20 years ago I used to love painting "little metal men" and playing the very first edition of what was to become the hugely successful Warhammer 40K game, so recently I decided to revisit my youth. So far this has consisted of going out and buying some minis, and then wonderful-wife going out and buying ALL THE MINIS IN THE WORLD, and a selection of paints and brushes. With a couple of hours each weekend to paint them, this is going to take a while. There they sit in the corner now... looking at me... judging me... Anyway, one thing that I've found motivational is the wealth of pictures and "how to" guides on other painters' blogs, so I decided to post some of my own humble efforts here. Hope you like 'em.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Land raider WIP part 1

I've always had my eye on the classic Land Raider (I used to have the old-school LR many years ago, no idea where that's gone to now though). So it's time to add one to the slowly-growing Eagle Warriors force. There are plenty of other things on the painting list at the moment, but I just couldn't resist getting started on this one - it's such a brutal-looking tank ("I'm a Land Raider, and when I've finished shooting you with a variety of weapons and running over you, then I'm going to spit out a squad of marines to finish you off..." - heh heh).

I decided that this time I'd do a step-by step to show the painting and modelling process. If you're an experienced modeller, then this will be quite pedestrian I guess, but could be useful for the beginner. I'm no expert and I'm pretty much making this up as I go along, so if there are any "should've done it this way instead" moments, then I'll be sure to point them out.

So here we go - step one - WASH YOUR SPRUES! - I've had a couple of models have problems with paint not adhering properly as there is sometimes a little grease left on the surface after the moulding process. This is less of a problem with smaller models, but for something with loads of big flat spaces like a tank, this problem could lead to lots of angry shouting rather than happy-fun-modelling-times... So folks - it's a bit laborious, but get those sprues in the sink and give them a gentle wash - lukewarm water and normal washing-up liquid, followed by a cold rinse:

After this, be patient and allow them to dry properly before you undercoat. There's no point avoiding the grease problem and replacing it with a water-droplet problem. I used the compressor from my airbrush to provide a blast of cold air to help the process along a bit.

Step two - priming - after clipping away some of the supports from the sprues, trimming / filing off any obvious mould lines, separating into bits-that-will-mostly-be-black and bits-that-will-mostly-not-be-black, I used GW's spray primers to get the undercoat on. Multiple thin-coats done over a long period of time are better than drowning the thing in one go and obscuring the detail. This is best done in the open air or at least somewhere well-ventilated as primers are solvent-based so they smell a bit.

As you can see, I've used black for tracks and guns, and white for everything else.

Step three - base colouring. This is where my new best friend, the airbrush, comes in handy. Spray application allows a nice smooth finish and a very thin layer of paint. It's much more time-consuming to use a brush for something as large as this tank, and almost impossible to get a finish that is devoid of brush-strokes, so this really is an area where the airbrush is king. There are some downsides though, one of course is cost, and the other in this case was down to the colour I wanted to spray. The base tone for my Eagle warriors is Mordian blue foundation paint, which is quite heavy stuff and difficult to thin to an appropriate consistency for the airbrush. You've got to get it just right - too thin and the Mordian blue starts to crash out of the mixture and separate out, forming a sediment that settles to the bottom of the cup of the airbrush and quickly clogging it up. Too thick and you can only spray for a moment or too before the gloopy paint congeals on the needle and starts spattering all over the place, eventually clogging up too. After battling through getting a good finish on this colour, the rest seems pretty easy. The other half is white already thanks to the undercoat, and all the other colours that I will use from now on are Vallejo "Model Air" paints, which with the appropriate thinner, are much easier to handle in the airbrush than GW foundations, which to be fair really are not designed for spraying.
Dropping the pressure right down to a trickle on the airbrush now to allow the sprayed wash to pool where you want it too, I applied a thick layer of purple wash over the Mordian blue, and a layer of 70:30 blue:black wash over the white - then leave for plenty of time to dry properly. In the picture below, I've worked the highlights on the white side, again with the airbrush - one coat with a mixture white and a little bit of pale blue, and then one coat with plain white to complete the shaded look. Here the top of the cabin can be seen with just plain flat Mordian blue on it, whereas the blue side panel has the purple wash applied:

As you can see, the interior has also been done (in a fairly rudimentary fashion though as it's difficult to see properly inside once the model is finished, it's just nice to have a complete job - in this case I've picked a sandy colour for the interior which will reflect a bit of light and allow you to see inside at least a little), so there's a fair bit of painting completed before I even begin construction. The advantage of working like this is that you can tackle those areas that will be impossible to reache later on, but the disadvantage is that if there are any areas that need to be filed down, or gaps that need to be filled in with a bit of epoxy putty, then you'll need to paint back over these afterwards - also, it requires a bit of patience!
Right then, that's all for this time folks, next time we'll start on getting the thing glued together and get that paint job a little closer to completion. Have a good week :-)

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