Stage 1 - Cleaned assembled and primed. As you may have seen in previous articles it is very rare that I fully assemble a model before painting. This model has actually been sitting in my case for a couple of years waiting to get in on the action.
Stage 2 - Prime White and Cover in Brown Ink.
As you can see I left the areas that were quite clearly going to be painted black their original white primer. You can also tell I didn't much care if I got ink on those areas. The point of the brown ink is to establish the tone in the recesses of the armour. If you want to save yourself some time, leave the large flat areas white so that you don't have to coat them as many times in the later stages. I just started doing this. Once again, this model has been lounging in the figure case unpainted for years.
Stage 3 - Bleach Bone
This is the hardest part - and the most tedious. Section by section I work over the model putting down as many as 5 coats of thinned down Bleach Bone over an area of armour, carefully working around the recesses. This process takes a very long time and is part of the reason I usually work with just a set of legs or a shoulder pad at a time. I get sick of looking at the model and I don't feel like I'm making progress until a stage is complete. By breaking down a model into their components I create "easy victories" or "attainable goals".
Note: If at any point you get Bleached Bone into a recess you can "erase" your mistake by quickly dipping your brush in water, wipe it clean, dip it in water again, and then drag it through the recess. Repeat the process rapidly until all of the paint that ran into the recess is gone.
Stage 3.5 - Bleached Bone continued
Here is another figure case shut in brought out for stage by stage purposes. As you can see I got frustrated with this guy and started cannibalizing parts off of him rather than trying to paint him as a completed model. Please note that I've kept the recesses tight and clean. Additionally, I strive for maximum opacity with my Bleached Bone for a very solid consistent finish.
Here's where I'm going to deviate to my true micromanagement painting style. Here is just a shoulder pad painted Bleached Bone with the very crisp Brown Ink lines left in the recesses. In fact I can see the slightest deviation in the rim on the lower left hand corner and its irritating me just looking at it. I can't see it in the other pics so I must have fixed it, haha.
Stage 4 - Bleached Bone Mixed with White Highlight
I wish this picture came out better. I have a paint pot that has Bleached Bone and Skull White mixed together to create a mid tone. I prefer this to mixing every time I paint a model because I may go for months between working on the same model and it preserves a level of consistency with the tone.
In this stage I highlighted the full width of the rim with my mix and also followed the Brown Ink lines tightly with a bold line of the mix. Once again, because I thin down my paints, this will often take two coats.
The keys to keeping tight lines are:
1) Work with a fine detail brush.
2) Choke up on your brush like you are holding a pencil.
3) Brace your painting hand against something to keep it steady - I rest my elbow on my knee but when I worked for GW we taught kids to put both elbows on the table and then use one wrist to steady the other.
4) Maintain consistent pressure to maintain consistent line width - the harder you press the further the bristles spread, and the wider your lines become. Brush control is all about pressure.
Stage 5 - Skull White Highlights
Hit all of the sharpest edges with Skull White. Thin down your Skull White. Make sure you don't have too much on your brush - work only with the tip. Follow your "Mix" lines, making sure that you leave some of the Mix showing. That's it. Easy stuff! ;)
Stage 6 - Finishing Touches
The transition from Brown Ink all the way up to Skull White makes the models "pop" on the battlefield. Its the strong contrast that makes them defined and vibrant. However, models all blend together no matter how cool if you don't add details like tactical, company, and honor markings, script, or other unique details. This shoulder pad was the last thing I need to complete on an Assault Marine in order to get his Jump Pack on. The X was applied in Mechanite Red and the "8" was painted with Chaos Black. Each stage of painting the markings required that I went back with Bone or Red to neaten up the previous stage. Working with thinned paints requires these fixes to take multiple layers but it also reduces the likelihood of ugly thick paint build up. And no, I don't use decals. I don't like them.
Here's the Assault Marine showcasing his brand new pad. Later tonight he'll get that Jump Pack and he'll be put in the display case, making the 8th Squad of the 5th Company a squad of 7. Three more to go at about 12 hours a pop, haha.