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How to paint Tholians & Metallic paints

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Joined: 07 Oct 2006
Posts: 1380

PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2007 11:56 pm    Post subject: How to paint Tholians & Metallic paints Reply with quote

How to paint Tholians: Metallic Painting Techniques: Metallic Painting Techniques

February sees the release of Tholian Attack for Federation Commander. Also released will be
Squadron boxes of Tholian miniatures, and two completely new Tholian ships, the Neo-Tholian
Frigate and Destroyer. Tholian ships' colour scheme is all metallic, and painting metals is a bit
different to painting other colours. I know that Tholian captains will be eager to get their ships
into battle, so here's a how-to guide for painting Tholian miniatures.

How Metallic Paint Is Different
Metallic paint is different from other acrylic paints in that the pigment consists of tiny
flakes of metal, usually aluminium. These flakes are much larger than the pigment particles used
in other paints, which means that the paint can't be heavily thinned. Put a little metallic paint on
your palette and keep adding water. You'll see that the paint quickly separates out into tiny
flakes of metal floating in water, not a smooth colour like other paints. When thinning metallic
paints, it is often best to use ink rather than water.

Metallic paint, because of its nature, tends to be more transparent than other colours.
You may need to use several coats, or paint an intermediate undercoat of another metallic colour
first. For some reason, many metallic colours look a lot better when painted over Game
Workshop Brazen Brass.

There are two ways to get different colours of metallic paint. The first is to thin the
metallic paint with a coloured ink. Adding red ink to silver paint will get you a red metal colour.
The second method is to take regular paint and add "iridescent medium" to it. This effect is
more subtle, you will end up with a flat colour that is sparkly, like the metallic paint on some

Painting the mini
Prepare the miniature as detailed in my previous article, How to paint a Starship.
Metallic paints work best over a dark background, so undercoat the miniature in black. Next,
decide on a colour scheme. The recommended scheme can be found here http://www.starfleetgames.com/minis/miniatures.htm and
some photos of hot rockin' Tholian squadrons are here http://www.starfleetgames.com/discus/messages/7342/15409.html?1167156334.

Basecoat and detail the miniature in your chosen colours. After you've done that, you'll
notice that it's all bright and shiny, making the detail hard to see. What we need to do is to
emphasise the shadows and highlights to make it look more "three-dimensional".

The first step is to get some black (or metallic*) ink, thin it a little, then brush it evenly over the surface
of the miniature. This is called an "ink wash". The ink will settle into the recesses of the
miniature, darkening the shadows and killing the shine a bit. Don't go overboard with the ink
wash, it's much better to do a wash twice or three times than to flood the details with too much
ink and ruin the mini.

*Tony L. "Scoutdad" Thomas prefers to use a metallic ink (available from art or craft stores). He tells me that using a copper ink wash rather than a black ink wash works very well, bringing out the shadows without dulling the metal. I haven't tried it myself, but it sounds like an exciting idea.

The second step is to bring out the highlights. We do this with a technique known as
"dry-brushing". To do this, take a crummy old brush or a specially designed "drybrush" with
stiff bristles. Put the absolutely smallest amount of paint that you possibly can on the end of the
brush. Wipe almost all of that off on a tissue or paper towel. Drag the tip of the brush over the
area you want to highlight - say, the diamond-shaped cooling areas on the wings. Don't press
hard, we only want to hit the top portions and leave the recesses dark. You will slowly see
brighter colour being built up on the highlighted area, making it look very "3-D". Keep doing
that until you're satisfied. Areas to highlight include the cooling areas, edges, and anywhere light
would naturally tend to fall on the miniature if it were illuminated from above. To find these
areas, shine a desk lamp on the mini from directly above it.

After that, apply gloss varnish to protect the paintwork. Apply decals if you wish, then
another coat of gloss varnish. It will look shiny, but that's fine. Now your Tholian ship is ready
to give the treacherous Seltorian space cockroaches a "hot rock massage"... with a Web Fist!

Good hunting!
"Captain" Terry O'Carroll, fourteen papers published including six best of issue
"Man, Terry, you are like a loophole seeking missle!" - Mike West
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wrongway klingon
Lieutenant JG

Joined: 11 Jan 2007
Posts: 46
Location: Cumbria, UK

PostPosted: Sat Jan 13, 2007 1:37 pm    Post subject: metallic basecoats Reply with quote

A trick I learned from gilding picture frames is to use a coloured base coat before drybrushing the metalic paint. A dark green, red or brown complements most gold or copper metallics. Black or dark blue for silver or gunmetal.
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