Thursday, May 25, 2017

Hobby Time: Swiss Guard Hacker

I've never done a painting article before, but with the slew of hardcore tactical advise out there we normally have up, I figured something like this would make an interesting change of pace.

So when I showed off my Swiss Hacker conversion to the group, immediately everybody was pretty keen to see that awesome model painted up, and our editor came up with a brilliant idea:

"Why don't you do a step-by-step painting tutorial of it?"

Why not indeed? I did admittedly swallow nervously at the prospect, as while it's one thing to showcase your finest finished work, showing the horrible mess involved in getting there is another thing entirely. But then I thought hey, why not? Maybe somebody will find it useful, maybe somebody will get some ideas, maybe it'll just prove that even without a professional painting service, you can get lovely looking models on the table?

So here she is:

For those of you who are curious, the base conversion is actually pretty easy. It's the Swiss HMG model, with the HMG carefully clipped and filed away and replaced with a Multi-Rifle off the SpecOps weapon sprue. Because we'll need her arm extended for the hacking device later, I also bent that a bit more outwards away from her body, which will make sense towards the end of this article. Finally, as she's a hacker, I figured an extra antenna would help cement her more established communication role, so I added one of the spares you get to the back of her helmet.

Start off with the basecoat, hitting her with a good even spread across the armor. I used Vallejo Model Color - Sky Grey, but whatever brand you prefer is fine. You'll notice that my painting style is very much to make a mess and clean it up afterwards (especially as she will have multiple layers and later a wash) but definitely err on the side of thinned paints as we'll correct texture issues later.

View from the other side.

Hit the base with a decent spread of white (I used GW Ceramite White as it's what I have, but whatever brand you prefer is fine). 

Ceramite White for the eyes...

...and the "coils" of armor between her panels. Use GW Kantor Blue for road area of the base. Don't worry about the gaps right now, we'll get to that later. 

Paint her shoulders and pads just above the knees in Vallejo Model Color - Ocre Amarillo.

If you're not convinced so far, remember that by the time we're done, she'll look just as good (some might say better) than my Aquila Guard on the left, so this should give you a sense of what we're ultimately aiming for :)

Paint the yellow panel between her shoulders yellow too. 

With the rifle, paint the raised armor panels Vallejo Model Color - Basalt Grey. Paint the barrel, laser sight, grooves in the magazine/scope and ammo drum with GW Leadbelcher.

Add the silver to the manhole cover as well (assuming you're using the same Antenocitis Tri-Hex bases I am!).

Now that all the colors are "on", this is basically my longest stage - the cleanup. Go over any bits you spilled during any of the previous colors, including using GW Abaddon Black to correct the originally black areas such as around the rim of the base. This will probably be the most time consuming step, but...

... as you can see here, she looks MUCH sharper now (I also added some yellow to her gauntlet panels that I had missed earlier). Inevitably, the base might have suffered a bit of "wear and tear" at this point, but we can always correct that shortly :). Put some white on her antenna "glowy parts" and on the scope/laser sight, as we'll wash those shortly.

Put some pretty watered down Vallejo Game Color - Electric blue over the antenna glows, her eyes, and the gun sight. More watery is generally better at this point because you can always add more and wipe away excess, plus it keeps it off the more raised areas.

Add a spot of watered down Vallejo Panzer Aces - Sombras Carne to the laser sight. (yes I'm aware that's a really obscure paint, really any old dark red will do in the marginal amounts we're using, but that's what I have!). The end result is that the white underneath should glow "through" the watered down colors on top.

Don't worry if you made a mistake somewhere in the previous step or don't like the end result, because it's easy to fix. Simply mix a 50:50 ratio of white with the blue/red respectively and paint a tiny dot on the raised area. This will appear a lighter tone that the glowing underneath and smooth over any weird texture issues you sometimes get with watered down paints (most noticeable on the antenna in the first blue picture).

At this point, you should be done with ALL the cleanup - that's it for the basecoat stage. So tidy up the base and consider mounting it to something you can hold so the paint doesn't rub off your fingers as you complete later stages (even blue-tac on the base with a paintpot works just fine to be honest).

Now comes the fun (and messy as hell part) - the wash. I used Vallejo Game Color Wash - Black Shade, and you want to carefully apply it over all the armor on the model.

CAUTION - avoid getting the wash in the following areas - the white coils (not that big a deal as you can always paint them white again), and of course the glowy bits you just lovingly finished (more of an issue). This is most tricky when you apply it to her helmet, so use a small amount of wash on a fine brush here and go slowly. If you do make a mistake, a dry brush can often save you from the worst of it, and follow up with just a normal wet (water) brush afterwards to wash any remnants.

The end result looks dirty as hell, but is starting to look much scarier and more realistic. Lovely.

Here's a shot from the other side.

Use a 50:50 mix of the wash and the GW Ceramite White and clean up the tri-hex panels on her base again. If you prefer more filthy streets then you can honestly leave it be, but I like the subtle varied shades you get by doing this extra step.

Drybrush some silver gently over the manhole cover again.

View of the base from the other side. If the road looks too dark to you with the wash (I thought so), add a 50:50 mix of the GW Kantor blue and black wash and paint a highlight in select areas. This again gives you more texture.

Paint the arcs on the base (the blue lines either side to determine facing) using the electric blue. Then, add some water to your electric blue, and using it as a wash, add small amounts to all your coiled areas. Don't worry if it pools a bit near the armor panels as those aren't finished yet (though feel free to rub some away with your brush if it gets too much), but what you're aiming for is a nice even spread as per the below.

With again a 50:50 mix of the Electric Blue and Ceramite White, drybrush some carefully on the raised areas of the "coils" to give you that nice glowey contrast.

View of the front. It's a little bit trickier to get at these areas but the process is the same.

If you want to go one step further, I added a touch of VERY watered down Kantor Blue to the recesses, which gives it lovely definition. Add as much as you want to season to taste, and further white/blue highlights (above) if any gets on the raised areas you don't like.

Tidy up the yellow panels by adding a little bit of black wash to your yellow and highlighting on the raised areas. If you like you can add some black wash (or watered down black paint) into the lines between the panels just to add a bit more definition. We're nearly there now!

Mix a tiny bit of that basalt grey with black and do an edge highlight on her helmet. This helps break up the more boring flat black of her helmet (easiest to see in direct light as per the below).

Now, with the Sky Grey and a touch of the Black Wash mixed in (for variation of texture and to darken it) go over the raised areas of all the armor panels. You might have to come back to any areas you spill here and of course adjust how much wash you use for the color preference of your choice. But the end result looks like this:

Looking pretty sharp eh? As you can see, the small amount of black wash beneath and in the Sky Grey gives you wonderful contrast on different panels. Another angle here:

And probably the best shot of the largely finished model here (you can see now the slight grey on the forehead of her helmet in this light)

Now let's do her hacking device! Get some old clear acrylic from a standard blister, and cut out a few shapes with some fine scissors. It's easiest if you score the shape first with an exacto knife and then cut the shape you want out afterwards. You basically want to draw some tiny screens connected by little triangles, almost like 3 "call out bubbles" and glue them carefully to her arm.

This is fiddly as HELL, so be very patient, and use tweezers if you have to. Once they're glued we have a wonderful trick for stability. Cut out a small round circle from the acrylic, and stick it on top of the area where all the "points" meet. This makes it considerably harder for the screens to "pop" off and of course visually looks much prettier overall. You can use a decent amount of glue under that central circle because...

... painting wise, we're covering that up. Use the same procedure as with the glow effects above, blending the white and blue together in the circle till the middle looks lighter and the edges look darker.

Paint electric blue highlights on the outside of each screen, and carefully draw buttons, lines, etc on each of the screens.

Add a final highlight to the middle of each of the lines you drew on the screens themselves (skip the edges) with a mix of 50:50 electric blue and the white. This makes it "pop" more visually than a single solid color.

If you do spill some, keep a fine point needle to hand. CAREFULLY scrape off the paint once it's dry. Be really careful not to apply too much pressure as you don't want to snap the screens clear off. If in doubt, leave it - we're talking about an area about 1/4 the size of your little fingernail, and most patient people have limits.

The end result looks like this...

Another angle, cleaned up as best I could:

And that, my friends, is that! One neatly converted, finely painted, Pano Swiss Guard. For all the trouble I went to CB, you can hurry up and release the real model now haha, as is the gamer tradition.

Anyway I've never done a step-by-step like this, but overall I hope you really enjoyed this walkthrough of the process from start to finish. If you want to see more of this kind of content just let us know, otherwise... until next time :)

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