Painting Tips and Tricks for Romulan Ships

Star Fleet Universe Discussion Board: Starline 2500 Miniatures: Romulan Ships: Painting Tips and Tricks for Romulan Ships
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By Jean Sexton (Jsexton) on Monday, January 02, 2012 - 06:19 pm: Edit

This topic is now open for business.


By Will McCammon (Djdood) on Monday, January 02, 2012 - 08:33 pm: Edit

I haven't started painting on my Romulans yet, but I did note the the etching on the "belly birds" is not as deep as I expected.

This is great for folks who didn't intend to use them, as they won't take as much effort to fill and sand away.

For those who do want to use them to guide painting, I'd advise going as light with the primer and base coat as you can get away with and still have coverage, to avoid having the etched shapes fill in.

By Tony L Thomas (Scoutdad) on Monday, January 02, 2012 - 09:09 pm: Edit

From experience here. Even though the etchings are shallow, they still present a problem.

unless you take care to fill in the grooves with the color the bird is being painted, there will invariably be an angle that allows the primer or base color to show through.
I've taken to priming my Romulans, then using a very, very thin ink wash to fill in the etching. this at least gives you a solid black (or bird color if you prefer) to show through.

By Paul Eyles (Clanger) on Monday, April 23, 2012 - 12:30 pm: Edit

I use a fine nib paint pen to fill in the etching which works well.

By William Stec (Billstec2) on Monday, December 24, 2012 - 02:51 pm: Edit

Some Rom ships I just did up:

Triple Trouble:

A Romulan Sparrowhawk (L), Firehawk Heavy Cruiser (C), and FastHawk (R).

I puttied in the moulded windows and used left over windows from the decals I had from Scoutdad.

Hull is Reaper Misty Grey, engines are Reaper Sky Blue, Rainy Grey, with Citadel Shiny gold for the plasma launchers.

By Matthew Potter (Neonpico) on Monday, December 24, 2012 - 03:53 pm: Edit

Looks real nice. Are the noses supposed to be "blank-faced" like that, though?

As an aside: Did you do the underside artwork?

By William Stec (Billstec2) on Monday, December 24, 2012 - 04:34 pm: Edit

The noses are blank faced like that. The nose is crying out for something, though I'm not sure what yet. A bird on the top with wings draped left and right?

I did not do the belly bird painting. A) it's beyond my skill level, and b) it won't be seen much anyways.

I've got an idea sent to Tony Thomas about him making me an bird insignia when he gets around to doing some Romulan decals (which will probably be a while).

By Patrick H. Dillman (Patrick) on Monday, December 24, 2012 - 08:35 pm: Edit

Put some stock car numbers on the nose and wings, they'll go faster!! ;-)

By Reid Hupach (Gwbison) on Monday, December 24, 2012 - 09:06 pm: Edit

if you want them faster paint them red

By Lawrence Bergen (Lar) on Tuesday, December 25, 2012 - 09:53 am: Edit

Some one once told me, "Windows are for cruise ships not warships." I have always been a fan of the armor plating look (varied colors of the base hull).

Btw: Those look real nice Bill. I love the detail & new stands too.

By Loren Knight (Loren) on Tuesday, December 25, 2012 - 04:26 pm: Edit

I don't agree about the windows are for cruise ship thing because in the SFU people live for years aboard these ships, both on duty and off duty.

Of course, in the SFU future it would be totally reasonable that few windows are actually windows but rather a monitor screen (all screens in the future are retina displays, right?).

Some windows would be important though. You do need a way to observe the hull and outside in a way that cannot fail.

"Dang it. Why won't this engine come on line. Everything is ready?"

"Ummm sir," she says looking out the observation port, "the, uh, engine isn't there and we're blowing plasma like a gyser."

By Will McCammon (Djdood) on Tuesday, December 25, 2012 - 09:40 pm: Edit

From a painting and detailing standpoint, windows are one of the easiest and best way to establish the scale of a ship mini. People intuitively "get" windows, and when they see a bank of them several decks high, they know that chunk of the ship is as tall as an office building, etc.

By Damon Robert Anderson (Rihan704) on Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - 12:15 pm: Edit

I like that observation on the scale of the ships, Will. One thing I learned from, diving/being a cop, is that people have no idea how long sailboats and yachts are. They know their own as they bought it, but next to impossible to get accurate length descriptions of other boats.

By Will McCammon (Djdood) on Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - 04:19 pm: Edit

Since boats tend to have similar shapes and forms, regardless of size, it's very difficult for an untrained eye to gauge scale (a "sailboat" is a "sailboat"). With experience, a trained eye knows to look for human-scale features like hatches, portholes/windows, capstans, etc.

The same holds true for airplanes. My mother really wouldn't be able to tell the difference between a smallish 737 and a great big 777. They're both low-wing, twin engine, passenger planes (with lots of windows down the side). Passenger airplanes very much "all look the same" these days, as they have zeroed-in to the overall most-efficient arrangement (this includes Airbus and Embrear machines too).

It's what I do, so it's natural for me to look past the basic form-factor and look for the identifying features that set specific types apart.

For the gaming table, I've always tried to use windows on my minis. They don't make "sense" from a fighting ship standpoint (why put weak holes in your outer shell?) but they do help give the ships a sense of scale. A heavy cruiser in the SFU is roughly the size of a modern-day supercarrier ship, which is a very, very large thing indeed. I also to avoid much "hull paneling" detail - at the tiny scale of these minis, most hull-plate seams would be invisible.

By Gary Carney (Nerroth) on Thursday, December 27, 2012 - 10:22 pm: Edit

I will try to take more pics once I have some actual daylight to work with; but here's a look at my WIP 2500-series FastHawk, the RIS Æstus Estus.

I named the ship after the sword used by a character in an RPG on the PlayStation Portable; this pic shows the blade beside its new namesake.

The red looks a little different in person than in the pics; I'm not quite sure how to better capture the true colour of the hull. Oh well.

By William Stec (Billstec2) on Friday, December 28, 2012 - 08:08 am: Edit

Rom Skyhawk and K5R:

By Lawrence Bergen (Lar) on Saturday, December 29, 2012 - 01:56 am: Edit


By Gary Carney (Nerroth) on Saturday, December 29, 2012 - 04:58 pm: Edit

Here are some more pics of the (Work-in-progress) Æstus Estus.

This one shows it alongside a Fed NCF. (The Fed ship is blurry, but I wanted to post it anyway since the Rom came out well in it.)

By Gary Carney (Nerroth) on Wednesday, January 02, 2013 - 08:51 pm: Edit

Apologies for taking so many pictures of the same ship; but I've been experimenting as much with ways to take images of it as with the actual painting itself.

(Those ones were with a plain white sheet of printer paper laid out on the top of my notebook as background.)

Do the results work better than in the prior examples?

(Thanks to Jean for using one of the pics on the FB page, by the way! I'm grateful for the inclusion.)

By Paul Scott (The_Rock) on Thursday, January 03, 2013 - 11:39 pm: Edit

Some tips, since you seem to be asking.

1. Your DoF is too shallow. Stop the camera down at least 3 stops.

2. Your lighting is too directional. The Shadows are interfering, rathing than providing texture. My guess is you do not have a set of off-camera flashes and a timing trigger, so grab 2 lights (in addition to an overhead). Put the mini/minis on a peice of white paper. Position one light behind at about 2 O'clock (assume the camera is at 6 and the mini is in the middle). Position a second light anywher between 6 and 9. You will want something to difuse the lights, try a bed sheet if you do not have a nice, white, lamp shade.

Now, start moving the lights and watching the shadows. You want no back shadow. You want a very limited front shadow. once you have that, you can adjust the elevation of the front light to get the limited front shadow to create the textures you are looking for. Play around with it until happy.

If you do have a set of off-camera flashes and just don't know how to use them well, post your equipment. Also, what you are going for is basically the same as shooting food. If you go to youtube and serach "food photography" you will be able to get hours of material the outlines the process. Look for one or two that use similar equipment to what you have.

By Gary Carney (Nerroth) on Friday, January 04, 2013 - 06:57 pm: Edit

Thanks for the feedback.

At the moment, I don't have much in the way of specialised equipment to work with. On another forum, a poster mentioned one of these light boxes; are they the kind of kits you'd recommend, or would they be overkill for amateur-level efforts?

(The poster noted that the person who had bought one of those kits was using it for professional photo taking.)

By Patrick H. Dillman (Patrick) on Sunday, February 03, 2013 - 12:07 pm: Edit

No such thing as overkill when it come to photography. Either Julius soft boxes are excellent for this kind of photography.

I'm ordering the 24" for some videography for a cheap tv series at our public access station.

By William Stec (Billstec2) on Sunday, February 03, 2013 - 04:47 pm: Edit

What wattage bulbs should one be using for a light box? I see those Julius boxes use 50w bulbs. I made a homemade box, and am using 4 x 100w Reveal bulbs, but the camera simply won't zooom in enough and focus because it's not "bright enough". I've tinkered with the camera until I gave up in frustration.

Canon S8200 camera, mounted on a tripod. I don't think there is a provision for a exterior flash.

By Patrick H. Dillman (Patrick) on Sunday, February 03, 2013 - 05:38 pm: Edit

Bill, you mean a Nikon S8200? If so, you can slow the shutter speed to as slow as 4 seconds,which is what you want to do if you're having low light problems.

If you have the Canon powershot, that can hold a shutter open for 15 seconds.

Just a quick read of the manuel for the Nikon, I'd put it on a tripod and set it to night landscape.

You should have more than enough lumens with 100w, it just may be a matter of getting the light on the subject. What are you using to direct the lighting?

By William Stec (Billstec2) on Sunday, February 03, 2013 - 07:07 pm: Edit

Right, Nikon S8200, not Canon. oops.

3 of the lights have the usual cones behind the bulb; typical work lights.

I have a cardboard box cut up with large windows on the top, and the 2 sides.

1 light in on the top, 1 each side, about 3 and 9 oclock.

I tried using the 4th (in a lamp base, not a work light) in the area of the camera, and moving in closer to try and brighten things up, to no avail.

I'll pore over the manual and see if I can come up with something that works. Seems weird to be using a night landscape setting, but hey if it works and gives me brighter pictures that are zoomed in more okay by me.

By Mark S. Hoyle (Resartus) on Sunday, February 03, 2013 - 08:40 pm: Edit

Best luck I had was just using Camera on my Cell.

By Patrick H. Dillman (Patrick) on Monday, February 04, 2013 - 01:39 am: Edit

Paul's recommendation on lighting is very good overall. I agree that checking out some video tutorials on food photography is an excellent idea as the basic principles will apply here.

As for lighting direction, I suggest finding both a way to direct were you want the light to spill "and" a way to diffuse the light source. You are not trying to focus a pinpoint of light on your subject, you want to soften the the shadows and the best way to do that is to "expand" the area of the light source.

By William Stec (Billstec2) on Monday, February 04, 2013 - 11:59 am: Edit

I fooled around with various settings, including nighttime landscape, food, close up, etc. Nothing much worked.

I tried changing the location I was taking the pictures in from the dark basement with overhead lights to the kitchen counter, and this seemed to make the most difference. That and tinkering with the distance from camera to miniature.

I was able to set the macro mode to a certain point, and get in closer and still focus the camera. For some reason I got closer pictures than I used to be able to do. Dunno, it works, and that's what I care about. :)

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