Paint Chips Ahoy!

Imperial Knight Conversion: Pt. 29 — Initial paint layers on armor plates.

As soon as I decided on the name of this knight (the Queen Bee if this is your first post), I getting ideas for the armor. It was going to be black and gold, for starters. Even though I went back and forth on exactly how I wanted to break down the two colors, I wanted the addition of a modern pattern on the armor somewhere.

At first, I wanted to do honeycomb on the yellow side, and a victorian floral scroll on the black parts. I ditched the victorian scroll after a test piece, but then I decided to do the honeycomb all over it. Around the same time I decided to do a 100% split on the armor. Her right side would be all black with yellow hex outlines, and the left would be yellow with black hexes.

The pilot, Lady Aurelia Tibbetts, is actually a fairly rebellious and edgy lady. Though her machine is ancient, she has a more modern and practical sensibility than many of the grim dark people around her. I wanted this to show in some way, and I thought the hexes were a good way to indicate it. She (and her family-crew of natively recruited Sacristans) actually maintain and paint the war machine between deployments. I figure she’s got this nice stencil set made up and enjoys the artistry of it. She’s not a part of the mechanicum, and she doesn’t believe what they believe, but she’s far from being free from ritual and superstition. For her, repainting the armor is an important moment of physical bonding with her better half.

Alright, here are some progress pics of the paint chipping process.

First layer of paint on Knight armor platesRemember, I have a layer of rust below this layer with paint chipping fluid laid down. It looks so clean right now, but that won’t last long. This is just Averland Sunset and Black, thinned with my custom airbrush juice and layed down in a few thin layers. One nice thing about the airbrush is that it all dries so quickly it’s easy to do several thin layers all at once.

Paint chipping on the yellow side.Here’s a shot of the paint chipping on the yellow side. The chipping fluid does most of the work. I just brushed a liberal coating of water on, and then agitated the surface of the yellow paint with a wooden toothpick for scratches and a small drybrush. I let the brush do most of the work so I’d get a good mix of tiny to medium sized chips. I concentrated more wear in some areas, but it almost works like drybrushing in that the raised areas chip faster anyway so it’s a nice effect. You CAN do this sort of thing with a sponge and brush, but it’s really hard to make it random. Your mind really wants to make patterns, and it will whether you like it or not.

Paint chipping on both yellow and black sides.And now chipping is down on the black side. You can see that, even though the rust color is the same on both, they really look different. I really want to do the same weathering techniques on both sides, but I know the yellow side will look much better. So it goes. It will even out a little once I do the metal, since that will look a lot better against the black side.

Here are some closer shots of various pieces. Click to see bigger pics.

Masking and painting the honeycomb pattern

This was really a lot of fun. I bought a tiny little hex stencil from Anarchy HD Stencils and, I have to say, they’re great. I should write a full review of them sometime. They have a slightly tacky back, and this allowed me to place a sheet on the black side, press it down, and then when I peeled it up most of the little hexes were left in place. Then I could take the now hollowed out right side and place it on the yellow bits. It worked out so well!

Masking on top carapace.Here’s the top carapace, masked and ready to go. You can see I was shooting for a slightly random and fairly minimal amount of hexes. I didn’t want it to look too much like an Eldar Harlequin or some high-tech Infinity model. This pattern would be painted by the Imperial Knight’s crew themselves, and I wanted it to look like they took some care in making it look cool. You think people won’t care about cool looking stuff 38,000 years from now? I doubt that.

Masking on shoulder armor plates.Shoulders masked and ready. In matching pairs I tried to mix things up a little bit so they wouldn’t look too uniform. In this case I focused on the sides of the yellow pad and then a more central and randomized pattern on the black pad. To add even more variation later, I’ll go through and ‘erase’ some hexes here and there once I’m done getting the pattern down.

Shin armor drybrushing.Here are the hexes with some drybrushing already on them. That’s right, I said drybrush. I didn’t use my airbrush for this for two reasons. First, it sucks and I was concerned about control. Second, I figured they were probably using a large brush or sponge and stencils when they painted this. Not a huge spray gun. So, there would be a lot of variation in tone and it wouldn’t look perfect at full scale.

Little hexagons EVERYWHERE!The one down-side to doing something like this: These little buggers got everywhere! I had to remove them one by one with a sharp hobby knife, and they’re sticky so it got out of hand really quickly. What a mess! But, the effect was worth it. I think I’ll be finding these things around my hobby area for literal months to come.

Knee armor with pattern.Here’s a closeup example of the yellow pattern over black. Once I removed the mask, the pattern showed through crisp and clean. So cool. I love the way it looks for real. It’s exactly what I had in mind when I started and my elation upon removing the mask kept me from getting irritated with the little hexes all over my hands.

Top carapace with pattern in place.By far the most complicated bit. I wanted to really ham up the pattern on the pilot’s hatch because it’s a nice clean area and, naturally, I thought the Sacristans would focus on it as well. I was careful to match the pattern so it would bleed together visually without looking misaligned.

Shoulder armor with pattern drybrushed on.And the two shoulder pads next to each other so you can see the difference in patterns. Note the yellow side has filled in hexes, while the black side has outlines. I think it’s a cool effect. Almost gives a little bit of the yin-yang feeling that there’s something of the other side in both. The yellow side doesn’t have nearly as crisp edges due to the nature of the mask. I ended up almost stipling the paint on as drybrushing across was only making dots or lozenge shapes. There’s still a little of that, but not so much that I’m displeased with the effect.

My view during battles, roughly.Here’s a quick shot I took when I couldn’t help but put some of it together. This is probably how I’ll see her on the battlefield most of the time. I love the dynamism of her hips and legs. What appears to be a minor repose changes the movement and weight of the model a lot.

And here’s a little more after I touched up the yellow side. You can also see the feet are started in the background.

So, what do you think, dear readers?

Now you can see the paint peeling and rust layers were just the start. Next up is to start layering is some real weathering on the painted areas. Starting with oil paint washes, and then pigments as well (they show up much better on the black areas in particular). I’m getting pretty excited to start the metal trim, as I think it will really pull this together and pop against this strong armor color.