Saturday, 24 December 2011

Crowe & Kaldor Complete

Crikey, it really was back in July that I last updated on these guys. I finished Castellan Crowe and Lord Kaldor Draigo of the Grey Knights yesterday, after putting them off for months because I didn't feel ready to tackle Draigo's Nemesis Force Sword. The official GW rendition of the weapon is a stunning piece of work and while I didn't think I could recreate it, I wanted to do it justice. More on that later.

Castellan Garran Crowe first. I love the new Grey Knight Purifiers, they're great bit of additional fluff to the Chapter and I especially love the addition of the white helmet/shoulders that makes them stand out from the regular Knights. Crowe was fun to paint, partly because the core of a Grey Knight (the armour) is easy to do, especially if you're using an airbrush and going with a zenithal lighting approach. The shading on the figure is a little bled out here, but you get the general idea.

The detail on the cloak is hand painted on and yes, it did take a while and yes, it was somewhat fiddly to do. Usual rules apply, keep your paint thinned, your brush sharp and your patience in abundance. Have some thinned red to hand to tidy up any mistakes.

I tried something new for the cloak that I've not done before, but I was trying to be faithful to the GW rendition of Crowe so I figured I'd give it a go. For the sharpest edge highlights on the cloak, I've used a thin line of bubonic brown to get a sharp yellow highlight. I really wasn't sure this would work, but it appears to have done so. As ever, the paint was thinned, so I could lay down a transparent layer before building up the highlight, otherwise it would look weird. This way it blends into the cloak slightly. Feeling reasonably pleased with how the cloak turned out, I applied the yellow highlight to the banner.
White is something I've known for a while as being tricky to do. Giving the white a sense of depth without turning it grey is tricky, while at the same time you want the shading be clear but without being overly stark (unless ofc, that is the look you want). My first stab at white was on this Deathwing Apothecary above. I worked up from a light grey (Codex Grey) base, and used a blue wash for the shading, while gradually building up the lighter tones by mixing in white with the grey. Using a blue wash rather than black, creates a shading which doesn't flatten the overall colour scheme and avoids making the white look grey.
The technique for Crowe much the same, although I have a new weapon in my arsenal in the form of Reaper Master Series Ghost White. This is a beautiful bluw offwhite, which really helps blend the light grey/blue washed base up to a lighter tone which I can then finish off with Skull White. The other advantage of the white on Purifiers is that it makes the particle effect glow round the eyes really easy to do.
I struggled to get a good shot of the Blade of Antwyr and this is the best I managed. Although much simpler than Kaldor's sword, this still took me a little white to do to get the glowing purple effect as I wanted it. I painted Ghost White into the recessed rune areas of the sword, washed with Leviathan Purple and then tidied the sword up with Dark Elf Shadow. A quick drybrushing of Liche Purple followed and then I applied a thinned mix of purple and ghost white into the recesses again to create a brighter core for my glow. After that, another dry brush with purple to complete the effect before tidying up again with the Dark Elf Shadow.

Important note on the tidying, I didn't tidy all the way up to the edge of the runes, because I wanted some of the glow to be spreading over the blade.

And this brings us onto Lord Kaldor Draigo's blade.
Now I accept that this is nowhere near the quality of the official citadel rendition, but I am really pleased with how it came out (less pleased with my photography but, meh). It is broadly similar to the official version, just not as good.

The technique is basically the same as the one I used for the AoBr Deathwing Sergeant sword, with a few refinements. For a start I used a very light base (Ghost White again) for the sword, rather than a metal. After that, I used washes (Leviathan Purple and Asurmen Blue) at either end of the sword to build up a depth of colour which diffused towards the outer edges of the blade. Using the washes also made it really easy to blend the purple and blue into each other. This is the most time consuming part of the process by far.

After the colours were white, I applied a dry brush layer of ghost white to create a slight particle effect, before rewashing the blade with purple and blue. I then painted on my lightning effect using that light blue paint from the original citadel paint set I love so much, before using Ghost White to make the lighting brighter. Another quick wash of blue and purple to fade the lightning effect slightly, before reapplying Ghost White to some parts of the lightning, so the intensity of the lightning varies along the length of the blade. 

It is not perfect, but it turned out better than I expected and was much, much easier to do than I thought it would be.
The rest of Kaldor was painted in much the same way as Crowe. One thing to note is that, compared with my earlier Grey Knights, I made much greater use of blue washes for shading this time. This brings the overall effect much closer to the GW house style for Grey Knights. At the same time, I was trying to do this while working within my zenithal lighting.
There is a lot of detail on Lord Kaldor Draigo, which makes him an absolute delight to paint, albeit rather time consuming. Again the detail on his cloak and tabbard was hand painted and this was very fiddly. Definitely worth doing, although without it I don't think the model would have sufferred greatly as there is so much else going on. I think getting the shading on the cloak, scrolls and purity seals took me longest after the sword. 

The particle effect on the eyes was the last thing I did and it worked out better than it did on my earlier Grey Knight Terminators. I just can't work out why.......

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Deathwing - Jehoel & The Meaning of Regret

Taking a few days off work to recover from a particularly hellish month and I've been able to get on with my painting. This guy has been in the works for a while now, but my recent impetus sped things up considerably. After some research, I've decided this fellah will be called Jehoel a.k.a The Angel of Fire.
He's one of the additional figures, the others being Castiel and Bob who I covered in my last entry, I've been working on alongside the AoBr squad.
Jehoel is a converted Forgeworld Huron of the Astral Claws figure, with some Deathwing inconography added on and the right arm replaced with a flame unit. The approach to painting him as been, more or less, consistent with that of the AoBr squad, although the overall shading is a lot more subtle in places. I really like the green scale tabbard on this figure, it looks like it is part of some sort of additional flame proofing.
Although it looks like a fantastically busy figure, there isn't that much detail to contend with and breaking it all down into a sensible structure allowed me to make reasonably swift progress. I think the blending of the red on the Flamer units went particularly well, particularly the left hand one. I should mention that the base is a micro arts 40mm tech base. I put some weathering power (Forge World Medium Earth) on there to create a rust effect and was really pleased with the effect, so I went and redid Castiel and Samael's bases with it as well.
So why have we got a Deathwing figure who is decked out with more than his fair share of flame weaponry? Is he a Salamander who got lost? Rest assurred there is a story behind all of this, as there is behind Castiel and Samael, the Angel of Death. I've got quite a bit of typing ahead of me but, this is not a long story to tell. I shall crack on with it tomorrow. For the time being, I'll sign off with a picture of my Deathwing army as it now stands.
In case you're wondering, no, I have no idea what the points cost of this little lot is, especially as it only really has two coherent squads in it and a lot of personality pieces.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Deathwing Squad - Finished

Actually I finished them over a week ago, but work and the festive season has been a major impost on my time.

As much as I'm not a fan of the Assault on Black Reach squad, I think they look pretty good with a few modifications and overall I'm happy with the final paint job.

The final few steps were quite simple, but add a lot of the finished look of the models.

1) Do edge and extreme highlights with P3 series Menoth White. This is an off white colour which blends superbly with the other paints and also has a great consistency. The Menoth white is applied to anywhere on the model I perceive as getting hit by the most light and along the leading edges of the carapace. I do thin the paint slightly so I can easily feather it onto the model.

2) I finished the skull and cross bones on the Terminator honours, by painting on a highlight of Reaper Master Series Aged Bone, washing with gryphonne sepia and badab black, followed by a final highlight of Aged Bone. This gives the Terminator honour a bone look which is distinct from that of the armour.

3) The bases I gave a fairly vigorous dry brush of GW Tin Bitz and then a lighter dryrbush of mithril silver.

4) For the Sergeant's power sword I tried a new approach which I'm rather pleased with. It needs some refinement, but I think I know how I'm going to evolve this. What I did was.
  • paint the sword mithril silver
  • wash the sword with Asurmen Blue, building up the shade into the recesses of the sword and thus creating a defined highlight at the centre and on the edges.
  • notice the shading is very dark, dry brush the sword with a very very light blue paint, which picks up the highlighting at the edges
  • rewash the sword and notice that the dry brushing combined with the wash has created a nice particle effect
  • drybrush lightly with the light blue again
  • paint on the lightning effect with the light blue
I think I'll modify this approach in future to use a couple of darker light blues for the particle effect and lightning before applying the final highlight.

But I think it looks good and different to my other power sword effects.

5) Paint the purity seals. I keep this simple by painting the seals bleached bone, washing all over with Gryphonne Sepia and then a further wash of Devlan Mud into the recesses. Then use thinned bleach bone to build up a highlight. The litanies and what not are painted on with a mix of brown and black ink.

And that's pretty much it. Although I recall I mentioned I was working on a few other figures.

This is Castiel (I'm a Supernatural fan, so sue me) and he's got a story behind him which I'll share at a later date. He's actually fairly customised assault squad terminator, in that his right leg is from two different sets of legs (amuptated at the knee) so he has a different pose. The gun has been modified with a scope and the right arm put out at an angle with a fair amount of green stuff masking the gap. 
I'm really pleased with how dynamic this pose is and he's a welcome reminder of how much better the proper Terminator figures are over the black reach set.

And this is Bob. I don't know why he's called Bob. he just is. I'm not so keen on this pose, although it does look like he's about to drive his chainfist into something in a meaningful way. I also did some battle damage on Bob, although I'm not sure how well it turned out.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Deathwing - Step by Step Part 4

I've been fiddling round with lighting since I got my new desk and installed some new bulbs into my spotlights, so I have a whiter light than previously, This is still all w.i.p, but I think I'm getting there in improving my macro photography set-up.

For this stage I've been focusing on some of the details of the model, specifically the green, red and stone elements of each Deathwing squad member.
 I try to avoid making the reds on my Deathwing too bright, while still having a strong degree of contrast. I work from a very dark red base and then use a thinned Blood Angels red to create my highlights, carefully feathering on a little at a time so the highlight slowly builds up. I also try to do this so the lighting is broadly consistent with the zenith lighting on the rest of the model. I play a little fast and loose here though, because if I was totally honest to the zenithal approach I'd not paint in some of the detail.

For the greens, I start with Dark Angels green and wash heavily with black, as I did in the previous update. I then paint DA green back over the areas getting the most light, blending it back into the shadowed areas with the darker tones.

I really really want to avoid a bright highlight on the green. I have it on some of my earlier Deathwing and DA miniatures and it really doesn't work for me. So the highlight I use is a mix of Snot Green and DA Green in a 3 to 1 ratio (snot to DA). As an aside at this point, if any of you produce snot that looks anything like citadel think it does, see a doctor. Please. That's just not normal.

As with the red, the paint is thinned a fair bit and carefully feathered onto the model, gradually building up a highlight.

In the case of the Storm Bolter, I'm pretty liberal with the lighter shade on the very top of the gun, as that is being hit full on by the light source. Having said that, I try to make suure I've got the most highlight at the edges so they're clearly defined. I then feather it down into the darker tones. Again, if I were true to my zenith lighting approach, the detail on the side would be lost, so the bottom edges of the side detail get a touch of hihglight. They're not in direct light (even if it looks like they are in this photo), but without a little highlighting the side of the Bolter would look very flat.
For the joints in the armour (and arm cables), I use Reaper Master series Dark Elf Skin triad to build up contrast in the flexing of the joints, before washing them with Baddab Black. It is a little time consuming for such a small area of detail, but I like the effect and it is more interesting than just drybrushed black.
All the stone detail on the armour is next. Again I try to be consistent to my zenith highlighting. Adeptus battlegrey goes on first, followed by Codex Grey hitting most of the highlighted areas. I then wash with Baddab Black to bring out the detail and pick out the areas getting hit with the most light using Fortress Grey. Other than washing the skull and bones with Baddab Black, I've not done anything with that area yet.
Finally the eyes have it. This is a pretty basic approach, starting with a dark red, then applying increasingly small amounts of lighter tones towards the front of the eye until I finish with sunburst yellow right at the very edge. I then give the eyes a little wash of Baal Red, to blend the transitions and let a bit of the darker cooler pool into the socket. I use a very fine brush for this, either a Reaper 20-0 or Winsor & Newton series 7 000, as citadel don't do a very fine detail brush. The only thing missing from the eyes is a little refracted light blob in the corner of the eye.

All that's left to do now are the purity seals, some of the metal work, the bases and the final highlight on the bone.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Deathwing - Step by Step Part 3

I've had to change my lighting for these images, because the highlight was getting bled out by my lightsource. I really do need to sort out a proper lightbox for macro-photography, but until I get my study redone its very much a project on the back burner.

The next step (or steps as I've done a few things) is to apply the highlight to the parts of the model which get the most light. I generally work on the basis that my lightsource is more or less directly above, at a slight angle. I do play a little fast and loose with this for the sake of the mini looking good and keeping definition where I want it.

The principle of this is simple enough, in that the parts which get hit by the most light are the brighest with the colour gradually bleeding out the further you get from the lightsource or where areas are in shadow. Actually explaining how I do it is somewhat trickier. Hopefully you can see in the picture above what I mean, in particular the areas in shadow. Those areas are untouched by the highlight, most notably the vent area at the back of the carapace and the sides of the torso.
The two images above show more of the shaded areas and also the much stronger contrast between the upper surfaces of the model and those areas which are shadowed. You might also be able to see that I've washed the gunmetal parts and grey of the figure with a thinned Badab Black wash, to add some depth.

The technique for the highlighting and getting a reasonably smooth transition to the dark is a bit of cheat really. Rather than wetblend the two colours together (which takes ages), I instead thin the highlight paint a fair bit (Reaper Master Series Aged Bone) and then gradually layer that on.

Now a reasonably thinned paint behaves like a wash, so it needs to managed carefully. It also pool at the point of contact with the model, so you have to be careful not to apply too much paint to your brush. My technique involves first applying the brush to the area I want the main highlight to be, drawing the paint away a bit, then drawing it back leaving a thinned coat behind. I do a few passes, drawing the brush further away it each time, building up the top highlight while bleeding the colour out further. Because the Reaper triads compliment each other so well, this is a surprisingly fast way of getting a decent blended bone highlight. It doesn't look as good as a full blown wet blend but, doing that would drive me to distraction.

You might also have noticed that I've left the skull and crossbones on the Terminator Honours as bone. While the standard Terminator fluff is that the Honour is carved from the rock of Marines homeworld, I've never been keen on that for my Deathwing. I've done my own fluff here and drawn my inspiration from the original Deathwing novella, where the marines are a tribal people akin to the Indian tribes of North America. Part of their Terminator Honours are carved from the bones of fierce beasts they've hunted (as part of a coming of age ritual), fused with the stone cross and then covered with a protective layer of something. However, as the beasts they hunt are naturally very tough, the bones are unusually resilient anyway. The new Dark Angels novels (which are pretty good imo) have the recruits hunting down incredibly dangerous beasts on the deathworld of Caliban, so the whole bone Honours thing carries through. The trick is getting the bone effect on the Terminator Honour to look different to the rest of the armour. At this point its early days, more work to do there yet.

Finally, I've also washed the Dark Angels green on the Storm Bolter, chest Aquila and other elements of the armour with thinned Badab Black.
I've realised that I like the green on my Dark Angels to be quite dark, so making it as dark as possible first means I can avoid the fairly aggressive yellowy highlight I have on some of my earlier Deathwing minis.

Monday, 14 November 2011

After Deathwing - What next?

Despite the absence of the next part of the Deathwing Step By Step, I am making progress on the figures and should have something up tomorrow. Blogging takes time and to paraphrase Rocky Horrors' Magenta "slowly, slowly, its too nice a job to rush." The fact that I'm working on eight figures is actually pretty wearing. Yeah, doing the light highlight is fun for the first three or so figures, then it turns into a job, then back to being fun for the last couple when you realise you're nearly done.

So when I am done, I'll have brought my Deathwing force up to a sizable 20+ figures. Admitedly I need more rank and file figures in with the various character models, but I've more than enough for a robust game of Spacehulk. Throw in the Landraider and the two Dreadnoughts and I've an army for a tabletop game. One I'd certainly lose, but an army never-the-less.

I think I need a break from painting bone coloured things, which leads me to ponder what I should tackle next. I'm pondering the following.

1) Dark Angels - I've only one figure painted and he looks a bit lonely. I'm tempted to try painting Azrael with a retinue of veterans or perhaps a Devastator squad.

2) Castellan Crowe & Lord Draigo - these two are not far from finished. In fact I could probably push these two through in an evening.

3) Genestealers - I've got one test colour scheme near finished and I do need these guys painted for Spacehulk.

4) 3D Spacehulk board - I picked up some moulds at Gen-Con for making a sci-fi themed board. My plan is to reproduce, as faithfully as possible, the Spacehulk tiles as package with the new edition.

5) Nemsis Dreadknight - I got him for my Birthday, I'm toying with the idea of doing clever things with magnets.

6) Landraider Ares - I have all the parts to get one of these underway.

The problem with all of these ideas is at present, I really don't have shellspace to store anything else. I need more shelves, in the sense of I critically need more shelves.

So what I'll probably wind up doing after I've completed my Deathwing is this.

7) Go to Ikea, buy shelves.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Deathwing - Step by Step - Part Two

As you can see in the picture above, I've finished painting in the various other elements of the figure. I've painted a dark green over all the black elements I want to be green and I've painted the base Boltgun Metal, followed by a wash of Devlan Mud.

I don't know about the rest of you (because my network of spies isn't that efficient), but I really do have to be disciplined about thinking about the entirity of the composition as I'm painting, rather than focus on a bit of detail at a time. This was something my A Level art teacher used to berate me for and quite rightly too. If you don't work on a piece in its entirity, what you end up with is something that looks oddly inconsistent. But, it is soo easy to get drawn into working on the detail of particular aspect of a model up until its finished, then move onto the next part. You can create a consistent effect that way, but it is much harder and the risks of getting it wrong are a miniature that looks, at best, weird and at worst like it was painted by a few different people on different days.

The airbrushing really helps with this, because I can quickly do the early stages of the core colour scheme over a number of figures quickly and consistently. After that, it is just a case of picking which element to paint next and doing that for all the figures. Honestly, I find this can be a bit tedious at times, but I also find it the only way to create a reasonably consistent finish.

This is probably less of an issue if you're painting just a single miniature, but even then I'd still strongly advise in trying to paint all aspects of the model in stages, rather than finish one bit and move onto another. This is because getting other elements painted does change the contrast with the other paints, which in turn can parts already finished now look odd.

As I mentioned earlier, all the green bits were first painted black. I've previously tried to avoid this step as a time saving measure and, to be blunt, it doesn't work. It doesn't save time. On a miniature as lightly coloured as this, you'll have to apply multiple coats of green paint to even get the colour somewhere approaching the dark shade needed. Painting black is an additional step, but it saves time in the long run. Don't skip it.

I also want to talk a little about the paints I'm using. Above is a picture of the Bone Triad from Reaper Master Series, with paints sorted darkest to lightest (left to right).  Apologies it is not so easy to see the different tones, I accidentally spray painted the Aged Bone bottle.

By now it should be clear that I'm a fan of Reaper paints. They have great consistency, water down well so the pigment doesn't separate and the little dropper bottles are much better for keeping the paint fresh. Okay, occasionally you need a pin or something to unblock the nozzle, but that is preferable to me than having to rehydrate an entire bottle of paint. Something I have to do with the citadel paints, frequently.

The other great thing about the Reaper Master series is that the Triads have been really well thought through. The different tones work together really well and indeed, you can apply them sequentially without the need for much blending. I know citadel and other brands have all got on board the bandwagon of organising paints into triads of dark, mid and light tones, but they don't do it nearly so well as Reaper.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Deathwing - Step by Step Part 1 (now with added PINK!)

This opening image is by way of an explanation about what this little series is about. First and foremost it is about how I go about painting Deathwing. Secondly and secondmost its about how I'm going about painting Deathwing bone armour in a different way.

On the left in the picture above is my old style of painting Deathwing armour, which produced a bone effect, that was a little too warm for my tastes. Too creamy even. Although the technique isn't bad, there is scant regard on the bone armour for light sourcing. It is not a bad figure and not bad for my first year getting back into painting. There is a lot of it I'm happy about, especially as it was my first conversion. I'm not thrilled about the badly drilled gun barrels, but otherwise its ok. Apart from the gun barrels. And the bone.

Earlier this year I finished my first ever 40k tank and being fairly ambitious, I decided to start big and painted a Deathwing landraider crusader.

I took a different approach to painting the armour on this, as I figured the creamy bone just wasn't going to cut it. I used different paints, used my airbrush properly for the first time and also played around with weathering powders. I'm much happier with how the bone effect for the armour came out, I changed the colour scheme for other elements of the armour from the way I normally did them and generally had a blast.

This led to me painting the guy on the left in the topmost picture and also directly above here, the Deathwing Angelus Mortis. This was a much more ambitious conversion for me and I'm again happy with the results. The bone armour is painted with much more attention to light sourcing and is much cooler than the creamy bone. There's a lot of other elements included as well, like battle damage. They're not perfect but, it was my first attempt at doing them on a figure.

The long and the short of this is I have a new way of painting bone coloured armour and I'm still refining the approach. So lets get started.

First up we have wait we're painting, the assault squad from Black Reach on shiny micro-arts bases.  Some of the models have slightly shonky green stuff additions, which are my first attempt at sculpting extra features on armour. After cleaning, prepping and assembly, I've drilled the barrels and added a few additional features (extra purity seal and terminator honour). I've also either replaced all of the shoulder pads with those from the Dark Angels bits sprues, or moulded my own emblems using green stuff and instant mould. Basically this just an image of unpainted plastic figures. Woo, guinea pig!

Next step is to prime them with grey. I find white to be too bright and difficult to work with in the early stages and black is too dark for bone. Once they're dry, I apply a wash of Devlan Mud to pick out the details and establish some contrast. I know washing at this early stage is odd but I find it helps build up the depth as I go.

You might also notice that the squad sergeant has a helmet rather than the default bald head. This is because I really don't understand the GW convention of indicated officers or characters by removing their armour. It MAKES NO SENSE to me, so I tend to do away with wherever I can.

I then break out my trusty Badger 150 airbush and get to work on my colour scheme. First coat is of Reaper Master series Bone Shadow all over the miniatures, followed by a coat of Reaper Polished Bone. The latter is applied from the direction of my lightsource, so various parts of the model don't get hit by the slightly lighter shade.
Apologies that my macro photography is the best, but hopefully you can see on the arm how the lighter paint has sprayed onto the upper areas of the model and left underarm, back of the shoulderpad and other areas darker. The contrast is stronger than it appears here, but I still don't have an ideal light set-up for pictures so some of the colour has bled out.

I then applied another wash of Devlan mud and here things went slightly wrong and by wrong, I mean pink! Basically I used an old bottle of wash, thinned it and because the paint was old, the pigments separated from the wash and I wound up with a weird pink residue all over the model. Hopefully you can see that in the left model.

Now the pink wasn't a total disaster as in some areas it did add an interesting element of colour to the recesses, but in others I was just left with an odd, brightish, pink shading. Lots of rewashing and tidying up with Polished Bone followed, until I got to the figure on the right.
Once that was all done, I then carefully went back over the figure with the Polished Bone, applying a thinned layer to those areas that were not in darkest shadow. You can see the detail in the picture above and also areas (like the vents at the back of the armour) where I haven't applied the lighter colour. At this point the contrast isn't too great, partly because of my sub standard macro photography, but mainly because I've only applied a base tone, mid tone and shade. I've got two more tones to apply yet, the top tone and my edge highlight, at which point the contrasts should pop out more.

*edit* - I missed out a step!

After the tidying up with polished bone, I then applied a very thin wash of Gryphonne Sepia evenly over the entire model. The reason for this is because it takes a little of the coolness off the bone colour and also helps tidy up some of the transitions.

The final part of this early stage was to put my details in, to help bring the composition together. I find once I've got the basic details there, it is easier to go forward with the rest of the armour. The long standing theme for my Deathwing recognises the Dark Angels chapter, where elements of the detail are painted in green. This stems from the original Deathwing boxed set.
I've always though the green was a neat touch on these figures, as it ties the Deathwing back to the parent chapter and generally I think it looks a bit more interesting than just painting the guns red (as they are in the current DA codex) or leaving them black (which to me is preferrable to red, but not as good as green).

Pretty much all the black areas will, eventually, be painted green (accept for some areas that will stay black). Then I have red, which to me is as much a colour of the Deathwing as the bone is, as it ties back to the pre-heresy DA colour scheme. For the red I start out with a very dark tone, Brick Red from Reaper Master series, which provides a nice brooding contrast to the later highlights.

All of the skulls get a coat of foundation Adeptus Battlegrey. I used to do the skulls using the Reaper Bone tried, as it contrasted nicely with the creamy bone armour and I felt the skulls should look like skulls. However, as I'm now using the Bone Triad for the armour, that approach simply doesn't work, so I've gone with the traditional stone look. I've also painted elements of the Crux Terminatus in grey, but left the skull element unpainted as of yet. I'll explain this in due course, as the reasons are also drawn from the Deathwing background.

Getting to this point has actually taken a fairly long time (I'm actually painting two other Deathwing figures alongside these five) and the next stages should go slightly more quickly. I'll crack on with these over the week and with luck, have another update ready for Sunday.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Basic Ultramarine Paint Job - I Feel Unclean (and Lazy)

*pre-amble ends*
For anyone wondering, this is an old post I did elsewhere earlier in the year. I'm reposting it here because a) I was quite pleased with it and b) as reference for a friend who is getting back into painting 40k minis again.
*pre-amble ends*

I put this together at the weekend to satisfy two basic urges. The first was to show that painting miniatures is not complicated and most of the effects achieved are done via easy to implement nifty little shortcuts as a few folk I know on forums were saying "I tried painting miniatures years ago and it is too hard." The second urge was to see if I could implement these techniques in painting something I've never painted before, an Ultramarine.

I'll restate that. I have never painted an Ultramarine before.

However, what follows isn't anything big or clever or revolutionary. I imagine most of you will already know most of this, so there will be no revelations beyond th cut. But, you're morbidly curious, so read on.

All I've done is use basic techniques and a degree of common sense to paint this figure. I didn't follow any guides and I didn't use any advanced technqiues like wet blending, or refracted light painting or anything like that. I didn't even mix any paints to create a particular colour. So this is all straight out of the bottle (or can) stuff. Furthermore I used GW paints only for this, none of my Reaper Master series or Vajello paints except in two cases. Just what you kind find over the counter in GW.

I will say that the first rule about keeping things simple is to make sure you have all the tools you need. The moment you don't have a tool is the moment you have to work round the absence of that tool, which adds complexity. We don't want complexity, we want to keep it simple.

So here are the tools I used.

Citadel Detail Brush
Citadel Fine Detail Brush
Citadel Small Drybrush
Citadel Xacto blade
Citadel tiny drill thing
Small modelling file (I have a selection of model files, but I just used a basic flat sided file)
Pair of tweezers ( used to occasionally remove a bit of hair or fibre or dust from the model)
Citadel thin Superglue
Pot of water
Cheap plastic palette

Citadel Chaos Black spray paint (obviously I did not use the entire can)
Citadel Chaos Black
Citadel Skull White
Cote De Arms Regal Blue (this used to be the citadel regal blue, but they changed providers.)
Citadel Ultramarine Blue
Citadel Bubonic Brown
Citadel Scorched Brown
Citadel Boltgun Metal
Citadel Mithril Silver
Citadel Suburst Yellow
Citadel Blood Red
Reaper Master Series New Gold (I don't have any citadel golds)

Citadel Devlan Mud Wash
Citadel Asurmen Blue Wash
Citadel Baddab Black Wash
Citadel Thrakka Green Wash

And this is what we're painting.

On the left we have the assembled and unpainted figure. He's a space marine from citadels 1990s dark era of plastics when they weren't terribly good. Assembled figures present some challenges in painting, but there are advantages as well, but I've cover those later. What I've done here is clean almost all the mould lines off and any excess plastic using my Xacto blade and file. Mould lines make a miniature look like a model, rather than the representation of a large thing that happens to be very small. It is worth taking some time in prepping a figure, as even a good paint job can be ruined by mould lines. You'll notice in the left picture I missed the mould line at the end of the barrel.

However, on the right you'll see that not only have I undercoated the model black with spray paint, the mould line is gone and I've drilled the end of the barrel so there is somewhere a bolt can come out of. I got into drilling my gun barrels late on, but it is a simple thing to do and really adds to a figure. I've used black spray paint because a) I thought it would be an easier base to paint from than white and b) I like to save my grey spray paint for my Deathwing. Furthermore, black does have its advantages for the later steps.

Black spray paint dries very quickly and gives a nice even coat that isn't too thick, perfect for not losing the detail on a crappy plastic mould like this one. Spray painting means you have to direct the paint onto the model from a few angles, otherwise you'll have whole areas that are shielded from the paint by the rest of the model. Even once that is done, you'll have to touch up a few areas with black paint, but that doesn't take long.

Next step is to paint the areas that are not going to be much lighter colours white and also the backpack detail boltgun metal as well as the metal areas of the Bolter.. During the painting of these relatively small areas mistakes will happen to all but the steadiest of hands. In the event of an accident, wait for the paint to dry (which doesn't take long) and then paint over the offending area with black. This keeps all your lines neat with minimal effort.

This also brings me to the most important rule of miniature painting.


Not so much that they turn into washes, but just a little so they flow more smoothly. Most paint out of the pot (even brand new paints) are slightly too viscous to flow smoothly onto the model and will obscure detail. So a little bit of water (mixed with your paint in a pallete) really helps with this and makes painting detail areas so much easier, as the paint can be drawn more smoothly from the brush. It also means your paint goes further as well and as acrylics aren't cheap, you're saving cash.

I quickly move on to applying the regal blue (a nice dark blue) to all the areas of the model which are black (except the mouth area). I've had this pot of paint since I first started painting miniatures as a teenager and it is still going strong. Not bad for a 20year old pot of paint. At some point in the past 10 years, citadel switched suppliers to a new brand of pet which has a poor retardant mix and doesn't last nearly as long as the old style stuff. The old style paints are made by Cote D'Arms and you can still buy them online in various places.

One thing you'll note, I hope, is that I missed the leg joints at the black stage and have painted them boltgun metal here. Any mistakes made can be covered up with black and painted over with the blue. Also, it was clear at this stage that a further coat of blue paint would be needed, as there well still quite a bit of black showing. The same is true for the white bits as well.

The pose of the model made applying the blue to all areas somewhat fiddly, but anywhere the blue didn't reach would be intensely shadowed anyway and as those areas are black, we've instantly got some nice shading.

After a second coat of the white I move onto the next stage and applying the detail colours to my model. My mistake here was that I didn't put a second coat of white onto the bolter casing and that has made the red slightly grubby. Schoolboy error on my part. I also painted the gem in the middle of the aquila blood red.

As you can see the second coat of regal blue is on and I've also painted scorched brown onto the chest and bolter aquilas. Brown is the perfect base colour for gold and different browns will result in a different gold effect, but scorched brown is a good all rounder. The chest eagle was a little fiddly and I used my fine detail brush for this, but the thinned paint was just drawn carefully across the wings into the areas I could see. The areas I can't won't be seen by anyone else and they'll be black anyway, neatly creating some intense shadows.

The shoulder detail I've painted with an initial coat of bubonic brown, a nice intense dark yellow colour which is perfect as a base onto which brighter yellows can be painted. Bright yellows straight onto white tend to look really pale, so a basecoat which compliments the lighter colour works well. In the past I've tried to do this using orange and it just doesn't work. Bubonic brown or a similar colour is the way forward!

I also painted boltgun metal into the respirator mouth piece of the armour at this point. I should've done this at the black stage as it would've been easier to correct any mistakes. Model painting is greatly simplified by painting the right things in the right order!

And now we're starting to get a more ultramarine look.

I did the eyes at this stage first. My Blood Red has become very viscous in the jar so that absolutely has to be thinned before application to the eyes or it will just make a mess. In the event of a mistake (which with eyes it happens often enough), the red is light enough to easily be correct by some regal blue.

Then onto the mid tone for the blue, which I did using ultramarine blue. The trick here is paint ALMOST all of the area painted previously with the regal blue, but leave a small border at the edges of armour plates and avoid painting into recesses. This especially true for hard to reach areas or anywhere that is clearly shaded from your lightsource (usually directly above) and you want to avoid painting too much or at all in those areas, or you'll ruin the shadow effect. This is another reason as to why we don't worry too much about the hard to reach areas behind the gun, because they won't be getting much light anyway, so they'll be dark. Plus most of the chest area is taken up by the aquila, so we don't need to do any blue there at all.

For small areas I used my fine detail brush, using a tiny amount of paint on the tip. For detail work, too much paint on brush = mess. For precision, use the tip of the brush and a small amount of (thinned) paint and you shouldn't go too far wrong.

By simply not painting the ultramarine blue into the recesses and into the edges of the plates we create a simple but effective shadow, which gives the model detail.

I also put another coat of Bubonic Brown onto the shoulder armour detail and another coat of Blood Red onto the bolter.

And now for my favourite part of model painting, the washes! I do love washes.

I evenly washed all of the blue armour with citadel Asurmen Blue wash. This darkens the armour and blurs the border between the Regal blue shadow and the Ultramarine mid tone. A simple but effective technique.

I washed the metal parts of the bolter, the backpack and the armour with baddab black wash. The was settles into the recesses nicely and gives those metal areas some definition. I washed the bolter casing with Thrakka Green, because green contrasts sharply with red and creates a nice shade. I also washed the red gem on the chest with green as well.

And now we move onto the highlighting.

A basic highlight is done by using the same paint as you used for your mid tone, in this case ultramarine blue, and painting over  a small part of the area you've just washed. It is the same principle as not painting over the regal blue so we leave a shadow, but in this case we paint only a fraction of the shaded ultramarine, usually just the edge of the armour plate. This creates a sharp contrast between the edge of the armour and the shadow, while also creating an area of definition between the edge and the rest of the armour that we didn't have in the earlier stages.

Providing you keep your paint thinned and take your time at this stage, you shouldn't make too many mistakes. Any mistakes you do make, most likely to be too thick a highlight, can be corrected with a bit of blue wash.

For the shoulder pads and the thrusters either side of the backpack, I painted a roughly circular area with ultramarine blue, which was roughly in line with where light was hitting those parts of the model most. The chest area hidden by the arms and the gun I didn't highlight at all, as it simply wouldn't be getting any light.

And we're almost done.

All I've done here is applying a few coats of sunburst yellow to the edge of the shoulder plates, just to brighten the yellow. I've also painted the bolter and chest aquilas gold, covering pretty much all the brown and then used devlan mud wash (a dark brown wash) over the gold once it has dried to give the wings some definition. For the aquila on the gun, I've washed around the eagle so as to darken the red further and really make the eagle stand out. I've also applied a few coats of blood red to the edges of the gun casing to give the bolter more defintion.

I then drybrushed the bolter and backpack metal areas with mithril silver, just to bring out the edges of the metal. Drybrushing involves getting a goodly amount of paint onto your brush, then using a j-cloth (or kitchen towl) to remove most of the paint. However, because you're not using water to clean the brush, a small amount of paint remains on the brush. You the brush the areas of the model you want to be drybrushed and the paint should (if you do it right) only adhere to the raised areas of what you're painting. I also applied a little blob of mithril silver to each of the bolts on the bolter casing.

Because the other side of the bolter was fiddly to paint, I didn't worry about highlighting that with red too much, just the parts I could easily reach, as I concurred the rest would be in shade and therefore darker anyway. Finally I painted the chest gem red as well, but only the uppermost area getting the most light, so there was a little bit of contrast with the rest of the gem. Not really necessary, but I felt like it.

And finally, I finished with a little bit of dry brushing using white onto the top of the shoulder plates, backpack and helmet, just to sharpen the details a little. I don't usually dry brush miniatures this way anymore, because the highlight it creates is quite dusty and I use other techniques which create a smoother finish. However, as we're doing things simply, I've used the simplest technique I know of.

The extreme close-up of the macro photo makes the figure look messier than it looks in the hand or on the table top, where it looks like a perfectly fine battle ready figure.