Miniature painting

Babylon 5 Ships

Step Three: Highlighting

So this post should wrap up the walk-through on this ship, only the highlighting and finishing touches left.

I highlighted the Bleached Bone first, I added a little White, and an equal amount of Matte Medium, and a little water.  The Matte Medium, is basically paint without the pigment, by adding it to the mix my paint becomes slightly translucent.  This way each highlight just blends into the previous coat a little.  I made the Bleached Bone highlight a little too bright, and ended up putting it on too much in a couple of places, so I only did the one layer of highlight.  Next was the Scorched Brown, same mix to the paint, and this time on the second highlight I added a little Bleached Bone and just did the very edges.  Next was the reds, I started with Red Gore, and then added some Blood Red for the second highlight.  I then did the metal parts, using Chainmail for most of the highlights, and then just picking out the very edges and highest points with Mithril Silver.

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At this stage the painting of the ship was finished, and it went into my spraybooth for a few coats of gloss varnish.  After the first coat I noticed that I forgot to paint the engines, so I quickly painted a blue to white transition, and with the aid of the hair dryer, I had it back in the spraybooth in a few minutes.

Once the gloss coats had a good amount of time to dry, I then added two coats of matte varnish.  I am always amazed at the change adding the matte varnish makes to the paint job, up until this point the highlights were looking a little garish, but as soon as I hit it with the matte varnish everything chilled out nicely.  Below you can see the difference, the first photo is just the gloss, and the second is the matte.

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The big benefit of the type of basing I do, is being able to remove the base once the ship is done and repaint it.  Through out the process I had been getting overspray and errant brush strokes all over it.  I just pop the mini off, secure a barrel clasp to the top to protect the threads, and quickly re-prime it black, and then give it a gloss coat.  For whatever reason I prefer for the mini to be matte and the base to be gloss, and that is a really easy way to accomplish it.

And one last group shot of some of my other finished Narn ships to end this walk-through.  I hope you found this at least entertaining if not informative.  Now on to my next project, which should make its way up here soon.

Cheers.

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Step Two: Base Painting and the Wash

Painting the iconic Narn pattern on a ship can be intimidating, before I painted my first one I did a lot of research on how other people managed theirs.  It takes some patience but overall isn’t difficult, and is totally worth the effort.  The paint scheme that I picked out for my Narn ships is fairly simple, but I think works quite well. While this ship was done entirely with Games Workshop paints, I also use Vallejo, Tamiya, and have started playing around with artist’s paints from the local art store.

For this ship I used:

Scab Red
Red Gore
Blood Red
Boltgun Metal
Chainmail
Mithril Silver
Bleached Bone
White
Scorched Brown
Black

I tend to paint my miniatures on the darker side, I almost always start with a black primer, and pick fairly dark shades as the base colour.  I like the grittier look to anything I paint, especially spaceships.  To me space is lonely, dark, and cold, and I want anything I paint to fit into that picture.

So for this ship I started with a base coat of Scab Red, applied with my airbrush.  I find that this is pretty much the only way to apply a red base coat, applying red to anything is a pain, but even more so when trying to cover a black primer.  Using a hair dryer on low to speed up drying, I applied four thin coats.

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Next I start applying the geometric pattern that makes any Narn ship so unique.  I use a thined Bleached Bone for this, white would be too much of a contrast, and I need something that I can highlight later.  The actual pattern is purely freehand, with no real planning, I just sit down and start.  To help me out I surround myself with reference material, I have any previous Narn ship I have painted, and on my netbook a number of images of either shots from the tv show or miniatures that others have painted.  This way anytime I get stuck as to the next shape I should stick in I just look around.  To stop myself from being to repetative I make sure to start at a different place on eash section of the ship.

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After laying down the first coat of Bleached Bone, I quickly went in with Boltgun metal and gave all the appropriate parts a coat, and then set it aside to dry.  I then applied a second coat of the Bleached Bone, the first coat is quite thin, which is necessary for me to have the control that I need to put it down correctly.  The second coat also allows me to tighten up some of the lines from the first go through.  The second coat is also fairly thin, and I don’t need to worry too much about coverage as most of it will be covered with the next step.

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For the second part of the geometric pattern I use a mix of Scorched Brown and Black, probably 2:1, but really just done by eye and thinned with water.  Again straight Black would be too dark, and then the highlights would be grey based, and I prefer brown shades.  This is also applied in two thin coats.  I don’t have a photo of it, but the first coat left too much of the Bleached Bone showing, so the second coat was really necessary.  This is the coat that takes the most patience, however mistakes can be fixed quite easily with touch ups.

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The next steps were a couple of washes.  I use a wash that is a mix of glaze medium, water, black ink, and a little future acrylic floor polish.  I applied this straight, to everywhere but the metalic parts, and once dry I returned with a little more into some of the darker crevasses.  For the metal, I added a drop of black ink to four of five of the normal wash, and then heavily diluted it with water, this was then liberally applied.  I would return with a dry brush to soak up any excess to avoid getting tide marks when it dried.  This was then left for a day or two to properly dry.  The glaze medium makes the entire miniature shiny, and helps to seal/protect the previous coats of paint.

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Next post I will cover the highlighting and finishing steps.


Step One: Construction

After I picked this ship I had to make molds of the Thentus and the Var’Nic.  I did the Var’Nic first with no problems, with the Thentus though I did have some issues.  Before I took the mold I added some Evergreen Styrene strips to the underside in some of the really thin areas.  I was a little worried about how strong the plastic resin would be, especially as it does not have the same flexibility as white metal.  When I was making the mold I ran into a problem, the scale I was using to measure out the two part RTV solution sucked.  Bascially if you added material slowly enough it wouldn’t register, that and the smallest measurement on the scale was one gram, I made one half of the mold with too little of the catalyst.  I am sure I could re-do that half of the mold but I am waiting on a new better scale before I try.  Interestingly enough the mold works, but I get very strange flash on the model, it is almost hairy, and takes quite a bit of work to clean off.  Not really a big deal though as with this model the stars are the two Var’Nics.

So I cast the models, cleaned the flash off of them and set to work.  The first step was to sand down the Var’Nics where they would meet and get the angle I wanted, and then I drilled out a hole in each one to pin them together.  They were then superglued together.

I then cut off the two sides of the Thentus, and started filling the bubbles that are visible in some of the photos with Squadron greenstuff.  The Thentus had a large number of bubbles and flash, mainly my own fault, but it took some work to get ready.

I then sanded the Thentus so that it would meet the two Var’Nics and then superglued it in place.  The next step was to secure the barrel clasp to the bottom for the base to attach to.  I use the same basic method that Star Ranger uses over at http://www.star-ranger.com/Home.htm, the only difference is I use the original post instead of replacing it.  To strengthen the post I use a drill press to drill a small hole about a quarter the way down, that I then fit a brass rod in that also inserts into the bottom of the barrel clasp.  Both ends of the clasp are held in place with epoxy putty, I use 90 second stuff I get from the local hardware store, while adding the barrel clasp to the ship I also used some left over epoxy to strengthen the connection between the Thentus and the Var’Nics.  I will probably do a tutorial on my version of Star Rangers basing method one day, just need to remember to take photos.

In the above photo you can see where I thickened the Thentus, there is a cross near the front, and two pieces either side of the barrel clasp.  Incidentally, once I tried using the barrel clasp method, I was so taken with it I ordered a few hundred of them off of eBay.  I was worried about getting different sizes which would stop me from being able to interchange the bases, so I bought what I hope will be enough to last me.

So there it is ready to be primed, which I forgot to take a photo after, but it is just the same only all black, so you will need to use your imagination.

I will go through my painting next post.

Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions, or just want to leave a message.

Cheers.


From inspiration, to construction, to completion

I have always had a thing for spaceship miniatures, and even more so when it comes to any Narn ship from Babylon 5.  I have been slowly painting up my collection and adding pieces when I can get them off of ebay.  I regularly look for inspiration for my painting from images taken from the show to other blogs and websites, however a recent perusal ended with me being enthralled by a CG image I saw on DeviantArt, as seen below.

It is two Var’Nic cruisers connected by a generic bridge section.  As soon as I saw it I knew I needed to create it.  I just so happened to have a Var’Nic and a Thentus cruiser that I had yet to paint.  Seeing as these miniatures are no longer in production I decided to make resin copies of them to work with.  Below are the three ships, getting ready to go under the knife.  As you can see they are not the best casts, but I am still learning.

Next you can see it all put together, ready for priming.

And jumping ahead a whole tonne of work, the finished product.

I really enjoyed building and painting this mini.  I think it is the fastest I have every built, primed, and finished anything.  Usually I seem to have months between each of those steps.

Anyway I just wanted to show off the finished miniature, I will return with a few posts that walk through each stage


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