Now for something completely different

Imperial Knight Conversion: Pt. 25 — Paint “mapping” preparation.

From my earliest conception of the Queen Bee, I knew I wanted an aged look. I also wanted a paint scheme that was somewhat unconventional. Perhaps what I would call ‘modern’ even. You see, this lady is a rebel in many senses of the word. One way in which that manifests is a predilection for styles that fall outside of the realm of what’s considered normal in the world of 40K.

Knight pilots are, to me, both a throwback to an earlier time and also something else. Something practical. Something less attached to the arbitrary and often bizarre rituals and habits of the Imperium as a whole and the Adeptus Mechanicus in particular. They are, as I’ve always asserted, far more human in my mind. That means they may be more likely to express themselves with heraldry, for starters. In the case of Aurelia Elise Tibbetts and her Queen Bee, that also means a custom paint job once she decided to go Freeblade. One that she felt would match her mount’s personality and look impressive on the battlefield. She was also acutely aware that she was tossing aside her family’s heraldry and striking out on her own. That included eschewing a lot of conventions Knight heraldry takes for granted. Take a look at some of the other Freeblades to see what I mean.

In my case, after many iterations, I decided on a completely halved scheme. Many people I trust suggested separately halving things like the shield, the weapon casings, etc. to help break it up, but I’ve opted not to do that after very careful consideration. It’s going to be straight down the middle, one half black with a subtle gold honeycomb pattern, the other gold with a black honeycomb pattern.

Now that I made up my mind, and more importantly now that the arms are getting closer to being finished which leaves just the armor left, I have to get down to brass tacks and start prepping the armor.

Here’s what I’ve been up to: Old machinery, military, farm equipment, etc. has often been painted many times. Layers of peeled paint are simply painted over. I like the idea of using this to show age, and I came up with a simple technique to simulate it. In our case here, these are massive patches that would have been blasted off in battle more often than not. And it’s really, really easy.

Imperial Knight Titan armor with "mapped paint" preparationNo, this shin plate has not contracted Nurgle’s Rot (despite those beautiful Fantasy models. I’ve not abandoned my faith in the Emperor). This is Silly Putty. Otherwise known as one of the finest masking mediums in the modeler’s arsenal. The green bits are, believe it or not, thinned Liquid Green Stuff. Incidentally this is also the shin that’s been melted by a real life plasma weapon (a magnifying lens and the sun, natch). You’ll see where I’m going in a moment. Bear with me.

Imperial Knight Titan armor with "mapped paint" preparationI’ve been working on building up layers of old, peeled paint to give the final finish a better sense of history. I don’t want the ‘moder’ look to be too clean. It’s still going to be dirty, dented, rusted and beat up. But, I want to give the sense that Aurelia tries to repaint it when it gets bad. If you look at old equipment at, say, an amusement park, you can get a sense of this. Or parks. Anything where someone might periodically repaint with that thick, glossy paint without stripping off the old stuff. Heck, even old houses have this. In scale modeling circles it’s called “mapping,” like a topographical map, with slices and layers. In their case, they usually use putty and sand it down. That’s tough for me because of the detail. So, I got the idea to mask patches and add layers of LGS to build it up. This one has two layers. You can see some overlap. It will all look much cooler once it gets paint on it.

Imperial Knight Titan armor with "mapped paint" preparationHere’s a partway-through shot with some putty patches. This is the first layer, covering most of the surface with Silly Putty. The “exposed” areas are hit with a thinned down slurry of just Liquid Green Stuff and water and left to dry. Once that’s dry, you just pluck the bits of putty off and you’re left with hard edges around the LGS patches. Not only that, if you’re careful, you can leave a little ridge where the LGS started to dry up the sides of the putty.

Imperial Knight Titan armor with "mapped paint" preparationAnd then the next stage, overlapping and with less surface covered. Again, just paint thinned-down LGS right on top, overlapping where it overlaps. If you go a little nuts, it’s actually pretty easy to just scrape it off with a fingernail or whatever’s at-hand.

And now I’ll show you some closeup shots after I removed all the putty. These all have at least two layers of LGS, with some overlap. I tried to light them a bit from the side to enhance the texture so it didn’t just look like patches of color. Keep in mind they need to be cleaned up still, and also when I start applying paint it will reduce some of the sharp edges.

And that’s it. I can’t wait to get some paint on them, but I have a lot to do before they start looking cool. I plan on painting rust in the bare plastic areas first, then applying chipping fluid, and then finally I’ll be able to get some real color on them. This should all soften the effect of the paint mapping. In fact, when something is repainted a bunch like that, the lines end up becoming fairly soft and lots of detail is obscured. It goes against everything I’ve ever done to deliberately soften detail, but it’s important to make some of the rivets look like they’re just caked in paint as well. Should give some nice detail and interest to what would be plain patches of color.

Thoughts? Suggestions? I’ve got quite a bit of armor left to do, so let’s hear it.