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Privateer Hobby: To Paint an Albino Troll

5 Minute Read
Oct 10


Privateer takes you through painting up Madrak3 and that tricky probem – exacly what does an albino troll look like?

You think you’re going to take a model one way, base coat it, then change your mind… now what? You can strip it, or take a look at what studio painter Dallas Kemp learned from his mistake in this Insider.

Way back in the mists of time, Trollbloods were my very first HORDES Faction, so I was thrilled at the prospect of painting the third and latest incarnation of our intrepid trollkin hero Madrak, Great Chieftain. As you might have seen if you came to see us at the Privateer Press booth at Gen Con 2016, I brought along Madrak 3 and another of our upcoming new models, Una the Skyhunter (aka Una 2), to paint during the show. While I squeezed in some time the first few days to work on Una, it got so insanely busy at the show that I barely had a moment to devote to poor Madrak. That’s when it all went sideways.

Before I arrived in Indy, I had already applied the first few layers of paint to Madrak’s face, but I was still trying to grok the right recipe for the albino warlock’s complexion. So, I decided to do what anybody would do when confronted with a tough problem: I procrastinated. I started the armor instead. In the chaos, rush, and excitement of Gen Con, I launched into base coating the armor in Bastion Grey—because, when looking over the concept art, I had completely misinterpreted the armor as stone (although stone armor trollkins would be cool, right?).


Once back at PPHQ, I basically got doused with cold water: art director Mike Vaillancourt pointed out that Madrak’s armor is actually steel (my bad, Mike). So how did I redeem myself and give Madrak, Great Chieftain the paint job he deserved?

First, I sought out some inspiration. Taking a sneak peek at the instructions laid out in an advance copy of Forces of HORDES: Trollbloods Command (which releases in December), I repainted the armor with Cold Steel, Brown Ink, Bloodstone, and Quick Silver to produce the appropriate steel effect. Then, I added some bronze trim with Molten Bronze, Brown Ink, Umbral Umber, and Solid Gold, and voila!


I also borrowed Madrak’s tartan design from the old Forces of HORDES: Trollbloods book, and luckily it proved quite easy to paint. I kept the design minimal, with as few stripes as possible using Iosan Green, an excellent color for the pattern, and adding some fine Skorne Red lines for a tartan that would make Borka foam at the mouth with jealousy.



Then, I turned my attention to the magic in the details. I painted all of Madrak’s scrolls with a basecoat of Hammerfall Khaki, shaded with Bastion Grey followed by a second shade of mixed Battlefield Brown and Ironhull Grey. Then, I highlighted them with Menoth White Highlight. While I had that color out, I went ahead and painted the shining runes with it, too—Menoth White Highlight makes an excellent base layer for glowy bits.


I perfected the sheen with some Meredius Blue glazes and then just a touch of Turquoise Ink in the deepest recesses.


Hitting my stride, I thought it was time to polish off the accoutrements. I finished the shield with the same paints as the scrolls on the rope and stole the recipe for the stones from the Circle Orboros . . . Sorry, Circle! I based the stones in Bastion Grey, shaded them with Ironhull Grey, and filled in the recesses with an equal mix of Exile Blue and Battlefield Brown. Finally, I added a bit of highlight with some Trollblood Highlight for some pop and definition.



At last it was time to take on the challenge that I’d been avoiding all this time: painting Madrak’s face. As mentioned earlier, I had only put some base layers on the skin and needed to come up with the right combination of tones to convey his albino complexion. I sensed that I had to recruit some allies on this task, and fortunately I work with people with interesting hobbies and a wealth of info in their heads. I sought out design manager Laine Garrett, and together we came up with our concept of what albinism would do to troll skin. I think the result came out great!

For the base, I used Trollblood Highlight mixed with a drop of Trollblood Base. Then, I added a variety of different hues for shade: one I created by mixing in a touch of Cryx Bane Base to the base color, another combining a little Trollblood Base with the base color, and finally a third one blending Murderous Magenta with a bit of Trollblood Base, which I used to define the face. I then made a glaze with the previous mix by adding water. I gave the brow, cheeks, and lips a heavy glaze but shaded the rest of the skin with a light glaze. I moved on to highlights with Trollblood Highlight, followed by a glaze combining Carnal Pink, Trollblood Highlight, and Morrow White. Lastly, I added Trollblood Highlight mixed with Morrow White.

Madrak wouldn’t be complete without some artful chin growths, of course. I laid down a basecoat of Sanguine Base mixed with Murderous Magenta, and completed the effect with highlights in Murderous Magenta and a mix of Murderous Magenta and Morrow White.


And there you have it: Madrak, Great Chieftain painted up in all his glory! Sure, I had a rough start, but by casting around for inspiration, poaching ideas from other Factions, and putting my head together with friends, I (finally) arrived at a paint job that I’m really proud of. I hope this inspires you! Also, if you want a shorter version of the albino troll skin, hit me up in the “Ask the Studio” thread at

Happy painting!!!

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