Salutations! I, like many of us, have literal armies of half finished projects and ideas breathing down my neck from shelves in my work area.
I once called this group The Acolytes of The KRIEST forge cults, an Ash Wastes wandering sect of the Cult Mechanicus. These Technological Cultists operate upon a barren, stripped, ashen wasteland. Like the Ash Wastes from the beloved Necromunda. Like a bombed out desert made of dirt, it was an excellent place to stretch those dirty grim dark legs and try out some gnarly conversions and dirty Dune-esque color schemes.

 

This is a test model nearly completed as a loose idea for my approach.  I want to try and replicate the feel of this scheme and then tie all the models together with some OSL elements.

 

A big part of the aesthetic here is the tattered tan clothing draped over the mechanical anthropomorphic forms. Most of this is done with paper and glue. I’ll need to add a bit more of that element as well as a few sculpted details to get these three new heavy weapon specialists ready for paint.  Some of the connection points between the some of the bits need a little help suspending disbelief.

I make all the fabrics happen by cutting and folding sections of thin tissue paper and note card and attaching them to the model with points of thick CA super glue. After I’ve built up those volumes I coat them in a mix of PVA glue, water, and a little bit of ink to knock down the brightness of the white paper. After that layer Is dry I cover all the paper additions in super thin CA glue. The paper should still be a bit porous and soak it up super quick. This layer will help harden the paper well enough to take paint.

After all the super glue is dried I filled in the gaps between the paper and the model that didn’t connect. I use standard Milliput for this. I also use the Milliput to sculpt connections between some guitar string and the big refrigerator heads, as well as the fabric around the knee connections.  Now its on to texture.

These steps add the physical texture I feel like the models need to translate that they are actually dirty.  This is a pretty sloppy process where I add a few pre made texture products (Vallejo Red Oxide Paste and AK Dry Ground  AK8015) with an old brush, focusing on the ground and bottom of the models. After this mix is dry, the models are ready for paint. So brace yourselves, here comes a Supply List!

ACRYLIC PRODUCTS:

  • Hull Red 72.135(Vallejo Model Color)
  • German Camo Black Brown 70.817(Vallejo Model Color)
  • Desert Yellow 70.977(Vallejo Model Color)
  • Scarlet 70.817(Vallejo Model Color)
  • Glossy Black(Vallejo Model Color)
  • Heavy Red EO 72.141(Vallejo Game Color)
  • Heavy Sienna EO 72.158(Vallejo Game Color)
  • Turquoise 72.024(Vallejo Game Color)
  • Beasty Brown 72.043(Vallejo Game Color)
  • Vertigris FX 72.135(Vallejo Game Color)
  • Neutral Grey 71.051 (Model Air)
  • Thrash Metal (Scale75)
  • Black Metal (Scale75)
  • Decay Black (Scale75 Fantasy)
  • Negro Grey (Scale75 Fantasy)
  • Spaceship Exterior(Army Painter)
  • Skeleton Bone(Army Painter)
  • Light Rust (Ammo by Mig Jimenez)
  • Medium Rust (ammo by Mig Jimenez)
  • Black (Stynylrez Primer)
  • Black (Daler Rowney Acrylic Artist’s Ink)
  • Umber (Daler Rowney Acrylic Artist’s Ink)
  • Payne’s Grey (Daler Rowney Acrylic Artist’s Ink)
  • Indigo (Daler Rowney Acrylic Artist’s Ink)
  • Yellow Earth (Secret Weapon Powder Pigment)
  • Burning Sands (Secret Weapon Powder Pigment)
  • Titanium White (Golden Artist Colors heavy body acrylic)
  • Matte Medium (Liquitex)

 

I start with my airbrush by priming the models with Stynelrez Black.  After that’s dry the entire model gets a coat of German Camo Black Brown. I don’t struggle too much trying to get into every nook and cranny, hoping to preserve a few of the darkest shadows created by the black prime.  Next I apply Heavy Sienna, again through my airbrush, this time from about a 45 degree zenithal angel. Everything should get a touch of this color, I just want to make shure the extreme shadows are still black and brown. Finally the models get Skeleton Bone from directly above from pretty far back allowing the cone of spray to lightly dust all the points on the model that would catch a natural light. Ill then push the contrast in these points with a closer pass on the appropriate points focusing on the head and shoulders.

Now I start in with the brush work by blocking in the base tones and metallics. I’ll start with Black Metal and a mix of 50/50 black and umber inks on the metallic areas. I’ll cover every metal area with this and quickly wet blend pure black metal and thrash metal into the areas I want brighter. Whenever that layer has dried a bit I’ll hit some of the areas with a cut up sponge and pure Thrash Metal for some varied texture to the metals. At this point I’m also glazing the leathery brown areas with thinned down German Camo Black to separate them from the tan fabrics. The fabrics also get a few neat touches of Skeleton Bone to accent the highlights. The trim of those padded areas get picked out here similarly to the metals, from Negro Grey to Neutral Grey. Now I’ll soak all the parts of armor I want tp accent with glazes of Umber, Payne’s Grey, and Indigo ink. This creates a super dirty neutral blue tone that will work for the chipped blue grey I want on the painted portions of armor. I’ll then mix a small amount of matte medium into Spaceship Exterior and apply that roughly to those areas. I’m trying to emulate a bleached, battered, and chipped form of armor here so I try to be as irregular as possible. This will help me to modulate my chipping on these areas later. It also helps to accent the corners of each panel adding focus to its angular shapes. I’ll do this in a few layers to push the contrast on the edges as well (around 3 times) The difference from the base undertones and the first modulated grays are shown in the last two photos featured above.

Now here are the models after I’ve picked out all of the details. I applied decals to the big heads and sholder plates using Micro-Sol and Micro-Set. Then I’ll use pure, out of the bottle, Spaceship Exterior with a sponge to ad some stark chips to the grey armor panels and detail the insides of those marks with Black ink and German Camo Black. The gloves and hoses are picked out quickly, and wet blended from Hull Red into Heavy Red and Medium Rust into Light rust. I added the hazard stripes to the yellow hoses  later with black ink. I also add a few super thin(4×1 water to paint) stains to some of the recesses of the metallics and their surrounding areas. I do this with Beasty Brown and then Scarlet, in that order, allowing each to dry properly before applying the next. Those areas then get a light dry brush of Decay Black and Black Metal to make that rusty dirt fall into the recesses. At this point I’m trying to accent the brighter points of the metals so they show well through whatever oil weathering mess I’m about to throw on them. The Bases have also gotten a few dry brushes with Desert Yellow and Skeleton Bone, as well as some shading with thinned down Umber ink.

At this point my group is looking pretty grim and dark but I want to push it a bit more before adding my OSL details.  I hit these dudes with a light coat of a satin varnish, and break out the oils and enamels.  Here are the things:

OIL and ENAMEL PRODUCTS:

  • Streaking Grime (AK Interactive)
  • Ivory Black (Windsor & Newton Artist’s Oil)

POWDERED PIGMENTS

  • Yellow Earth (Secret Weapon)
  • Burning Sands (Secret Weapon)

  

I began with two pots one with AK Streaking Grime and the other with a small amount of Black oil paint. I thinned down the bit of Black with mineral spirits to a consistency close to the Streaking Grime.   When I have those about the same, I put some of both mixes in a separate pot (3:1 black:streaking grime) and thin it a little with a brush full of mineral spirits.

I start with the classic, sloppy, big brush application of the streaking grime to the dirtiest parts of the model. Feet, under backpacks, and lower slung details including the base in select spots. I’ll let that chill for about 5 or 10 minutes and remove/feather off some of the enamel with a brush cleaned in mineral spirits. When this has dried for a bit I’ll reinforce some of my main shadows with the black mix and a smaller brush trying to be pretty precise. I’ll then boost the contrast of shadow in the crevices of the upper half of the model with the thinned mixture and a small script brush.  This will act as a subtle blacklining, and feather out the larger areas of black shadows.  After at least a few hours of dry time, I’ll add a bit more streaking grime thinned down a bit with mineral spirits to the base and feet.

After that dries, I mix some Yellow Earth pigment powder in a pot full of Alcohol. Stir that well with a medium brush and drip the mixture into the areas of the base between the rocks, avoiding the rocky tops. When this dries the pigments will collect naturally in the crevices, creating a great base layer for the rest of the ground textures and colors. If the pigments build up too much you can pull them off with a brush and alcohol. (Center model above hasn’t had pigments applied yet. A big difference, I think helps a ton!)

I’ve also based out all the points where my OSL will be coming from with a thinned down heavy body Titanium White acrylic paint. This stuff covers great but you’ll definitely need to thin it well with some water. After a few coats these are the brightest white possible and that will help with the OSL painting later. I got a little ahead of myself in this stage because I ended up splattering the models with the alcohol and powder pigment mixture and a toothbrush. This meant I had to go back and base out that white again. After that white is dry I cover all those lights with a thin glaze of Verdigris. Ill bounce back and forth modulating the light sourced areas of each section with super thin white and shades of Vertigris.

  

When i have these layers in I start to apply the reflections of light with a mix of the heavy body white and Vertigris thinned to a glaze consistency with matte medium. I know I could be doing this faster with an airbrush but I want a more subtle tone to these reflections and to not over power the contrasting earth tones represented in the rest of the model. I feel like I get a bit more control this way and don’t have to rely on any sort of “airbrush genius”. (witch I have none of) So I’ll manually pick out all of the corners and panels that would catch the light quickly with the lighter glaze tone. It helps to do multiple passes of this glazing technique in order to push those sharp reflection tones. I want to go a little more extreme here as I’ll be shading these sections down next to spread the turquoise tones into the shadows and I want them to read properly as reflected, more subtle tones of light. To do that I’ll mix another glaze with a small amount of Turquoise and Matte medium. I cover all of the reflection areas with this, I keep this glaze light enough to apply to all the areas that would catch any of the light from the guns and lenses but not look to extreme on the lighter colored fabrics. I’ll also catch a few of the edges on the stones on the base beneath the OSL points. As that’s drying I’ll reinforce the highlights with the lighter toned glaze of Verdigris and White used when blocking in the reflections.

 

As I’m tweaking the OSL details, I’m also adding black ink to accent the shadows the lights may cast. I finish off the weapons buy layering the outermost ridges of the coils with Thrash Metal to Black Metal, and finally a mix of Decay Black and Black Metal.  A few pure white highlights on the main lights and some pops and scratches of Thrash Metal, and I’m on the home stretch.

My final step is a small amount of Burning Sands powdered pigment applied neat with a brush to the legs and base. I have to try not to go too crazy with this, as I want some of the darker pigments to show through as well. Then a satisfying bead of Glossy Black for my base rims. I”lol even add some gloss varnish to a third layer but that’s a story for a different day.

I’m really digging the way these pieces came out and can’t wait to add some more weird units to their group. Thank you for checking this out, and hopefully some of this is at least inspirational. Check my stuff out at @witchhammerstudio on Instagram, where I’ll be posting all the dirty angles of these new reinforcements. Give me a follow if you’re in the the weird and dark. With that said, best of luck in your upcoming grimdark endeavors, and don’t be afraid to experiment!

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