Birna Dottir Of Hrafnen is a Warchief (Minor Hero) character for Mierce Miniature's Norse range, and the first miniature with substantial skin tones for me to paint in quite some time. Some of the key things I wanted to do with this figure was tie in a loose uniform that represented the Hrafnen Clan and of course the Sea Faring nature of the Norse archetype. After a bit of research, I decided that various shades of green, blue/black and raven motifs would be the unifying factor for this paint scheme, which could then be applied to the rest of the collection.
Despite a lot of human skin to paint, I seemed to settle down rather easily into the task. On a figure such as this, I almost always work on the face and skin tones first on a figure and while these are the parts I do enjoy the most when painting, I find that they can also be the most time consuming, so once complete, the time needed to finish the figure tends to less.
With the face, I opted for a more plain look, subtle glazes of brown were used for both the lips and eye shadow, to give a much more natural look and less 'made' up. The cheeks were given a light glaze of purple and reds to give some warmth back lost during the highlighting. Amusingly, in the past I have always over contrasted the cheek areas, giving a more masculine finish, however in the case of Birna, I feel I have finally hit a good middle ground. I decided very early on, that I did not want to go the route of a metal cuirass (chest armour). Not only would the colours be relatively dull, but also from a 'realism' point of view, a shaped leather cuirass would be more fitting in the absence of chain mail. I also decided to go for a much more red leather than I would normally take, as this would allow me to really get some of the curvature to show in Birna's abdominal area. Also using a brighter shade of brown allowed me to add distressed effects on the cuirass to represent movement and wear of the leather.
I opted to make the hair a darker shade of blond as I felt it was the only way to keep the colours relatively muted. One problem with the sculpt however is a general lack of detail (strands) like other miniatures tend to have, especially when looking at the front.
I had to make sure that some form of green was present on the figure, as this ties the model with the Hrafnen clan. While strictly speaking I do not need a uniform for my army, I did want a unifying colour throughout the army, and the muted green does this well enough. For the trousers, I went through a stage of rich greens to blues, giving it an almost shimmering blue effect. This was very much a (successful) experiment, as it will form the primary colours for my Hrafmann (Raven men) when the time comes.
In complete contrast to the rest of the model I decided on a clean white shield, using pale blues and off whites. It is really easy to over complicate things and as a result make them look less Viking/Norse. So I opted for a very simple and clean raven design for the shields emblem. Despite how much a contrast the white shield is to the greens and browns, it seems to have worked for this particular model.
I am very pleased with the way Birna has turned out, and more importantly the time taken to complete her (two days). I find myself quite confident in getting the rest of the human forces painted in good time if I apply the same methods used here. Birna was a excellent model to paint as a break from Vortun and his monstrous horde of trolls.I hope you have enjoyed reading the article and viewing the photos as much as I enjoyed painting and writing it. Darklands has some of the best dark fantasy miniatures on the market today and is developing a fantastic gaming system, I would highly recommend visiting their website to view the range HERE.
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