I get asked this a lot but the simple answer is: you don’t. You can’t. Because If you mean, ‘how do you paint like John Blanche’ then I really have no idea. I think John has a unique way of painting and I wouldn’t even know how to start, and anyway at best you’d end up with an imitation.
And if you mean ‘how do you paint in the style of the models that feature in Blanchitsu’… well this is also difficult to answer. All the models that are in Blanchitsu have very different styles and use different techniques, so there isn’t just one ‘Blanchitsu’ method of painting you can learn. Some of my painting heroes that appear in Blanchitsu make models that look completely different from the others: PDH, for example, is very precise, it’s like Golden Daemon painting, but less flashy, more restrained.
Migsula (from www.ironsleet.com) has an almost filmic quality to his models – if you squint you could be looking at a movie still. Jeff Vader’s models (www.convertorum.blogspot.co.uk) look almost like illustrations. There are too many to name and none really look alike.
So a better question is: what makes a model Blanchitsu?
I’ll try to answer this as best as I am able even though I’m probably not the best suited person to do so. I don’t think it is about techniques, I don’t think there are skills you need to learn that will make your models more Blanchitsu. I think on the whole it tends to be darker (or grimdark) so you may want to avoid painting too much of the model in bright colours. And it tends to have a more limited palette so you might not want to use every colour available, but other than that there are no real rules.
Oh, and I think flesh tends to not be painted in healthy tones. Grimdark models have grimdark skintones. Rosy cheeks might look out of place.
I think the main thing is having a particular style and that might mean deviating from the mainstream ‘Eavy Metal and WarhammerTV painting guides (even though they are very good and teach really useful skills and I’d never dream of saying a bad word about Duncan – you can relax). A noticeable style can be just as striking as a mastery of ‘Eavy Metal painting techniques, maybe just because it stands out from the crowd.
One style that blew me away is that of a painter called Picta Mortis (www.pictamortis.blogspot.co.uk), who developed a method of painting a really glossy black. This deep glossy black next to pale skin and with some red spot colour just looks so striking. His models are really just these three colours which is so far removed from what you see on the boxes from GW or in Golden Daemon that it really stands out. He’s obviously a very skillful painter, but I think the fact you can recognise his models and recognise his style (once you know of it) is great. Does it look like how John Blanche paints? Not at all, but I think it’s really Blanchitsu.
Another painter I admire is Wierdingway (www.exprofundis.com/author/isaac/). One thing he does that I think defines his unique style is use colours that I would swear I’ve never seen before. Boiler suit orange, vivid teal and neon yellow in particular. I guess this breaks the rule I mentioned earlier about bright colours. And then by repeating these colours, and finding other, complimentary colours, across all his models I think you can easily spot a Weirdingway model just from the paintjob. And the massive heads are usually a give away too.
Tips and tricks
I hope I can encourage some other painters to share some tips and if so, I’ll share them in future posts, but for now here are are my top tips. You’ll see that I am mainly motivated by laziness. Seriously, I am a very lazy painter: for me the main thing is to finish painting before I get bored of the model or distracted by a different one. I usually have lots of other things I want to paint or make, so if I get bored of a model and lose interest everything just goes on hold for weeks.
I love texture so I start by stippling on lots of liquid greenstuff, texture paint and crackle paint, particularly when I want to disguise a join or a part of the model I don’t like. And particularly if I am using a plastic component that I think will look too smooth and clean.
A zenithal undercoat is a great way to get started. If you spray black undercoat first and then white from above, you’ll get lots of details picked out, and lots of shadows. It’s easier than starting from pure black.
Basecoating takes ages and is not much fun. I try to put as much colour down as possible with spray paint or an airbrush. I get some tonal variety by spraying from different angles and with different colours. I don’t worry about this stage being neat.
A limited colour pallette can look pretty striking, but you might need some strong contrast otherwise the model can just look brown or muddy. I have a few favourite colours that I tend to use on everything, especially an off-white.
Agrax shade is like magic, but it is nothing compared to the magic of a Burnt Umber oil wash. If you can read through a quick tutorial about oil washes on the web to get started then I think they are a great upgrade.
Edge highlighting takes ages and can be quite boring as well, a little goes a long way. Too bright and they can look unrealistic. They look striking from a distance which is why armies with strong highlights stand out on the table top, but I tend not to worry about that.
Sub-assemblies are really for people that undercoat white, I never use them. I’d rather be able to spray the whole model in one go. Usually this includes the base as well. This is for speed and for getting consistent light with the zenithal highlight.