Super Dungeon Explore Vol. 12: Ember Mage

The Ember Mage is the next hero ready for the game table and, while I know I've been saying this about every hero model, I had a great time painting her. Next to the Paladin, it seems to me that the Ember Mage is the most identifiable heroes in the core game, so I wanted mine to be a good spokesperson for this project as a whole. What I ended up with was a gorgeous model that really stands out. I know that sounds like I'm bragging a bit, but I am genuinely happy with how my painting has been coming along.

As I work my way through the SDE models, I keep coming back to a point that I want to mention as I post, but I'm not sure I've vocalized it effectively. The models for SDE are different in many ways from anything I have painted so far. This goes beyond just the scale and style, but is also the way the models are sculpted. My other projects being GW and Wyrd products, I am used to intense details on the miniatures. While the SDE models are, no doubt, finely detailed, they are sculpted in a way that gives a lot of liberties to the painter. When I look over an SDE model, there are almost always parts of the model that are up to interpretation, where the detail is more suggested by the sculpt, rather than dictated by it.

If you look at a Space Marine, for example, the lines are all defined, 'this is where his armor plating begins, this is where it ends, this is a pouch and this is a tabbard.'  With the SDE models, however, the line between one feature and another is blurred enough that, as a painter, I can define that myself. This is most prominent in the female hero models, and particularly on those parts of the model where skin and clothing meet, meaning there is some play in where that line ends up on a painted model.

I still don't think I'm describing this very well, and as I read and re-read the post, it occurs to me that I should look at this a bit more closely and try to identify some concrete examples in pictures. For now, however, I just want to show off a pretty paint job. Suffice it to say then, for now, that this 'suggested detail'  is something I keep running into with SDE. This makes the process of picking up a primed hero and getting the paint flowing somewhat intimidating. Once the work begins however, that intimidation is usually replaced by joy, which makes this project a lot of fun.

While I'm editorializing in this post already, I think there is also something to be said for the idea of painting models that I know are going to see time on the board. For a long time, working with Necromunda, the painting continues while you're not ever really sure a model will ever be deployed. This is somewhat lessened with Malifaux, but with SDE, I know at least my wife and I will be playing more. 

...okay, back to the Ember Mage...

Like the rest of the heroes so far, I kept to the traditional colors for the Mage. After pouring through the forums and google images for ideas of what other people have done, I decided two things. First, I wanted to make sure that she was a vibrant and deep red and not somewhat orange; and second, I do not like the look of yellow in her palette, especially with so much red. Most of the pictures I have seen of the mage make some use of yellow, either as Non-metallic gold or just as is for the trim of her robe and I wanted to avoid that.

For her robes, I wanted to go for a very vibrant, deep and brilliant red, but I didn't want to look at all orange or yellow. This
meant that I kept the colors dark, basing with a combination of Vallejo Game Color Heavy Red and Model Air Fire Red. Then I began highlighting with very thinned down layers of the same red and eventually, deep orange. I wanted to avoid the problem I always seemed to have with my old Blood Angel army, turning into orange marines by the time all of the hightlights were complete. I am very pleased with the shade it turned out. The trim and decorations on the robe were basecoated Bestial Brown and then painted straight with Model Air Gold. These were then shaded thickly with Sepia Wash. I went back and forth between wash and gold for several coats until I got a coppery, antique look to the gold that doesn't look too brown or too brilliant.

To compliment the deep red of the robe, I chose a skin tone darker than I have used for heroes so far, starting with straight Dwarf Flesh. This was highlighted with increasing amounts of Pallid flesh and some shading was done using a Flesh wash with just a tinge of Sepia. This prevented her complexion from looking too pale and getting lost in the deep reds.

The entire time I was painting her, I couldn't decide what to do with the Mage's hair, so I left it to be the very last part I painted. I had a hard time envisioning her hair as anything but black, but I didn't want to wash out her complexion. In the end, I decided to do it and it turned out quite well. Rather than work up highlights for her hair though, I basecoated it pure black and then highlighted using Model Color Sunny Skin that was thinned way down (probably close to 5:1 water and paint). This gave some texture to her hair without making it look grey.

As seems to always be the case, I have no idea which hero is going to be next, but I can say that I'm looking forward to it.

As always, comments are welcome and appreciated.

More to Come,

-Nick


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