Today on my Beginner’s Guides I’m going to start tackling the subject of Gems. The question recently came up on the forums, and I gave a quick and dirty answer with little in the way of images to back up my outrageous claims.
So I figured it was time to get back to work and do some painting. However first as always I’m going to talk theory…
Gems are translucent crystalline structures, often cut into pleasing geometric shapes. This is all the scientific mumbo jumbo I need to get out there to explain how I paint gems, so let’s look at that statement more closely.The crystalline bit means when you get microscopic on the gem it has some underlying order and structure to it. In some crystals it gives it the characteristic shape, the surface reflectivity, the translucence (see-through-ness) and colour. The translucent bit means that light entering the gem will diffuse, take on the colour of the gem, and emerge from another side.
From the “how does it look” point of view, this means….A zenithal (from above) light source will strike the gem At one point on the gem, it will strike a reflective surface where the tangent to the surface exactly reflects the light back to your eye. This is what produces the bright “ting” on the upper surface of the gem, or in the corner of an angular gem. There will also be a little diffusion flare around this reflection. Most light will enter the gem It will diffuse, take on the colour of the gem, and emerge as a broad diffuse light from somewhere near the opposite side to where the light hits.
With all that in mind, it’s time to get painting…
I like to prime white, as is my way. It is not mandatory for painting gems. I’m using PP’s Wold Wyrd for this demo.
I create a gradient on my wet palette from cygnar blue highlight to exile blue. As it turns out, this is nowhere near enough contrast.
I paint in the gem with cygnar blue highlight in multiple thin layers. This is a must. If your paint is too thick, and leaves brush marks, you won’t end up with a nice finish. Here’s the first coat.
And four coats later I have a nice even smooth base coat
Next blend the upper edge to exile blue using the gradient on my wet palette
This isn’t dark enough at the upper edge. Now P3 paints don’t have a saturated deep blue. I do like Coal Black, but it is too desaturated and a little too green for this. I use GW’s Necron Abyss for the next deeper layer
On the lower edge I need something lighter than Cygnar blue highlight. I could go with frostbite, but this will tend to desaturate my gem more than I would like. Same for adding white. I use P3 arcane blue mixed into Cygnar blue highlight. You can afford to tilt your colour choice a little to the yellower part of the spectrum for the diffuse emerging colour for colours in the spectrum from red to blue. Purples don’t take so well to it, so use a white, bone or magenta colour to lighten them.
Next I paint in the “Ting” with a blend of Cygnar blue highlight to Morrow White. Usually when I need a white I reach for my Menoth white highlight as it has better coverage and is a colour more readily found in nature. For this one however, I need a pure white, and that means Morrow
I could leave it here. However in real life (not in photographic life) it looks better if you add a glossy coat. The reason the photos don’t look so good is you are getting the painted on “ting” fighting the gloss reflected ting from multiple light sources, and that fails to photograph well. Ignoring the ting issue, it smooth and glossies the body of the gem. If I tilt the gem such that the light reflex is out of the camera’s view, you can see how it improves the look of the blue of the gem.
And If I cheat and line the real reflected “ting” with my painted “ting” it looks not too shabby
Or you can just enjoy the double “Ting”
You can do the same with gems of other colours
And choice of colour can really draw the eye
You still want to blend from black where the light will strike, through your base colour, and down to a lighter, slightly yellower, still saturated version of the base colour at the “Lowlight”
On the edges you want a black rimColour of Gems: Red: Black – Red – Orangey red (Like the new Khardor red base) Orange: Black with tinge of bloodred – Orange – Yellowish Orange Yellow: Black – reddy brown – Lemon yellow – white + Yellow Green: Black or Dark Dark saturated green – green – Wyrm green Blue: Black – blue – Blue with a hint of cyan Purple: Black – purple – purple+morrow white (pastel purple)
If you are in doubt, google for the gem colour you want and load it into GIMP/Photoshop and use the colourpicker.
A final word on how to approach angluar / faceted / non-spherical gems. I may at some point return to the topic and do a step by step paint on one if I find a mini that needs it..
The trick to do these is to use the same colour choice for blend. However on each facet, you start with dark at the top, and blend down to the lighter colour at the bottom. Next facet gets the same thing. The ting doesn’t go on the facet, it goes on the edge where two facets join, and the brightest part of the ting goes on the corner where three or more facets meet.
Until next time,