There is quite a unique challenge in painting the larger models from Games Workshop.

Mostly finished by this point. I’m merely waiting for the ink to dry, as it were, on the base of the model. Following this step, I usually apply several coats of Dulcote varnish, which removes the uneven shine whilst maintaining the contrast that makes a model “pop”.

Of course, there isn’t much you can do except grind forward.

A key trick to making a larger model “pop” is making sure before the model is complete is to remove all the uneven shine or gloss. You want the natural light (ambient lamps, etc) to create the illusion that your model isn’t just a miniature, but a living mechanical operaton (I made-up this word), built for battle. I use Testor’s Dullcote spray lacquer (~$7) on Amazon.

If they ever stopped making this stuff, I might be in trouble….

Color Scheme and Approach? Simple!

The color scheme for me was an easy decision. The client/friend wanted to go with an army-wide purple. Purple is a great color, by the way; it is easy to match with many other colors, sitting nicely between the blue and red (the extreme temperatures on the color wheel, warm versus cool). 

Purple armor plates with gold accents, and the metal parts for the machine joints and skeleton, etc., were all standard steel metallic paints. 

The workflow I generally use for larger pieces to keep consistency across an army

The application was simple. Base coat with an airbrush, followed by normal manual brush labor for the metallic gold details. Highlights were powered on with controlled airbrush technique with a bit of masking to control for over-spray. 

For metals to look more interesting (flat steel is boring), I find that adding some color through thin-ink glazing goes a long way. I use a bit of green and orange glazing on the steel on this knight, and you can see in some of the photos. But, it’s not overdone. Never over-do effects designed to modify some material on a model to make it more interesting, otherwise you’ll make said material into something else

Once these larger surfaces are fully painted, colored in, glazed-up, I will move on to highlights. Highlights for me those colors that help parts of a model that require a tad more contrast. These usually include big surfaces that get a lot of viewing time, such as the shoulder pads or the carapace over the middle of the top half of the torso. 

In this case, a brighter purple airbrushed on in a controlled fashion takes the contrast to the next level.


Oil paints are a powerful dark-washing medium

There are lot of links to using oil paints as a wash, including mine here and here. A few more tips sprinkled about (nice website here and this one, too) will show you how it’s for different military vehicles and models.

Oil paints are great!

Suffice it to say, I first start by glossing the model with a varnish to protect the hard work I did with the acrylic paints. This also helps the oil wash flow into the recesses in a more consistent fashion.

The oil paint, in this case lamp black, is mixed into a thin solution about the consistency of diet soda…whatever that means, just feels this way. And, using a fairly large and soft-bristled brush (my wife’s old blush make-up brush), I apply the oil wash evenly over the entire model. 

  • A paper plate is under the model as I do this, so I don’t have oil paint spilling and pooling all over my painting desk. What a mess that would make! 

Games Workshop makes great washes, but they aren’t very useful over such a large area. I mean it can work, but it takes great care to apply these pre-made GW washes carefully over such a large model without having the wash pool in places you might not want it to. That, and it’s kind of an overkill expense in my opinion to use these washes because you end up having to fix all the lost contrast.

  • Oil washes have the advantage that the pigments can be wiped off cleanly after application from the highlight areas of the model, only leaving dark pigment within the recesses. This saves time, and it looks great!

After wiping off the excess pigment with clear mineral spirits (the medium used to dilute the oil paint), the highlights you worked hard on reveal themselves again (in contrast to acrylic washes, where you’d need to re-paint them). 

After that point, I went back in and painted in a few more details, e.g., the logo, the little fiddle festons that GW models all have, some scroll work. At this point, you can varnish again to protect the work you’ve done (like a bookmark).

Then, I like to wait a day (or simply a few hours if I’m in a rush) to let all the work I’ve done settle in. I’ll come back and take a look again to see if my eyes catch anything new that I need to fix or improve. A bit of rest for a model will make you see things more clearly. It’s kind of like the editing phase of writing a paper or blog post. 

The final step is to apply that final armor, the coat of enamel lacquer that will protect the model from the harsh environment of wherever it will live next; in a home, in a store display, or a dining table mantle piece (!). 

As stated above, I coat all the models I paint, large or small with at least three coats of Testor’s Dullcote. The side benefit on top of protection is that this stuff will produce an even surface for light reflection. That is, a nice even matte finish that won’t easily reflect light in harsh spotlights.

Thus, a nice matte coat with Dullcote enamel is perfect for photography.

The model in a portable light box. Shot with a Sony mirrorless camera (A7R3) rocking  Voigtlander 40mm f1.2 optics. Lights provided by cheap-o LEDs.

The Finished Product!

Okay, so here is the model after photographing a few shots, taking the best, compiling them in photoshop, and then processing them even further in Adobe Lightroom. Another article in the future will describe how I photograph my miniatures. In the meanwhile….

Ready for what comes next!

I hope you enjoyed this article! Please let me know if you want more showcase painting overviews. I can write tutorials, but I find the YouTube video medium much better for learning how to paint. Here, you’ll get my personal thoughts and general insights into a paint job.

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    • Yeah I paint the entire model. This let’s me see how light hits all the parts and shows me where the shadows should go. Also, if you assemble the entire model, you only need to paint the surfaces that aren’t glued or hidden. It saves time 🙂

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