Thursday, April 2, 2015

The eyes...THE EYES!

Adepticon Class Review - 6-Step Eyes with Meg Maples

Meg Maples...a primer

Me and Meg at Adepticon
So if you don't know who Meg Maples is, here is a little bit of a background. Meg was one of the staff painters for Reaper for years, 6 I think, before striking out on her own as a freelance painter and painting instructor. Check out her work on her Arcane Paintworks blog (facebook)

A striking demo of Meg's eyes
Meg is now travelling the world giving her 2-day Master Classes all over the place, so be sure to check that out when it comes to a town near you. You can't beat learning from one of the best painters in a class where you can get lots of one-on-one time to ask questions and go over your personal techniques. She has a number of other classes available as well, which are all discussed in great detail on the Arcane Paintworks blog. She is also super fun and quite approachable. My great thanks to her for letting me crash her Adepticon course. 

Six-Step Eyes

Brush basics

OK, so what is the six-step eye method. Well let's get to it. First though, I have to warn you that this is not easy despite what I observed in the class. Meg is able to paint these eyes on 28 mm figures using Windsor Newton Series 7 or Raphael #2 brush. I'll let that sink in a moment and then continue. 

So a bit about the reason for this size brush. Many of us learned to paint and are not painters. We see the size of the figure and think we need the tiniest brush possible so we don't make a mistake. There is an issue which we never think about and that is brush control. First way to combat that issue is to use sable brushes. These are made with a natural hair which holds the paint better and the brush will last with repeated use and will hold a very good point if you take care of it. Next these tiny little brushes don't hold enough paint, which as a result means that the paint will dry in your brush quickly, require you to make multiple passes to paint something, and will leave you struggling to control the brush tip. So get a bigger brush, thin your paint appropriately and practice.


For her demo at Adepticon, Meg used the Reaper Bones Faceless Horror. This is a great practice piece because it is dirt cheap ($2.39) and has, at last count, over 180 eyes to paint. Now another amazing thing, Meg did all of this, as a reminder, with the size 2 brush and without a magnifying glass. As Meg pointed out to everyone, she starts with the eye and then progresses to the rest of the face. It is easier to avoid the eye when painting the face than it is to avoid the face when painting the eye. 

So to start, you want to fill the area of the eye. You wan to use a color darker than the skin so you can instantly build the contrast and set a boundary for the eye. You can use black for a female character to makes the eyes pop and give the look of eye liner or use a brown for male characters. 

Now onto the white of the eye. For this you can use any white, though I think using an off-white is better. Be aware of the rest of the face and look you are trying to achieve when selecting the tone of the white. Add this to the eye so that there is a thin layer of the base color surrounding. This will create that boundary.

With the white added, it is time to add the iris to the eye. Select the your eye

color and add a small dot to the center of the eye. Make sure you pay attention to both eyes as you don't want the figure to be cock-eyed or cross-eyed, unless of course you do. 
Victorian Guard heavy weapons crewman

Now the fun part, the pupil. This is a little tricky and of course each step will take lots of practice. To place the pupil, you will need to add a small black dot to the eye. Make sure that you add this to that it is in the direction of the point of focus. Again, you probably are not shooting for a cross-eyed figure. 

So this all sounds incredibly hard and you are right. I spent over 1 hour trying this out on the Victoria Miniatures Victorian Guard Heavy Weapons crewman on the right. the rest of the color is just roughed in for now. The base coat is Army Painter Barbarian Flesh. the other night and managed to get one set of eyes done. I don't care, I was proud, even if it doesn't look like I got all of the steps. Once I get him painted up, there will be a post on Victoria's object source lighting and a little work with some Secret Weapon pigments. 

Bonus step

So just when you thought it couldn't get any more difficult, there is one last bonus step... the highlight. When you have your pupil in place, add a very small (tiny in fact) white dot to indicate the direction of the light source. If you can achieve this, nirvana is not far off.