Friday, June 29, 2018

Imperial Knights WIP, Part II

I closed Part I by saying that most of the rest of these models would be painted by brush instead of airbrush. I'm happy to say that this was a dirty lie!

The Knights' huge shoulder pauldrons play a big role in giving the knight its' color profile and heraldric identity. With House Griffith, each shoulder (and some leg armor plates) are split into two colors, see the overhead illustration below:

So in this step, we will be coloring some of the armor plates either red or blue using the airbrush, since one of the major benefits of the airbrush is its ability to smoothly paint large surface areas. As we've already laid down the two major base colors in cream and steel in Part I, we'll need to use masking in order to protect those colors from any overspray.

For masking, I'm using Silly Putty.

Silly putty is great for masking off general areas that do not need to much edge precision. If you were masking off a pattern, tape would be the way to go; but for speed and general overspray protection, silly putty works perfectly, especially on these armor plates which have the large buffer zone that we've yet to paint.

Note: in case you are considering using Blue Tac like products for masking, DON'T DO IT. It only takes one disaster experience for the Blue Tac to remove the paint you were trying to protect for you to never touch the stuff again; it's not worth the risk.

Note #2: Some may point out that you won't need to mask much if you paint the armor while it's still on the sprue. I don't disagree with that, but if you're anything like me, I like to fully assemble models before painting them. It's not practical for me to keep the models in a box until I am able to paint them, I'm too eager to see them built and on the table. But if it works better for you painting on the sprue, go for it!

Time: 90 - 120 minutes. It took me closer to two hours for the whole process below, but I did pause for photos and beer.

Here we're masking off the shoulder plates to be colored red. The only precise area to mask is the straight line that separates the two halves of the armor plate. For this, use a hobby knife to fit the putty into the groove:

You just want to make sure that a) the putty is not covering anywhere you want to paint, and b) the putty is covering anywhere that you want to protect from overspray. You don't need to go too crazy with it, as you're just looking to protect roughly 1/2" around the area you'll paint, and obviously if there's nothing at risk, don't worry about masking it (such as the outside edge of the pauldron).

While it'd be ideal to do all of your masking on all of your models before starting any painting, I only had enough silly putty to do the Knights first, and then the Armigers second. Looks like I need to place another order for a pack of 6 'eggs' of silly putty from Amazon.

I chose to give each knight a slightly different armor pattern. One of the Knights is going to have a red hood and additional red thigh armor; the other will not:

Here are the masked Armigers (skipping ahead after the Knights had been done, to re-use the putty):

After the masking is ready, do a once over mimicking your painting angles, to double check if there's any areas you might have missed that are potential overspray issues. Once you're satisfied, it's time to paint. For the red armor areas, I'm using a base coat of Khorne Red followed up with Evil Sunz Scarlet, and a final highlight with Trollslayer Orange.

I use paints from many different ranges; I think that some manufacturers make better paints in certain colors than others. For example, GW's reds are some of the best out there. Red is a notoriously thin paint, but GW's formula gives them better coverage than other lines. Use what you prefer.

The first coat is Khorne red. Working over white especially, this requires several coats to get full coverage. Your first coat should be extra thin - a 'tack' coat - and fully dry before applying additional coats. The first coat will not appear anything close to the color red in your bottle, probably some grotesque pink - but resist the urge to spray on more paint now, as that will only lead to trouble with bubbling and dripping. A full Khorne Red took about 5-6 quick coats on each area. With several models ready to go, and a dry time of about 20 seconds, this phase moves pretty quickly.

After the Khorne red is applied, drop some Evil Sunz Scarlet into the airbrush. This time concentrate on the top, most-lit area of the piece, and work down with thin layers. This creates a seamless gradient between Scarlet and Khorne red working top to bottom. These scarlet coats require less coverage and are a bit faster since you are not covering up any white or black primer. At this point you should have a fairly pure scarlet red color at the top of the area, and a pure Khorne Red only towards the bottom/edge of the armor area; everything in between is a gradual mix.

Repeat this procedure using a bit of scarlet/Trollslayer Orange on the top portion of the armor area only; a few coats should do to provide the highlights. Here are the results:

Note: As you can see above, I prefer a more subtle, natural highlight gradient. However, you can go as 'dramatic' as you want; some internet examples of airbrush shading really turn it up a notch on every separate piece of armor. That's not to my taste but it may work fine for you. In which case use an even darker base color and even brighter highlight gradient color ( a'spotlight' appearance) with several more coats of pure Trollslayer Orange .

Here;s a side by side between Khorne Red basecoat (still a bit wet in the photo) and the finished pauldron with Scarlet and Orange applied lightly:

After the reds are completely finished, remove the masking:

On the armored areas that are split into two sections, don't worry about the groove in between at this point - you can see they are half-filled in the pics above and don't look 'straight'. Those are going to be covered with a black wash later on and don't need to spend time on these now.

With the reds done, we move on to blue. Following the exact same procedure above with the reds. The blue process will be for a single pauldron half only, meaning we need to mask the freshly painted red half. Perhaps there is an official drying period, but I had no issues re-masking after about fifteen minutes.

I couldn't find a reliable paint color guide anywhere online for House Griffith, and I didn't have anything close enough in my existing bottles, so I decided to eyeball it and mix my own blue. This will be a combination of GW Shadow Grey (a blue-grey) and Vallejo's Ultramarine Blue. Final highlights worked up into Electric Blue and white.

Here are the results:

And the colored armor sections are done!

For my tastes, the blue color appears a bit too bright for what I want the final colors to look like. However, I know that the shading process later on will dull the colors down to my liking. It is much easier to start with a bright color and make it dull, vs. starting with a dull color and trying to make it brighter.

Lastly, here's an example of some overspray getting through, thanks to the putty moving during the painting process. Make sure to apply firm enough pressure throughout the mask:

Whoops! that will have to be cleaned up with a bit of white.

Thanks for reading

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Imperial Knights WIP, Part I

The new Imperial Knights Codex is out, and I'm using the occasion to finally put paint to the group of Imperial Knights I've been building. I'll post Work In Progress pics here as I go along.

The group I'll be painting consists of three Armiger Warglaives, and one each of the Knight Paladin/Errant, and the Knight Warden/Gallant/Crusader. All of the kits are magnetized to allow any configuration.

One of the reasons I've been putting off painting these awesome figures is indecision over color & heraldry. I wasn't sure if I wanted to make all of them different colors / FreeBlades, or if they should be one Questoris House with a unified color scheme. In the end I chose House Griffith. The White/Navy Blue/Red/Gold color scheme was very regal and bold in appearance, and the primarily off-white / cream color would make for a nice challenge. Example of finished House Griffith Questoris Knights:

After building, magnetizing, and priming all of the kits in polyurethane black, it was on to the airbrush for base colors.

The whole happy family :

I find it's usually best to start coloring with the deepest area and work your way out, finally ending up at the highest/most lighted areas (inside-to-out, bottom-to-top). So the first base colors would be the bare mechanical bits behind the armor plating. For this I chose to do two passes. Chainmail silver over black provided most of the colorization, with built-in shading from generally pointing the airbrush downwards.

Chainmail Silver over all of the bare metal mechanical bitz:

The second pass was the much brighter Steel color, in which I used sparingly over the large, exposed metal bits as a first highlight. This process was fast and smooth, not worrying too much about overspray or details, knowing that a later black oil wash will bring all of the shading together later anyway. For large flat areas (like the chainblade below) the Steel highlight is easier to see.

All finished with the metal. This took about 30 minute for all 5 models and their various arms.

The second color choice to airbrush would be the large off-white areas of armor plating. This also required two passes, but with more precision than the metallics above. On the models, most of the armor plating areas have a nice thick gilded area that acts as a border around armor plating areas. This gave me a useful buffer zone for the airbrush for minor overspray, again avoiding the need for any masking at this point (to me, speed is of the essence at this stage!).

Starting off dark and building up to the lighter areas, the first color choice was Bone White. Using the Renegade Krome at 15-20psi with the Extra Fine tip at various small choke widths as the area required. Laying down a foundation of the Bone color, while leaving a slight shaded gradient area around the gilded border. This was the most thorough/slow step, as the Bone White needs a few layers to appropriately cover the black primer.  It took roughly 1 hour to complete.

The last color choice for this WIP stage was the white armor. For this I used Dead White, putting on thin layers over the Bone white to build up the shading. There are only a few areas that are pure Dead White, most of the layering allows some color through to provide a natural looking gradient.

Here's a comparison of Armiger Warglaives, one with the Dead White highlights, one without. The difference looks subtle in the photo but more striking in person:

And the finished product for this stage:

All total it took about 2.5 hours to complete this stage, including mixing colors & clearing jams (it was a hot day in the garage).

With a couple of exceptions, the rest of the figures details will be painted with a brush. Thanks for looking!

Monday, June 18, 2018

Roboute and the Ultramarines

The Primarch of the Ultramarines has arrived in the disputed sector to provide the 'Fists with some much needed backup against the Death Guard incursion. I ended up with two Roboute Guilliman models, so decided give this one to my friend Kevin who's been playing Ultramarines since the 80's. I decided to paint them both simultaneously; the other version without the helmet is not pictured here but looks otherwise identical.

The detailed gold gilding on the outer suit of armor was quite an impressive bit of sculpting, and it ended up contrasting well against the dark blue. For expediency, I chose not to use the alcohol-based metal paints, we'll save that for another time (see HB's tutorial on Dante for shading alcohol metals). There's three different values of gold here, which come together bright and shining after being set in the black oil wash. The Hot Flaming Fire Sword of Fiery Flames took on a life of its own, done primarily with several thin airbrush gradient coats, and patience.  I left the detailed base purposely muted and drab in color - the model comes with two flaming torches near the ground, which I left off to keep the color attention on the model itself. Finally, there's a variety of varnishes going on here (hard to tell in the photo), matte for the base and the flames, satin for the armor, and selected gloss for higher points of gold.

Placed next to a squad of filthy Death Guard, Guilliman looks like the golden god he's supposed to be!