Saturday, 9 August 2014

Guest Post - Nigel Bartlett's 'The Sky Raiders' Painting Guide

Some time ago a talented local painter by the name of Nigel Bartlett did a painting guide for me on his wonderful Craftworld Mymeara paint scheme and now he's kindly done me another one.


Painting the Sky Raiders.
The Sky Raiders are an Eldar corsair fleet with strong links to the Kabals of Commorrgah.  In Imperial Armour 11, they are represented with steel-blue colours and a distinctive dark grey jagged disruptive pattern.

I tried a few attempts at painting these and eventually managed to get a blend of colours that I was happy with.  I will try to share my technique here with you. I am assuming you have a basic technique down and are familiar with some of the terminology I’ll use.

Paints needed.
The colours needed are:

Game colour - 72102 Steel Grey
Game colour - 72095 Glacier Blue
Model colour - 70943 Grey Blue
Model colour - 70901 Pastel Blue
Model Colour - 70862 Black Grey

Oil Paints.
Lamp black
Prussian Blue

Other materials.

Lahmian Medium
Vallejo Game Glaze Medium
Johnsons Klear or Gloss Varnish
Tamiya semi-gloss clear varnish

Easy choice? Well actually, no.  Black primer tends to dull the subsequent colours, white makes them too bright.  The answer I found was Halfords grey automotive primer.  You could, of course use Tamiya (a personal favourite of mine); they have various, including two shades of grey.  The darker works best in this case.

Optional, I actually think it works wells a means to achieve some pre-shading to the recesses before applying the first layer. Black is the obvious choice here if you use the grey primer or a reverse which means zenithal highlighting.

Zenithal highlighting is a technique developed by the talented Spanish scale model community (along with chipping, weathering, use of pigments etc) over a decade ago to accentuate light and shade.  This can be done in a complex manner over 5 or 6 thin layers using a light grey or white over the black with a brush or if you have an airbrush, it takes seconds with one or two applications.

Sprayed from a 45 degree angle from above the model you will catch the raised and prominent areas that would normally catch light, leaving the black in the recesses.  The effect is effective looking shading.

Base coat.

The thing to remember as you’ve gone to the effort of pre-shading is to thin your paints and apply them in thin layers.  Patience is required unless you have access to an airbrush I which case the whole process is that much quicker.

The first layer is Steel Grey.  Apply it evenly but take care to leave some of the black undercoat in the recesses.  On figures, this is less important (mainly as Guardian Defender models are so small) but on vehicles, its pretty important.

Once you’ve built up a nice solid colour with some shading its time to apply the first layer. 

1st Layer.
Grey-Blue is the next colour to be applied.  Again this colour needs to be applied on the raised areas of a vehicle, careful to leave some of the previous colour showing in the shaded areas.  The aim here is to build up a gradient of colour that gets progressively lighter towards the raised areas where light would catch.

2nd Layer.
Pastel-Blue is next.  As per the last layer, the same principle applies but you need to be more sparing with this colour, concentrating on the raised details like sensor nodes and the edges of the vehicle.  By now you should clearly be able to see the colour build and notice some nice contrast between the layers.

3rd Layer.
Glacier-Blue is the final colour.  This is used to accentuate the extreme edges and the very top of the raised details.  Be careful here as less is more.  This colour can cause dry tip on the needle of the airbrush, a little flow aid will help here.

Glaze Medium.
I use a little drop of glaze medium mixed with each of layers, it helps smooth the layers and helps the transition of colour.

I use an oil paint wash to help bring out details and to wash through the panel lines to add definition.  Take your time here as the results are more than worth it.

I mix Lamp Black and Prussian Blue with a generous amount of good quality white spirit.  I recommend Artists White Spirit as it gives off very little odour.  Mix them together until you have a wash consistency.

You will need to apply a gloss varnish over the hull.  A couple of layers will provide a nice glossy surface which will break the surface tension and allow the oil paint wash to flow freely.  For this I use Johnsons Klear.  You can of course use an acrylic gloss varnish like ‘Ardcoat. 

Once this is dry, take an old brush, load it with the oil wash and dab it gently on the areas where you need to wash.  Panel lines, sensor nodes etc.  You will see that the oil wash runs freely into the grooves and settles around raised details.  Leave it to dry for an hour (a hairdryer will reduce this to a minute).  Once it it dry, take a q-tip soaked in a little clean white spirit and use it clean up and spills, overflow or mistakes.  Once this process is complete and the white spirit has dried, seal the washes in with a coat of matte varnish over the whole of the glossed area.

Disruptive camo pattern.

The Sky Raiders have a distinctive jagged stripe pattern over the grey blue main colour.  To achieve this is very simple.  You need Vallejo Black-Grey and thin it down with Lahmian Medium and a drop of water.  Take a brush with a nice fine point on it (A size 1 to 0 will do) and get some paint on it.  Rub the brush gently on your palette to remove excess paint and be careful to maintain the point.  Simply paint the stripes on in the desired place (I used the colour plates from IA11 as a reference point).  Make sure the jagged stripes are nice and bold, this may require a little touching up or a second layer even.  Once dry, the model will be ready to receive decals followed by a couple of coats of semi-gloss varnish.

Underside and weapons.
Use the same colour as the jagged pattern.  Highlight with a lighter grey.

Spirit/Way stones.
These are green.  I like an Emerald colour, highlighted by mixing in a little bone colour each layer.

I hope this has been of some use, please leave any feedback or questions you may have.

Nigel Bartlett
August 2014


Thoughts and comments are (as usual) most welcome.

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