Monday, April 14, 2014

Tutorial: Ultramarines With Color Modulation

As a member of the Nova Open Charitable Foundation Ultramarines charity army painting team, I thought it would be good to document how I paint my Ultramarines. I started my Ultras back before the GW paint line changes, and back before I had learned how to use oil paints. What this means is that with the right tools, the painting task is even easier than before. For this tutorial I am going to paint a spare rhino side, a razorback turret, and an Ultramarine that I just never got around to painting, Sgt Chronos dismounted. 

I paint in batch, with an air brush, and in a sequential order that sees little backtracks to previously used colors. This is important. My goal is to go through the blue colors in a sequence that allows me to skip the tedious step of cleaning my airbrush. 

The overall color scheme can be seen above. I use a black base coat, so I thought it would be useful to see the colors over both black and white to help anyone attempting this to color match this. The sequence is fairly simple.

  1. base coat black
  2. 50/50 mix of black and cantor blue (most important color)
  3. cantor blue
  4. maccrage blue
  5. calgar blue
  6. 50/50 space wolves grey + calgar blue near faces or front edges of tanks.

The process I use is called color modulation. Basically it simulates the effect of viewing a large tank with flat edges reflecting different amounts of light. It is not realistic at all. I am totally ok with this. Weathering will tone down the effect.

An essential item for color modulation is a pair of scissors and some cards. In the example above you can see an old taxi business card that I have been using to paint my Imperial Knights as well as these examples. With color modulation my goal is to produce contrasting gradients of color on the model. The template help me do that, and avoid the soft look that air brushing can produce along a model's edges.

The the photo below, I've already started airbrushing straight cantor blue over the 50/50 cantor blue mix. I try to keep the lowest regions of the model the cantor/black color. These are the deep recesses.

By the time I have worked my way through to calgar blue, the shapes have become extremely prominent. When doing color modulation the goal should be to pair light edges with dark edges. The smoke stakes show this really well. Using the business card to mask my airbrush spray, I shaded the light upward on the front of the smoke stacks. On the sides of the smoke stacks I shaded the lighter color down. This produced opposing color gradients.

With color modulation complete, I sprayed a satin varnish on the model to protect the paint. That is essential, because the next step involves pin washes with oil paints. White spirit, the solvent used to clean brushes after using oils, can damage the underlying paint, so a protectant is needed. A gloss varnish would have been better, but I was out, so satin it was.

Using AK-Interative brown wash, I touched the tip of the brush to each area that I wanted the oils to surmount. Once dry-ish, I used a clean brush with a tiny bit of white spirit to clean off any areas where the wash was messy. This is the joy of oils. Once on, oils can be worked into the right locations with ease. They produce fantastic blends, as well providing nice filters and other effects.

With the brown pin washes dry, I used a little bit of sponge and some black paint to dab paint chips all over the surface.

After the black chips were added I used another piece of sponge to add on the silver chips. Less is more here.

Streaking effects can add a lot of realism to a model. Using AK-Interactive oils, I added streaking grime to the sides of the rhino. The first pass can really look this bad. Oils remain workable for a long time.

After the streaks had dried, I used a soft wide brush with a tiny bit of white spirit to drag the streaks downward. The white spirit allowed me to blend in the streaks. After that was complete I sprayed a diluted steel legion drab dust colored paint along the lower edge of the tank.

The tracks are even easier. I sprayed the tracks with black paint, then used metallic iron weathering powder as a sort of paint paint and painted the tracks. After that I made another paint mixture out of green earth and alcohol and painted over the tracks. Once dry I used my finger to rub off the green earth and buff the metallic iron color underneath. Secret Weapon Green Earth pairs perfectly with Steel Legion Drab.

You might have noticed the space marine standing next to the tank parts. I painted him using the same color modulation at the same time as I painted the rhino.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

1840 Pt Imperial Knight Force With Lord of War

Three Imperial Knights and one Warhound Titan make up a viable 40k army these days. With no 40k armies to play against, we played a game instead with the knights versus the warhound. This was the first time the warhound or the knights walked. The warhound destroyed one knight, but ended up cornered and in close combat where things went very poorly for tit. Three turns in the warhound exploded. Given that Imperial Guard can field ~15 tanks in an 1850 pt list, i think this knight force would be severely out gunned.  It would still be a fun game to play though.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Storm Eagle Weathering & first NOVA Open Charity Raffle This Saturday

I finally sat down and started weathering my storm eagle. With all the effort put into the shading, there was not a little bit of trepidation when it came to spraying black soot all over it. I am much happier with the model now. I think the glass canopy came out really well, with the weathering powders along the edges. I think the next step is to dust the bottom section with a tan color to simulate dirt acquired by landing. I am not sure if airbrush or weathering powders are the way to go.

The photos are a little bright. I am still struggling with the photo booth, though having a load of fun while doing so.


Remember to check the Foundation website ( ) every Sunday between now and August 17, 2014 to see which of our amazing sponsors is offering a gift certificate for the weekly Saturday drawings!

I checked me email right after I posted this and saw a message from Laurie, who is running the NOVA Open Charitable Foundation army painting and raffles this year. I use Secret Weapon weathering powders on all of my models, and plan to use them on the Imperial Knight I am painting for the Ultramarine army supporting Doctors Without Borders. If you want a chance to win an awesome army, and great gift certificates there is no time like now to buy some tickets!

Press Release: April 11, 2014
The NOVA Open Charitable Foundation (NOCF) is currently selling tickets for the 2014 charity army raffle season. Visit and join the “Compassionate Force” by taking chances on winning one or more of the amazing armies being offered this year and supporting deserving charities in the process!


NOCF weekly drawings begin tomorrow (April 12, 2014). This week’s prize is a $25 online gift certificate to Secret Weapon Miniatures. Anyone who has purchased tickets in the raffle before midnight tonight is eligible to win as the winner will be drawn from the pool of raffle ticket holders.
Winner will be announced at tomorrow.

The NOCF is a non-profit organization operated by a Board of Directors in accordance to charitable organization by- laws. Donations are tax deductible; purchase of raffle tickets is not. If you have any questions, comments or ideas, please send them to: . 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Imperial Knight Warlord Stepping on EC Dreadnought

The final Knight in my Knight force is complete (minus glass, smoke, and oil effects) Ok, so the knight is not compete. However it is far enough along that I am going to stick it on the shelf with the other knights for a bit, and get my workspace cleaned up for my next project.

The NOVA Open Charity Foundation is having a bunch of us paint up some armies to be raffled off for various charities. My team, lead by Dave Taylor, is painting up an Ultramarines force that includes a Knight Titan.  Guess who gets to paint the knight titan? Additionally I plan to put up a series of quick little tutorials on how I paint my ultramarines, since I've got some Ultramarines of my own to paint, and it seems like a good time.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Imperial Knight Legs Re-Posed to Crush Emperor's Children Contemptor

After some good advice over on the 30k forums, I decided to go with this pose. The dying Emperor's Children dreadnought tells more of a story than a knight posing with one leg on top of a rhino. The bonus is that since I had already built the dread as scenery for my storm eagle, not much additional work needs to be done.  In terms of structural support, the dread and the leg connect, so this should be pretty strong.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Reposing Imperial Knight Legs

After endless amounts of cutting and bending, I have a set of Imperial Knight legs in a unique pose. My intent was to use a current edition rhino instead of a 20+ year old model, but I could not get the range of movement I needed out of the knight. With all of their cad work, I had expected the knight to be re-posable with minimal effort. I was wrong!

I may try to embed a current edition rhino into the display base a bit to get the extra height I need. Alternately, I could fix up this old rhino, adding enough detail that it looks good again. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

NOVA Charitable Foundation And My Second Imperial Knight

My second imperial knight is nearing completion. I have loads of little touch up work, as well as smoke stains, additional chipping/grime,  and leaking oil to add, but I felt it was time to break out the light box and practice some photography.

Like the first knight, this guy is attached to the Sons of Horus expeditionary fleet seconded to a the Legio Astorman. I was hoping the ad-mec army list was going to treat knights like their 40k counterparts. I don't think I would buy a maniple of these guys to fill my lord of war spot, since there are so many other interesting options.

So the title of this post mentions the NOVA Charitable Foundation.  Last year the NOCF raised over $10,000 dollars donated to Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres, The Fisher House Foundation and The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The three charity armies from 2013 were shipped from Washington, D.C. to winners in Washington State, Missouri and as far away as Tasmania, Australia!

As you may have guessed, I will be painting an Imperial Knight to go along with the Ultramarines army.

It is an honor to once again be included in the army build. Dave Taylor is leading our intrepid team which again includes Justin McCoy (SWM), Chris Dubuque(Jawaballs), Marc Raley(whose blog I've been stalking), Alex Landing, Brian Ballard,  and Dan Withers. If you've followed my blog for a while, you might have noticed my largish Ultramarimes army. That army was inspired by Dave Taylor's army once on display in the Maryland Battle Bunker!