Something I’ve always wondered about miniature war-gaming, fantasy and sci-fi in particular, is why in the 21st century, we still insist on painting all humans, elves and dwarfs in “vanilla” (no pun intended) Caucasian flesh tones. I’ll admit that in miniature painting terms it would be hard to represent certain racial types by paint work alone. Oriental skin tones, for example, are very similar to Caucasian, it’s their eyes that are their distinguishing feature and I don’t think this can truly be represented on a 28mm figure unless it’s sculpted to look oriental. Similarly, there’s an overlap between tanned Caucasian tones and Mediterranean/Latin. But there’s one obvious racial demographic that stands out quite starkly against the all white backdrop of today’s miniatures – black/African skin and I don’t know why we don’t see more miniatures painted this way so I decided to give it a go. I did a bit of research into this and found that the reason many painters shy away from it is because it is very difficult to do (although hopefully in this tutorial I will convince you otherwise). The reason it is considered difficult is the sheer contrast in the tones you must highlight through. In the most extreme examples, black skin has darker shadows, being naturally darker and brighter highlights, being naturally more reflective. Consider the example below, which is taken from the film the Gladiator and pairs Maximus (Russel Crowe) with Juba (Djimon Hounsou) in their first fight and also provides me with an ideal way to visualise my point.
As you can see from the picture, the dark areas and shadows on Juba’s skin are much darker than those of Maximus’ skin, which is understandable given that Juba has very dark skin. However, if you look at the highlights on Juba’s skin, they are almost white, whereas those on Maximus’ skin are not much lighter than the shaded areas.
However, there are as many different shades of what might be termed “black” skin as there are shades of “white” skin. There are examples like Juba above who have very dark skin but with a slightly red/brown hint, there are other examples that are almost black with a slight blue hint, there are some with pale skin that is similar in tone to Latin skin. Some of these are easier to paint than others. This guide will tell you how to paint skin not dissimilar to Juba above.
You will need the following colours from the Citadel Range
- Rhinox Hide (Base)
- Aggrax Earthshade (Shade)
- Doombull Brown (Layer)
- Tuskgor Fur (Layer)
- Bugman’s Glow (Base)
- Kislev Flesh (Layer) (optional)
You will only really need the Kislev Flesh highlight on centre piece and character models such as generals and mages.
Anyone using other paint ranges should use the Colour Conversion Chart link in the menu on the left of the screen.
Base coat all of the flesh areas with Rhinox Hide. This is best done over a black base coat as it adds a little extra darkness to the skin.
Wash the flesh areas generously with Aggrax Earthshade.
Highlight using Doombull Brown
Highlight with Tuskgor Fur
Highlight with Bugman’s Glow.
As an optional final stage, you can add a coat of Reikland Flesh wash to help blend some of the colours, however in many cases, such as the one above, you won’t really need it.
Here are a few examples.
You can find some more examples of miniatures I have painted with black skin in this album on Photobucket.
I hope that this has been useful to you, please feel free to comment if you liked it or if you think it could have been presented better or if there’s anything you would like to see me do a tutorial in in the future.