Sunday, 16 March 2014

Rorschach Painting: are you insane?

Now the name "Rorschach painting" is a bit of a misnommer I feel, although it might drive you insane after a while...

Now what is it? Basically it is a much more "organic" or spontaneous way of laying down your basecoats and preliminary shadings and highlights. It provides a wonderful feeling of freedom and speed when starting a new piece. You do have to revert to more "classical" methods afterwards to perfect and finish your model, but it will give some interesting effects.

Now I find that this method is particularly well adapted to "dirty" or messy models (such as nurgle followers, orks/orcs etc.) or models with wide flesh areas (Ogres, giants, more orks/orcs etc.) In this little article I will be using a Nurgle Herald WIP as an example.


Now you do really need a wet-palette for this. So if you don't have one then look here to make a quick and cheap one for yourself.

On your wet-palette lay out the following:
- your base colour
- your highlight colour
- your shade colour 
- a bit of white or off-white (in this example I have Rotting Flesh and White Scar)

-> you can then add preparations of any other colours you need/want on your piece, here I have VGC Necrotic Red, GW Naggaroth Night, GW Sotek Green and GW Genestealer Purple.

All your colours need to be quite watered down, I went for approximately 1 part paint to 5 parts water. You can add some fluid retardant especially if you are working on big surfaces. Be careful not to add too much retarder, a maximum of 1/5th of your total mix volume can be retardant fluid.

Also take five minutes to look at your model from all angles and note where are your shadows and highlight points are going to be. This will be of vital importance when you start slapping paint onto your piece. 

Fig.1 Ok, there are more colours than I need on this palette but this is just to give you an idea of what you need staring you in the face before you start.

Fig.2 After having undercoated the model, I take five minutes to observe it and locate the lighter and darker areas for the future paintjob.


This is a mixed technique, it is basically wet blending taken to the next level.

So grab your base colour and slap it onto the major areas of your model, BEFORE it dries use your shade by placing it next to your base colour on the model and wet blending the joining point of the two colours. Now push your shadow deep into the dark recesses of your piece.

In the same manner apply your highlight colour, wet blend it into your base colour and then pull it towards the highpoints of your piece.

Now all you need to do is repeat this process until you are satisfied with the result!

Fig.3 After one coat / passage 
In the above picture you can clearly see the wet blended lighter butt cheeks and the darker deeper crack (I could have chosen a better angle really...). This was all done using wet-blending and is why you need all your colours ready on your wet palette.

But hang on!: that's just wet blending! What is new here?

That is a fair question that I will answer now.
The "rorschach" aspect is this: as well as allowing you to quickly build up your highlights and deepen your shadows, you can add areas of colours that would not normally easily blend into your base colour. On the Nurgle Herald I added blotchy patches of reds and purples for traumatised fleshy areas (around the sprouting horns and branch like things, but also randomly over the model to break up the colour regularity on the piece).

In Fig.3 you can see how I started adding a red hue along the spine of the Herald. For two radically opposed colours the blending is quite smooth for a first coat: THAT is the miracle of what I have called Rorschach painting.

Here it is after a second passage of exactly the same technique:

Fig.4  You can see the blending becoming a bit smoother

And after a third and final passage for this piece:

Fig.5 Here you can also see that I have started adding extra shades of Sotek Green and Genestealer Purple around the various pustules

Here you can see the same effects on a different area of the piece:

Fig.6 Here all the various colours are blotched and blended into one another sufficiently to be able to return to more classical methods to continue and complete the piece.

So there you have it! I would not say this is the best technique in the book, but like all techniques it all depends how you feel about it that will make it good for you or not. I recommend you try it a least once!
It can incredibly speed up your base layer work and give you an overall visualisation of your piece much much quicker than any other method I've tried. However I do not think it is really suited to models that require a neat and crisp finish (forget using this on Space Marines for example, unless they are nurgle chaotic ones!).

I enjoyed it immensely on this piece and will definitely be using this technique again on other pieces that are suited to it, and hopefully improving my technique a bit more!

I look forward to posting pics' of this finished piece!

Keep experimenting and enjoying your hobby!