Thursday 28 August 2014

Painty stuff: Adeptus Mechanicus (Bob Olley/Rogue Trader)

I've been collecting Citadel Miniatures for many years, but until recently I've been one of those stereotypical collectors who tends to stick new acquisitions in drawers to gather dust. It wasn't always so; until the late 80s I was a keen gamer, and over the past couple of years I've taken up that pursuit once more. One thing though that I've never really spent much time on is painting, which is a shame given the number of figures I now have. So I'm trying to do something about it. I've painted a handful of figures (most of which I haven't actually completed), but I'm now going to try in earnest to improve my painting.

There's a good chance that you share my love of the painted figures that appeared in the 'Eavy Metal pages of White Dwarf in the 1980s and early 1990s. Vivid colours and an imaginative approach to colour combination was the name of the game back then, and this is the approach that I'm trying to emulate. Here's one of the first steps on which I hope will be my road to that destination:

There were a couple of techniques I wanted to experiment with when painting this Rogue Trader era Bob Olley sculpted Adeptus Mechanicus: thinning paint, and glazing with inks.

Yes, I appreciate that you painty types who are reading this probably think I'm stating the obvious when it comes to thinning paints, but it's not something that I've formerly been fond of. This has been particularly true whenever I've used colours such as yellow and orange, and I've been of the belief that these pigments are already thin, so why thin more? Consequently I've ended up with rather thick and not too pleasing paint jobs. So on this occasion I was determined to give this thinning lark a go. The figure was undercoated white and the first thin coat of hobgoblin orange/red core (old Citadel paints) was applied. As I suspected it looked very thin, but I let it dry for a couple of minutes and perservered. About 4 or 5 thin coats in my mind was blown! I was so pleased with the result! Thinning subsequent highlight and shadow colour combinations made layering so much easier. My eyes have been opened!

I'm also a big convert to thinning with inks. I used Winsor & Newton or old Citadel inks on this figure, and glazed pretty much every part. The glazes really give depth to the colours and at the same time lift them and make them really vivid. Another conversion for me!

I have to be honest and say that once I'd painted the orange clothing - which I'm really happy with - I got a bit bored with the remainder of the figure, and painting the other parts was a bit of a chore. Ah well, I made it to the end at least.

So now I'm hooked, and I'm looking forward to sharing more painty stuff with you in future, and I genuinely would appreciate your feedback in how to improve my technique. One of my goals is that once I'm up-and-running and gaining in confidence, I'll be turning to painting my collection of unreleased figures.


  1. It does look good Steve and the contrast of the clothing is really good from a dark red to orange. You can accentuate this by using purple shading in the deepest parts but that's not nessecary really.

    The "thin your paint" is something I only heard late in my painting carrer (must have been in 1999) an dit took me ages to actually get it right. When I paint walls or other "big" stuff making several thin layers always sounded like a no brainer but for some reason I couldn't get it for models. It's all about getting the right consistency.
    I recommend you to try to add some matt medium in your mix so that the pigment percentage is below but you will keep the same control as with normal paint, you can also add a drop of PVA to force the pigments in the recesses (like in GW's washes) or a drop of dish soap to make them go flat like with ink.
    After that comethe techniques of "pushing" and "pulling" the colour with the brush but I don't really master those.
    getting the consistency right is very useful thouh and once you "get" it it solidly improves your painting and takes no time.
    I really like the purple/red contrats but I think the legs could have used something else than brown like yellow for example.
    You're heading th eright way from what I can tell .

  2. Thanks for your very useful comments JB. I thinned these with water but I'll give the matte medium a try.

    I know what you mean about the legs, but I'm quite pleased with the shade of brown - it looks better in real life than on the pic. Also I was nervous about introduing another colour!

    1. I would have gone in a white/black stripes pattern just but the Blanche influence would have been a tad obvious. I have him to paint so we'll see.
      About the matt medium, you'll still need to thin with water to get the right touch but it helps a lot. For examples, if you want to easily do a porrly shave beard or head, you can take matt medium and a little water to thin some white or brown and you apply on the skin, the fleshtone will show underneath but the mix will bahave more like paint than ink, making it easier to control. doing this can also help you blend colours on larger pieces. Pro painters favour using just water and doing 100 layers (thinking Don Hans or Martin Grandbarbe) but we can achieve a failry reasonable result with medium :D

    2. I'd second the use of Matt Medium - been using it for quite a while now.

      I did a bit of a tutorial a while back which may be of some use. Since then I've refined it a little by drybrushing right up to white on the raised areas and using matt medium mixed into inks to paint the mini. The matte medium dilutes the ink and also takes off the sheen when it dries. The white drybrushing gives you your highlights and the black ink wash the shadows - massively sped up my painting when I was trying to get the Goblinoid horde ready for BOYL 2014!

      Oh - very nice by the way although I'd tidy the edge of the base up with a lick of black paint and cut that remnant from the sprue off if I was being really critical ; )

  3. Nice work, especially on the red. I'm not entirely convinced by the purple though. I'd have gone with something else I think.

    Glad you found thinning your paints to work so well. I think that's one of the first things anyone should get the hang of when they first start painting. It might take a few coats to cover with some colours but the end results are far better than the lumpy porridge look. :)

    1. The more I think about it the more I agree with you about the purple. I'm pretty happy with the purple but I'm now thinking that the look I was trying to achieve might have been better substituting the purple for blue.

  4. Nice work. I agree with the comments above.

    No amount of hearing tips though will substitute for actual practice; that is the only way to find out how these theories actually translate into how the paint/ink actually behaves.

    A further few glazes on the red and purple on the staff might tone down the stark highlights. The robes and clothing look really good though.

    I also agree about the purple. I would have just kept thios figure to the classic red black and white, and made the red be the hero colour. That being said, I find the effect you have achieved quite pleasing, so that really is just a matter of taste.

    I look forward to seeing more of your great collection painted.

  5. You're absolutely right about painting old OOP models Steve. I'm also a collector and I've decided to put to the task of painting all the stuff I have stocked for years in my own drawers and boxes. The task is overwhelming since I'm still buying minis today (mainly resin and plastic).
    I'm also a fan of the old "Heavy Metal" touch but I also advocate thinning the paint to get as many details as possible (in order not to drown the minis under thick layers of paint, as may painters did back in the 80s, including myself).
    As a matter of facts, I've just launched my own blog to share my collection of painted miniatures. Not many OOP so far but they'll pop up sooner or later (one mini a day).

    Keep on painting and sharing your pictures!