Do color choices for your armies matter beyond your personal preference?

Black Matt
"Hey, I've followed your blog for a while now and you always seem to floor me with new expansive ideas on how to make models look even more thrilling. I've been stumped with my newest figs (a mech eldar list) and have no clue as to where I'm headed with them, so I figured I'd ask the pro for any crumbs off the table haha.
> I've tried what I can on my jetbikes, dry brushes and washes, I can do easy designs like flames lightning bolts and thorns, but nothing has seemed to actually make the models stand out. I've tried adjusting the models by taking the top of the jetbike and flipping it underneath the shurriken catapults, But that took away a smooth surface which allows more interesting looks from off the table (and the vypers can do the same, but the grav tanks cannot. I've also thought about using a sort of medieval house crest theme for each biker, but I don't think that it will really look that gratifying in the end so I've decided against it for now anyways. Any color scheme is good to me, so far I've tried a saim hann red with flames and a completely black jetbike with streaks of lightning across it. Although they both look nice up close, on the table it's not very noticeable and I feel something either bigger or simpler would make a better effect.
> Any ideas would be a great help!"
Sincerely, Ben

Ben,
Ok sorry I put you off and thanks for remining me! In my defense I'm trying to buy my first place and I don't have a pc at work, so I'm typing this up on my blackberry. I was having a conversation with an old friend and he is new to the hobby and we were discussing his color choices. He chose something out of the chaos codex. A somber grey and bolt gun metal. He wanted or envisioned his army as working with stealth and didn't see the point of bright color due to real life war time tactics. Bright yellow doesn't make good camoflouge!!
HOWEVER, this is not real and we are playing with plastic men. I wasn't about to stiffle his creativity by telling him that. I want him in the game so I have something to talk about with him. He doesn't play and he is only doing this for his own enjoyment. You, are different and you need to stand out with a bad ass army. I have several armies painted several different ways. What people say are my best painted armies are my two most outrageously painted. Bright yellow and bright orange. They command attention. I'm doing a black army now that I want to be my masterpiece, but that is so much more difficult with black or dark colors. So what I am trying to say is that I guess it begins with your color choices. If you want someones attention, grab it firecly! Freehand designs are a bonus but I have seen armies that deserve awards due to the level of detail and freehand but got ignored and looked over! Sad but true! Good luck Ben! Got any pictures of your stuff you wanna submit?
Black Matt

Color theory is a system of relationships that seem to exist between colors in the visible spectrum. Many of us know the fundamentals of color theory; there is a color wheel containing all the visible colors, there are three primary colors distributed evenly around this wheel, and all other visible colors are located somewhere between the primary colors. What many of us should but don't know is that such a system can be used to arrive at color combinations that communicate and emphasize what we want. Sometimes, it's not what you say, but how you say it. Color theory is a tool for making a statement with color, without having to "say" it.

It should go without saying that the color choices that are made when designing and painting an army are paramount when soliciting someones else's favor, the paint judges!!! Blue, red, and green are the easiest colors to make stand out and look intense. Yellow, orange and white look even more intense, but are much more difficult to paint. Blacks and dark colors are the easiest to paint but are the most difficult to stand out! I have still not been successful in this endeavour.

When I am asked about color choices, or more specifically, how do I make my army, "pop," I tell them first about color choices but I also mention color relation. I personally do not like complimetary colors on models, because they make me puke. However, I do suggest to people that choose a strong secondary color for there models. Single colors models, regardless of how well they are painted, are BORING. Yellow models are intense but unless trimmed in black, red, blue, green bore me. Certain colors go well together. Bright blue with yellow shoulder pad trim for instance. The list goes on and on unlike me, and since this is an open ended discussion I will now take my leave and see if anyone else has anything to say!

11 comments:

Old Shatter Hands said...

Very true, Black Matt. I haven't been to many tournament but I have won best painted once. This award was player's choice and I think I won because of attention grabbing. I use white as a spot color and I use it to draw attention to certain parts of the models. Second, in that tournament I was the only Tau player. So there was that going for me as well.

In my opinion the greatest color combinations are the two primary colors (or varitations of them) and one bright spot color. For example, a red demon with blue wing flaps, and bone horns Essentially, this is red, blue and yellow.

Yellow is tricky because it tends to provoke the strongest reactions, You either love yellow or you hate it. Plus some hues of yellow can appear sickly.

Black Matt said...

Ol shatter hands,
Seeing your army I can definitely are it taking a first place. Love your stuff!

Ps did you get the oblits?

Old Shatter Hands said...

the oblits are awesome! Great color work on them as well. So far the unit hasn't seen the tabletop, but I am building up a chaos army to eventually paint, but first I've got to finish my blood angels!

I love how you mention "pop." there's no other way to describe pop-ness of an army. its just what we strive for...

Black Matt, I've actually been thinking about your army paintscheme. After looking at the Oblits firsthand, I think your readers/viewers would love a complete army showcase. Photos of your units and vehicles. Expecially the rhinos, once finished. Also, your imperial fists would be great to see as well.

D'nyarak said...

Black Matt, I would agree as well, I've seen some armies painted to a very high standard, but because they are painted in drab colors they don't stand out or are appealing. That's part of the reason I decided to paint my traitor guard in bring orange/yellows.
As for painting complementary colors they can look very bad if they are both strong colors, but I find that a darker hue of the complementary color can look great and not only stands out but also emphasizes the main color.

I would also like to see some of your army showcase!

AutarchAndrew said...

well my army is blue stippled over black guess that just means i am a lazy person

Faolain said...

My most eye popping model is my Malanthrope. What catches the eye is the carapace, as it is a bright blue. It stands out not so much because of the color, but because of the value. If you photographed my 'thrope in B&W, it would still stand out. So making things stand out isn't just an issue of color, its value (how light/dark it is), and especially strong, contrasting values will help establish that.

Old Shatter Hands said...

So true, Faolain! Color is important but I agree that yes value is just as important, if not more. I always try to create a contrast of the two main colors. One bright and one dark. My tau, bright khaki and dark green. I'm currently assembling a chaos army and so I've been thinking about a new color scheme lately. Dark metal armor with lots of pale heads, clothes, accessories. Strong contrast is what draws the eye!

Nagamo said...

I´ve just spent some time in my bathroom to get rid of the painting if done yet. Half of my minis is nerly clean now, the other is taking a bath in cleaner. I wasn´t satisfied with the paintjob if than so far, now I have to rethink fluff and colour palette...

Black Matt said...

How come we never got pics of those models?

Admiral Drax said...

I'm always in a bit of a weird place with colour, for a few reasons:

1) I came up with my IG scheme six years ago. I've improved a lot since then, but with 200+ infantry, any advances in my technique have to keep faith with the established (uniform) scheme.

2) Some of you are familiar with my stuff: I've no particular talent for painting, I've shaky hands and I'm really really really slow at doing it, with loads of infantry...so simplicity is good.

3) I have no 'eye' for colour. I can't mix or blend colours and Isure as hell don't understand what goes with what. Luckily, I have a wife who can help, and I have a fairly 'realistic'(ish) colour scheme, so the precedent's already set. I'malso starting not to mind at all!

4) Finally, for all the reasons above, all the paints I use go on straight out of the pot. Let's just say I love foundation paints!

Ben said...

Thanks for the replies matt, I think I'll be modeling the medieval scheme in the end. The basic scheme is red, but half of each bike will be done as a family crest (have a book with loads of old scottish ones) and I'll most likely fit a shield to every biker somewhere on a free arm with the same crest on it.

I really appreciate the encouragement and down to basics comments, and highly feel for people who have to paint through 200 guard :)