40k – ‘naut checks

I decided to try to paint checks on my naut, to give it a little bit of style. I looked up a couple examples and went to town with masking.

I started by masking out some squares.


And then I hand painted the squares:


I decided to re-optimize my airbrush process, since I have some space upstairs I could do it in. I re-masked, but this time doing all of the checks at once.

And then bust out the airbrush with some GW White Scar and Golden Airbrush Medium.

Here’s the bad side. I didn’t fix it up before I airbrushed, so the fact that it looks a little like crap is acceptable. I didn’t want to paint blue over the white, since I didn’t want to layer it over something that would just be white again. In hindsight, an argument could be made to just airbrush the dark blue and start over.

Here’s the front, whichย does not have an excuse for looking crappy. ๐Ÿ™

And the other side, which was the only side that ended up looking good. ๐Ÿ™

I went back in with PP Exile Blue, which looked dark enough and hand painted some cover-up.

The “bad” side looks a little bit like ass. I’m hoping that with the weathering I’m going to do, that it’ll look ok in the end, but I layered the blue paint to thick and now it’s just not good. ๐Ÿ™

Pretty unhappy, but at least with orks “bad paint job” can be a style. ๐Ÿ™

Antares – X-Howitzer and Airbrushing

A friend was doing some airbrushing of 40k tanks recently and after he showed me his work I was inspired to think about airbrushing again. It was 4 years ago the last time I wrote about airbrushing, and these articles remind me a bit of how I was feeling — rather like I should sell the damn thing. I had no skill with it and keep messing up. My friend said his was a breeze – start ‘er up, do your thing and BOOM, nice looking shading. I bought some new things to help — a new Golden High Flow Acrylic in fluorescentย blue, and a Wicked Colour airbrush colour in light blue. In the earlier of those two articles, I appear to have also bought new toys to help, and they appear not to have helped.

What did help a lot this time…is having a deck. I pulled all my stuff onto my deck, plugged it in and relaxed. Previously my outdoor space was shared space — a parking lot or shared rooftop — and I had no ability to just sit and play, I had to constantly be worried about whether someone would come along and ask what I was doing there, painting the parking lot floor.

I had planned on doing the lighter colour, then ringing it with the darker colour. Which, it turns out, is not the correct way to do this. ๐Ÿ˜› So this first photo is that. I had the PSI set to 15 and held the brush relatively close, to get more intense colour with a thinner line.


I went back afterwards and re-did the lighter colour and ended up here. This I did at about 30 PSI and further away, which diffused the paint.


My next plan is to follow my C3 steps, and wash into the recesses some watered down blue wash, then nuln oil the shadows. Then clear up mistakes with Ulthuan Grey and whatever the GW white is called these days. I think this guy will be done pretty soon!

There is an airbrushing course happening in Vancouver on June 17th. Unfortunately, I’m busy that day with another hobby — I’m in a circus show. ๐Ÿ˜›

More airbrush

I bought some airbrush things.


I bought two things of airbrush-specific paint, and a large thing of airbrush medium. Reading a bit today, I discovered that the problem I was having (which you probably couldn’t see in the last photo) was because of the surface tension of the water I used to thin my paint with. Droplets are formed when there is to much water. I could add less water…or solve the problem by throwing more tools at it. ๐Ÿ™‚

I did a bunch of tests tonight, which again, the camera does not properly show. >.<


Left: Pthalo Blue Airbrush Paint, Center: P3 Exile Blue+Airbrush Medium, Right: Altdorf Blue+Airbrush Medium

The airbrush blue is very striking! You can see some “basic highlighting” here, but I think that’s just because I’m painting over top of my previous test paint jobs which had dried with some darker sections and some lighter sections because of the water content and how the pigment moved around with it. The right two look green…but I feel like I should take new photos because I’m looking at them on my desk here, and they are definitely blue – damn white balance!

Something that was nice about the airbrush thinner was that it came out of the pot in small droplets so you can control how much goes into the airbrush. Also, there were no tiny droplet puddles formed on the models, so I call that a success.


Left and Center: Scaly Green+Airbrush Thinner, Right: Pthalo Green Airbrush Paint

The second part of my model test was to apply some green, this failed quite a bit. I have an older Scaly Green and it was dry. I tried to liven it up with some of the Golden Matte Medium, plus the Airbrush Thinner, but it doesn’t look like it did anything – on the camera or in real life. My second test was to use the Airbrush Paint Green…which has the word “transparent” at the top of the bottle. >.> Not…intentional. I applied this several times to the bright blue model, but it kept pooling in the recesses (bad) so I kept wiping it off with a paper towel. Didn’t notice it said transparent until I looked at these photos now…whoops.

Having said that, I’m liking how the GW paints are turning out, I just need a modern colour that isn’t dried up! The airbrush paint really is that shiny! At least with the GW or P3 with the airbrush thinner it comes out semi-gloss, much easier to fix with a dullcoat layer at the end.

The next thing to figure out, is now that I’ve got my colours and such, how do I plan on highlighting? With the ork plane, I could just mix in more bright blue and it highlighted very nicely. This is a much smaller application, with fewer sharp edges. I could try the same, or I could accept that the airbrush is applying a base coat and shade with a brush from there. If I’m using GW paints, this is also a bit easier since I can use my techniques as normal.

Damn you airbrush…

My airbrush and I are fighting. We’re still speaking, but it’s going to come to a shouting argument pretty soon…


So happy I used test models…I kept spraying, and the camera hides some of the badness of it all.

Wanted to try a two colour blend and thought I’d give the airbrush a try, since it (in theory…) can feather the edges and all that. At the very least, I could quickly put down 2 colours on the model.

I started with the P3 Exile Blue, since it’s closest to what I wanted. Blue, but with a hint of purple in it. I mixed some water in and started spraying (center high elf) and ended up with a horrible splotchy mess. I waited for that to dry, sprayed again and it’s still coming out in little droplets.

Figured I added to much water. Cleaned the paint holder out, and put just straight Exile Blue in. That also came out horrible and splotchy. (right archer)

Grabbed a GW paint, Altdorf Guard Blue. Not the colour I wanted, but I could improvise. No water. Nothing came out of the airbrush! Go to the sink, clean out the dried paint (…), back to my painting and mix some water in. Now I’m getting a decent flow, but I definitely have to watch out – to much paint on the area and it starts to collect in the recesses and slide away from the tips. (left archer).

So now I’m still trying to figure out my variables…

  1. How much pressure? I tried different settings with each consistency, and it didn’t seem to matter much.
  2. How much water? It felt like the P3 paints had to much already! GW needed a bit to get going.
  3. How far away from the model? To close, and the pressure (#1!) pushed the watery paint away!

The worst part about all of this…is that I had a complete success with the airbrush on my Ork plane (which I still need to take finished photos of, apparently…). Paint went on smooth, I highlighted with the airbrush and all that good stuff. I’ve had nothing but failure since then and it’s really frustrating. ๐Ÿ™

Dreadball Base Coats

As no one provided any suggestions on what colours to use on my two Dreadball teams, I decided that bright green and bright blue were the right choices.




Kidding. (Although I would have loved some feedback…sometimes a guy just wants to know that people are reading!) Mr. Wappel writes about how he does his basecoat in really bright colours, because he shades the colour down afterwards. I thought I’d try that on these models. So I primed them all white, and then did an airbrushed basecoat of Goblin Green and Meredius Blue.

I’m planning on focusing on the human team first. Think I’ll water down the Dark Angels Green and see where I end up. Nice thing about these models – they are all armor. No silly straps or faces to get in the way.

Masterclass Painting 2 – Airbrush

Airbrushes have an odd mystique about them. Some people say “that’s not fair, he cheated and used an airbrush!” Some people try to use them as the sole method of painting. But an airbrush is just a tool, and it can only really speed up something that you were trying to do anyway. He painted a solid base/shade/highlight in about 10 minutes, which took us 3-4 hours to get done right. They have a steep learning curve. Be prepared to swear for at least 2 months.

Just about every airbrush brand has a good model, so don’t worry so much about that. Except for Testors/Aztek, which apparently have some technical flaws to them. You want a dual-action airbrush, so you can control airflow through the brush. You want a top/gravity-fed airbrush so you can use less paint. Side-feed are ok too, but with siphon/bottom-fed you have to mix a lot of paint in order to get the little hose to be able to suck on the paint. You want a brush that can have a nozzle somewhere between 0.15 and 0.6 size. 0.4 or lower is preferred for our uses.

Compressors should put out 15-30psi and have a regulator so you can control the amount of air coming from it. You can use a cheaper power tool compressor, but you’ll have to buy an adapter and a regulator and probably an extra water trap since they put out a lot of heat. One with a tank is nice since it only has to run when the tank depressurizes. Otherwise the compressor is only good for about 45 minutes before it overheats. His cost $1500!

A few accessories of note:

  • A quick connect adapter means you can detach the airbrush pretty easily for cleaning or changing paints.
  • An airbrush holder lets you put the brush down for a moment.
  • A cleaning kit.

He took apart his airbrush for cleaning. Remove the back, pull the needle out without bending it. Remove the front and the nozzle. Use rubbing alcohol and a Q-tip to clean everything and inside the metal casing of the brush. The nozzle can get clogged, so there is a tiny little accessory to poke out the clog. When done painting, put thinner in the bowl and spray it until clean. Brush out the bowl and do it again. Then it’s ready for the next colour.

You can buy airbrush specific paint, but GW/P3 paints work out ok if you thin properly. It can clog the nozzle, so watch out. He creates a thinner that is 85% water and 15% isopropyl alcohol. Mix that 1 part paint to 5 parts thinner.

Then use the same techniques as painting with a brush – use a succession of thin layers. He painted on a base colour, then shaded to black, then highlighted to white. Mask off areas you don’t want covered with paint, let it dry before the next coat and spray away from the tape in case it isn’t stuck down completely.

Just before we finished he passed the model around and someone commented that his base colour was almost gone. He agreed and then thinned out some of the base colour and sprayed it all cover the work he’d just finished, creating a pre-blended piece of work that looked great!