A little while ago, I decided on a color scheme for the terrain I would eventually be painting. Inspired by the amazing Terrain that Spiky Rat Pack did years ago before becoming part of the Iron Sleet project, I decided I wanted my terrain to have a similar scheme. Filthy walls that may once have been white, with old weathered bronze trim. Keep it simple and striking, and develop a system that will enable me to paint the enormous quantity of bald terrain I have waiting around without being a full-time job.
I also took a bit of inspiration from my home town, and the Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church, which follows a similar color palate.
It’s actually kind of a dump inside.
Then I got to thinking how I would paint my bronze. Common hobby-wisdom is to simply use a bronze metallic paint, shade and highlight as normal, and use a blue-green wash at the end to represent the verdigris. But wait, the Spiky Rat Pack bronze didn’t look that simple. Theirs looked much darker and grim, and as I walked around town, I realized that some of the bronze statues look nothing like either method. Then again, those statues are only a century old or so. Surely bronze gets greener and nastier as it ages?
So, wanting to research this further, I went to the Walters Art Museum here in Baltimore and the National Gallery in DC, and spent a lot of time browsing their many bronze statues. What I found was that bronze weathers in a way that the turquoise-wash-over-bronze method fails to accurately capture. Exposure to acid over time is what causes it to discolor and patina, and it can weather in completely different ways. Below are some examples of the different “types” of bronze I found.
As you can see, the colors range from green to red to brown to black and all sorts of bizarre combinations. Mind you, this is a very small selection of the images I took, representing the most strikingly different color patterns I saw.
So now that I was in far deeper than I was when I first decided on a “simple” color palate, I decided to paint a nice big test piece to try out how I wanted my bronze to look. I chose the Space Marine statute from the Honored Imperium terrain pack. I felt this model was the perfect piece to try out painting bronze on a large scale, before simplifying the recipe to work on smaller details on terrain.
The pieces that struck me the most are the ones that are primarily a dark, ruddy brown, with green coloring. The contrast there is quite lovely, and I wanted to see if I could re-create it. The piece that struck me as having the most interesting range of color, and thus the piece I would be using as my main reference, was a Greek statue of a pugilist:
I started off by mixing a dark, red-brown color, and painted the entire statue with it:
Then came the first pass of washes to start building up texture and color variance. I started with some different browns, mixed with varying amounts of red and very small traces of green. I tried to keep the red subtle at first, reasoning it would be a lot easier to add in later than to cover up.
Not a bad start, but plenty of ways to go. I went back in with some more red to push the texture. What really struck me about the boxer statue is not just the pale green that we all are used to seeing, but the red on his right leg and left knee that are so bold, and yet don’t look out of place. I realize I’m talking about this as if someone actually painted the damn thing and it wasn’t a natural process, but still, it’s shocking how aesthetically pleasing it is. Also, ignore the base for now. I’ll cover the white stone in a future article.
At this point I realized that if I kept going in this direction, and started adding random patches of orange, I would have a pretty decent recipe for rusting iron. It was tempting, but ultimately not what I wanted to do, so I tucked that idea away for another day and pushed on.
Green had to come next. This part was scary. I had a very red-toned statue in front of me, and here I was about to start slathering it with a complimentary color. Getting this to come together would be tough. I mixed several shades of green. Forest green, flat green, turquoise, muddy green. I started adding the muddy green first, as it would be the least severe color change. I put it on randomly, slapping it over large areas here and small bits there. Then came the forest green, and the same technique was followed. Random, random, random. Overlapping other colors as much as possible so there would be no areas of flat color. Then came the flat green, which turned out to be rather boring, so I kept it spare and moved on to the turquoise. Holy shit, that turquoise was fun. It was a challenge to keep myself from over doing it.
I apologize, because I do not have any pictures of my progress painting the green. Once the forest green was applied, things started to go pretty quickly and I couldn’t stop. It started to look like a Hubble photo of a nebulae, if you ran it through a filthy color filter. However, after all that, it still didn’t read as bronze, it just read as a really really dirty statue. So, I decided to finish it off with a very pale green, to provide some value contrast.
I immediately realized that I had hit the nail on the head. The pale green was super effective in tying the entire thing together. I applied it in some areas as a thin glaze, some as a light drybrush, but on most surfaces I stippled it on very lightly. The more I did, the more I realized almost the entire piece would need at least a small touch of it to bring it all together. And thus, the statue was finished:
I am very proud of the end result, even if the base is nowhere near finished. There are moments here and there, like the turquoise splashes on his cape and face, that really make me smile, and yet they don’t detract from the whole. This is clearly much more involved than I will get for the terrain pieces, but I think that something this big deserves more effort, and now that I know what works on this scale, I can start to explore how to break it down and simplify it without losing the parts of it that I love.
So, I hope you all have enjoyed this. This is the first time I’ve done a tutorial and I hope those of you who want to take a stab at painting bronze in this method will be able to do so. I’d love to hear any other recipes people may have for painting the material, and definttely let me know what you think about my finished product!