The other day when I posted my Nurgle Cultist troop, I mentioned mixing the washes when I shaded him. I wanted to expand on that idea today and talk more about breaking out of the one color at a time mindset.
I'm willing to bet you, like me, paint using one color at a time. In fact, I'm willing to bet it's what 99 percent of us do. It's probably how we were taught and it's certainly how GW explains the painting process to us with the new Base, Shade and Layer paints.
I even do it myself. I work with one color for the base and then move to a darker shade of that same color for the shadows and then a lighter version of that very same color for the highlight. What makes this weird for me is that I'm used to using multiple colors or mixes of multiple colors at a time instead of sticking to shades of just one color. I did it all the time in art school. My oil painting palette was a sea of colors that you could never get by painting one color at a time.
The variety of shades and hues is endless once you start using multiple colors instead of shades/tints of one particular color. This is what we are missing on our models. This is what you see on some of the higher end model painting out there. The subtle blending of numerous colors to give a wonderful look to a model.
You can see it (additional techniques to introduce a variety of colors into our models) starting to work their way into our painting today. Folks are starting to use different primer colors on models (and by that, I mean something other than black or white), zenithal highlighting creates wonderful value changes to show light and dark surfaces on a model and people are starting to learn that Agrax Earthshade for all it's great qualities is not the best wash on the planet.
Try using green or blue to shade red armour, the effect can be quite nice and it doesn't turn out as flat looking as it would if you'd used just black.
His left arm is another good example. If you look at it in the pic above, it's green, but has a pink hue at the top, a green tint in the middle and is somewhat brown at his hand.
My Nurgle Cultist model is my best example of this to date. Had I just used one wash for the shading, he would have never turned out like this. If I'd painted his shirt the same base color and then washed it with just Agrax Earthshade or just Nuln Oil, the final effect would not be anywhere near the same.
Now I'm not saying that you need to use multiple colors/washes/layers/whatever and if you don't, your model is junk. I'm saying that it's worth trying. Try shading your base colors with more than just one shade. Try painting a red helmet with something other than bright red for the highlight and Carroburg Crimson for the shading.
This is what a "red" helmet looks like when you shade it with Agrax Earthshade, Carroburg Crimson and then highlight with a bright red and give it a final line highlight using Ushabti Bone. It's not a big step, but it's a little change that makes a big difference in the final look.
It's still red, but the use of a tan color for the final line highlight gives the helmet a completely different look than if I'd just used another shade of red. You don't have to go far with paint to get an improvement. Try a slightly different color for a final highlight to see what the effect is on your next model. You might be pleasantly surprised.
Make sure to check out these posts as they might help:
Highlighting with a different hue
I only paint what I can see on a model
Success and failure when it comes to painting