Sunday, 26 February 2017

Painting faded denim... A Purgatory 'Tutorial'

Hi, welcome to the Purgatory BLOG. In an unexpected twist, today we will not be reporting on the progress of the project (though that will follow as normal) but instead will offer some tips and comment on how we achieved the effect on Mike's denim jeans. (Yes a, how to make sequins, will follow soon...)

Firstly it is very important to consider what you are trying to achieve in advance. Purgatory is our world and as a decent painter, but by no means the best, I have to try and push my boundaries each time to bring that wow factor as we want people to be inspired by the characters and the paint job plays a big part in that.

So to 'set the scene'. Mike is a singer of the band. It is no small coincidence that his weapon, also happens to be a Mic (see what we did there?) but he is sometimes the front man, but Barry is the true star so where does that leave Mike? Mike is that edgy guy, the one that looks scruffy but kinda trendy, really following the fashion style of the moment. That moment is the 80's.... now I was quite young at the time and avoided the fashion faux-pas' of the time but I recall enough of denim jeans with holes, leather jackets and boots with buckles and zips.... So when we designed this guy, that Lux knocked out the park as a sculpt on Lorinda's art we considered what he WAS...

So when the model ended up in hand, I knew what and who he was, so it was quite easy to visualise how I wanted him to turn out. Soul Glow glistening afro, mixed race, white shirt, worn leather (that should be fun) jacket with zips and stuff, shiny black shoes to almost carry of that awesome monochrome look and of course, the faded denim. Initially I though about faded black, but with the jacket, shirt, hair and shoes, this was too much and the blue denim would catch the eye.

It sounds a bit laborious but I have learnt that it's best to know where you are headed before you depart, it's very much a method.

The next important part, before I even pick up the 'blade' is source material. I mean, I don't wear leather coats and whilst my jeans are faded, they are certainly not 80's. Have an ipad (or other non brand specific tablet) to hand and search what you are trying to achieve, as a friend of mine would say 'Google provides'. Look at images, study them and see how they 'behave'... ok the points of light and shadow on your model will be very different but it gives you something to think about and may stop you from going the wrong way.

Ok... so now on to the denim itself.

The paints I used are:

GW Black
GW Dawnstone
GW The Fang
GW Fenrisian Grey
Vallejo Ivory
Vallejo Dark Blue

Now the process: (note, you will find MUCH better tutorials with the likes of Ben Komets and Massive Voodoo (actually pretty much everywhere else) )

Step one. I typically use grey primer as a base. I don't have an airbrush, though I keep toying with the idea, I have still not dropped my balls into that basket so to speak, so this is all brush work. I know others swear by black primer and some others do the zenith lighting thing with white and black. For me and it is down to preference, I start with a grey primer. Why? It allows me to see shadow and highlight easier, though this won't be the same for everyone. Equally it allows me to go up in brightness and down in shade to create a depth in the areas without too much work.

Step two. Using a 60/40 Black/Dawnstone I use this semi watered down colour to start adding the depth. I don't always start dark first but it gives me something to glaze over later and gives me some indicators as to where I want the shadows to be. The image below, kind of shows that, you can see some lighter areas on the nearest leg by the knee, backside and top of the back trailing ankle.

You will also see in the image on the left leg (as you look at the image) that a blue shade has been added. this part of the jeans is very much in transition and is not the finished thing. You can see that in the difference between the detail of this and a later image.

The black/dawnstone mix is used around the inside of the legs, around the bottom of the crotch and around areas that 'point' downward and would therefore be shaded from light. This step does some of the zenith light work for you. I use watered down colours and repeat the process, pushing or pulling the paint into the recessed areas, this method grans the pigment and places the concentrated pigment in the darker areas, leaving a lighter 'residue' that can be glazed over for a smooth transition.

Step three.

This image shows you where I have placed the lightest areas of the jeans. I am effectively with this step choosing where the faded areas of the jeans are going to be. If you look at your own faded, 80's hand me down jeans (or research online of course) you will notice that the areas that are most faded are:

  • Bum, backside, buttocks, derierre etc
  • Knees in particular and gradually growing darker as you go up the thigh
  • Zipper or button fly, specifically the edges where they rub
  • Pocket edges or parts of the jeans that rub against something, say keys in a pocket
  • Bottom of the legs and the seams
Now, I found it important that actually you have to separate faded areas from areas that are lighter due to natural lighting so make sure you consider this. By 'placing' the faded areas, it made it easier for me to separate them. 

The faded areas where created using an 80/20 mix of Ivory and Fenrisian Grey. I really wanted to get that ultra faded look, but this really light colour allows me to glaze over at a later stage, so that actually more colour will be returned to it. So be generous with your faded areas as you will glaze over some of these later if you use this method.

Step four: I create the lighter areas. This I do in two stages. stage one. 50/50 Fang and Fenrisian, this picks out the raised folds and the higher parts of the raised 'flat' areas without many folds, like the thighs or maybe the end of the trailing ankle. Stage two, following where any fading or wear might be, I went pure Fenrisian pushing the watered down paint to the highest area or where I wanted the colour to be. This part takes time and I often (as a slow painter) will stop and regard the bits I do, to see if they look 'right'.

Step five. Using a really watered down Fang (like water or skimmed milk) I glaze this colour in the middle area between a shade and the highlight. This takes lots of time and will require a number of passes. If you want a smooth transition, this will help you achieve it. Drag the watered down Fang towards the recesses, being mindful not to let it pool there. I suggest loading the brush and then gently 'dabbing' (not the stupid FIFA celebration kids do) the brush onto kitchen paper to take the edge off it and minimise the chance of pooling. 

The purpose of this is to make the highlights look natural, the mid tone colour, being glazed over will help you to achieve this affect where it looks like a natural transition from one colour to the next. 

Part two of step five is using the same technique with the faded areas. Starting at the point where the painted 'fade' meets the darker colour, start glazing Fang gently over the 'join line' between the colours. With each pass of paint, let it dry and then depending on how much faded area you want, sweep the brush further over the faded area to what is the central point. So for example, on the knee, the top most part of the thigh, gradually down to the point of the knee itself. I then passed over the highest part of the faded area, because the jeans, despite being faded, do still retain some of their original colour. 

Step six is detail. When you do something like this, it can't be half-hearted. So you will need to think about the following things. 

Pockets: When you look at pockets of faded jeans, your will notice the edges and the point that comes into contact with surfaces regularly, specifically the backside are really faded. However, in the corners and in the seam of the stitching, you will see that the original colour, when dyed has gathered and pooled there is greater quantity and because this is a very slight recess, they don't come into contact with surfaces. 

The seam: The seam on my model was created using 70/30 Fenrisian and water. I then choose where the seam on the inner and outer leg and the very bottom of the leg would be. This was painted on, with a steady hand (I recommend locking your wrists against the table for these parts as it helps to keep your hands steady) in a straight line or to follow the natural angle of the leg. Again, if you look at the seams on jeans (see example below) you will see that as jeans are a thick fabric, some areas rub against surfaces or wash out easier than others, so within the seam you get darker parts.

Now, I did this the hard way was I am a fool. But you can see, especially along the bottom of the leg by the boots, that you get little 'squares' of darker colour. I painted these squares on, when technically I could have painted the bottom seam a darker colour and then drawn lines. It's 6 of one and half dozen of the other but we each have our ways I suppose. 

The fly or zipper clearly has a lighter edge, along with parts of the loops for where the belt would go, but if you look, where the stitching is, you can see the more concentrated blue colour where it is much darker.

As I say earlier, jeans are thick, dense fabric and don't bend or flow easily so it is highly likely that areas that are recessed will typically stay that way no matter how they are worn.

Intermediary step: I will 'tit' around at this point. By this I mean I will go around and throw some more colour in places. For example, around the lining of the pocket, I might add 50/50 black and Fang as a 'black line' where it is deeper in shadow. Or in the example below. I might add a false faded area because my character always carries a flick knife in his back pocket. This part helps you to make character and personalise it. You can create light or shade or add glazes to really make that model 'ping'. If you are going to do this, consider the consistency of your paint, make it heavily diluted as what can look good in your mind, might not on the 'canvass'. 

Glazing is key. I cannot emphasise enough that to achieve this effect you need patience my padawan. Glazing can be frustrating and slow but the results speak for themselves. They offer a more natural finish and if you are impatient, I recommend that you do two areas, not next to each other, at the same time, flitting between the two with the same palette so that you can allow the glaze to dry in one area whilst going back to the other. 

Step seven, the unmentioned colour. This is where Dark Blue comes into play. You will notice that this colour is a vibrant blue where as the Fang is quite a pinky/purple like grey. The fact that it is grey, lends itself to the faded approach we are looking for. Though without the Dark Blue it wouldn't work because ultimately jeans are blue! Well unless they are white (which should never be worn, ever) or black, grey or any of those hipster atrocities that you might now see (plum and petrol green etc)... 

The dark blue is watered down beyond measure, it is almost translucent and you, using the dabbing process, glaze this over the meaty areas, i.e. the areas where there is more vibrancy in the jeans, so the seams, the folds and creases, the darker ends of the transition between fade and the original colour. I would also recommend a 'sweep over' all of the jeans, this has to literally be that, nothing more than the finest and thinnest of glazes so that maybe the slightest amount of pigment is left, it should be almost unnoticeable. You should however be more liberal in the seams and areas where the vibrancy should be there. 

The image (I believe, along with all the people that requested this tutorial) reflects what I am trying to achieve. You can see the dark blue is there but not all over but clearly has a presence. The transitions are smooth and importantly, they look like jeans. You can see the different between stage one and the final stage between the two legs as the furthest most is in an early stage. 

You should be able to pick out the false faded area I spoke of earlier on the pocket, where the knife is in the back pocket. 

The last step. This is using pure Ivory. This is used to pick out areas in the edges, i.e. seam edges or the bottom of the jeans, where the fabric may even have frayed or is clearly in more distress than the rest. This should be 50/50 with water and glazed in the areas you want to apply it. They should be few and far between and should, if applied right really make the model 'pop'.

And so, the tutorial and rambling ended...

I hope you enjoyed this and that you found it helpful and useful. I think in the main a number of points spring to mind:
  • Water down your paints
  • Choose when to glaze
  • Know what you want to paint
  • Use reference material
  • Push the boundaries but have fun and don't stress out
You don't have to go to the lengths I have to get the effect you want. You might want something more workmanlike, dirty or even less detailed as the model will be used for gaming. But, remember that as a showpiece, the more detail you can cram in or even create, the more memorable it becomes. 

I'm to ponder deliberate pooling of watered down paint to create life like stains on jeans but before I do, I will say thank you (if you read this) for the kind words and for taking time to read my ramblings. 

Feel free to read the other nonsense about Purgatory and what we are doing and feel free to share this amongst friends or groups if you found it useful.