Painting Bjorn

We were lucky enough to convince the masterly Steve Saleh to sculpt the freebie Dark Age Warlord to go with the Age of Ravens release and I had to paint him as soon as I got my eager hands on the model.  Almost all of my painting involves big units of troops painted to a decent standard to build armies, but the level of detail and character in this model makes him a joy to lavish attention and time on.

I started as soon as Paul Cubbin had finished his wizardry on the figure and had posted the pictures through to us.  Now, as a mere human devoid of the otherworldly talents of Cubster, I ignored my unworthiness in his shadow to bring Bjorn (as Paul has named him) to life as a sub-commander for a Viking contingent to serve as mercenaries in my Norman, Scots or Anglo-Danish armies.  These are the Vallejo paints (other than black and white) I used:

Brown Rose (Flesh)
Medium Fleshtone (Flesh)
Charred Brown (Fur basecoat)                                                
Flat Earth (Wood/Fur highlight)
Brown Sand (Fur highlight)
Iraqi Sand (Fur highlight/Base)
Flat Brown (Tunic/Shoes/Scabbard/Shield)
Red Leather (Tunic)
Earth (Fur lining/Tunic decoration)
Luftwaffe Uniform (Trousers/Shield)
Khaki (Leg Wrappings)
Khaki Grey (Belt/Pouches)
Brass (Pendant/Scabbard)
Leather Brown (Hair basecoat)
Ochre Brown (Hair)
Natural Steel (Metal)
Dark Red (Shield)
Burnt Umber (Base)
Umber Wash (Wash)
Fleshtone Shade (Wash)


Each of the pictures may be clicked on to bring up a larger image in a new window.

I really wanted to get started with the skin and used Brown Rose mixed with Charred Brown to get a nice, deep basecoat.  This was washed with a mix of Vallejo Umber Wash (which is essentially the same as GW's devlan Mud) and Fleshtone Shade and then highlighted with Brown Rose when dry.



Adding Medium Fleshtone and white to progressively lighten the skin colour, I added successive layers to build up the highlights.  On the scar across his right eye I paint a very thin Brown Rose coat.



I mixed my Natural Steel colour with black and white to give it a darker, greyish hue and drybrushed the mail, adding more Natural Steel and white in three successive, progressively lighter drybrushes.


I wanted the fur to be from a brown wolf rather than the grey that Cubster had used, beginning with a base of Charred Brown.  Flat Earth was drybrushed on the edges and centre of the fur.


I continued to build up the colour on the edges and centre, first using a Flat Earth/Brown Sand mix, followed by Iraqi Sand and finally with Iraqi Sand mixed with white.


The photo below shows several stages.  The boots were a Flat Brown base followed by Flat Earth.  The leg wrappings were basecoated in a Khaki/Black mix followed by Khaki then a highlight with white added to Khaki.  The straps were picked out Charred Brown and the fur lining was progressively drybrushed Earth mixed with white.  Trousers were done in Luftwaffe Uniform with highlights done by adding white.  The tunic’s basecoat was Flat Brown.


The next stage concentrated on belts and tunic.  Red Leather was first added to Flat Brown for heavy highlighting, then Red Leather and white were progressively added in two layers.  A mix of white with a touch of Earth formed the decoration at the cuffs.  The belt and pouch basecoat was Khaki Grey, carefully highlighted by adding more and more white in three layers of highlighting.


By painting Flat Brown to section off the cuff decoration, a neat pattern was created.  The knife handle, made of bone, was based with white, Brown Leather and a wee bit of black, then highlighted by adding white to the mix.  Brass mixed with Charred was used for the charm around his neck, Natural Steel and Brass added for highlights and a final wash of thin Fleshtone Shade.


This photo shows the reverse of Bjorn.  The scabbard was based in Flat Brown and highlighted by adding Dark Red and then white.  The brasswork was painted as in the previous stage.


First stage of the hair was Leather Brown.



The hair was finished by successive drybrushes; four successive layers lightened by adding Ochre Brown and white.  The inside of the shield was drybrushed with Flat Earth, followed by adding Medium Fleshtone and then white.  The same colours were used for the axe haft, the colours painted on rather than drybrushed.


The shield was done in blue and red quarters with Flat Brown and Luftwaffe Uniform as the base colours.  Dark Red was added for highlights, with a final layer lightened with white.  White was added to Luftwaffe Uniform in two highlighting layers for the blue sections.  The boss was painted as per the mail.



The base was initially painted Burnt Umber then given two light drybrushes of Iraqi Sand.  A generous use of tufts (which you can get in the Great Escape Games store) gave the ground a suitably rough look.


And finally, I remembered to pick out the gem on the pendant.