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Painting the Martian Blockade

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30K Imperial Fists Painting Tutorial

I’ve always been a fan of Stahly and co’s painting tutorials at Tale of Painters. I’m obviously a bad learner but I did enjoy going through the steps. What really fizzles my brain though is how other miniature painters get such beautiful and clean models for an entire army. I know they put time and effort, and we’re only seeing the final product after, presumably, months. But my impatient brain can’t handle the wait! So I adopted a modified speed painting approach, especially since I’m painting Imperial Fists and all its yellows!

What is speed painting?

Speed painting is a method of churning out miniatures in the least amount of time. It’s not only a technique but a complete workflow designed to get figures off the painting table and on to battle.

The level of quality varies of course. Spraying and washing is technically speed painting, and I’ve seen a lot of boardgamers be successful with it.

Being a narrative player at heart, the spray and wash technique doesn’t work for me. The spray and wash miniatures look nice but lacks a sense of gravitas. I need the miniatures to tell a story, so I’ve come up with this relatively quick method.

The Story and the Look

A key component of my painting is the context of the miniature. For my Imperial Fists, it’s them running a campaign to secure resources in Mars amidst a Mechanicum civil war. These guys are fighting in a dusty and irradiated battlezone against foes wielding exotic weapons that can turn super humans into normal corpses.

This meant that I had to incorporate a lot of textures that showcases the dire situation. I imagine the environment itself and the weapons would batter armor and strip of paint. I did a bit of research and thought it would be amazing to see the proud Imperial Fists’ yellow armor flaked and stripped by the hostile world to show the steel underneath. And of course the exposed steel would be stained by the rusty and dusty environment as well.

Painting Imperial Fists

As I mentioned previously, I’ll be using a spare Contemptor Dreadnought Power Fist for this Imperial Fists exercise.

Step 1: First, the paint list:

  • Vallejo Surface Primer Black
  • Vallejo Model Color Orange Brown
  • Vallejo Model Color Silver
  • Vallejo Model Color Pale Sand
  • Vallejo Model Color Flat Yellow
  • Citadel Technical Agrellan Earth
  • Daler Rowney FW Red Earth Ink

Everything is really your run of the mill hobby supplies. The Agrellan Earth will be helping us achieve the flaked paint look, but I know Green Stuff World has some solutions that might be more cost effective. I tried the Vallejo Crackle Medium in the past but it didn’t work the way I wanted it to. I’ll be using that product in a future post though.

The odd one in the bunch though is the Daler Rowney Ink. The entire line is a really highly pigmented artist ink with a lot of uses. You’ll need to water it down with classic H2O or some acrylic medium but it’s cost effective solution especially if you will be doing a lot of washes.

Step 2: Prime the miniature. I know it’s kind of a no-brainer but I’ve tried skipping this and the paint just rubs off the miniature! So don’t forget to prime!

Step 3: This is a tonal step I learned from Terror of WarJeepney. To get a rusty metal look, you paint the model brown and later drybrush with silver. You’ll see the effect in a bit but for the flaking Imperial Fist armor we need to do the next step first.

Step 4: Apply Agrellan Earth on the sections you want to have the flaky paint. Do not go crazy and slather it all over! This technical paint needs to be thick and it will obscure details. Plus it’s hella expensive. Just calm down and choose the panels, and let dry.

Step 5: Dry brush the model silver. Try to avoid the nooks and crannies to keep them brown. This makes the metal material of the armor look worn and dirty.

Step 6: Look for where the Agrellan Earth’s crackles are obvious and lightly go over them and the surrounding areas with thinned Pale Sand. This will give a nice and bright undercoat for the iconic Imperial Fist yellow.

Don’t forget to paint some of the un-cracked areas too! You’ll need some undamaged panels to sell the effect.

Step 7: Now apply some of the yellow thinly over the Pale Sand undercoat.

Step 8: And it’s ink wash time. The Daler Rowney inks come with a dropper and I find a single drop suffices for a lot of your needs. You just need to water it down, more than you would usually for game inks. Apply this wash to the visible brown parts, and the cracked areas.

When applying on the yellow segments, make sure to paint on the edges first (where the yellow meets the silver) before going towards the center.

Wipe off the excess ink from the yellow to preserve some of the brightness. The ink will tint the yellow with the reddish brown and sell the context.

Additional Notes:

  • Apply the decals prior to the wash. Seal it with matt medium or a varnish. You may want to experiment adding some of the Vallejo Crackle Medium after the varnish to allow cracks to show up on the decal when you do the wash.
  • The final look gives you a faux-weathered look. Feel free to add more weathering.

Final Thoughts

I hope you enjoyed this little tutorial on how I paint my Imperial Fists fighting in Mars. I would appreciate if you share this tutorial to your friends who are getting into 30K but are kinda daunted with painting masses of soldiers. This method’s quick and easy, won’t win you a Golden Daemon, but will get you into battle fast.

3 thoughts on “Painting the Martian Blockade

    1. Thanks a lot! I’ll try to use it on some flesh when I get to do some daemons or mutants. How are you controlling the size of the cracks?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s all a bit random to be honest. I find the thicker you put on the paint the bigger the cracks. I’ve plastered some on Stormcast this morning which is drying so will post some pictures on my blog. There are some of my mutants on there as well which show crackly skin!


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