Of Mice And Men...
When thinking and posting about how I wanted to base my rioting London thugs and mob figures, I decided not to cover their bases in ballast and static grass as I have done on most of my other figures. I also didn't want to base them on sculpted cobblestone bases and such because I just don't have those talents right now. So I decided to go with a grey gravel base that looks like a street or gravel driveway. You can see some of my experiments in the photo below.
The figure in the middle was my first test. I figured that since I was going to paint the sand grey, I first would paint the putty grey because I feared that I would not be able to get my brush into some of the tight spaces where parts of the figures came very close to the height of the base. What was I thinking??? In order to paint the putty grey, I would still need to get in close to where I feared getting in close. Sigh. There went some wasted time!
India Ink? Hmmmm.....
So I decided to just begin with a layer of ordinary sand glued to the dried wood putty, as seen on the figure to the far right, and go from there. Then it dawned on me. Why not try a wash or inks? They could flow into those tight spots, then I could simply paint close to those areas but leave some ink as a border, kind of like how we paint figures. I figured I use black India ink for that base shadow color, then paint some shade of grey over it. That's what you see in the figure to the left. Again, it was a stupid idea that went nowhere, just causing me more work. But, the India ink did work well.
Bombay India inks from Dr. Ph. Martin. They make excellent inks, and retail for $4 a bottle. Plus, I get them at a 20% discount from the local art store, using my faculty discount. (I've included a little video I found showing why one person thinks the Martin inks are better than Liquitex inks.)
But Martin does not make grey ink. No problem. All I had to do was mix black ink with some white ink---voila! Grey ink! But this is me we're talking about. Well, I got out my little plastic mixing pallet, the one with the six little indentations to mix paint in. I splunged out a bunch of black India ink into one of the indentations.
No 50 Shades of Grey For Me!
Then I began droppering in some white India ink, mixing it about to form a grey. I droppered in more white. And more white. And more white. Funny how the black wasn't turning into as light a grey as I had thought it would no matter how much white I added. Oh well. It looked pretty good regardless. So I began brushing it on some bases.
It worked great! The grey just flowed right into every nook and cranny, staining deep into the sand and dried putty. I even was able to "paint" the edges of the fender washers with it. Plus the ink sealed in the loose sand. This was fantastic.
Why Do I Only Think About Planning When I'm Halfway Done? Sigh.
Only then did I realize that I never thought about the ratio of black-to-white ink in that pallet. How was I going to recreate the same color when it began running out? Oh well. Mixing more by trial and error, which worked pretty good over all.
Then I let the figures dry. Ok, I became impatient and got out the hair dryer. Then I noticed that the ink dried darker than it looked when wet. Are you kidding me!?! Sure, it wasn't the light grey I had envisioned when wet, but I didn't think about a more charcoal look either.
Back to start! This time, I began with white and added slowly added black until I got a nice light neutral grey I had envisioned. This is the way you make grey ink! You need very little black to the white to make any shade of grey.
I Definitely am Not an Art Major!
I then grabbed one Victorians and brushed the light grey on the base. Of course, it didn't flow as well over the dried ink as it did the raw sand. I dried the base with the hair dryer and looked at the figure. It actually looked worse with the light grey base! My son thought the same thing. Weird! So back to the charcoal grey look. This time I mixed a paint jar of the grey ink so I could use it on future figures.
Done and Done!
So there you have it. My bumbling adventure painting/inking the bases on these Victorian figures. I'm glad it's over and am happy with the results. They look pretty good on the table under the lights in my room. (The photos of them are below.) Afterward, I went onto finishing the bases on my Splintered Light figures. But that is a post for another day.