of color can, without requiring more effort, create a great impact on your army, help you score some painting points, and increase the wow factor of your army.
This is the epitome of the Paint for Points motto: Paint smarter, not harder!
This might not get you laid, but it can get you free booze at events if you play your cards right.
Here are two easy techniques to get more pop from your paint.
This works great on flashy armies. Color contrast is basically to paint your army whatever color (let’s say red in my example) and add details from the color on the opposite of the color wheel (the green axe in the example). So you’re using different colors to create a contrast.
DAMN I’m good at titles and stuff!
Here are some Tau from Next Level Painting that showcase this effect with the purple/pink and the green on a larger scale.
My method of choice for stacking wow points.
Painting the bulk of your model in dark/muted tones and adding a contrasting color on some details. These can be Gems, Power Weapons – optimal on Grey Knights becasue there’s so many of them – lenses, or some other features you want to draw focus on.
This method is great if you like realistic-looking models and for most military looks, as you’re quite unlikely to find bright flashy colors in camo uniforms. In this example, the whole Typhus is painted with olive green and brown, contrasting with the bright red hood and cloak.
So you’re using muted colors to create brighter contrasting details. O-M-Gee, I did it again with the title.
Rule of thumb: 60-30-10
This is an art theory thing that colors which complement each other (cold hues, muted tones, colors next to one another on the wheel) should form 90 to 95% of your model.
The 5-10% left should be your contrast color, the color that makes everything pop. That’s one of the reasons you should use a limited number of colors.
For more info, and possibly the real names of the many concepts covered here, try searching color theory on YouTube.
Don’t limit yourself to miniatures videos either; that Bob Ross guy knew a thing or two about colors, and so do many more YouTubers.