To bring a little bit of personality to our table, I am now writing little background pieces for the mechs I paint. So let me introduce you to Salt ‘n Pepper.
This was one of those keep it simple affairs. The Boy had an idea to paint a big skull on a black Urbie and from that came the idea to have one black and one white. Paint wise, it could not have been simpler – primed, dry brushed and then weathered down. it would have been easy to get carried away but the Urbie is quite heavily detailed for being so small, so I think too much paint detail would have detracted from it.
I like this pair for their simplicity….
The last of the House Davion lance – the Phoenix Hawk.
This one went smoothly, from primer to the base colours – the Boy’s getting the hang of it and there was very little clean up to do. We used the same process and the archer, so Citadel Bone primer,then lay down the white red and blue. This time though I tried something a little less shotgun than the contrast wash, instead opting fora modelling ‘panel lining’ technique, using a super fine brush and a thin wash colour (colour mixed with Citadel Contrast Medium and water), lightly filling where I wanted to fill and nothing else. It’s a little more work but I think I actually prefer doing it this way, as it allows one to do all the areas they want to drop back, rather than blasting the whole thing.
After that was done, it was panel colouring and dry brushing, finishing up with some highlighting. On the whole, the painting went smoothly though I need to perfect the panel lining for small minis like this, as there was a bit of run over in areas.
And here’s the whole crew…
Number three, this time an Archer.
I tried to sell the Boy on the idea of painting it up ‘properly’ a.k.a in Macross colours but he was not having a bar of it.
This one took three tries but eventually, someone learnt that trying to rush this stuff does not work and that there’s a methodology and process that needs to be followed. In the end, the Boy did a great job in putting down all the base colours, so all I had to was tidy it up and do the final weathering and details.
Overall, it’s fitting the theme of the ‘operational look’ – read scratched, bashed and worn. What am I not happy with? The dodgy black and yellow striping on the inside of the hatch doors – rough. I might end up redoing them to something simpler until I work out how to do the stripes properly… I am suspecting it might involve a very, very fine brush.
Things to consider… decal kits might be on the radar. I think having some sharp numbers etc. will add a level of focus that’s somewhat lacking. Also, while the Citadel paints and top coats are solid, their brushes are a bit rubbish. The Vellejo are much nicer.
So the Boy and I had another go doing up his House Davion colours, on an Atlas this time as I figured the larger size might just make it a little easier.
I was wrong.
What I’ve learnt this time around is that 1. split colour schemes like this are bloody hard to get right and are ALL about process; maybe if one of the colours was not white,it might be easier but as it is, this scheme is a nightmare. And 2. Not giving up and pushing through can achieve a happy outcome.
So, on point 1: What would I do differently? Rather than following a video as we did, which laid down the blue then ‘re-primered’ the sections that were to be white and red, apply those colours, then do a contrast wash, I’d put the white down first, then red, then blue, then wash. Going dark to light meant a lot of re-coating to get the white nice and bright, which of course meant the paint build up started to make things a bit too chunky, even with light washes. This became evident with the contrast wash, as the finer details had become quite shallow, so getting the wash to fill the recesses was very hit and miss. I might also debase first next time, which would make getting in-between the legs a lot easier.
I was more or less happy with the blue and the applied weathering, the white and red not so much but they did have a certain weathered/dirty look that kinda worked in a strange way. Also, I found the Vallejo Matt Varnish to not be very matt, more like a satin… which sucked.
On point 2: Overall I was not happy with the outcome but instead of giving in to my temptation to strip and repaint, I let it sit for a day or two before coming back to it with fresh eyes. When I did, I saw what was wrong – it looked half finished – partly weathered, partly not, it was sitting in no-man’s land. I resorted to some model making techniques I’d read about and went to town on adding wear and tear to the paint with rust, scratches and colour wear. The above images are the end result, which to me anyway, bring a layer of life and realism to the mini and gives it that completed look.
I was so happy with the end result in fact I went back to the locust and gave it the same treatment, which has taken away that popsicle feel the bright colour scheme has and makes it feel a little more real.
Edit: I have since gone over the Atlas with a coat of Citadel Technical Stormshield. This is a great top coat that gives a good matte finish as well as making protective layer for tabletop playing, meaning that it provides a protective layer.
This one was a bit of a joint venture between the Boy and I…
The Boy’s keen to build a House Davion lance, so finding a scheme that would be interesting, easily applicable to a range of mechs, plus be a good learning experience, we found this scheme that fitted the bill really well.
There was a bit of a learning lesson for both of us here – only after having the Boy putting down the base colours did I realise darker shades should have gone down first and only then applied the top level as a dry brush; bit of a rookie mistake. That meant darks had to be added on the white after the fact and a lighter blue dry brushed on to get some definition. Not ideal. Doing it this way also meant the colour went down somewhat thicker than I wanted, so up close and under the unforgiving iPhone camera, the paint looks chunky and somewhat clumsy. Still, on the board it looks pretty cool and actually quite sharp, so who’s fussed?
I touched up a few bits after I took these shots and rebasing the mini on a clear disc is so worth the bit of added work.
Ral Partha Warhammer, circa 1986 (or so)
Another of the ‘unseen’ metal’s from the Ral Partha days, this time the legendary ‘Warhammer’.
The Warhammer was perhaps the mech that got me into Battletech in the first place. It’s hard to forget the big one plastered on the box…
The original box art. This was actually used when Battletech was called Battledroids – before George Lucas came after them!
If you didn’t know, the Warhammer was directly ‘borrowed’ from Robotech, if you look at the image there, you can even still see the SDF logo on the left leg!! Yea, no wonder FASA got sued.
Anyhoo, back to this mini. This is one of two I have that remained intact until the boys found them and the arms and small bits for this one went missing. Luckily, a most excellent chap on the Battletech Redit forum kindly printed me up some new arms, and I substituted a TOW launcher for the missing searchlight.
As with the Locust, and all other metals I have from this period, I wanted to keep the metal showing through – we have enough plastics for full paint and the metal is raaare so I want to parade it. But like the Locust, time and the many paint jobs has not been overly kind to the detailing, which is worn down in some areas. This time around, I kept the paint vary spare, only really painting the resin printed PPCs and bits of detail on the body. Overall, I’m more or less happy with the end result; painting numero two will be interesting.
Ral Partha: Battletech Locust circa 1986 or so.
Edit: 30th May ’23: Accompanying background story
My first paint in, well, let’s not go there.
This old Locust has been repainted many times and the last paint job was on it since it went into the box decades back. Striped back, lightly wire brushed and then steel-wooled, this mini was quite hard to paint. Even after so many paints and strips, there’s plenty of fine detail left but the minute paint goes on a lot of that detail starts vanishing, unlike the new plastics, where the mini is not only bigger (this Locust casting is quite small), but the detail is very pronounced. As such, this has ended up more of ‘table top’ quality, as from a distance it works well but up close all the issues start coming out.
I am keeping these old metals mostly bare and painting a lance as if they have been patched and bodged over their lifetimes, so the slightly haphazard colouring I think works quite well for the intention. And keeping in line with the concept of a lifetime of patching, the small little cannon originally fitted was turfed and replaced with a Henschel Hs 129 B-3 inspired monster canon, for which I am working out a custom spec for.
Way, way, way back when, you know, before ‘life’, I used to paint ‘professionally’ for one of the main miniatures stores in Sydney. And when I say professionally, don’t get all excited, I passed muster and was on the books, so I was one of a crew of painters the shop would call on to paint for their customers who did not paint themselves. I had a bit of a niche, I painted Battletech, Micro Armour (1/285th scale modern armour) as well as being the only one on the books who built models; I built and painted a lot of 1/35th WWII armour for people that wargamed at that scale. As far as a way for a student to make money, it was a pretty good gig.
Now keep in mind this was a long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, so painting was quite different to what it is today. To put that into perspective, miniatures were metal, Warhammer was in its infancy, and I was one of the only painters that used the dry brush technique, that I discovered quite by accident, and probably the only one that would do panel lines. Probably why I was popular for Battletech minis. Like I said, a long time ago.
Regardless, I always saw painting as a artistic or creative outlet, like drawing. Sure you could be very mechanical about it, as most painting was back then, or you could find ways to make the mini lively or dynamic, so I always found painting an enjoyable challenge. That life thing though eventually got in the way and as I moved forward, painting minis took a backseat and eventually gave way altogether to my design work and all the associated creative activities that came with it. I literally have not painted a mini since.
Today, painting minis is a whole new ball game and the skill and artistry out there is truly outstanding, at another level to what we are doing back in the day. And let’s not even talk about the range of supplies that are available…
This post marks my entry back into that world. I’ve been wanting to hop back in for some time but it has not been until now that the planets aligned to make it a reality. I am not sure where it’s going to go but I have some ideas of what I’d like to achieve. And this corner of my site is all about this journey back into the world of small things.
Oh, and that pic up there? That’s an original Ral Partha Battletech ‘Atlas’, circa 1987 or so. German Field Grey, with a white dry brush over the top. By today’s standards, it’s pretty crude but I kept it this way since the day I painted it. It’s now getting a make over!