Decals, lettering and shield mural finished

Imperial Knight Conversion: Pt. 31 — Custom decal work and freehand practice.

I’ve been a busy bee lately, relatively speaking. After a series of setbacks surrounding the decals, I finally got them printed to a satisfactory standard and I’ve moved on to some details that really feel like finishing touches.

My first laser decals (or transfers, across the pond)

Proper decal sheet!

Let’s take a look at the decal sheet. I printed four of the shield mural pinup outlines (more on that later) in the upper left corner. I’m glad I did because I messed up the first two of them. The rest of the sheet has various sizes of the Queen Bee logo, versions with or without the border, and even some yellow test ones just in case (they didn’t work). The bottom half are all black Eagle Eyes logos for my marines since I didn’t have any printed already.

The best part about these decals is, with a laser printer, there’s no need to spray an overcoat unless you want to give them a little extra protection. I don’t, as I want my transfers to look a bit weathered. I didn’t have any problems with them flaking or cracking anyway, so I think it’s a non-issue. This had the unexpected benefit of making them the thinnest transfers I’ve ever used. One shot of Microsol and the backing just disappeared. Once you take the shine off it, it’s just GONE. It’s pretty cool, really.

Decals applied to the Queen

I’ve tried to weather them down a bit, where they were large enough to do so. I’ll probably weather the Queen Bee logo on the carapace a little. It was pretty fresh when I took the pic. I opted to make the Maker’s Plate look as though it had been painted on, as a physical plate in that position would have long ago been destroyed and it seems like replacements would be tough to come up with.

Shield mural pinup artwork

Original hacked-together pinup art.I knew from the start that I wanted some pinup artwork on here, similar to nose art on World War 2 bombers. With all the rivets and panel lines, I got a strong WW2 vibe early on from this kit. I kept putting it off because I couldn’t figure out where to actually put it. In my earliest conceptions, I was thinking of it as a fairly direct pinup representation. I found a couple pieces I liked and tossed them together in photoshop just to test the pose I was going for. I liked the idea of the ammo belt but it didn’t make the cut, as it were.

Pinup line artAfter a lengthy feedback session on Bolter and Chainsword, however, I opted to go for something a little more ambitious. We figured after thousands of years, a sexy girl, painted on by a young pilot, would be subtly altered and changed to the point that it became something entirely different. Now, she sports a death’s head, clawlike hands dripping blood down her forearms, holding a gleaming stylized crown, whilst sitting on a pile of skulls. She’s been mostly covered up in robes that harken back to old Blood Angels and Dark Angels banner artwork. Yet, her legs (in calf-length polished leather high-heeled jackboots) are suggestively crossed to give you a clue what she used to look like. We also decided the best place for this art wasn’t tucked away somewhere and crammed into a tiny spot, but right there on her shield in full glory. After all these years, I figure Aurelia herself made that decision, carefully painting over the House Tibbetts crest that had been there until she went Freeblade.

Shield with clear decal added.So, the first step was to prep the shield with a dirty white (done a long time ago). I also shaved off the rivets on the top and bottom as the top one messed with the crown too much. I applied the decal over the shield and hit it with just one coat of Microsol to get it to nestle down into all that craggy battle damage. These decals were a dream to work with.

Shield muralAnd then finally the finished painted and weathered mural.  I added the skulls freehand with washes to keep them looking really painterly. They’re a bit ambiguously defined and even misshapen, which I think fits wonderfully. The crown was given some NMM like the old Ultramarines banners, yellow lines radiating out of it in the background. I painted a banner and lettered in “Regina Apis”, or Queen Bee in high gothic. I also tossed just the bee portion of the logo to the upper left for balance. Then I added a bit of damage and chips around the edges, and weathered it with oil paints. I am very, very pleased with it even though the lettering could be tighter. It’s been a really long time since I’ve done any freehand at all, so I wasn’t feeling super confident at first. I think I achieved what I was looking for, though.

Freehand lettering

Hand-lettered TibbettsI added some freehand lettering to the chest banner at some point in there. It reads “Tibbetts” in honor of the house name. I had originally planned to keep some elements of the family heraldry but everything went except this. Her connections to her family are complicated, but it’s still her own name as well, after all. It didn’t seem right for it to say anything else. I wish this was a little less sloppy, but I’m just being hard on myself. I think it looks fine on the model itself with some test fittings. I painted it in black first, then Balthasar Gold, then washed it with Agrax and added some highlights to the metal bits. I wanted it to look like it was slightly embossed.

Lettering on ReaperAnd finally, I added the small “mordent” name to her Reaper. Mordent is a word that I brainstormed with my brother. He’s a classics major and fluent in Latin, if you can call anyone fluent in a language that isn’t really spoken. Mordent is rooted in one of several words for ‘sting’ as in a bee’s sting. It’s an active verb form, so it’s sort of like a word that means ‘this thing is stinging you.’ The icing on the cake, for me, is the fact that ‘dent’ is the root word for teeth (think dentist). Since it’s a toothed weapon, I thought it was perfect. I painted the name on the scroll very simply in black and gave it a very minor highlight.

Hatch window

Top hatch window painted finally.The last thing I wanted to throw on here is the glass for the top hatch. I didn’t want it to look like it’s glowing from inside, since I’ll likely do the cockpit interior some day and I’m not sure how it’s going to work, but I’m nearly certain I want it to be almost completely dark. In the fluff and in my mind, the interface is primarily MIU and the pilot feels the knight and sees from their eyes. I don’t imagine them pushing control sticks and reading screens much at all unless their link breaks down. I think of it like a meditative state, and for me a dark, stark cockpit is far more interesting. Anyway, I just wanted to get that blue spot color in so I blended some from purplish black through mid blue and added my blue glaze to it. Simple, but it took forever…

And that’s it for now. Thoughts? Feedback? Have you ever colored in a decal like that? It was pretty fun to do, actually.