Community Feature – Carl Tees’ Kukulkani Ah Chu Kuk

July 15, 2016 CommunityHobby  No comments

We recently represented the first of our Community Features (Rich Blondel’s CORE army). It is now time for our second Community Feature. With the Kukulkani Web Update just around the corner, we thought it would be best to show off one of the best Kukulkani models we’ve seen from the community in quite a while. Carl Tees recently painted up this Ah Chu Kuk and we loved it so much me asked him to write a few words about the process he went through (and while it’s not actual magic, it certainly seems very close). We’ll hand it over to Carl…


Carl: This model is the Ah Chu Kuk from the Kukulkani faction and I’ve been asked to share my thoughts on how I approached painting it.



Before I started painting this piece, I attended a painting workshop with Alfonso “Banshee” Giraldes. Inspired by his approach to painting and wanting to try my hand at what I had learnt was pivotal in how I painted this miniature. My other big inspiration in wanting to paint this piece was the illustration of the Ah Chu’Kuk in the Dark Age rulebook and James Wappel’s studio paint job (above). I wanted to capture the illustrative style but approach it from a different point.


Capturing the light

After cleaning and assembling the first step was creating a light sketch. I like to zenithal prime my miniatures anyway but doing a light sketch takes this stage one step further. Instead of being just a foundation on which to lay your base colours the light sketch gives you the chance to play with how the light will influence the later stages of your paint job. I started with black primer, sprayed white over that with an airbrush and then switched to the brush. Using pure white paint to highlight areas that I wanted to have the most reflection. At the same time I darkened other areas where I wanted more shadows. I took plenty of pictures throughout the process, that way I could always look back and use them as a reference. I always enjoy the priming stage of painting as at this point the possibilities are endless.


First steps in colour

Continuing on from the light sketch, I moved on to using colours. For this project I wanted to limit how many different paints I used. From the outset I wanted to be able to mix most of the colours and tones I wanted from a limited palette. To that end for the entire project I used crimson, yellow and cyan ink, artists acrylic black and white, and Vallejo Japanese Uniform.

I started on the loin cloth working my way back and forth with crimson, yellow and white, desaturating the colour for the shadows and trying to make coloured highlights. The loin cloth helped me gain the confidence for the rest of the piece as by the end I was quite happy with it, although it is very bright.


NMM (or is it?)

When I came to committing to the gold which would make up the rest of the model (there’s a lot), I realised I didn’t really know how I was going to do it! I had only limited experience painting Non-Metallic Metals (NMM) and this piece required a lot. At first I thought I would paint everything in yellowish gold colour, blend in some highlights and then add tones for the shadows. In the above picture you can see how I tried this on the right arm. As soon as I’d done it I realised that it wouldn’t work and it didn’t capture the feel that I wanted. Going back to what I had wanted to try with this project I started to play with light. Inks are great for this. Their coverage can be a bit iffy but their intensity is fantastic. In the picture above you can see how using only blue and yellow ink I created a visually interesting light effect on his headpiece. Once I had this down I used the Vallejo Japanese Uniform and white to add yellowish gold tones. This gave me a real boost and would be how I approached the rest of the painting on this model.


Ah Chu Kuk is a big miniature and a hefty piece of metal. To maintain momentum and to be able to see a visible progression I broke the model down into segments and worked each one until it was done. I could always come back at the end for final highlights or final touches. I don’t get a lot of time to paint and if I had tried to do every step at the same time all over the miniature I think I would have lost motivation. It really helped that at the end of a painting session I could see visible progress.


Finished piece and final thoughts

At each stage I went through the same process. I’d use inks to build up different light effects then go over them using Japanese Uniform and white, sometimes going back and forth until I’d achieved an effect that I was happy with.

Having shown it to various people and entering it into a competition I found the feedback I received both interesting and useful. From a technical point of view there are imperfections (that weren’t intended) but I’m happy with that for my skill level. There is a clash between the red of the cloth and the green that is quite prevalent in the metal. They both vie for supremacy and that is apparently something particular to those complimentary colours. One of them needs to be dominant. It isn’t a typical NMM but I had hoped that the piece would still convey the effect of being metallic although illustrative in its execution and slightly otherworldly. In the end I was really happy with what I had achieved. I learnt a lot along the way and really enjoyed painting such a beautifully sculpted model. I had wanted it to look like the illustrations and studio model but with my own spin on it and I think I achieved that.

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