Kern Painting Guide | Critical Role

We used the Army Painter range of paints for this tutorial; they have great surface coverage, and a wide range of colors. Make sure to shake the paint pot before you apply some to your palette to make sure it’s properly mixed. Once you’ve applied the paint to your palette, you will need to thin your paints down with a small amount of water. About a 1:1 ratio will work for most paints.

We have used a few paint mixes in this tutorial. This is easy to do: just follow the above process for thinning down your paints but before you add the water, add and equal amount of the second color to the first. You can give these a quick swirl with your paintbrush to mix them, add the water and then continue to mix them together until they are one, smooth color.

Due to the size of this model you are going to want to use a smaller size brush with a fine point. Most of this model was painted with a Size 0 brush, going down to a Size 000 for the ultra-fine details

If this is your first time painting a miniature then this probably seems a bit intimidating. No worries! You can stick to Step 1, 2 and 3 and then base the miniature. Practice makes perfect and you’ll be up and running in no time.

The most important thing to remember when painting miniatures is HAVE FUN!

Step 1 - Apply your Base Colors

Colours used:

  • Belt and Boots – Oak Brown Mixed with Matt Black (50/50)

  • Trousers – Necromancer Cloak

  • Flesh – Deep Blue

  • Arm Wraps – Werewolf Fur

  • Moustache – Necromancer Cloak

The first step is to start blocking out the different areas of color on the model. These will be the darkest shade of each color we use and form the shadow areas for the later stages. Take your time with these and try to keep them as neat as possible.

Kern is a bruiser and the mini is dressed ready for a brawl. This allows us to concentrate on his skin tones and use them all as a focal point for the model.

We’ll start with laying down the skin base tone as it covers most of the model. We want to apply a couple of thin coats of paint instead of one thick one, so we don’t obscure any of the sculpted details.

After that then you can work around the model blocking in each remaining color, concentrating on the neatness and getting solid coverage.

Step 2 - Brighten up your Base Coat

Colors used:

  • Belt and Boots – Oak Brown

  • Trousers – Dark Stone

  • Flesh – Viking Blue

  • Arm wraps – Banshee Brown

  • Moustache – Dark Stone

Now we will start to add depth to the colors by brightening them up. Concentrating on   the raised areas and sections that would be exposed to more light, we start to apply the brighter versions of our base colors. This is generally on the tops of areas, the ridge of a fold of cloth and on the more pronounced details of a face like the eyebrows, the nose, cheeks and lips.

We can use this stage to start adding depth to Kern’s skin and add detail to it by concentrating on the raised areas of his muscles.

At this stage we don’t need to be applying as much paint to the model as when we did the basecoats, so be careful not to overload your brush. When applying these first highlights we want to be careful to leave a small amount of our basecoat in the folds and recesses of the area we are working on to act as a shadow.

Step 3 - Applying Some Washes

Colors used:

  • Belt and Boots – Strong Tone

  • Trousers – Dark Tone

  • Flesh – Blue Tone

  • Arm wraps – Strong Tone

  • Moustache – Dark Tone

These washes will help to add shade to the model and increase the definition on highly detailed areas. Mix them well but don’t water them down too much or they can dry, leaving a very chalky finish.

When we apply the Blue tone to the Skin areas of Kern we’ll see the highlights we have done get toned down slightly and blend into each other a bit more, enhancing the effect of the light and shadowed areas of his muscles.

Due to the nature of a wash they are much thinner than the paint we have been using and can be harder to control. Don’t overload your brush or allow the wash to pool in the creases as it can run into other areas of the model. If you apply too much, simply rinse your brush, dry it off, and then use it to soak up the excess wash from the model.

Step 4 –First Edge Highlights

Colors used:

  • Belt and Boots – Dirt Spatter

  • Trousers – Cultist Robe

  • Flesh – Crystal Blue

  • Arm wraps – Skeleton Bone

  • Moustache – Field Grey

After we have applied the washes to add depth and enhance the detail of the areas, we can go and do a final layer of color to brighten it up again.

Just like before, we want to concentrate these colors on the raised areas/details of the mini such as the tip of the nose and cheekbones for the face, the top surfaces of Kern’s muscle, the top ridges of the folds ofthe cloth, and the sharp edges of the belts and straps.

The highlights at this stage are quite small and pronounced. They cover only the uppermost areas on cloth folds and sharpest of edges; we do this to add more contrast!

Step 5 – Second Edge Highlights and Corrections

Colors used:

  • Belt and Boots – Dirt Spatter Mixed with Werewolf Fur (50/50)

  • Trousers – Castle Grey

  • Flesh – Toxic Mist

  • Arm wraps – Drake Tooth

We can now add a further layer of highlights to Kern and increase the depth and contrast of the colors.

This is the stage that we can start creating the color shift in Kern’s skin, to a paler color on the torso and extremities of the face.

To do this apply the Toxic Mist to Kern’s chest and stomach and to the tip of the nose and cheeks, really concentrating on adding to the sculpted definition of the musculature by applying the highlights to the very uppermost areas.

Step 6 – Final Highlights and Finishing Touches

We will now add another couple of layers of highlighting to the paler areas of Kern’s skin. This is done in exactly the same way as in the previous step but focusing more on the centre of the torso and the tips of the facial features the brighter the color gets.

To do this we use Toxic Mist mixed with Snake Scales (50/50) and then we add a small amount of Moon Dust into that for the very smallest and final highlights.

This is also the stage where you can choose to go back to the mini and pick out small details: paint in eyes/mouth or enhance the details by taking the Size 000 brush and Matt Black, and carefully paint in the lines between each different area. This technique is known as “black lining” or “lining in”. This will really add to the contrast for the black areas.

With your model painted, you can choose how you would like it to be based. It’s perfectly fine to leave the base black, but just make sure to clean up the edges and give the base a nice even coat of black paint to really help the model look finished. Alternately you can use sand and glue or pumice gel to give the base some earthy texture and then paint it to match whichever setting you like. You can then add some static grass or grass tufts to bring the base to life.

If you plan to use this miniature for gaming, it is a good idea to seal it with either a spray-on sealer such as Testor Dullcote or Army Painter Anti-Shine. There are brush-on options available if the idea of using a spray can on your freshly painted miniature is something you’re wary of. In either case, be sure to follow the application instructions provided. Always test your sealer before applying it to your miniature to make sure it cures correctly.

We would love to see your results so post them up on Twitter using #CrittersPaint hashtag!