Friday, 14 October 2016

House Martell warhorse [WIP - caparison and shield with heraldric symbols]

Using Faber-Castell Polychromos artist-grade colour pencils to outline my freehand paintings has been a game changer for me. These are arguably the best oil-based colour pencils that you can get and more significantly they have been used on top of acrylic paints in traditional art forms. Perfect for my purpose which is to roughly outline the design that I want to paint freehand, on a miniature.  

Symbol used to represent the Sand Snakes of Dorne
Vallejo Model Color paints used for the heraldry/symbol: Read Leather, Amarantha Red and Light Orange

After outlining a snake symbol in pencil (I forget which colour I used but it was of a brownish orange hue) I then proceeded to fill the simple design using Vallejo Model Color acrylic paints. To ensure a muted look to the heraldic sand snake symbol, I used more of the darker hues in a Red Leather-Amarantha Red-Light Orange triad. The overall colour combination was muted enough that I didn't need a wash to blend the freehand symbol into the warhorse's caparison.  

To reinforce the warhorse's dynamic pose - 'sand snake' symbols were chosen over the static 'spear over sun'
Sand snake symbols had opened mouths to symbolise aggressiveness

Key to making this work was the muted hues of the sand snake symbols. It avoided a iron-on-patch look which would've ruined the look of the warhorse's caparison. While working on the sand snake symbols I then realised what has been bugging me for the longest time about the House Martell coat of arms (spear through sun) on the shield. I had finished the freehand painting for this quite a while ago but was never really satisfied with what I achieved. Although I liked the design, the colours 'popped' too much. Then it occurred to me the colours needed to be muted. I did just that and the results are shown in the last two photos of this post. It looks much better in my humble opinion. 

House Martell warhorse was painted with an analogous colour scheme in mind
I needed greens in the warhorse's colour scheme and it came in the form of grass

Real life sand snakes do not have such prominent heads as you see before you in the freehand painting that I did on the warhorse's caparison. However, this is one of the times when creative license had to override reality. As such, I made the sand snake's head larger ... almost serpent like. It's opened mouth/stuck out tongue look was meant to symbolise aggressiveness. Imagine if you will Professor Severus Snape barring his teeth and hissing at you. That kind of aggression.

Creative license was taken to make the sand snake symbol look more intimidating i.e. a bigger head
Another piece of creative license was maintaining a darker hue of orange versus those seen on TV

An over-saturated spear-through-the-sun symbol which I had done earlier would've looked totally out of place with the new more muted sand snake symbols. As mentioned earlier, I had muted the colours of the House Martell coat of arms on the knight's shield. The before and after freehand paintings can be seen below with the 'after picture' on the left and 'before picture' on the right.

New muted House Martell coat of arms (left) vs the original over-saturated spear-over-sun symbol (right)

Macro camera shots, as always, can be a bit misleading as it takes away the scale of difficulty (pun unintended) in painting on small surfaces. Granted these Games Workshop Bretonnian Knight miniatures aren't that small in overall size but they are still small enough to make painting freehand on them a challenge. Shown below is the warhorse and shield placed next to a five sen coin and paper clip respectively. Painting freehand on the shield was a particularly daunting experience.

No Knight of Dorne in attendance yet but here's the warhorse and shield in a scale comparison shot

I'm so relieved the creative block that has plagued me in the painting of this miniature is finally over. Having semi-completed miniatures on the display shelf can be an eyesore yet I continue this practice in the hope that (a) I finish what I start and (b) I don't start what I can't finish. Hah! That's working out well for me ... not. But the soon-to-be-completed House Martell Knight/Warhorse miniature conversion will at least be one less eyesore on my shelf. One more step towards a display cabinet that's full of wonderfully (ok, ok ... fairly well ... hmmm let's settle for they don't suck ... too badly) painted miniatures. Cue music, Imagine by John Lennon ... one miniature painter exiting stage left.  


  1. Great job and fantastic use of orange shades...

    1. Thank you Phil. I don't know why but I love making orange/green combos. :)

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you Sir. Kind words as always and much appreciated as always.

  3. Aaaaand now you raised the bar again!

    1. From a very very very low base ... ROFL ^_^
      Thank you Suber. :)

  4. Great job! your freehand painting technique is wonderful!

    1. Many thanks Luca! :) I'm actually surprised that my hands shake much less nowadays when doing freehand painting considering how much coffee I drink everyday O_O


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