By Alex De Rosa
Local NYC-area legend and noted Australian Alex De Rosa has generously offered to write a series of guides on painting/modding for the blog. Alex’s as good at painting his ships as he is flying them, which is to say really damn good. Take his advice!
A few folks have asked about how I paint my miniatures and achieve the sort of cartoonish or cell-shaded style you can see above. This tutorial will take you through the general steps needed to achieve this look using a K-Wing I painted for a friend. He asked for a Batgirl paint job to go with his superhero themed squad.
Step 1: Find a few decent images to work from (I searched Google for Batgirl) and then choose my paints. For this work I used the following colors all from Games Workshop (Citadel paints), listed from darkest (base) to lightest (top highlight) color. I find that three colors and a wash/ink is usually enough to get good results. Note that some of these colors are old, the purple wash in particular is a color from a range that is at least 20 years old—I get most of my paint second hand in lots from eBay:
- Yellow: Averland Sunset, Yriel Yellow, Sunburst Yellow, Agrax Earthshade (brown wash)
- Purple: Liche Purple, Warlock Purple, Tentacle Pink, Purple Wash
- Blue: Regal Blue, Ultramarines Blue, Space Wolves Grey (for the cockpit)
- Red & Green: Red Gore & Goblin Green (used to pick out some features)
- Silvers: Boltgun Metal, Chainmail
As you can see in the image for Step 1, I also replaced the chin-gun barrels before starting to paint, as they had both broken off at some prior time. I also magnetized the model before painting, because I’m a good friend.
For brushes I am using a Size 2 Raphael 8404 along with some older synthetic brushes for washes and the initial base coat of color.
Step 2: I like to sketch out any complicated or unusual patterns before painting just to get an idea of how it will look and give some guidelines for painting. For this job I used a standard mechanical pencil to sketch an outline of a bat-symbol over the wings of the K-wing.
Step 3: The model is ready for you to block out the initial colors. I used the Averland Sunset and Liche Purple paints here. No need to be super neat but you should try and take care with any designs you are painting so that you don’t have to go back and clean up any messy edges later. Don’t worry about the minor variations in coloration in this initial coat either as a wash will take care of this if it isn’t too bad.
As an aside, I have never had an issue painting directly on top of the generic paint that the FFG X-wing models come with—i.e. you don’t need to strip or prep the models for this technique.
Step 4: Wash the model using an ink or the appropriate wash. In this case I used Purple Wash and Agrax Earthshade for the purple and yellow areas respectively.
Step 5: At this point I have started to highlight the bat symbol using the Averland Sunset, Yriel Yellow and Sunburst Yellow paints. The initial layer of Averland Sunset is applied more widely than the Yriel Yellow before the final highlight of Sunburst Yellow is applied to a much smaller area. Each successive color of paint is more limited in painted area than the last, concentrating the highlight layers in the center of each ‘cell’ and on any prominent features. It is also important to leave much darker areas of wash around each cell to outline them – this really helps the design and model features ‘pop’ on the table.
Step 6: You can see on the wing here a little more detail similar to Step 5. I have used both Liche and Warlock Purple paints to highlight the purple sections of the left wing in this step.
Step 7: The main body of the K-wing has been completed. The edges and cockpit windows are still left along with a few other components like the missiles and landing gear. You can also see that I have applied a dark ink to the engines in preparation for painting them with a gunmetal color.
Step 8: Ready for the table! The main areas of the K-Wing were painted as above. The cockpit windows were painted in a similar manner using successive layers of blues and a final glaze (Ardcoat from GW if I recall) to give them some shine. A few features were painted using gunmetal (the gun barrels, landing gear and engines) and I used a few highlight colors like green and red just to add some diversity of color to the model and pick out a few features like certain missiles and engine lights.
A final tip is not to worry as much about the lower half of the model. There is no point in doing some fancy painting on the underside as no one will ever see it on the table. For this K-Wing, I followed the same technique and painted the underside of the wings and body in purple but didn’t include any fancy designs.