Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Eldar: Painting technique

In my last post about my Eldar army I talked a bit about its composition, theme and colour scheme. Here I move onto my painting techniques which evolved over the course of painting a couple of squads. Here are the key points:

I used an airbrush to apply the basecoat and then a zenith highlight in a slightly lighter colour. If you take care to get the angle right, the airbrush can deliver excellent results like this and I highly recommend it. The set-up time is substantial, but if you are painting several squads the economy of scale kicks in. I have also found the quality of paint you spray affects the result. This may seem a no-brain-er but I was really surprised at the better finish and coverage I got by spraying Citadel or Vallejo paints rather than more generic artists acrylics. Also, don’t ever buy a bottom-fed airbrush unless you a) own a good compressor and b) want to spray really big areas (and you’re unlikely to do this with minis or models). Such airbrushes need more pressure to suck up the paint and if you don’t have a particularly powerful compressor (as I don’t) you have to thin the paint to the point where it’s coverage is awful. I bought a gravity-cup adaptor for my brush and use this pretty much all the time now.

For plastic models I would invariably resist assembling them fully to be able to spray the different components without having to mask them. A good example are the heads and helmets, which were to be yellow while the rest of the body is a darker colour. I also left off any cloaks or arms which obscured other parts of the sculpture as this aided the detailed painting which followed.

One of the things I had to bear in mind was that  jade green and yellow are rather difficult colours to apply as the paints themselves typically don’t have good coverage. I used a technique described in an old White Dwarf for painting yellow. It runs thus; spray white, wash orange, spray a white zenith highlight then wash/paint yellow. This works really well and I am really satisfied by results on the helmets. Leaving the yellow components separate at the assembly stage made this technique easy. For the single-component metal models I would use this technique to paint the yellow first, then mask off the helmets with ordinary kitchen clingfilm. I used this as its really gentle on the paintwork. I feared blu-tack or masking tape would leave traces or strip some of the paint off as I removed it. I used a variant of yellow-technique for the jade green.

Having seen the excellent results Steve Buddle has got by using Citadel’s washes,  I did a lot of the shading of the brown and grey areas with these products. I must say they are amazing and sometimes all one needs to do is basecoat and wash.

I opted for very plain bases for a couple of reasons; I wanted them to look like game-bases (rather than super-detailed landscapes) and because they harked back to the old skool minis I was inspired by. I deliberately chose to paint the grass in the same jade green as appeared elsewhere so they did not jar. This is a really important point which I feel is often overlooked. I hesitated to use black for the rim (as black does not really feature in my scheme) but settled for it on the grounds that all my minis have black bases so I wasn’t going to start changing that now!

So far I have painted about 25 minis and I feel I have the technique “down”. It seems efficient and delivers good tabletop+ results.

This last squad was painted before I started using the airbrush technique. They blend pretty well with the newer Guardians though.

All these models were, again, shot with The BoX.


  1. really execellantte - clean neat and such an attractive colour scheme ......

  2. Lovely, considered colours and it's good to see that you're getting on well with the washes :)

  3. These are great! Cant wait to see the finished Avatar (or Mini-avatar)!

    I like the old school bases I've wanted to complete an old school style army for ages...

    I do hope you were traditional and used Sunburst yellow for the bases final highlights.

    Will you do any vehicles?

  4. Hi Minitrol

    Yes, there is a Wraithlord on the way. I am thinking about making him a lot more feral rather than Craftworld.


  5. The crisp colour scheme looks really lovely. It's something totally different that I'm used to paint, but I can see that it works very well with the Eldars, with both the old ones and the new ones too.

    These kind of bring back memories of Masters of the Universe action figures I used to have when I was a kid.