Arena Rex: Painting Ywain and Dextarius Part 1


 Let’s look a my latest company project for Arena Rex: gladiator Ywain mounted on his destrier Dextarius.


First off let’s look at the art I on which I would be basing this paint job. Yasmine Putri has a very strong graphic style that has made her a popular illustrator. She also does a lot of art for Kingdom Death as well. I find her color palette to be just a little too desaturated to work well for a miniature paint scheme however. Color is an important part of defining all the shapes and surfaces on these tiny little models. Nonetheless I will be using it as a general guideline.


Today we are starting with Dextarius, the horse. I start off on his fur using mostly Rucksack Tan with a little Sulfuric Yellow mixed in.


I mix Bloodstone with Beaten Purple and blend this new shade in with the original base color in all the recesses for shading.


Here I continue shading, spreading it out over the whole model and adding definition to Dextarius’ intricate musculature. In some of the darker areas I am now using “pure” purple/bloodstone mix without any of the lighter basecoat mixed in.


As I continue to expand the shading, I begin to mix sparing amounts of Thamar Black in with the original bloodstone/purple mix to further darken it in some areas.


Now I start evening things out by stippling very thin applications of the original base color back over some of the shading. The stippling is what creates the illusion of a fur texture. I begin mixing increasing amounts of Menoth White Highlight in with the basecoat as I stipple it on in layers to create the highlights.


Next I begin to move on to the mane. To create contrast between this element and the surrounding fur, I use a much more desaturated pallet with just Umbral Umber and Menoth White Highlight as the two main colors. I start with some crude wet blending to define some of the basic highlight and shadows.


Here I’ve added a bit more definition adding a bit of Exile Blue into some of the shadows. I am also trying to create a taper of light to dark from one end of the mane to the other, so the left side of the mane now has more Umbral Umber blended into it.


I continue adding definition, tightening up the highlights and shadows so each ropey lock of that mane stands out on its own.


The mane wasn’t quite there yet, but since I wasn’t having the best time with it I decided to move on to some other areas with the intention to finish the mane when I had a clearer picture of some of the surrounding areas. To that end I began on Dextarius’ muzzle darkening it with a mix of Umbral Umber and Exile Blue. I added a few highlights to this dark blue with Hammerfall Khaki.


Let’s zoom in. Here you can see I’ve added some more highlights to the muzzle while trying to better blend that dark area in to the rest of the face. I’ve also added a tiny spot of Khardic Flesh to the interior of the nostril. That one little step goes a long way to making the horse appear more lifelike.


Next I focus on the eye. Specifically the eyelids, highlighting them with the same blue/khaki mix I used on the rest of the muzzle.


I give them an extra bit of very stark highlight to represent the fact that they would be moist and reflective. I also add a thin line of Bloodtracker Brown along the bottom of the eye giving it a sort of gem illusion. Oh and I added a bit more Khardic flesh to the horse’s lip.


All that was left was to add that little spot of highlight to the eye. Of course even that is a two step process. I started with a small dot of Hammerfall Khaki with an even smaller spot of Menoth White Highlight in the middle. Even spot highlights like this are naturally a bit diffused and I find a perfect dot of white just looks a little too unnatural.


It was about this time that I realized I’d completely forgotten about the tail. I’d kept it separate to make it easier to paint in between the horse’s legs. Working on it kind of helped me better think my way through the mane. I added a little more blue to the darker areas of the mane and tail, and kept the highlights there more narrow.


It was finally time to work on the leather straps. I wanted these to be a dark blue/black to give them plenty of contrast from the horse itself, so I based them with Exile Blue with some Umbral Umber mixed in.


I highlight the blue by blending in subtle amounts of Frostbite. I shade it with Thamar Black with a small amount of Skorne Red and Red Ink mixed into it. The warmth in the black will create a color contrast with the blue that is subtle, but I think, noticeable.


I blend in more Frostbite in thin bands where the straps contour over the musculature. I also run lines of it down all the different strips to create the appearance of light from above.


I start the saddle blanket by wet blending Sanguine Base with shadows of Thamar Black mixed with Ordic Olive and Green Ink. Again I am trying to create some color contrasts with the main color and its shadows.


The next step was a lot of wet blending of the Sanguine Highlight up into it’s final highlight of Khador Red Base. It involved a lot of layers to get it that smooth, and I got too wrapped up in it all and forgot to take some good pictures of it on the way. While many people say red is hard to paint because it’s usually so translucent, I find that it is easier to blend than a lot of other colors. You just have to get comfortable doing it in layers.

I’ve also started on the gold trim. I’ve gotten comfortable with a certain blend to get a nice NMM gold. Start with Bloodtracker Brown then mix in increasing amounts of Sulfuric Yellow to highlight with Menoth White Highlight as the final bright highlight. Here you can see the gradient of these colors as they ripple across the tassles of the trim. To help achieve the metallic look, (I guess in this case it would be more of a satin really) I also add highlights to the recesses. Light will reflect from every curved surface on fabrics like these.


Next is the tricky part: defining each tassel. To do this properly you need to vary the color you use based on the surrounding intensity of highlight. For the areas of the fold that are almost pure white you need to use a lighter mix of Bloodtracker Brown mixed with a little of the sulfuric yellow. In the shaded areas, lines of Brown mixed with black are used. Again the overall difference this makes is subtle, but I always take the time for little things like this. A thin line of highlight is also painted along the top of the whole strip of trim.


I actually did this step out of order. You should finish the trim before you glue on the shield. I had to pull it off to reach it after completing this step.

For this steel shield I actually use a lot of colors. The darkest tone is that same mix of Exile Blue and Umbral Umber that keeps popping up. This is lightened with Thornwood Green, then with Underbelly Blue, then with Menoth White Highlight. The shield is made up of two planes, and each of them has an opposing gradient painted onto it with these gradients. On the left: light to dark to light again. On the right: dark to light to dark again. I’m not sure why but this simple trick seems to make it look like metal every time.


Now I add some distressing, stippling thin layers of the same colors over the top of one another. Here is another article I wrote with some tips on textured steel.


A few more layers and the steel looks nice and rough. I add a very small amount of Bloodstone mixed with Cygnus Yellow to the darker areas to give an implication of rust.


I add a few more dings and scratches for some battle damage. These are done by painting on a thin line of highlight color with a thing line of darker color directly above it. This creates the illusion of both the scratch and the highlight that would reflect off of it.


Here I’ve done some of the other armor plates, including their bronze trim. I’ll go into more detail about the bronze when I cover Ywain himself in part 2.


Here he is with the shield attached again, along with its trim.


Yes I did paint the whole back side of it.


The last step is to paint the strip down the center of the shield red. Like the blanket it is shaded from Khador Red Highlight through Sanguine Highlight with a little bit of that greenish back mixed in at the end.


Then two white stripes are painted down it, just like in the art. If you would like to add Ywain and Dextarius to your Arena Rex collection here’s a link where you can find them.

~That finishes off Dextarius. I’ll finish the piece with Ywain next.

  • Quality stuff man. Keep up the good work!

    In before the lamentations of Arena Rex not being sold in Europe:
    This is an incredibly small company that has only been around for a couple of years. It took forever for them to even fulfill their Kickstarter because their success caught them by surprise. Instead of complaining, contact some of the distributors or stores in your country and trying pushing them to carry the game.

  • euansmith

    Arena Rex don’t make miniatures; they make miniature sculptures. The modeling and posing of their figures is amazing. This really expressive paint job certainly matches the quality of the model.