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As originally featured in Carpe Noctem's online magazine "The Invocation" Issue #3

Happy holidays all!

I hope everyone is staying warm during these cold months and keeping busy. While I normally am an outdoors person myself, winter is a perfect time to sit down and practice your various painting skills. I took time last winter to focus primarily on one skill that intrigued me but I never had the courage to try it: OSL (Off-source lighting). OSL really isn’t that hard once you practice at it and take the time to understand it. The following tutorial will show you how to take this mind-blowing effect and put it into something that anyone can do!

First of all, what is OSL? Off-source lighting is creating the effect that an object, person, thing, what-have-you, is being illuminated by something other than an overhead light source. The effect looks primarily striking if done with a mix of darker tones, but the effect is not limited to a dark palette. To create the effect of OSL, simply extend the colors of the light source from the point of origin to the adjacent parts of the model. Sounds simple? Yes, it really is, it just requires a bit of practice!

Now let’s get painting…

OSL Tutorial 1.jpg

Begin with your model like so. Take some time to study the model and identify which areas of the model will have illumination. For this step, I actually took a picture of my mini before I painted him and mapped out the illumination with some Photoshop. While this sounds a bit silly, it’s a helpful step as it will help you as a guide later on.

OSL Tutorial 2.jpg

Prime the mini lightly with a primer color of your choice. Black, grey, or white, go crazy with your color selection, yet be cautious about how much primer you’re using. You only want to lightly dust the mini. This is done using light bursts and with two or three light coats. It’s always to use two-three light coats rather that one long-burst. The smoother the priming job, the better your results. I chose black as this guy will be a very dark and grimacing character.

OSL Tutorial 3.jpg

As you can see I went ahead and worked on the metals a bit on the miniature and did his eyes. I always start with the face first for my minis, so I thought I’d conquer the OSL for the eyes right off the bat. I made sure to keep the eye sockets primarily black with the brightest blue in the center. From the radius of the sockets, I went and took a wash of the same blue and did some light coats, taking care not to create opaque layers over the colors the light is touching.

OSL Tutorial 4.jpg

After having established the light a bit more, I took some white and mixed it with my blue to get the center sources of the eyes a bit brighter. Also, I took the same white mixed with blue to create a wash to further pull a bit more brightness towards the eye sockets on the surrounding objects. Take your time and use light washes! Less is certainly more in this case.

OSL Tutorial 5.jpg

Moving right along, I did some clean-up around the scarf and armor where the light would not actually be touching. Simply use your base colors with a bit of black to “erase” the light you created. Keep looking back to your reference image if you need to.

OSL Tutorial 6.jpg

As you can see, with the face done, I’ve now started painting the sword. I’ve had a few questions on how I made the sword look luminescent. Is it NMM (non-metallic metal)? Nope! It’s actually painted with real metallics but with the washes of the very bright blue applied to it. I find the effect very striking as actual light makes it really glow. I found that trick out by just thinking it and trying it out - don’t be afraid to try random ideas out!

Once the glowing sword was complete, I looked at my reference image and began to pick out the high points around the sword. I applied light washes of the blue to his gauntlets, scarf, crown and even chest piece. Remember to keep your washes very light and make sure to not let the paint pool up. Don’t be afraid to use a lot of layers on this part.

OSL Tutorial 7.jpg

Once I had the front going, I decided to slowly rotate the mini and begin work on the sides and back. Use the same steps and methods you used in the previous step. Take your time!

OSL Tutorial 8.jpg

With the back and front ready to go, I did a bit more work on the side using the same steps above. Keep the washes thin and don’t build up too much on the points where the front and back meet.

OSL Tutorial 9.jpg

With more layers added, some overlap built up so I “erased” and cleaned up the lighting a bit with some base colors and black washes.

OSL Tutorial 10.jpg

As you can see, I redid the shield with some different colors and then reapplied the effect. I also progressed the lighting a bit more along the shoulders, crown and garments. We’re almost done!

OSL Tutorial 11.jpg

After some clean ups were made, I then went in to finish the rest of the miniature. Now equipped with glowing eyes and a sword to match, he’s ready to slay some mortals. I hope this tutorial was helpful and inspirational. Now don’t be afraid to try it yourself!

All the best,

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