Friday, 14 November 2014

Speed painting Space Marines

Mention miniature board gaming, or even tabletop wargaming, and there's always the elephant-in-the-room that no-one wants to talk about: Games Workshop - and, more specifically, their Warhammer/Warhammer 40K range.

Our electronic board game has been designed specifically for anyone to play (eventually) any game, using any miniatures they like on it. So we've been and bought models from Hasslefree Miniatures, Heresey, Forlorn Hope, Black Scorpion and many other suppliers. We've quite a range of sci-fi, western and zombie miniatures (still looking for a half-decent human fantasy football team though!) but, to date, no Games Workshop/Warhammer miniatures of note (maybe the odd one here and there in a scraps box).

Now GW seem to be the Marmite of the gaming world - some people hate them, some people love them. At Nerd Towers, we're pretty ambivalent. They do make some very nice, detailed miniatures. But so do other suppliers. They do sell miniatures at eye-wateringly high prices. But so do some other miniature suppliers (particularly those based in mainland Europe). But there's no real reason why we've avoided GW - we just wanted to be able to show that our gaming system would work with any miniatures, and so have mostly been using non-GW models.

But our gaming system is for any miniatures. And that also means with GW miniatures too. So we recently bought some of the most famous GW characters on the market - half a dozen Space Marines - from eBay and set about painting.

At this stage in the project, we just want models that will sit on the board game and look half-decent to demonstrate the games. We're not looking to create the next Golden Demon Masterpiece, with masses of detail, and lots of technically brillant artwork. Just something to paint (relatively) quickly. Here's how we've painted our Space Marines so far:

Firstly, we sprayed half a dozen marines with the Army Painter primer/base coat spray. This stuff is brilliant - it gets you a nice, solid, vibrant coloured base to work from. Because we'll be using the Army Painter Strong Shade (the black version of their Quickshade product), we went with a much brighter blue than we're expecting to end up with.

The spray paint is called Crystal Blue.


(after spraying the Space Marines, we also sprayed some Tyranid aliens for them to fight against, in the boardgame - more on those in a later post)

Because we're speed painting - deliberately aiming to get a squad of six characters onto the tabletop as quickly as possible - we kept the detail painting to a minimum. After these characters have been Quickshaded (is that even a verb?) and DullCoted (ditto?) we'll spend a bit of time with a small paintbrush, picking out some of the tiny details. For now, we're going for overall effect.


We stuck to just three additional colours on the marines. The bits that will eventually end up white were painted with a pale Ash Grey and the bits that will eventually be gold picked out with Golden Bronze. Normally with metals, we'd paint them black then drybrush with the metallic colour. Because our black is going over the top (almost like an inkwash) we painted the metal straight over the blue base coat. It didn't cover as well as it would have over black - but that's ok; it'll get another coat after the dullcote/matt varnish later anyway.


On the backs of the legs and where armour plates joined, we painted Platemail Silver. As with the bronze, normally we'd paint these black and drybrush, but we're going to flood the entire miniature in Quickshade in a moment....


The Quickshade (Dark Tone) really darkened the miniature down a lot (which is why we went with such a bright blue in the first place). We'd already got some Strong Tone from previous experimenting, but it does tend to leave a brown-y tinge on the miniatures. On miniatures based in red/green colours, this looks fine. On blue/grey colours, it can look a bit muddy or dirty - so we tried the black-based Dark Tone on our blue marines (we'll be going back to the browny Strong Tone for the aliens, so maybe the two will give contrasting effects?).

 Quickshade needs about 24 hours to go off fully (painting over it too early with matt varnish to dull the shine will cause it to react and bubble and peel, so always allow at least 24 hours to dry fully).


Here's a quick comparison between the Quickshade coated and non-Quickshaded miniatures. Note how the shaded character appears to have much more definition already!

Total time spent on six Space Marines: 2hrs
Total time remaining: who knows?!