Well, it's been something like three years ago when I first said I'd do up a tutorial on how to “jewel” your 'Mech's cockpits. I've graduated twice from two different colleges, gotten married, gotten into two new games, painted a bunch of miniatures, and generally done everything you do in three plus years of time since then. But hey, better late than never right? So without further ado, here's my jeweling tutorial for cockpits (and indirectly, laser barrels).
Now, there are two pretty distinct camps when it comes to jeweling. Most people either love it or hate it. Even here on CamoSpecs there are artists who are in both camps. Maybe hate is too strong a word, but you get the idea. For me, it's the final step that adds a note of completion to the basic paint job. But I also feel it needs to tie into the scheme or it doesn't come off as well. How do you tie it all in? Complementary Colors.
Complementary Colors go together and look appealing to your eyes. Sports teams use the combinations because of the mass effect they can have. Artists use them on their craft for the same reasons. There are whole books on the theories, but I won't bore you with the nitty gritty. Here are the basics:
These are the traditional complementary colors from a six color color wheel. On my 'Mechs, I chose a cockpit color based on the predominant color of the 'Mech. Red 'Mechs have green cockpits and blue 'Mechs get orange cockpits. Now, if you have a black or grey 'Mech with highlights, I use the complement of the highlights.
Full black or grey schemes are really up to you what you put in there. They are neutral colors generally and as such take on anything. This color can give your neutral colored 'Mechs a personality; red might be foreboding, green more of a “good-guy” color ect. This is all personal and up to the artist though. I still recommend using complementary colors with your 'Mechs and their cockpits though. I can't force you to do it, but it's something I've found that helps the 'Mechs.
This technique is also much much better for larger cockpits where you can create a nice illusion of light. Thats effectively what we are creating here. It's a gradient of paint that attempts to create the illusion of light moving across the cockpit using color to help ground the cockpit into the scheme instead of using natural, real light as is the case in gloss paints.
You always need to move in the same direction on the glass. Always to the same corner on each part if you are able.
*Insert color choice* paint (orange for this tutorial)
small, pointed brush (I use a 5/0 for large cockpits and a 10/0 for smaller cockpits)
Plastic pallet/mixing area
Now, for your miniature, I prefer to do the cockpit near the end of painting for a couple of reasons. Its usually easier to touch up small areas around the cockpit than to remix your paint and touch up the cockpits. You of course can do whatever you find that works best for you.
Alright, here is our 'Mech. The example is a Zeus that I'm painting the the Donegal Guards parade blue-greys. I prefer this scheme more on the blue side so I've chosen to use orange for my cockpit color. This one is GW's Blazing Orange for it's bright, fiery appearance.
First step is to mix black with the color you chose. I will use “dips” as numbers: each time I dip my brush into the color, it's a 1. The more I dip in, the higher it goes. So I started with 2 dips of black and 1 or a half of orange. I mix these together on my pallet and then dip my brush in the water, flick a little off and add that. This will help to keep our paint from drying out too much. I then paint the cockpit area with this base color. You'll notice the black reflects some of the parent color which is used to tie the whole thing together. If you used straight black and then built off of it, it would look “off.”
Add another part of color to your mix. The ratio is sitting around 1:1 (or 2:2 for a total of 4 parts of paint) Paint a slightly smaller area of the cockpit than you did previously. You'll see that statement a lot as we go.
Add a little more color and paint a smaller area. You are at a 1:2 ratio of black to orange right now (or 2:4 for six parts of paint)
Now for something a little tricky; take out two parts of your base color and lay it down seperate from your original color (or you can put enough color into your mix to make it almost pure), then take a little from the original mix and mix it into the base color so it's not too vibrant. After it's mixed, paint it on in a smaller pattern just as before. This intense color helps bring the cockpit out and help bridge the gap between the darker and lighter layers.
Now, taking either the new mix or the near pure color mix, add a little bit of white. Not a full brush full of white, but a little. Might take a few times to get the hang of it, but it's worth it. White goes a long way when mixing with colors. You should just have a pale, pastel looking imitation of your base color. Apply it the same way we have been!
Add a small mount of white and continue on painting smaller areas.
Here's are next set of white. We are getting close to the end.
The second to last step is kind of two steps at once. Take pure white (2 drops should work) and then add in a little of the last mix to give it the tone of your base color. Dab this near pure white in the very corner of each of the windows. Just a single dab or pinprick. Then I always paint a reflection highlight in the opposite corners. This Zeus' reflection is kind of off and I'm not as happy with it as I have been on other 'Mechs I've painted. Usually a little “L” is about all that you need. Some of the rounded cockpits might require something different, but it requires a little experimentation.
Finally, after your paint has dried, take the Mircon .005 magic wand...err... pen and go over the cockpit seams. The intense zoom doesn't make it look attractive, but after you have finished and dull coted, it helps “pop” the cockpit color in relation to the rest of the 'Mech.
The final and overall picture shows how the cockpit works. The close-ups show you lots of errors or unattractive things, but it's the overall picture that counts. While this Zeus isn't finished, he's very close to being completed.
This is my tutorial on jeweling. It might be a little hard at first if you've never mixed paints or painted in such small detail before, but it's possible. Just keep practicing. If you ever have any questions, just post to our Forum and I'll be over to answer them! Thanks for taking a look and get to painting slackers!