WIP El Greco Hoplites - 200mm Busts

Discussion in 'vBench (Works in Progress)' started by phil_h, Jun 10, 2018.

  1. phil_h A Fixture

    Hello Everybody...

    While the water effects on the base for my samurai's groundwork are curing/hardening, I thought I'd post on my next project - the two classic Hoplite busts from El Greco.

    There isn't much to be said about these busts, they're classics. Clean, simple and beautifully done, I'm really looking forward to painting them. In my mind, these two guys are related somehow, so I'm doing both simultaneously because I want them to be in harmony together - especially the skin tones and so on.

    Here are both kits cleaned, prepped and ready for assembly:
    2018-06-07 16.08.52.jpg

    The prep work was the absolute minimum needed. Here they are all primed up and ready to go.
    This one is the "Laconian Hoplite":
    2018-06-08 13.53.08.jpg

    And the second is the "Spartan Hoplite":
    2018-06-08 13.52.59.jpg

    The big change for me is that I've decided I will paint both busts in oils. I'm usually an acrylic painter (all my work I've posted on PF has been exclusively acrylic up to this point), but I'm a pretty open minded guy, and I thought, why not? I've used oils in the distant past, so it'll be nice to revisit them again after all these years. And if there are any two busts crying out to be painted using oils, it's these two.

    As with the samurai, if there's interest, I'd be more than happy to do an SBS on how I tackle these two guys...

  2. kagemusha A Fixture

    Hi Phil,
    I did these two back in the day...a joy to paint....always up for an SBS....so much to learn.....


  3. Viking Bob PlanetFigure Supporter

    Following this one, esp metal work.
    Geoff Charman and Oda like this.
  4. grasshopper PlanetFigure Supporter

    Looking forward to it
  5. DEL A Fixture

    Looking forward to seeing these progress. All of Matts sculpts are instantly recognisable and a joy to paint.
    On classical type pieces nobody does hair for the painter better than him.
    An SBS would be particularly appreciated by the membership.
    Geoff Charman, arj and Nap like this.
  6. misfit151 A Fixture

    Hi Phil.....these are beautiful sculpts and a joy to paint.......glad you are trying oils....(y)....will follow this one...all the best Mike
  7. Nap Forum Moderator

    Great sculpts as you said , Matt's work is instantly known , as Del says his hair sculpting is second to none .

    I have these so will be watching this SBS ...very closely to see how its really done

    Oh and incase you were wondering I was the model for the muscular body ...just like in Poldark ......LOL

    Geoff Charman likes this.
  8. megroot PlanetFigure Supporter

    Always liked these two.
    Never lay my hands on one of them.
    Now I'm gonna follow this with great interest.

  9. Babelfish A Fixture

    Looking forward to seeing these progress. They look great even just primed up!

    - Steve
  10. clrsgt A Fixture

    Will be following this one. Two classic busts for sure.
  11. phil_h A Fixture

    Hello Everybody...

    First off, thanks for all the kind words everybody, as always, they are very much appreciated. Next, I think between tomorrow and the next day I should get a chance to start posting the SBS stuff (which takes some time to put together). However, both busts are almost finished - all that's left are just the robes and helmets (and some touch ups, of course); I thought I'd post some pics.

    As mentioned, all oils, and I'll go into to some detail how I got to this point in the painting...



  12. Mike Stevens PlanetFigure Supporter

    Looking good Phil. Always like that kit.
    phil_h likes this.
  13. Nap Forum Moderator

    Hi Phil

    I do like those fleshtones ....are you giving him any hair on the chest ?

    Looking forward to seeing more on this especially those cloaks

    Happy painting

    Geoff Charman and phil_h like this.
  14. Jimbo A Fixture

    Fleshtones are...Oils!...it's Oils mate!...Grown up paints;)
    Geoff Charman, arj and phil_h like this.
  15. Nap Forum Moderator


    And hasn't Phil done a cracking job ...he obviously is grown up ....lol

    Geoff Charman, phil_h and Jimbo like this.
  16. phil_h A Fixture

    Hello Everybody,

    Alright - so to start...
    (And yes, Nap - definitely got the big boy pants on :) )

    Before we get to the oils, we want to provide a nice smooth, matte base layer of acrylic paint for them to sit on top of - this will provide a very nice ground for the oils to adhere to and it'll nicely absorb some of the linseed oil, which will help reduce some of the glossiness that oil paints are known for.

    As always with busts or figures, I like to start with the face, and for these particular busts, it makes sense to do all the skin areas together, so as our first step we want to mix up a base acrylic skin tone.
    Here are the colors we'll use to do that:
    2018-06-11 15.30.22.jpg

    These are Golden heavy body matte acrylics, which provide a lovely ground for our oil work.
    Here they are out on the palette with our basic acrylic skin tone mixed up:
    2018-06-11 15.34.43.jpg

    These four colors are a fantastic set of colors to for creating basic Caucasian skin tones with. Start with just some yellow ochre, mix in some red oxide (or terra rosa), to add some red hues, add a tiny bit of cobalt blue to desaturate the tone a little, and then add white to lighten up to taste. This is a simple palette with a limited set of colors, which makes mixing very nice, rich skin tones very easy to manage and one less thing to worry about. (We'll be using this same palette in the oil colors too). This palette is actually a very popular one among painters, and I was first encountered it while watching the maestro Massimo Pasquale).

    Despite this just being the initial base coat, it is the foundation that all of our work will rest upon, so we want to make sure that we apply it to the model in a very smooth, very uniform opaque fashion. Try to make long, smooth brushstrokes and use as many layers as it takes to get even, smooth coverage. Here is the Spartan hoplite after the base coat has been applied:
    2018-06-11 16.16.53.jpg

    Hopefully you can see in the photo how smooth and even the base coat has been applied.
    Before doing anything further, I would also let this layer dry for probably about 24 hours.

    With this bit of preliminary work out of the way, we can start with the oils!

    Geoff Charman, Mike Stevens and Nap like this.
  17. phil_h A Fixture

    Hello Everybody,

    Some words on the equipment I've been using...

    Here are the brushes we'll be using to apply the color and do detail work with
    2018-06-23 15.15.50.jpg

    These are Winsor & Newton Series 7 brushes of various sizes (000, 0, 1, 2). The bulk of the work was done with the number 1 and 2 brushes - I don't think I used the 0 at all. With oils, after the paint has been applied to the model, it needs to be blended, smoothed and softened out. For this, a different set of brushes were used
    2018-06-23 15.19.33.jpg

    Above you can see a fairly random assortment of very cheap synthetic brushes. The key thing is that they are all very soft brushes. Out of this motley collection, the ones I wound up using were the Escoda size 2 (on the far right), and the Princeton Select size 6 (the first blue one on the left). These brushes are very soft, and really help smoothing out the applied paint. They are also ridiculously cheap; you can buy them in bulk. Also shown is a small palette knife on the far left. I find this is a very, very useful tool for mixing oil paints on the palette - far more so than using a brush.

    Additionally, I used some white spirit to thin the oils down for detail work and to clean off the brushes. White spirit (as opposed to plain old turpentine) has the very nice qualities of speeding up the drying time a little, and matting down the finish a little bit. I just poured a some of this into a small glass nearby
    2018-06-23 15.14.00.jpg

    All this stuff is kind of useless if we don't have any paints to start with. So for our skin tones, we'll be using these four main colors:
    2018-06-23 15.09.03.jpg

    We will be augmenting the four above with four more colors to help create shadow tones, details (lips, eyes, nose, skin tone nuances) and so on:
    2018-06-23 15.09.26.jpg

    If your not familiar with Williamsburg oil paints, they're a very high quality, hand crafted oil paint from the US. They're very similar to Vasari oils, but they're easier to get a hold of and they're a little bit cheaper. I couldn't recommend them enough, and if you can get your hands on them, I would urge you to do so...

    And here are all the tones laid out on the palette - skin, eyes, lips, shadows, highlights, wrinkles, etc...
    (I used a lot of paint because I'm doing the two busts simultaneously and I wanted plenty of paint on the palette)

    2018-06-24 20.58.39.jpg

    (Click on the above to make it bigger).

    OK, we got paints, brushes, and everything we need to actually start putting the paint on the model, we'll get into that in the next post...

  18. phil_h A Fixture

    Hello Everybody (again)...

    Now we can finally paint starting with the eyes. I like to start with the eyes first because:
    • They can be pretty tedious to get right, so it's best to get over and done with :). This is also nice, because when you get them right, it's very motivating and feels good to know you're going down the right path.
    • Because of their size, it's very easy to make mistakes when doing eyes (not oriented correctly, irises are two different sizes and so on). There is nothing more frustrating then making a beautiful face and then ruining all that work you just put into it by mistakenly getting your eyeball color all over the brow, eye-lid and cheek area. Now not only do you need to fix up the eye, you need to fix the other areas as well, which, if things are already blended in, could be very difficult. By doing the eyes first, you avoid this all together - if you mess up, you can just wipe everything away with white spirit and start right over, and not worry about messing anything else up - it saves quite a bit of time.
    The eyes were done in the following fashion:
    • The eyeballs were done with very light shade of very pale blue - essentially a very light grey with a blue hue to it. This was made by mixing in a little bit of Cobalt Blue with Titanium White. This was then applied to each eyeball. If you "go out of the lines" or if your a little bit sloppy, you can take a small brush and neaten things up with white spirit.
    • Once the eyeballs are in, the irises are next. I first dot them in with pure Cobalt Blue, getting them the right size, shape and direction. Next I highlight them by adding a mix of Titanium White and Cobalt Blue to the bottom half of each iris.
    • Using pure Ivory Black, I dot in the pupil of each eye
    • Next the inside and outside corners of each eye get a touch of pink (tear ducts and eyelid rim corners). The pink is a mix of Alizarin Crimson and Titanium White.
    Once the eyes proper are finished, we can line them.
    • The bottom of the top eyelid gets a line of pure Burnt Umber going across the entire eye.
    • The top of the bottom eyelid gets a line of the same pink color used for the tear ducts. Be careful here though, if your color is too dark, the eyes may look bloodshot instead of healthy.
    With each color change, make sure you either wipe all the old color out of brush with a towel or rag, or if you're going to dip the brush into some white spirit and clean it off, make sure it's dry so that it won't wipe off all the paint you just put on prior.
    Also this is important to keep in mind as well... When cleaning things up with the white spirit, it's important to clean off the brush with each stroke. If you don't do this, instead of taking paint off the model and cleaning things up, you wind up just moving the paint all around and spreading it out all over the model. I can't stress this point enough...
    I don't have pics of each individual step, but here is a very blown up pic of what the final outcome of all the above is - despite the shadow being cast over the eyes, hopefully you can see all the steps taken above.
    Next post will be the face and skin tones...
  19. Wayneb PlanetFigure Supporter

    So what are you saying?...….That acrylics are immature.? :)…….Phil....Don't you wish you were an artist instead of a guitar player...:D….Great SBS...……..

    Nap and phil_h like this.
  20. phil_h A Fixture

    Let's get right into it, shall we?
    (Warning - this is a pretty long post...)

    As usual with any kind of SBS I've done, this is just one particular way to do things. Their are many different way to approach painting busts with oils, and all of them produce wonderful results. It all comes down to doing what you're comfortable or familiar with. The approach I've chosen is based on the fact that it is very simple and very easy to learn if you've never really used oils.

    As a reference, here's the palette again:
    2018-06-24 20.58.39.jpg

    Now that the eyes are painted and out of the way, our next step is to entirely coat the face with a thin layer of our base skin tone. Our base skin tone is a mix of Yellow Ochre, Terra Rosa, a little bit of Cobalt Blue, and Titanium White. As long as you don't go overboard on the blue, you can get a fantastic variety of skin tones. It's sitting almost exactly in the middle of the palette pic above.

    The very first thing we are going to do is load our brush up with the base skin tone, and paint a nice layer that will cover the entire face (except be very careful around the eyes). The paint should be straight out of the tube with no white spirit mixed in. Just cover the entire face. The next step is very important - once the face is covered, wipe all the paint off the brush, and then take the clean brush and go over the entire face again, removing any excess paint, and thinning out/smoothing down the base coat. After repeating this step one more time, you should have a nice thin, even, and opaque layer of oil paint covering the face. This will be the base that we will blend all of our highlights and shadows into. This entire step should only take a couple of minutes, and here is what the face will look like:
    2018-06-24 16.34.21.jpg

    Again, we want a thin, smooth, even layer of oil paint spread over the face (and neck).

    With that in place, we can place the highlights. The main highlight color is just the base skin tone with more Titanium White added to it. Once you have your highlight tone mixed on the palette, paint it right on top of the face where you want your highlights to go... two very important things to keep in mind when you do this:
    • Don't blend anything yet!!!!! Just place the highlight on the face!
    • If you're putting more than just a dot or small dab of paint, sometimes you'll accidentally start blending the highlight color into the base color underneath or get the base color on your brush. When that happens STOP!! STOP NOW!! Wipe the brush off, get some more highlight color and then continue on.
    The pic below is what this looks like when the highlights are placed:
    2018-06-24 16.54.55.jpg
    Alright - now that we have our highlights placed, we can blend them in. We'll take one of our crappy blending brushes (in this case I'm using the Escoda size 2) - which should be clean and completely dry and with a VERY, VERY light gentle motion, blend the highlights into the base tone. Here is the most important part of this step... After a stroke or two with your blending brush, you'll have either too much highlight color or too much base tone on it - wipe the paint off the brush with a dry cloth, and then go back to finish your blend. This is what will prevent you from just mixing a new base skin tone all over your face. Nothing is going to dry any time soon, so just relax - a couple passages with the brush, then clean it off, and repeat. This is a pretty mellow, relaxed process. This is where were at now:
    2018-06-24 17.04.16.jpg
    Once these are blended in, we can start with the shadows. For the shadow tone, I took the base skin tone, and then mixed in Burnt Umber and Mars Violet (two of my absolute favorite colors), and then repeated the entire process that was done with the highlights (apply them and then blend them). Here are the shadows applied:
    2018-06-24 17.29.55.jpg
    They're most obvious in the cheeks, but this tone is also applied under the bottom lip, nostrils, in the eye sockets, underneath the brow line, just below the middle of the nose and temples Now that they've been applied, we can blend them all in:
    2018-06-24 19.43.19.jpg
    Besides blending in the shadows, this pic also shows some of the detail work that is the next step. So...
    With our main highlights and shadows, we can now focus on details - nose, lips, the area around the eyes, wrinkles and so on - all sorts of stuff going on there. Let's tackle it one thing at a time:
    • The lips - the top lip is the shadow color with a tad of Alizarin Crimson mixed into it. The bottom lip is the same mix used in the top lip but with a little Titanium White added. Next, a high light to the bottom lip (and some texture) was created by blending in a small amount of Titanium White.
    • The tip of and bottom sides of the nose had a very subtle pinkish hue blended into them. The color is the same mix of Alizarin Crimson and Titanium white that was used in the bottom lip.
    • Pure Mars Violet was blended into the lower eyelids.
    • Wrinkles and further details around the eyes were made by mixing Burnt Umber into the shadow color and painting them in; however, these details are NOT blended in. Just painted on.
    • The eyebrows were painted in using pure Burnt Umber.
    • Also to frame the face, I blocked it in by giving the hair and beard a base coat of pure Burnt Umber.
    With those details done we're here:
    2018-06-25 08.36.35.jpg
    Keep in mind, I'm doing both of these together, so here is the other bust at this point (you can see that for some reason, I forgot to paint the light reflex in his left eye - I do eventually figure this out):
    2018-06-25 11.03.19.jpg
    That's it for our first pass of all of our wet-in-wet work (or alla prima if you're coming from a fine arts background). Before we call everything finished, there are a few things we need to do:
    • Do any clean up work and neaten things up where needed.
    • Go back and add additional highlights or shadows if needed (For example, right before I got to this point, I blended in a small amount of pure Titanium White into selected highlight areas)
    • When all this dries, we'll have to glaze a little bit of color into certain areas (you could do this while working wet-in-wet, but in my case, I forgot to do it, so I have to go the glaze route). This step is entirely optional, but I feel it's worth it.
    There is also the hair and beard - these were done as follows:
    • Base coat of pure Burnt Umber
    • Highlighted with a mix of Burnt Umber and Yellow Ochre
    • Further highlighted with pure Yellow Ochre
    • Selected points of light added with a mix of Yellow Ochre and Titanium White.
    These colors where just blended in wet-on-wet.
    Here are our busts so far after all the clean up work:
    The rest of the skin was done in exactly the same way as the face - and that's it.
    Using this method of oils is very simple. You lay down a thin base coat of your mid-tone, and apply your paint on top and then blend it in.
    Next we'll do the robes! (they'll be done in the exact same fashion...)
    Thank for reading - I hope you enjoyed it! :)

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