Thursday, 4 December 2014

Space Marines - finished

Here's a squad of six Space Marines from Games Workshop, painted over the course of a weekend (with lots of drying time inbetween, so we've only totted up the total amount time spent actually painting!). We've been looking at getting an actual game coded up for our electronic board game idea, and decided that we're more likely to finish a Fantasy Football game (or at least, make more headway into it) than a space-shooty-type game. So before starting work on the few Blood Bowl miniatures we have here, Nick insisted that our Space Marines were finished off.

We deliberately kept the basic palette very small, to focus on getting the main bulk of the painting done in one go, not to spend hours and hours on the tiny, fiddly details, or spend too long with blending and highlighting and multiple glaze layers.
The basic approach on all the miniatures was:

  • Spray the entire miniature with Army Painter Crystal Blue primer
  • Paint the symbols on the shoulders, little skulls etc. in Ash Grey
  • Shoulder pad trims and chest plate are painted in Bronze
  • Back of legs and joints between armour plates are painted silver

At this stage, the miniature looks like a child's cariacture, with garish, bright colours and no definition to any of it's shape. Don't worry - this is all about to change, after you splosh on a coat of Army Painter Quickshade (Dark Tone, the black-based pigment goes on over blue far better than the slightly brown-y coloured Strong Tone).

(note how the colours have become much darker from their original shades)

  • After the Quickshade has dried, remove the shine (and, sadly, some of the depth of colour) with Testors Dullcote
  • Paint in Crystal Blue again on large surfaces, such as shoulder pads, armour plates fingers, and areas around the helmet. Don't be afraid to let parts of the darkened areas show through. (As we're speed painting, we didn't bother trying to blend the two shades together)
  • Paint white onto the greyed out areas (skulls, symbols on the shoulder pads etc)
  • Paint the bronzed areas with Greedy Gold (on some of the chest plates we added a wash of black ink before painting, to allow us to pick out individual feathers on the winged armour)

(our camera makes this blue colour look much brighter than it actually is; it's bright - just not this bright!)

By now, the miniature should look quite "clean" but with heavily defined outlines - a bit like a drawing, done with a black, felt-tipped-pen outline and coloured in using strong felt-tipped pen colours. (if this slightly cartoon-look isn't what you're striving far, you should have backed off after the Dark Tone!)

The last stage is to "edge highlight" the blue colours using a much brighter blue colour again - we used Electric Blue, a strong, vibrant, pale blue colour - after all, if you're going to go to the trouble of highlighting your miniatures, you may as well be able to see it!
This meant painting a thin line between any two surfaces that met at a darkened edge. We also painted along the edge of the eyes on the helmet, and individual fingers on the hands, and any raised corner or edge

notice how the small image for this character looks far better than if you click and zoom in on the model. That's how this style of painting works - with a lack of blending and too much detail painting, it maybe doesn't look the best, up-close. But when viewed at arm's length, the effects are quite striking.

Final touches (not yet done on the model above) include touching any details with a highlight colour. For example, on the seal on the leg above, the very rim of the red "rosette" would be edge highlighted with a bright orangey-red, and the cream-coloured paper stuck beneath it would be edged with pure white to give each part a little depth.

The backpacks and weapons are painted using the same technique(s) and then the whole model is assembled. Some people assemble their models before painting (we used to, and have done with our Tyranid/Genestealer aliens) but we just found because these clipped together so easily, painting them first would allow us to get into all the nooks and crannies around the weapons, to give a neater finish.

Note that the colours used are actually much brighter than the "recommended" colour scheme (by both Games Workshop, and many people on the G+ forums!) We found this worked well with our "cartoon style" painting approach; any darker, and the effect would be lost (although darker miniatures, well painted with blending and shading and drybrushing and all that stuff would probably look pretty realistic). We also had a few comments from people saying we'd used entirely the "wrong colours" (apparently, if a model has a skull here and wing there and is looking at it's feet and not into the sky, it's a something-or-other, which should only be coloured green with the pantone colour of x. We just wanted to get some nice, blue Space Marines onto the tabletop. These are Space Marines. We painted them blue! </rant>)

Finally, the miniatures need basing.
We've had a discussion about this with other wargamers online; while our paintwork isn't going to win any awards, it's nice enough for a gaming standard, and the miniatures look really great on the tabletop.

We played about with different basing approaches a while back:
While these techniques create nice-looking stand-alone models, the based miniatures didn't quite look right on our printed playing surfaces.

(some may argue otherwise, but we prefer the clear acrylic discs to the painted-and-modelled bases which, on their own, look fine, just not when used on a printed playing surface like this one!)

So we went for the easy option and laser-cut some 24mm discs out of clear 3mm acrylic. We added a 3.95mm hole in the centre, and jammed in some 4mm magnets. Because of the "kerf" on the cut edges, this means that the hole is 3.95mm on one side, and ever so slightly larger on the other - allowing the magnet to fit inside the hole, then to be jammed in place, without the use of glue or solvents.

Obviously, if these were not for our electronic board game, we wouldn't have bothered with the magnet in the middle and the final result would be a neater base. But all in all, we're quite pleased with the way these turned out.

Total time spent: 9hrs

At about an hour and a half per model (not including the time we spent going to the unit to laser cut the bases) we're not even sure if this could be classed as "speed painting" any more. But it's quicker than any other miniatures we've painted to this standard before. And it was quite fun to spend time over the weekend getting reacquainted with the miniature painting hobby. Maybe "faster painting" would be a more accurate title?

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