Tutorial: Diseased Flesh

I grew up with two metal head older brothers, though ultimately they differed a bit in terms of specifics. Wayne for instance was into bands like Living Color and Faith No More. Eric on the other hand craved something darker, more (as Nathan Explosion put it) Brutal. Album artwork was always a big interest for me growing up, and the work on Cannibal Corpse, Dimmu Borgir, and Cradle of Filth covers were every bit as inspiring as those found on Molly Hatchet covers. They just didn't leave you feeling ripped off when you actually listened to the music (in other words, no false advertising there).

I'm older now, my tastes have changed, changed, then changed again. My musical tastes run the gamut generally speaking, but there's always the metal waiting. And when I think of Warriors (or Daemons) of Chaos, well let's just say I don't have "Flirtin' With Disaster" stuck in my head. And with that in mind, today I'd like to walk you through my method for painting the diseased flesh of a follower of the Lord of Decay himself, Nurgle...

A lot of people go green, in particular on Plaguebearers. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of this, I've done it. And I think it can be done well. But I'm just not into it. Instead, I prefer to imagine what these guys might look based on the descriptions in the various books, which coincidentally don't mention green at all. They mention things like swollen bellies, bruises and lesions, sores and boils.

The method I'll be using here is a sort of water color painting technique, some of you may be familiar with the term grey scaling, and that's pretty much what we're doing here.

You'll need a few things to get started, but nothing fancy here (this is a deceptively simply technique).

Tools, all you need is the trusty old Airbrush and Compressor, a Medium Brush with a good tip, a junk brush, and a palette. I actually have some water color palettes I use for this, they're cheap and easily cleaned.

For colors, you will need the following:
  • Badger Minitaire Humanoid Flesh
  • Badger Minitaire Skull White
  • Badger Minitaire Innards
  • Privateer Press Flesh Wash
  • Army Painter Purple Shade
  • Army Painter Dark Tone
  • GW Pallid Wych Flesh
Today I'm painting a pair of Games Workshop Plaguebearers of Nurgle, I really love these sculpts, there is so much detail. And with End Times here it's a good time to get some colors figured out on these bad boys. The method I'm using here however is actually the same method I use to paint the flesh on other Chaos models, my Giants for example were painted the same way.

After priming the models, I gave them both a solid base coat with the BM Humanoid Flesh. Then, I added BM Skull White to the airbrush and gave a light over spray to the models. Finally, I added the BM Innards, and focused my attention on the areas where the skin had burst or would be heavily bruised.

(Note: I did not clean the airbrush between colors, I find it helps blending and it's faster anyway.)

With the base colors down, I moved on to washes. I set up my palette with a little water from a bottle and then added a bit of the P3 Flesh Wash in a dry spot. I then wet my brush and ran it through the ink. I actually diluted this with a couple of dabs of water before applying it to the models. I gave them a wash all over, then I got a touch more water on my brush and started to brush the water onto the raised areas of the model. This helps to push the ink into recesses, removing some from the areas that would get the most light (top of the head for example). After I'm satisfied there, I can run the tip along crevices to smooth out pooling in recesses. After the Flesh Wash we're left with this:

Not bad, but they look a little too fresh. I added the AP Purple Tone to the palette now and started to worth this in, particularly in areas where I wanted to add discoloration. The large stump of a foot that looks swollen with pooled blood for example (extremities are always a good place for that on zombies too). I paid special attention to areas where I'd painted the Innards, applying the wash more liberally here than in other places on the model. The damaged areas will begin to get a more natural, rich color at this point. Again, I use the watered down brush tip to move and remove ink as needed.

Now, on to the least used wash, the AP Dark Tone. I use this just to deepen shadows, such as in the damaged bellies of each guy. I also add some small irregular dots to give that sort of liver spot/lesion impression.

With the final washes dry, I turned to the highlights. Armed with the junk brush and the GW Pallid Wych Flesh I dry brushed the flesh, lightly. The goal here isn't to being the overall color up, but more to grab some details and add contrast.

With that done, the rest of the model is ready to paint. Since we'll be talking more about rust and gore in later tutorials, I'll leave that for later...


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