Here's a step by step guide to the method I'm using with my LOTR models. I do use a mix of old and new GW paints and my usual Foundry stuff so apologies if it all gets a bit confusing!!
Once models have been cleaned & prepped, I undercoat them with white. Any areas of ring mail armour are then re-undercoated black to enable me to dry-brush it. Below, what the models look like once this is completed.
The next job is to drybrush the mail. This is undertaken with GW Boltgun metal, followed by GWIronbreaker. This gives the mail a darker appearance which I feel is more realistic, even for Elves.
Next, I tidy up the white undercoat where the drybrushing has affected it in readiness for the next phase. This is the application of basecoat colours to the entire model. I start with the flesh which is Foundry Flesh Light. The lower lip is painted with Foundry Flesh Shade. While it may sound daft to do the lips, actually, I find they make the face more expressive than doing eyes, as eyes can look ‘staring’ (at least, they do when I paint them!)
After the flesh, I paint the under-tunic (Foundry Arctic Grey Shade) The patterning is done with Foundry Stone and Arctic Grey. After that, the cloak is painted with Foundry Night Sky Light. Next, the hair is painted. The dark hair is painted with Foundry Peaty Brown Shade with a highlight of Peaty Brown Light. The darker blond is GW Bubonic Brown highlighted with Bleached Bone. The light blond is GW Bleached Bone highlighted with White. The highlights are applied before and after washing as I find this adds depth to the hair.
Next, the armour is done with GW Ironbreaker. After that, the black parts are painted and the bow-grip is painted with GW Kommando Khaki. The pics below show a base-coated model.
The key to this whole process is to be very neat and tidy. As you can see, even being neat and tidy, the model doesn’t look great, but you just have to move past that and apply the wash!
This is done by brushing on the Army Painter Strong Tone. This is done relatively sparingly. On NO account dip the model in as Army Painter recommend!! This causes hideous overkill and pooling, especially on models as fancy as these Elves!!
Once washed, they look like this…hideously glossy!!
However, that will all change at the highlight stage. IMPORTANT: Leave a full 24 hrs between the wash and the highlight, as it takes that long to fully dry.
This next stage is where the original basecoats are used to highlight up most of the colours with just a single highlight. The exceptions are the under-tunic, which also gets a second highlight of Foundry Arctic Grey and the patterning is highlighted with White. The black is highlighted with Foundry Charcoal and Charcoal Light. The armour gets an additional highlight of GW Runefang Steel (the new Mithril silver which is perfect for Elven armour as it is so shiny and bright). The hair is re-highlighted with the lightest shades above. The cloak patterns are added at this stage. The blue pattern on rank and file is Foundry Storm Blue Light and on the Haldir model is Foundry Arctic Grey. This pattern is a lot easier to do than you’d expect. Pain the horizontal lines first. Then just add little ‘flicks’ between the lines criss-crossing over and over – keep it fairly random and you end up with what you see here…
This is what they look like now…looking better!
Next, the model needs matte laquer (the Dip is actually a gloss varnish). I use Testors Dullcote for this. In spring and summer I’d spray it on outside, but this won’t work in winter, so I brush it on. WARNING: this stuff is EXTREMELY toxic!! I do it in my office by an open window, wearing a mask and not doing any more than 6 models at a time!!
The models are nearly done now. All that remains is to re-highlight the very ends and edges of the armour with GW Runefang Steel to add a bit of ‘shine’. This is really good on Elf models as I feel they should be ‘bright and shiny’ on the armour front!!!
All that remains now is to base them. I do this by PVA-ing sand to the base. Once dry it is highlighted with Foundry Peaty Brown Shade and drybrushed with GW Bleached Bone. Then clump foliage and tufts are added. The clump foliage has flowers dotted on. On these models I have used Foundry Winestain Red Shade and Winestain Red Light, Yellow Shade and Yellow Light and Arctic Grey Shade and White. The base edge is done with GW Graveyard Earth.
The results are below…
Here is the full group in a scenic setting…
And that’s the method and colours I’ll use for my Elves. The method will be the same for the Orcs, but obviously they’ll be much less ‘prettified’ and will be darker in colour. If you like, I’ll do a similar step-by-step for a group of those at some point…
I hope that this has been a useful tutorial in terms of seeing how I get to the finished article with the aid of the dreaded Dip!! Even with that, these models took ages...they are so hard to paint!!!! They do look cool though!!!