My pre-highlighting is the base for my blending but the transition created by the airbrush is a time saver only, you must still have a good blending technique with a brush to finish the miniature as the airbrush will always leave a dotted spray pattern. I want to add appropriate colours to my miniature without losing the light-dark and warm-cold contrast so I use transparent glazes, starting with a colour a bit lighter than the mid-tone. I begin with my brush strokes moving from what will be highlights towards the shadows which pushes the paint into the shadows and leaves only a very thin layer by the highlights and a transition in between. I then mix in the complimentary colour (green for red, blue for orange, purple for yellow and so forth) and then dark blue to make my progressive shadow tones. These are applied in the same way; moving from the mid-tones towards the shadows. This brush action will create my blending. Sometimes I may wet-blend areas where it seems necessary (usually to cover a mistakenly left hard edge from a glaze) or pick out textured areas with a wash and then over-brush them but mostly I will push the paint as described.
I then add highlights made from the mid-tone and a little yellow with progressively more white. This is applied in the same way but this time moving from the mid-tone to the highlights. My wet palette enables me to keep my paint thin, which is necessary to paint like this and the layers are built up until the pre-highlighting is covered. Using this technique, I can do most of the blending on a miniature in an hour or two.
Non-metallic Metal (NMM)
For areas of metal, I progress in a similar way to the above but will look to achieve slightly greater contrast and these areas require fine glints of white to be added to simulate reflections of the light source, usually the sun. Coloured reflections in the shadows are also added to match the colour of the surface opposite. NMM is best used for clean, shiny metal.
True Metallic Metal (TMM)
This is essentially metallic paint, however, I apply the same theory as above and still follow the pre-highlighting. Shadows should be made out of darker (e.g. black for silver/steel), complimentary (e.g. purple for gold) or reflected colours. This is most easily achieved with glazes controlled using the pushing technique above or by wet-blending. This is good for any metallic effects but I generally reserve it for weathered metal as NMM is less appropriate for this.
‘Slightly Metallic Metal’ (SMM!)
This is something which I haven’t heard of anyone else doing but I prefer it to TMM. I generally paint as I would for NMM but I mix in a little metallic medium, which is mica in an acrylic medium. I prefer this because I find metallic paints are too metallic and often have very poor covering power. This method allows me to control how metallic the paint is and to make metallic paints in any colour, should I desire this.
The pre-highlighting is less useful for painting wet or sheer fabric. First of all, a base-coat of flesh tones where the fabric touches the skin blended with, in this case, blue where the fabric hangs away from the skin is needed. Blue is usually a good choice as it is complimentary to most flesh tones. Next, the flesh tone can be highlighted a little to keep the sense of zenithal light but the skin tones should all be kept less saturated to normal by adding a little pale blue-grey. The blue is then highlight through the same pale blue-grey up to white.
As this miniature is on its own, I seal it using a brush, however, if batch painting or if I had applied any dry pigments to the miniature, then my external mixing airbrush is more appropriate. This would be done in the same way as priming.
This includes several possibilities, none of which apply on this figure but here are some other examples: