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How green is your troll ?

One of the very odd aspects of painting fantasy miniatures are the now accepted skintone norms for certain races. Orcs and Orks are green and always have been. Skaven are brown, goblins are green, while elves, humans and dwarves are generally caucasian. I try to be a little more adventerous with grey skinned elves and orcs of a light brown hue. A fact that owes more to Orc Brown being one of the paints in the Citadel paint set 1 that I got hold of many years ago. By the same token, worms should also always be purple, but I digress. The point I’m trying to make is we expect certain of the fantastic races to look a certain way, even though purple orcs and browns worms are equally as valid.

I’ve been tasked with painting these two giant trolls, and the only stipulation Jacob set me was ‘ no human flesh tones, that would be too easy’. Well perhaps it would have; caucasian skin tones are what we all practice the most, and there are many specialised paints and sets made to help. But these are trolls, and for trolls I always think green. I seen blue done very nicely, but on the whole all things trolly are green of some sort. But what sort of green, bright, dark, pale or strong? Time to have a look at the minis as a whole and consider options.

Thinking and planning

Going back to the accepted norms there are things we expect from trolls. They’re large, nasty, regenerate, cunning if not academically bright, and smelly. They eat what they catch, dwell in caves or other natural shelters, and don’t have a great sophistication for either weapons or clothing. So a fairly savage though primitive hunter. This swayed me more towards a duller, and more naturalistic skin tone. Something that might aid the trolls in ambushing and perhaps even hiding should a strong party of adventurers come looking for them. Also the skin on one of the trolls is on show for the majority of the miniature. Choose a tone that too strong, and it’s going to over power everything else.

The second chap bucks most of the above by not only being a natty dresser, he’s also carrying a scythe. Less of an out and out weapon, more a harvesting impliment, which does give the nod towards him being a farmer of some kind. Not quite the savage primitive hunter that his mate appears to be. Still they are both the same species, so he’s going to be green too, he just lives in the posher caves and reads the farmers weekly.

Skin Tones

I decided on Reaper MSP 9177 Camofague green for the skin base coat. It’s not an in your face colour and allows plenty of scope for both highlights and shading. Gave both miniatures a couple of coats, diluted with flow improver and drying retarder. His Lion pelt was given a couple of coats of Citadel contrast Iyanden Yellow and Snakebite Leather contrast paint for his skirt / loincloth arrangement. I know Games Workshop like to market the contrast paints as a one thick coat and your done pigmented wonder, but there is much more to them than that. Used thinly they do provide a good visual roadmap for darker shades and highlights, whilst also showing detail as a base coat. They do some of the work for you, but also point towards the other directions. Washes and glazes from these paints are also very useful. Finally the wooden handle of his stone headed axe was a base of Model Colour 70.828 Woodgrain.

A Shirt of many colours

As mentioned already, the second troll does seem to be a little out of place. He’s got a shirt, breeches, bag containing a light lunch, and his scythe. Looks more like he’s off to mow a meadow, but I suppose even trolls have hobbies. His shirt , bag and breeches are all made from stitched together pieces of either cloth or leather. Clearly his missus is a dab hand with a needle and thread. For the painter this does open up extra possibilities though. Large or giant sized creatures like these are unlikely to make their own cloth. So these are probably pieces that they have acquired over time and cobbled together. That being the case, they’re bound to be different, both in texture and colours. So I’m running with that theory, and giving his a shirt of many colours, and probably breeches of different leathers too. So far I’ve used Stained Ivory, ( now oop), 9176 Military Green, 9135 Carnage red, 9117 cyan blue and 9241 auburn shadow. Still some places to do, but I work like a magpie, doing bit’s that take my fancy at the time.

Skin Shading – 1st pass

I know many painters have a set routine for working on their projects. I’m pretty random, which is probably why they are better than I am. In this case I wanted to get a bit more defination going on with the skin. It’s well sculpted, lumpy, bumpy with knobbly knees and rangey rubber limbs. Time for a first pass to get some shading and highlights roughed in. For the darker tones I used 9176 Military green and for the light highlights, 9177 camoflague green with two drops of 9012 pale green added to lighten it a bit. Again add a drop of flow improver and retarder to each mix. Thin paints, light coats to eithr recesses or high spots. Where needed wash brush, wipe, dampen, and gently blend the two colouers together. Drying retarder and flow improver are your friends and really make things easier. Keep plugging away at the mini till you’re happy with the result.

Skin Shading – 2nd pass

Now for the second pass over the flesh tones. Going darker and lighter than the first pass. Here I used 9177 Camoflague green with 9093 clear yellow and a drop of 9039 pure white mixed together for the highlights. 9176 Military green with 9137 Blackened Brown added for the darker shades. Again add in flow aid and retarder and go over the deeper recesses and more pronounced highlights. Blend as you see fit, but remember, contrast is key with mini painting. Even if it looks a bit stark now, you can always adjust it later on.

Dirty troll

Now a little trick to make the trolls look a less pristine, and bring things together a bit more. Trolls are arch soap dodgers and there are many references to the stench of their lairs warning adventurers even before they see the creatures themselves. Again I turn to the contrast paints, this time Dark Oath Flesh. Painted thinly over the top of the skin it darkens the overall paint, adds in a dirty oily look and generally smooths everything together. Yes I have lost the peak of the higlights, but that can be added back later, along with a little black lining to make differing areas stand out from each other.

So that about wraps up this post. I don’t consider the skin finished, but the bulk of the work has been done. When other parts are further progressed I’ll go back to it and adjust it a bit more.

Thanks for reading,