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As always, I primed my bases after prepping them and giving them a good wash with soap and water to get off any dust from the sanding and any chemicals or mold release agents that might still be lingering on the bases. The bases were primed in white.

Bases primed in white

This approach will be different than the majority of my primering work. Often I will do a dual primer technique to preshade the recesses and pick out the highlights. However, with these lava bases I will be essentially working in reverse, with the lighter colors in the recesses and the darker colors on top. For these pieces, the crust will be darker with the recessed flows being brighter. Lava, like all hot things, has a range of colors it goes through as it transitions from hot to cold. The hottest parts of the lava will be white, progressing to yellow, then orange, and finally red before cooling to black. References are very helpful here and I have included a few from the internet to give you some ideas how to approach the subject (Figures 3-6).

Lava Reference

Depending on what you are after, you can go for a predominately yellow/orange/red scheme for freshly erupted lava to something that is mostly black with a few areas of red if it is an area of that has cooled significantly. I opted for lava crust that has cooled significantly that it could support the weight of a creature, with adjacent actively flowing streams of lava. If you were wanting to do a fire elemental or some creature made from magma, then you could certainly keep the majority of the base brighter. The other interesting thing about lava is that it cools in different ways, which will create various shapes of rock. It is beyond the scope of this article, but if you are interested more information can be found on Wikipedia here:

Before I begin on the painting step by step properly, I would like to acknowledge Michael Klieman, as much of this approach is similar to what he does and I have borrowed heavily from his technique.

Once the primer is laid down, the next step is a generous coating of Yriel Yellow from Games Workshop. All of the fire colors for this project are from Games Workshop. They are very saturated warm colors, which I hope will translate into the appearance of intense heat. Yriel Yellow, which is a nicely saturated deep orange-yellow, will serve as the first layer of the lava under the crust (Figure 7).

Figure 7

The next step was to cover the majority of the Yriel Yellow with GW’s Fire Dragon Bright, which is again a very saturated intense orange color. Again I am working in a reverse fashion, leaving the deepest recesses yellow and “darkening” the raised portion of the crust with orange (Figure 8).

Figure 8

This process is again repeated with GW Mephiston Red. I opted to cover the majority of the flat surface where the actual model would stand this saturated red as it would be largely cooled enough to support the weight of the model (Figure 9).

Figure 9

For the yellow, orange and red, I was not tidy at all; the majority of this will be covered by the Brown Liner which the next step in the painting the crust.

Reaper Master Series (RMS) Brown Liner will be applied by “wetbrushing”. The concept is similar to drybrushing, but I am using more paint. I don’t want the paint to run. An important key here is to keep the paint relatively thick and to utilize a larger brush. Applying the paint with the side of the brush, the idea is to hit the raised surfaces of the base, allowing the brighter colors underneath to remain visible. If the paint is too thin, it has a tendency to run into the recessed portions of the base, either muting the colors or covering them up entirely which will ruin the glowing effect I am after (Figure 10).

Figure 10

Once the crust color was applied, I needed to go back and add some subtle object source lighting (OSL) to the crust where bits of the still molten lava were peeking through. Here I took some much more diluted paints (orange and red) and applied it around the cracks in the crust. The nice thing here is that the orange and red don’t tend to cover the dark brown of the Brown Liner well. This makes it fairly easy to build up a subtle glow on the crust. If I go too heavy on the lava colors, it is a simple matter to darken it again with some more Brown Liner (Figure 11).

Figure 11

Now that the crust is done, I go back to the molten lava streams and rebase any areas that I have accidentally hit with my darker colors. I use RMS Linen White for this for a couple of reasons. Linen white is a “warm white” and in my experience it covers dark colors every well. It also doesn’t have a tendency to get chalky (Figure 12).

Figure 12

Once the base is reestablished, the majority of the lava streams are covered with Vallejo Model Color Fluorescent Yellow. Any bright yellow would work, but I wanted an even more brightly saturated yellow than the Yriel Yellow and something that would be as “glowy” as possible. This was used to cover the majority of the lava. I kept some of the deeper recesses white as well as the tops of the bubbles. One word of warning on the Fluorescent Yellow; it has extremely poor coverage. It really is best used over white. Anything else and you will be spending a lot of time trying to get coverage. It even took a number of passes to clean up the any errant orange areas I wanted to blend in. It also has much different consistency than typical acrylic paints in my experience and was difficult to thin properly. However, because the coverage is so poor, I really did not have trouble with brush marks if it wasn’t thin (Figure 13).

Figure 13

The next several steps were very much a back and forth wet blending of the orange and red to get a relatively smooth blend as the lava cooled. On the bottom row, I added Yriel Yellow over the Fluorescent Yellow. The next row includes Fire Dragon Bright glazed over the Yriel Yellow and the top row adds the Mephiston Red as well as the red mixed with Brown Liner. The small little broken off pieces of crust increases the visual interest a bit more. I tried to be fairly smooth, but it is not integral to the base; wisps of hotter and cooler lava intermix randomly, so if there are areas of rougher transition, it doesn’t make too much difference. In fact, in some areas I even tried to add some wispy trails of different colored lava (Figures 14).

Figure 14

This set of bases really didn’t lend itself to any after effects; any foliage would be burned to ashes and any blood stains or water type effects would have evaporated or get lost with all the other visual interest items going on.

The last step was to recover the base rims with pure black and give them a shot of Dullcoat. Here is the final shot of the completed process (Figure 15).

Figure 15

I hope this was informative. Lava bases are a great way to introduce oneself to the concept of OSL and learning to paint items that serve as a light source. A similar approach could be used to paint radioactive, green glowing goo or even some sort of magical river or sludge in shades of saturated blue. Give it a try!

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