Sunday, January 10, 2021

Painting Your Ships

I got into miniatures gaming roughly 10 years ago with Warmachine, and Eric got in well before that, playing Warhammer and the 40Ks and BFG and all that stuff.  One thing I've always enjoyed is being able to paint my own models, just rocking out with all the different ways I can customize something and make it "mine."  Now, you don't NEED to do this for Armada, but it's a fun thing I do that I've often gotten complimented on for my models and all.  Hit the jump for a step through this whole process!
The first of many pictures in my bathroom, because it has the best lighting.  Enjoy!
Before I get going on his, there’s a fair amount of pictures, and even more digressions than usual for a “John” article.  The digressions are worth it, I feel, as they actually RELATE to the topics I’m covering, but still, long article ahead, kids.
1) Choose a model and a scheme
To me, I consider this the pre-work you need to do in order to ensure that what you're going to do turns out well.  For choosing the model, it's really a matter of what you want to paint, but the scheme is a whole other thing.

First, let's talk the color wheel and complementary colors.

I'd like to buy a vowel, Pat
As some of you may remember from art class, the ones across from each other are the complementary ones.  Green and red, orange and blue, and purple and yellow.  These colors accentuate each other very well as they provide both WARMS (red, orange, yellow) and COOLS (green, blue, purple) that work with each other to draw interest.  Warm colors draw the eye to them; they're flashy and active and showy and stand out.  However, cools are a good base to allow the warms to stand out FROM.  If you just have red and orange and yellow on your mini all blended together, you've got a very nice fire elemental, but it doesn't easily define itself.  Similarly, too many regular cool colors together can just allow the miniature to pass by your eyesight.  When you paint a ship in non-black and white colors, you'll likely want some of each to provide visual interest and help things pop.  For an easy example of this, let's turn to a few of my Hammerheads.
We gotta save April, you guys.
See how the red and orange STAND OUT more in comparison to the green, while the blue doesn't as much (commitment to a bit on that one, guys)?  You don't HAVE to do this always (see Donatello there? Still visually great IMO, but I'm biased) but it's an easy shorthand for helping your ships along.  Turning to another paint scheme I've admired, Truthiness has the yellow and green, which is him committing to a scheme from Firefly.  Again, a warm and a cool color that complement each other.
Still cool, even if he did beat me with it
Warm and cool colors matching with each other is something you often see in sports teams, as it provides visual contrast with the uniforms and team gear.  The Oakland Athletics (Green and Yellow), Chicago Bears (Orange and Blue), and even my beloved Chicago Cubs (Red and Blue) are all easy examples.  A warm and a cool is easy shorthand for providing visual interest in your model.  And I will come back to this point in a minute.

The OTHER thing that complementary colors do is that you can then play off of them to get BETTER versions.  The easy example here is green and red.  If I just paint something straight red and green, then congrats, I have Christmas Fleet.  And that may be what you want to convey, but there's BETTER.  The different SHADES of colors allow you to hit different ways of doing things that provide that visual interest.  It's easy to describe this using Orange and Blue.  Basic Orange and blue is.... fine.  It's there.  But Orange and Navy Blue gets you the Bears scheme, the greatest team to ever play football.
Seen here with some random quarterback.  Also, hey look, yellow and green!
Orange and Teal gets you that Miami Dolphins colors, which just looks sunny and friendly and 70s.  It's cool in its own way.
Laces Out, Dan!
Purple and Yellow is a hard sell, alright.  But Purple and Cream is good and a great scheme that I saw a bunch of Eric's Warmachine minis have; it's the Minnesota Vikings colors, if you want a real world example.  Play around with the colors for a start and see what you like.
Eric is a MUCH better painter than me, but I wanted to write the article, so here we are.  Also note his use of Red as another good complement to the Purple.  Warm and cool, guys.
Another note is that while just having 2 colors is FINE, another color or two will add in more contrast WITHIN REASON.  Don't dump 47 different colors on your ship because "John said to add more in."  You're gonna get an ugly patchwork fleet that looks bad (unless you're Dedrik).  Simpler, easier combinations look way better than complicated super rainbows.  But how do you add in those extra colors without having weird interactions with the 2 you have on there already? Let's talk neutrals.
"Tell my wife I said 'Hello.'"
Neutrals are those like grey, white, black, brown, and silver.  Their BASIC forms don't count as warm or cool, but they provide visual distinction on your model such that it adds in another color.  It's really easy to put silver on your engines and get that extra color in there.  I say basic because my blue-grey or my reddish-brown definitely leans toward one of those warm/cool spectrums.  "Black" makes for great stripes or minor accenting bits, but let's talk a bit about black.  First, you're going against a black background a LOT of the time with your ship, so Emperor Steve's Extra Eeeevil Black Sails of Masculine Prowess and Super Eternal Darkness may sound COOL and look good on your desk at work, but have you considered holding them up against your starfield map? How's THAT look? (It doesn’t, your eyes just gloss past it.  Lemme save you some time).  The OTHER part of this is that I know we're all giant nerds (you're reading and I'm writing this Star Wars blog, so....) and we all want something Batman-like and Danger-esque and SINISTER.  But let's look at Batman!
Pure West, baby
No, the other one.
Amusingly, the same basic costume, really.
Now I know we all remember the leather and how NOTHING could be more black than Batman, but look at the fact that he's got a lot of greys with black used very sparingly.  In FACT, most of what he's got on some of his close-up pictures is navy blue.  The navy defines a lot of the character, and if you actually study it, your eyes usually end up glossing past the black.
Notice that the blue is actually defining the hands and edges of the cape near the mask
Black is an absence of color, and I promise it becomes a lot more noticeably absent on your miniature from 3-10 feet away.  It provides a much better way of seeing the contrast and seeing things on the tabletop.  You CAN use Black (and I have, below!), just be CAREFUL and do NOT overdo it.  And for the immediate counterargument of "But Christian Bale was all-black in his movie!!!"
He gets to use black sparingly because he's not wearing hockey pads
Well, looks a lot more GREY to me.  Dark navy blue makes a GREAT black for your miniature, and you can probably even see it well from a distance.  I'm not saying "Never use black" but SPARINGLY if at all.

Now that THAT'S done, let's talk schemes.  Simpler is generally better than more complicated (I may reinforce this point several times across this article).  You CAN try to paint an airbrushed Slave Leia or Slave Padme onto the side of your ship (I'm going to look at you weird, but you CAN), and more power to you (not in THAT specific example, ya weirdo.  Stop being a creep), but I'm not THAT good of a painter and my hands twitch.  A simple scheme executed well is MUCH better than a complex one executed poorly, even if it is just a stripe or two against a basic color.  Truth's fleet is simple, but it WORKS.  The green and yellow stand out on the starfield.  For another example, I have my Jaina's Light below as well.  It's yellow and silver, but the yellow is noticeable against most backgrounds, as is the blue CR90B as well.
Actually one of my first paint jobs.  You can see its a REALLY simple scheme on these two, but it's interesting and different.
Schemes will come in time, and imitation is the sincerest form of flattery (this is the nice way of saying "steal designs you like and attempt to copy them, just credit the original person you saw with it").  I will be fully honest that I have ruined several models as I try to figure out a scheme that works for them (you’ll see several of these below!).  If you have an idea going in, you hopefully won't ruin your ships, but most gaming stores sell little DnD minis you can practice on for $5-$10.  Lot cheaper than a new CR90, right?  They let you test out some colors next to each other on the table so you can see how you feel about them together and what it looks like against that star mat.
The best spokesmodel money didn't buy
Lastly and most importantly, though, these are YOUR models.  If you have an idea you want to do, then who cares about the LORE? Paint that mauve star destroyer! Make that Phoenix Home Star Runner or Teenage Mutant Ninja Hammerheads!  They're your tiny spaceships, make sure the person who enjoys them most is YOU.  For our follow-along example, I've got a friendly MC30.  I like painting MC30s as they're relatively easy to do and POP on the table.  I've got a scheme in mind that's going to be interesting to execute, but I have faith in it.  If you need to sketch out your ship on a piece of paper and then use colored pencils or crayons, big fancy fashion designers do this all the time.  They are not artists, they're going for an overall look and see how their scheme goes together.
Come for the Star Wars talk, stay for the Tim Gunn gifs.
2) Clean and prime your model
Alright, we have a scheme thought out and we have our mini.  The next thing we want to do is to clean the model.  If we're going really light colored or white on our mini, stripping off some of the current FFG paint on there helps you out in the future and means the old color doesn't bleed through.  This may not be fully necessary, but it's worth mentioning since I have the blogspace.  I've personally found that Simple Green and an old toothbrush can do wonders for cleaning off just some of the really noticeable reds and all.  You CAN leave your mini in a Simple Green bath, but that stuff eats plastic so I'm hesitant to recommend it or a time length to leave it in there.  If you do leave it in a bath, check on it often as no one wants Swiss Cheese Star Destroyers.  Basic soap and water is fine too.  Just make sure all the soap is off your mini and it's dry before you start priming it.

Then we choose a primer.  If we're going light, prime light underneath, if dark go black.  That's the best GENERAL advice I can give you, though a grey primer works great for me much of the time.  Read the directions, spray evenly, and let it dry in between coats.  If you're planning on painting red, they make brown and red primers which might be worth a try as well.  I haven't painted enough red in significant quantity to tell you, sorry.  For our "follow-along" example, I primed in black because that's what some of the paints I'm using specifically told me to do.
Our MC30 and the box of fun smells!
I CANNOT stress this enough: read and follow the directions on the primer can as best as you can.  Primers are little droplets of paint that are set to dry at the distance they say on the can, so if you spray too far away, you will get fuzzy looking models that were primed badly, and it'll only go downhill from there.  Too close and it might not dry correctly and, again, look badly.  Spray in an open area, or open your windows/turn on that air circulation thing in your apartment bathroom.  Do not huff the paint fumes, ya weirdo.  Shake it to break up any paint chunks inside the can for the recommended time displayed just to ensure the paint is ready to spray.  Spray in several quick bursts, and then let the mini/paint dry.  When it's dried, flip it over and prime the other side.  Multiple angles, multiple bursts do better than just one huge CHONK sprayed into it.  It’ll glob and stick to your priming box and then you have to redo it.

Important note that I HAVE previously goofed up: Painter's tape the peg/slot for your clear plastic holder thingy (you can see the tape in that picture above).  Elsewise it's going to A) get covered and then you have to paint it and B) get stuck when you try to put it on and off the peg, and then you break a CR90 and have to redo the whole thing.  I don't know WHO would be speaking from experience there.  You just want a thin coat or two for your "real" paint to stick to.

3) Base coat!
We start off nice and simple by just laying a base coat of color onto everything.  First, let's talk paints and their use and recipes.
So many options!
There's 2 basic kinds of paint bottles you can buy.  Paint POTS (seen above) and paint DROPPERS.  Paint pots are ones you could literally pop the top and can start painting with, and paint droppers let you drop out specific amounts of paint onto your palette/plate/whatever you're painting on.  Having used both (and thus begins our Goofus and Gallant stories!), I prefer droppers as it lets you control EXACTLY how much of everything you're getting out, and it lets you make your own colors so much easier.  "This recipe calls for 2 drops of Necromancer Cloak and 1 of Wolf Gray, along with 3 drops of water" is SO MUCH EASIER to recreate for ME as compared to "some blob of Black, little less blob of grey, 2 drops of water."  Super great looking model, there, Goofus! Your little monster dude has several areas of slightly off light blue from each other because you were too cheap to either buy a pre-mixed color or because you mixed up the recipe midway through painting (actual story of my Goofusing, sadly).  The benefit of having the droppers is it’s a lot easier to recreate exact shades if you want to come back to a paint color a year down the line when that Nebulon you got needs a matching friend.  How did you make that SPECIFIC grey again? Good thing you wrote it down in that notebook somewhere!

After a year or two of Goofusing, I'm much more PICKY and I like being able to paint the same grey over and over again as I so choose.  Or chartreuse, puce, cerulean, whatever Crayola color I want.  Again, your friendly local game store should sell paints and they can help you if you have an idea of what you're trying to do.  “I want a blue” is good; “I want Captain America blue” is a little better.  To make your life simpler, it's a lot cheaper if you don't need to re-buy an entire paint kit 3 years into painting because you went from pots to droppers.  Furthermore, don't go in and buy 47 paints, buy like 3-4 at a time.  Start small and simple, don't break your wallet.  I like Army Painter, but your local game store may sell something else.  It's probably fine, but test it out first.
There's an upcoming Star Wars one for Legion if you want to cross-game it, haha
The other thing, if you'll notice in BOTH examples above, is that I added water.  Thin your paints.  Generally, a 50-50 water to paint mixture isn't bad, and if you've mixed it right (I'll talk mixing in a paragraph, I swear), you'll end up with the consistency of skim milk.  I have Goofused and painted without thinning.  You get very chunky paints that dry chunky and not great.  YES, you may have to do a few coats to get the perfect color scheme on your MC75.  Do you want a great looking model that stands out or did you decide to paint your ship because you got bored for 20 minutes?  Putting in the work is WORTH it.

Now, we've got us a blob of color.  Time to just mash our brush in and start smooshing it all over the surface, right? Of course not.  Brush anatomy!

So we have the toe, belly, and heel.  If you have sufficiently thinned your paints enough, when you dip your TOE into the paint, it should soak up into the BELLY.  The belly holds your paint reservoirs that flow into the toe as you paint.  Getting paint in the HEEL will mess up your brush when it dries, so don't jam it in and break your bristles/ruin the brush.  Paint in the heel will dry and contort the bristles in weird shapes, and then bam, ruined brush.  I am insane and paint with detail brushes because I like super tiny control, but they make base-coating brushes that work well for painting great swathes of the ship you want to paint.  When you finish a color, rinse it out, just like when you used to use paints in art class back in the day.  If you have an old smock to wear while you paint, you can recreate your youth in its entirety!

Put your 2-3 drops of paint in, and your 2-3 drops of water, and then use either the end of the brush handle (the plastic part that you hold) or a toothpick or a popsicle stick or whatever to mix it.  Again, skim milk.  Paint a good basecoat of your color(s) over everything you want to, get your mini all set up and base-coated.  Take your time, do a bit at a time, don't rush.  Again, this will improve with practice, I promise.  You CAN do some fine detail stuff here, but we'll do more of it later as needed, so it's not super crucial it gets done immediately.  Wash your brush out regularly to prevent paint from drying in the bristles themselves.

When painting, you're going to want to work from the innermost/difficult area outwards.  Think of it like getting dressed in the morning.  You put your shirt on before your coat, so it's easier to get the painted SHIRT and then the coat.  If you mess up and get extra paint on the coat area, it's easy enough to paint over that later when you're DOING the coat area.  And when you do the coat area, you hopefully aren't going to mess up and get paint in that shirt area, right?  This metaphor got away from me, but by working on the hardest to reach stuff first, it's easier to ensure that it's painted right and not screwed up later by our own clumsiness.  The best example here might be some of the hangar bays on the ISD or on the MC80, just the fine layers inside.  Work outwards from the "center."  This tip may be more helpful for smaller minifigures and/or stuff that's extra detailed, but it's worth mentioning so that I have it written down somewhere in case I've forgotten some super-jagged Armada ship.  In our "follow along" example, I painted the rough parts of the MC30 first in yellow/gold, as it ended up skewing my color scheme when I went the other way (no, you do not get to see the "bad" models.  Author's discretion there.)

The other thing, as I've mentioned before, is using several thinner coats is much better than one thick GLOB.  Globs are bad, guys.
Well, most globs
I took my time and did several coats and made it look NICE here, so it was worth it.  You can actually see the details on the ship here, and that's the benefit of doing the work twice three times in my case.  I know it's tempting to just throw it on, but it comes out nicer in the end.  I painted a layer of brown on underneath after the gold, and then I added a few coats of red on top of THAT.  From my friend Matt who used to paint red ALL the time, brown base coat.  Again, I goofused a few times before and DIDN’T put down a brown base coat over that black, and I sure was sad.  Luckily, you can read and learn from my mistakes! Brown, then red.  Then red again for a potential second or even third coat.
I honestly don't know if this is the first, second, or third attempt.  Hence why it's taken two months to get this article out
I added the red and WILL be adding a tiny bit of blue (cool!) later, but Iron Man MC30 is starting to come together.  I'd say it's completion is... inevitable.  Leave any super small details you have for much later.  Some of the raised plating on the MC30 for example, or the thin red racing stripe you want to paint on your ISD to make it go faster.  The red ones go faster, as we all know.

4) Wash
And now we get to what Eric loves to call "The Trust-Fall portion."  Remember ALL that time you just spent painting and basecoating and making it look nice? Yeah, we're going to dump a bunch of paint all over that.  Wait, come back!
She doesn't even go here...
So a wash is basically REALLY thin paint that when spread out onto a mini, slips into the cracks and provides definition.  It leaves that very thin layer on everything, but especially in those nooks and crannies and basically acts like a magic shadow creator.  It pulls details IN to the mini, creating DEPTH in our 3D ship and making it seem more "real."  Washes are basically just a darker version of our REGULAR paint that flows very thinly into the cracks and lines filling things in, allowing it to artificially make depth appear by pulling a darker color into the areas that would be normally coated in shadow.  Here, let me show you a few examples of washing, in order to see what's going on with this all.
A basic black wash all over the ship
In one of the earlier versions, I added in a FULL black wash here on the Iron Man MC30 now, just to make it more Iron Man and less Red Blur Man.  Again, just as in painting regularly, it's better to do multiple thin coats as opposed to ONE thick one if you need to.  It only costs you time, guys, and if it's worth it in the end, looking good is IMPORTANT.  You can see the darker shades all over the red panels, and especially where the gold meets the red up top.

Washes flow with gravity to the lowest area of the miniature, so if you move it a lot, the wash may slide to an area you didn't want.  Careful and slowly is the right way to go about this.  When you paint it on, it's going to FLOW, so keep that in mind as you paint the wash on.  It'll cover everything, but it makes your miniature look REAL.  Washes are the best step, as they're so easy to do yet create the strongest effect.

Black washes are generally my go-to, especially for metals, but for white ships you may want a light blue wash.  Brown works well for gold and bronze, and maaaaaaaaybe for whites, but be very careful you're not just turning your white ship into a dirty cloak.  Try it out in a small area and repaint the white if you have to.  Grey washes are.... there, alright.  My usual experience with them is that they end up just kinda hazing the color.  For general advice, a darker version of your regular color is a good start for a wash, but test it out first.  As washes are still "paint", you want to thin it with water, as before, but don't go full 1-1.  It may take a while to dry or be too thin already.

That's a generic wash, which after looking at, I wasn't happy with.  So, now I'll tell you about a spot wash.  It's the same basic thing, you just wash in one specific part.  You know what'd be WAY cooler than a blob of dark black and grease over the entire ship? If I just washed in those panel lines.
JUST on the panel lines.  Nice, easy distinction between parts of the ship
It was HERE, after the wash, that I added in the blue to the MC30 (the engines and that "eye" light bit).  Very thin coat, and it was very watery, so I wanted to make sure that I didn't cover my nice blue lighting up with a red wash.  See how I finally got that cool color in there? On a normal mini, I just would have a red wash for the red and a blue for the blue.  I also added in a few of those silver panels to get that extra color in there, making it look more real.  I’ll address this in a bit.

5) Dry Brushing!
More of trust fall action we've got going on again.  We're now going to do a very little bit of dry brushing, which I don't OFTEN use, but hey, worth a shot.

Dry brushing is the pulling-OUT after the wash pulls IN.  Where a wash creates a shadow in the recessed areas, dry-brushing is more of a detailing in the protruding areas kinda thing.  This works much better on little minifigures, but let's try to see what I can do here.
Blob o' red!
When we dry-brush, we take a mostly UN-watered down version (globs are still bad, you just want it thicker than before) of the paint we're using and smear a bit on our palette.  We then take a brush we don't mind ruining, dip it in, and then wipe all the paint off, smearing it back and forth on a napkin.
Left to right, notice how there keeps being less and less to those streaks?
You said MOST of the paint, right, John? NOPE.  All of it.  You should see NOTHING when you think your brush is ready, and THEN you drag it across the highest areas of the miniature.  Do NOT press down super hard into it, this will overdo what you don't want.  You're just trying to drag it across the top level of what you're doing, touching the areas that AREN'T in the deep recesses.  If you just brush it over the surface, the drybrush will just touch the raised areas and apply a VERY thin coat of paint to them, adding detail UPWARDS in the mini.

You're creating the opposite side of that 3D effect by making the top-level highlight.  This isn't as easily seen, especially as we've wiped off the paint, but I promise it's there.  This works great on our more angular ships, as the corners are GREAT places to drybrush, creating visual interest right on the edge/corner.  The MC30 doesn't work as well, but there are some edges I CAN do this on.
That circled part has my attempt at drybrushing in a lighter red on the edge of the MC30.  See below for another example.
Generally, pick a lighter version of our regular color; drybrushing is creating the effect of light hitting the ship at that edge, so we want a lighter version.  We want drier paint, so don't overdo the water here.  Chunks and globs are still bad though, guys.  With the lighter tone here and the darker tone from the wash, we get 3 shades of our base coat, creating a much more real looking and visually interesting miniature, especially from a few feet away.  For another example, I drybrushed the black onto the raised panel here, acting as a “fake” wash to get it to stick to the side of the square panel and those 2 squiggles on the right side of the middle there.
Enhanced closeup! Notice how they look slightly darker than the other parts? That's because I used black.
Drybrushing can be rough on bristles, so don't use brushes that you love and care about for this.  All that literal wiping back and forth, smearing and smushing the paint out of the bristles themselves can wreck the bristles.  But older ones that aren't ready to go to the farm upstate yet make great drybrushes.  Drybrushing is the other trust-fall, in that it often doesn't SEEM like it's doing anything, but it helps, I swear, ESPECIALLY on pointy angle bits (waves in Imperial).
Yeah, it ends up looking like that a lot
6) Touch-up!
Here is where I can add in some of those details now to that MC30, like a few of the raised panels.  I own some Prismacolor paint markers, and I used the black one to add in a bit of the side lining on those raised panels.  These are basically paintbrushes that stick in one shape, so they’re a lot easier to get lines where and how you want them.  I use them when I need very fine, very controlled lines.  They're several dollars each, but that black one has helped me so much.
Cheating at painting.  So amazingly helpful.
Let's also talk about patina.  Patina, in the classic car world, are all those stains and scars and blobs of color on them to make it look old and lived in.  It's a sign of "reality" and use on the car, and it makes it look lived in and used.  Old beater trucks often have this when they've been used a LOT.

I bring this up here as more a discussion on appearance and washes and colors and all.  If you notice on all the ships that FFG puts out, there's a few blobs of grey on the panels.  ISDs are easy for this, as seen above.  It provides both a third color to distinguish the ISD from being a white blob AND it makes it look like the panels have been replaced after a battle or are old or what have you.  Artificial patina in our case makes the ship seem more "real" and like it wasn't just rolled off the factory floor.
Fun fact: I didn't even KNOW the originals had silver on them until I had to buy and open another MC30.
The MC30 is quite easy for this in that not only do you have a few easily seen panels that stick out and are easy to color and then wash separately, but you don't have to do ALL of them (and FFG definitely didn't).  You can imagine whatever story you need to in order to put that color there.  It's not necessary, and you may not want to do the idea at all, and that's fine.
A few panels in silver, but mostly left as is.  Also, spot wash on those lines!
I'm just putting it in here in order to let you know when it might be a good idea to go back and forth, adding in colors and washing them all.  And as I've said, simple scheme is better than confusingly complicated.  I'm not painting EVERY raised panel on the MC30, but a few wouldn't go unnoticed.
The underside of my Orange and Teal.  Notice how by doing all the panels I've created essentially a third color on this thing? Don't necessarily do what I did here.
If we make any mistakes and accidentally cover up some of our previous work, just go through the previous steps in miniature (yuk yuk yuk!) to repair it.  Don't panic, I personally have very twitchy hands, and mistakes happen.

7) Decals!
I'm not doing it, but if you WANTED to, right here is when I would do any decal work you wanted.  They make fancy airplane decals, and you can, but it ain't for me right now.  Just letting you know this is the time.
This is where I'd put a better joke
8) Varnish!
So we've painted us a fancy pants spaced ship, and it's time to make sure we preserve it.  There's two kinds of varnish, glossy and non-glossy.  Glossy makes it extra shiny, and non-glossy makes it look dimmer.  The issue with NON-glossy is that it kinda takes away some of the work you did before and makes it look not as good.  Glossy, however, makes it seem a little less.... real, as much as we can say that for a plastic spaceship.  Too shiny and chrome.  So what do we do? We start with glossy and then re-coat it with NON-glossy.  Two coats makes it look solid and does what we need it to.
Somebody cue up the Black Sabbath!
And that's how we do!  We're not a painting blog, and Eric has WAY more actual painting experience than I do (Orcs and gerblins!), and I cribbed this from his notes, but if you have any basic questions, we'll try to help you answer them (basic! Not "what do you think of my scheme?" It looks great, sure, yes).  The most important thing I think is getting out there and actually TRYING.  You won't know how it'll turn out until you actually DO.  Get out there and let your creativity flow!


  1. Any specific advice when painting squadrons?

    1. I've forwarded this on to John, but I can tell you that the process is similar but generally simpler but with more precision required if you want to get the details. Basically easy mode is just two steps:
      1) Prime the squadrons (not their stands!) whatever color you want their hull to be - usually gray for Imperials or beige for Rebels.
      2) Wash the squadrons using black (if gray) or brown (if beige).

      DONE. That alone adds a lot of detail to your standard squadrons.

      If you want to get fancy beyond that, you should follow the first two steps and then use a precision detail brush to paint whatever elements of the squadrons (like the black portions of a TIE Fighter or the canopy of an X-Wing) different colors from the base hull.

    2. Strong suggestion of googling (or forum searching) for how people do it on there. It's the same process in tiny form, but the thing I'll point out is that by looking at other's work especially you can see little details you never considered and will gloss over if/when you're looking at them. Own personal example: did you know that X-wings have yellow patches on them? Yeah, never noticed that until someone pointed it out once. I use a lot of detail brushes (because I am weird) but the paint markers and that help a lot at getting the tiny bits.

      Also, instead of painter's taping the notch/peg, just stick it in a good squadron base and prime it in there. But it's the same basic process in tiny form, really.

    3. Thanks for your replies. I appreciate the suggestions!

    4. Three classic tutorials: