It wasn’t a particularly productive week, but I’ve taken a short break from painting tanks to play around with my airbrush a bit more. First up, I am working on a 5-man Ultramarine tactical squad:
I decided to start with these guys for a couple of reasons. Most importantly tactical marines have a lot of details but are the same color across the majority of the model. That means a lot of surface to cover in one color, and a lot of details that need to be highlighted in the same colors. Covering all of that surface smoothly and quickly is one major advantage to the air brush. I started with un-primed models and primed them in black with the airbrush before mounting the backpacks. With the airbrush I’m using a water based acrylic gesso as a primer so I don’t have to wait so long for it to dry. Each model received two coats of primer to make sure I had a solid foundation and hadn’t missed any spots. Next I gave them a base coat of Ultramarine Blue (Delta Ceramacoat.) I’ve mixed the paint a little too thin so it took two coats to cover, then I applied a third over that to start creating some of the highlights. Then I added two coats of a 70-30 (ish) mix of Ultramarine Blue and a sky blue, and finally a coat of 50-50 Ultramarine Blue and sky blue. This has created a nice gradation from the black/near black recesses to the lighter blue across the top surfaces. It’s hard to say how much time I spent painting vs. mixing paint. I also re-painted the first one twice before finding a mix I was happy with.
The reason I chose Ultramarines over another chapter is that I have been painting my Rebel Grots with blue robes so the techniques and paint mixes I used for the marines can be directly reapplied. I have 20 conscripts that will need to be painted soon and I plan to add more infantry in the not-too-distant future, so being able to base coat and partially highlight them quickly will be very helpful. I used one of my conscripts as a test model to develop a process:
Unlike the marines, this guy was already glued to his base so I left him on it while painting. I primed him black then gave him two coats of Ultramarine and one coat of the lighter Ultramarine/sky blue mix. Then I airbrushed the base a muddy brown followed by a lighter sandy brown. Then I picked out the slab with a light brownish grey. I also used a little of the light brownish grey to highlight the sandy portions a little. Then I used the black primer to clean up the edges of the base. This is the same process I used to paint the base shown in my Rubble Base Tutorial. If you look at the paint pot this guy is stuck to you can see how little overspray I had with that final black coat. I thinned out a little of the base color I use for my grots and used the airbrush to pick out his face and arms. I did this guy in about 30 minutes but I spent almost as much time cleaning out the airbrush as I did painting, and I spent some of that time waiting for paint to dry between coats. Painting a whole squad would optimize the cleaning time and eliminate waiting for coats to dry. I am looking forward to trying this on the rest of the unit to see how long it takes.
Overall, I am happy with the progress I’m making with the airbrush. Although I would hardly be proud to call my test grot a finished model I do think it passes for a low table-ready quality. I would be very happy to get a squad from bare plastic to this level in about an hour. All that’s left is to pick out the details, highlight the skin and other details, then a wash and I think it would be finished.
So far I’ve been very happy with my airbrush. I think it’s a fantastic tool for model painting! How many of you have given the airbrush a try? How did it work for you?