The show in Kulmbach, Germany is just around the corner. Earlier this year I attended the SCAHMS Show in Southern California. I met Ed Cepauskas, who is a fascinating gentleman on a number of levels, one of which is, of course, his interests in miniatures, and even more particularly in the world of flats. When we looked over his display together, he walked me through some of his techniques. Ed thinks out of the box…at least out of my box, and he creates some beautiful effects.
I asked him if he would write up an article telling us about how he paints flats, and he graciously accepted the invitation. What follows is his write up and some samples of his work. Thanks Ed!
How I Paint SBS
By Edward Cepauskas
PART 1. Cleanup and Preparation for Painting
I start with a figure that catches my attention. For this SBS I am going to paint the Returning Knight Templar. The pose and figure is very simple, but lends itself to a dramatic paint scheme.
Figure 1. Uncleaned figure.
Figure one shows the flat on a piece of black card stock with a slit cut into it to accommodate the base.
A through cleanup of the flat is critical to producing an excellent flat and is the starting point of all work. To aid in the cleanup I use a variety of tools. My go to tools are jeweler’s file and an Exacto knife with a number 11 blade. See figure 2 to see a variety of the tools I use.
Figure 2. Various tools for figure cleanup.
In addition to cleaning the excess material off the figure, I will also remove the base, I display my flats framed, so I have no need of the base. The base is removed by using the Exacto knife and carefully scoring the edge of the base several times to make a small grove. I then gently bend the base back and forth until it breaks off. I take the edge of the Exacto knife and scrape the edge smooth. I use the flat file to finish. After the all excess metal has been removed I wash the flat. I use dishwashing soap and a dishwashing sponge with an abrasive back and carefully scrub the flat until I obtain a shiny, clean surface. A clean surface allows me to obtain a smooth finish with no flaws. If there were any pits, they would be filled and smoothed at this stage of cleanup also. This figure was cast very well and there were no pits or casting bubbles that required filling. Now we are ready to prime the figure. See figure 3. The figure has the base removed, all extra metal removed.
The priming of the figure presents me with a clean palette in which to start painting. There are many theories that explain the virtues of different brands and colors of primers. At the end of all discussions it boils down to what is best for your style. I prefer a bright, flat, and white as the primer coat. I feel the bright, white surface allows light to be reflected back through the paint and color, producing brighter, vibrant colors. Given the small size of the figure keeping colors vibrant is very important. I use Tamyia White primer. See figure 4.
Figure 4. Tamyia White primer.
When priming a figure I always prime both sides of the figure, sealing the entire figure. I usually start with the back side, spraying one solid coat on the figure. After the back side has dried for at least 8 hours, I then rotate the figure and spray a coat on the front. Care must be given not to spray too heavy or paint runs will happen. Also too much primer will obliterate the fine detail of the figure. The maximum number of primer coats on the front surface is no more than two. Many times just one coat will suffice if it is app lied evenly and thoroughly. After the figure has dried (usually a minimum of 24 hours) I adhere the figure to a scrap piece of black card stock using d a small piece of double sided tape. He card stock is not too large, but of a size that can be held in one hand with ease while painting. It also allows the figure to be upright when drying, allowing me to look at it with ease. I usually use a bottle I have around as a back stop. See figure 5.
Figure 5. The primed and mounted figure.
If flaws, such as bubbles or casting problems are discovered after the primer coat, they are corrected. I use the same tools that I used to clean the figure as well as fine grit sand paper and a filler (in case of bubbles and surface imperfections) with Vallejo white acrylic paint.
Now comes the most critical part of the preparation process. Doing research on the figure to determine what colors will be used in painting the figure and where the light source will come from. Since this is a Knight Templar the choices are fairly easy. The surcoat will be with red crosses. The mail a light to medium silver/gray. The sword silver. The sword scabbard and shoes a brown shade. The face a flesh color.
While the light source can be from any direction around the figure, I feel that in this case the light source can start from the left side a come from any angle, rotating 90 degrees to the front. Any point of this arc highlight the face and front of the figure, which is the focal point of the figure. I have decided as I paint to have the light come from a point 45 degrees between the left and the front. Since there is not a lot of detail on the figure to catch the eye after the initial focus on the focal point I will use a scheme of very contrasting highlights and shadows to create a dramatic effect to the figure.