The Art of War: 40 oz. to Freehand


Hey folks and welcome to the latest installment of The Art of War. I'm back from an extended hiatus with a new article, this time covering: Freehand techniques! There are a few ways to do this technique, but I have a couple that work the best for me. First, I'll go over the brush technique. To start off, you should pick yourself up a set of nice Kolinsky Sable brushes. Why? The better the tools, the better the results. Because Kolinskys are made out of higher quality materials than some cheaper brushes, they tend to keep a point for longer (assuming proper brush care, of course) and you need a fine point for proper freehand technique.

You do have to have a bit of freehand artistic skill to be able to accomplish this, so you should start with some of the simpler chapter/army icons until you feel comfortable doing more elaborate art. So, let's start with one of the simpler icons, that of the Blood Angels chapter.

As you can see, I started off with the blood drop in the middle of the icon. It's very simple to do the outline for, just do a small "u" shape and connect the top corners with a pair of lines to complete the drop design. Next is the more difficult part of the icon, the wings. Start by putting the white paint on the very tip of your brush and draw the edge where the wings are next to the blood drop and the top edge of the wings.

From there, draw the feathers for the wings. I decided to cheat a bit by drawing the wing section as shown below:

Next I fill in the white area by drawing in feather detail with bone colors working my way up from 'Jack Bone to Menoth White Highlight as you can see below.

Now, I looked at the design and felt it needed a bit more to make it "pop", so I decided to do a jewel design on the drop. As you can see below, I basically just painted it like you would a normal gem on, say, an Eldar model (more on that next time).

And here's the finished product! I love the way freehand designs tend to make the models with them stand out as people tend to appreciate the work that goes into painting designs by hand, regardless of how easy they really are ;) haha

Anyways, that's it for freehand. You will want to practice on throw-away stuff first, moving your way up to possibly doodling on an old GW box, then finally you'll wind up doing chapter badges and moving on to full banners (which can look AWESOME, IMO). I like to use my brush for established designs and a set of white pencils I bought at a local arts & crafts store. At that point, I can usually just draw the outline with the pencil and paint-by-numbers after. Here's a link to what they look like so you can keep an eye open for yourself:

Until next time, keep those brushes clean!