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Space Hulk is my first painting project. I'm unabashedly a rookie. My hands shake like a DJ at a dubstep festival. I'm constantly making mistakes.

Point being - I'm not too much different from someone who's never painted before. Tonight, this happened:



This is my attempt at Brother Zael being a secondee from the Salamanders division. You might not be able to tell, but I'm pretty stoked with how he turned out.

To prove to you that anyone can paint, I'm going to go back in time and step through my last two nights. I'm going to show you how I painted Zael, with a few of my mistakes thrown in and how I corrected them.

Step Zero - Model Preparation
This step doesn't come with a picture, but it is THE MOST IMPORTANT step. Zael was cut free from his sprue, and the little bits of flash and sprue connections left on his model pieces were scraped away with the side of a hobby scalpel.

Zael was then given a warm bath of water and detergent before being dried with paper towelette, assembled and glued. I used household detergent for the wash and regular super glue to assemble him.

Zael was then primed with Army Painter White Acrylic Primer. I've been using White Primer because I tend to paint mid tones on then shade down. White makes it far easier for bright colours like lime green and yellow to show, but it comes at a cost - any missed spots are glaring white instead of being interpreted as shadows by your eyes.

Speaking of cost, the primer bottle crapped out on me while I was spraying Zael. The trigger refused to stop spraying, and $35 of spray paint vented onto my back lawn. Not happy Jan. Suspect I will use a paint bottle style of acrylic primer next time.

I always assemble and glue first, then prime after. I had (several) bad experiences where I attempted the reverse - the primed model was slightly larger than the unprimed, and was a royal pain to glue together. Plus, if you're not able to prime it you're probably not able to see it - why paint it?


Step One - Block in Basic Colours


Zael was painted in the basic colours that define a Salamander:
-Black (Vallejo German Grey): for his shoulders, gun, powerfist and targeting reticle
-Dark Grey (Vallejo Dark Sea Grey): for the crucius on his shoulder
-Light Grey (Vallejo Sky Grey): for the skull on the crucius
-Green (GW Goblin Green): for his armour
-Ivory (Vallejo Dark Sand): for all parchments and ropes

No fancy brush techniques here, except for thinning all paints with Acrylic Medium. You can buy large bottles of the stuff from craft stores, and it is indispensable: thinned paints glide over the surface with minimal effort, and detail is preserved. Paint without thinning, and the brush stutters and skips across the surface without really putting much paint down. Even worse, you get random globbies which will glug up the detail and look like rubbish.

Step Two - Block in Metal for Embellishments


All the gold embellishments were then blocked in with a metal colour, as well as the rebreather filter over his mouth
-Metal (GW Chainmail): for all silver and gold embellishments

For most colours, I'll paint metal, then gold on top. It just looks richer, and has more variance - more pleasing to the eye. The only exception so far is red - gold painted on red will pick up a nice lustre on its own.

Step Three - Block in Reds & Dry Brush the Gun


All the wax stamps on the purity seals were blocked in red, and then gone over with transparent magenta:
-Red (Vallejo Red): Purity Seals
-Magenta (Jo Sonja Transparent Magenta): Purity Seals

I like to think the magenta adds a bit of colour variety in there. I'm probably delusional.

The red light on the targeting reticle was blocked in red as well.

You can see I got sloppy with my brush control on the reds here - there's splashes of red on his boot on the left. Once you see it, you can't unsee it. The important thing is not to panic - just carry on painting. You come back later (once the paint is dried) and just paint over it.

I also went and lightly drybrushed a metallic colour over the front end of the heavy flamer.
-Metal (GW Chainmail): For drybrushing the gun

Step Four - Painting Gems


Painting gems is great fun! You need four colours, five if you're fancy. Here's how I did mine.

Step Four A - Block All Gems in Black


All of the gem is painted black, or very nearly black, from top to bottom. This will be the part of the gem that light isn't bouncing through once we are done.
-Black (GW Chaos Black) - Unlit gem colour

Step Four B - Add Main Gem Colour Highlight


The main colour that people *think* when they see this gem is painted next. This is painted on the side of the gem that is away from the light source in a small oval or tear drop shape. Most of the time, this means it's painted on the bottom of the gem. I was going for an orange gem, so I painted this (you guessed it):
-Orange (Vallejo Light Orange): Main Gem Colour Highlight

Step Four C - Add Minor Gem Colour Highlight


This is the point of the gem the ray of light is leaving. It's a brighter version of the Major Hightlight you just painted, and it sits inside that main highlight.

Since I had an orange major highlight, I chose to paint my minor highlight:
-Yellow (Vallejo Lemon Yellow) - Gem Minor Highlight

Step Four D - White Dot


This makes the gem come to life in a very surprisingly easy way! Paint a small white dot at the point where light is entering the gem. This will be in the dark part of the gem.
-White (GW White) - Gem White Dot

Step Five - Eyes

The perceptive among you will notice that the eyes were already painted in that last shot. I took advantage of the fact that I had Lemon Yellow on my pallet, and blocked in the eyes.
-Yellow (Vallejo Lemon Yellow)

However, this was a timely reminder that I was painting a 3D model! When viewed from above, suddenly you could see that I'd overpainted Zael's right eye, and yellow paint had spilled out onto his cheek.


This happens to me every. Single. Time. I attempt to paint eyes. I have no idea how the gurus on youtube make it look so effortless.

It is, fortunately, easy to fix. A small line of green along his cheek bone and the eye is now back where it is meant to be.
-Green (GW Goblin Green)


Step Six - Gold Embellishments


Zael's gold embellishments were coloured in now. This was as easy as liberally using thinned down:
Gold (GW Shining Gold) - Gold Embellishments

Step Seven - Dark Wash


Zael was washed with brown wash from head to toe to bring out the shadows in the model:
Brown Wash (GW Agrax Earthshade): Full model wash

On reflection, I think the model would have looked better had I used a Black Wash rather than Brown. My experience is - warm colours look good washed with Brown, cool colours look good washed with Black.

It was now midnight, so brushes went down and Zael was left to dry for about 20 hours. Which is probably 19 more hours than he needed, but anyway.

Step Eight - Ivory & White Highlights on Parchments


After the brown wash, the parchments looked like used toilet paper. So I painted ivory on the upper side of each parchment, leaving the brown section only in areas which were underneath ripples of paper. I then went and painted a thin white line on the upper edge of each ivory section.
-Ivory (Vallejo Dark Sand) - Parchment Highlight
-White (GW Skull White) - Parchment Edge Highlight

Step Nine - Highlights on Golds, Eyes and Armour


The gold parts were looking a bit dull after the wash - so I went over the upper sections with some scattered bits of gold:
-Gold (GW Shining Gold) - Gold Embellishment Highlights

The eyes had a bit of brown right in the middle, so I dotted some more yellow right in the centre. This has the added bonus of giving the eyes a slight glowing effect:
-Yellow (Vallejo Lemon Yellow) - Eye Highlights

Finally, I got stuck in with some Lime paint, and did some broad scale highlights on upper sections of Zael's helmet, power fist, right foot, left knee and back.
-Lime (Vallejo Lime Green) - Armour Highlights

Here's a picture which makes it a bit easier to pick out the lime highlights:


Step Nine - Finishing Steps


Finally, I redotted the whites on Zael's gemstones, painted the base black:
-White (GW Skull White) - Gem Highlights
-Black (GW Chaos Black) - Base

I also painted the small gem dangling under his free hand - nearly missed it!

And then varnished the figure with Tamiya Matte Varnish spray.

Closing Thoughts

Anyone can paint. Be aware of the time commitment - this sole figurine took me ~6 hours, start to finish.

Here are a list of the paints I used in this model:
-Army Painter White Acrylic Primer
-Black (Vallejo German Grey): for his shoulders, gun, powerfist and targeting reticle
-Dark Grey (Vallejo Dark Sea Grey): for the crucius on his shoulder
-Light Grey (Vallejo Sky Grey): for the skull on the crucius
-Green (GW Goblin Green): for his armour
-Ivory (Vallejo Dark Sand): for all parchments and ropes, parchment highlights
-Metal (GW Chainmail): for all silver and gold embellishments
-Black (GW Chaos Black) - Unlit gem colour
-Orange (Vallejo Light Orange): Main Gem Colour Highlight
-Yellow (Vallejo Lemon Yellow) - Gem Minor Highlight
-White (GW White) - Gem White Dot
-Gold (GW Shining Gold) - Gold Embellishments & highlights
-Brown Wash (GW Agrax Earthshade): Full model wash
-White (GW Skull White) - Parchment Edge Highlight
-Lime (Vallejo Lime Green) - Armour Highlights

You don't need Games Workshop or Vallejo paints. But you will need highlights and mid tones for the main colours you are using - mixing mid tones with black and white often doesn't work out how you would like. That said, I don't know many other brands that do metallic paints as well.

It's good to have a brown and a black wash handy. I'm using the GW washes, but I imagine there are many suitable alternatives out there.

Having a photograph of someone else's paint job next to you can be very useful. Sometimes it's hard to figure out whether that swirly thing you're painting is a rope, part of a gun or just a bit of flash you forgot to clean off. A quick glance at a finished paint job can point you in the right direction.

If you're going to paint, then get a size 0 brush and a size 000 brush. That should be small enough to handle most details. My opinion is that synthetic or sable doesn't matter, just make sure they have a good point while they are still in the packet at the shops. And don't worry too much - you will wreck them on your first few models, and curse when the ends split and lost their point. After your first few wrecked brushes, you can then hop onto youtube and learn what you've been doing wrong.

Youtube is an invaluable resource for painting techniques. I recommend Sorastro's channel; his Zombicide videos are what convinced me to give mini painting a try. Other terrific resources include Battling Brushes on DiceTower, Jay Did's Mini Painting 101 series, and if you're really stuck, the Games Workshop channel.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. I hope I haven't upset the veteran artists out there; my goal is to show that anyone can paint, and yes the model does look like rubbish right up until the final few steps.
If you've got any inkling of painting whatsoever, I recommend you give it a crack - you might surprise yourself!
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VonMeister
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"My hands shake like a DJ at a dubstep festival."

Classic.
Nice work - I'm sure your skills will advance quickly.
It's intimidating to paint that first miniature.
 
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