lunedì 20 novembre 2017

The Colour of Bones

Bone is a very special material - a material with both organic and mineral composition and a unique texture designed for resistance and lightness. While being indisputably white, bone has a hue of its own, which we will discuss here: bone white.

As this colour is both specific and commonly requested for painters of miniatures, most manufacturers of paints have one in their range, for example Bone White from Game Color (Vallejo) or Citadel Ushabti Bone and Screaming Skull (GW). But judge you not colours by their name.

In fact, the most important thing to know when painting bones, is that bones have no clear colour, and this for three reasons. The first is that the original colour of bones is highly influenced by the mineral composition, which in turn may vary wildly because of diet and environment. As a result, not only different creatures have bones of different colours, but also different people do.

The second element to influence the colour of bones is the situation: freshly scarnificated bones are more yellowish-brown because of the presence of fat, while old bones are whiter. Bones that have been cleaned with a thorough boiling, a practice not only reserved for food but also for important people when - in pre-refrigeration times - they died far from their place of  burial, and the weather was hot and humid. Similarly, bones that have been exposed to extreme heat, like a funeral pyre or dragon breath, tend to be whiter than others.

The third element is the environment to which bones were exposed. Bones buried in the naked ground tend to collect earth and dust into their spongy cavities and cracks, assuming colours that vary from brown to red to yellow. Skeletons abandoned in damp places can be attacked by fungi, moss or algae. Bones exposed to the sun, on the other hand, tend to be bleached by it.

Old bones are just the colour of the earth they were buried in
Bogs preserve bones (and hair) very well even after thousands of years.
Yet mud tends to colour the bone very much
Moss can grow anywhere, including human remains
Skeletons stored in crypts collect dust and soot from candles
Ultimately, the variation of bone colour is so wide that it is impossible to offer a single recipe for painting them: it really depends on how you want them to be.

To exemplify, I tested three recipes on some GW Skeletons.

Here we go - Skeleton No. 1

This model, primed black, was painted with a base of Rakarth Flesh, washed with Agrax Earthshade and then layered first in Rakarth Flesh and then in Pallid Wych Flesh. The result is a very cold figure, an old skeleton illuminated by the light of the moon.

Skeleton No. 2

Warmer tones were obtained with a base of Zandri Dust, washed with Agrax Earthshade and then layered with Zandri Dust, Model Color Dark Sand (but you might as well use Ushabti Bone) and finaly highlighted with Screaming Skull (but you might also use Game Color Bonewhite, which is the same). This is a pretty neutral skeleton which is good for any situation.

Skeleton No. 3

For a yellowish effect, like a skeleton freshly raised from the ground, lighted by torch fire, you can use a base of Zandri Dust and layer it with Model Color Dark Sand. Then wash everything with Seraphim Sepia and layer again with Dark Sand.

And here's a back photo to fully appreciate the difference. These are just three possibilities out of hundreds. In the end, anyone can be free to choose a colour scheme of their own liking.

Which one do you like? Let me know your own recipe for skeletons in the comments.

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