+ inload: Theoretical: Tanks and markings +
+ A column of armoured vehicles is an image likely familiar to anyone who watched movies about the second world war; and since 40k warfare is fairly similar, it's an image that works well. Above, a Land Raider Proteus leads three Rhino APCs across a peculiar landscape. +
+ Painting tanks +
+ The Land Raider's at an earlier stage, but none of them are finished yet. A quick rundown of the approach to painting I use for these:
- Prime black.
- Necron Abyss basecoat.
- Dilute Mordian Blue built up in layers.
- Space Wolf Grey added to Mordian Blue and roughly 8–10 layers of drybrush.
+ This is considerably different to the infantry, so I thought it might be of interest to explain why. Firstly, I usually use grey primer for infantry because it helps to produce a muted midtone. Tanks have lots of metallics and (because they're larger) naturally reflect more light. A black undercoat therefore makes sense to save re-painting the metals more than necessary.
+ The Necron Abyss basecoat is used in place of the lighter Mordian Blue of the infantry because I find it very hard to build up good highlights through wet blending on such large surfaces. So rather than shading down and highlighting up from a basic midtone (as I do with the infantry), I prefer to work from the deepest tone up to the highlights. Necron Abyss also has a sligthly purple gloss, which serves two purposes: it removes the necessity of using a purple wash (as I do on the infantry) which would be awkward and frustrating to apply on such large surfaces, and also gives a slightly different hue to the infantry's armour. To me, the Legion colour is heraldic, and should be reserved for the Astartes themselves – it's a potent symbol of their heritage. As a result, equipment (like small arms, support weaponry and tanks) are painted in a similar but distinctly different hue. This allows me to maintain a small palette without sacrificing the identity of the components. +
|+ The boltgun, as equipment, is painted a different blue to the armour +|
+ Getting a smooth midtone layer of Mordian Blue is useful, but not vital. Most real-life armoured vehicles aren't smooth due to wear and tear, so a little texture and variance in tone won't hurt the finished effect. That said, it's not an excuse to be lazy – obvious brushstrokes will still be clearly brushstrokes, and you don't want paint to pool or be too heavy. I use acrylic medium to help the flow of paint. You can use a (tiny!) touch of detergent and water to the same effect as long as you don't scrub (or you'll end up with bubbles). +
+ As an aside, construction equipment like cranes, lorries and diggers offer good reference material for tanks, as both types of vehicles are sturdily constructed and see more physical wear and tear than road vehicles. +
+ Drybrushing is a much-derided technique for highlighting, but ultimately it's just another tool. I think edge highlighting tends to be a bit too stark on vehicles at this scale, whereas proper drybrushing can bring out a more subtle gradation that reinforces the shape without exaggerating it. The trick is to use a large soft brush, and work as gradually as you possibly can – you should not really see the effect until you've worked three or so layers, and even then it should be very subtle. If you get anything other than a 'smoky' effect on the surfaces – such as obvious paint marks or strokes – you've used too much. +
+ This side-on view neatly shows both how to do it, and how not to do it! The central door show how I've gradually reduced the area that has been drybrushed as I work up, so that there's a natural gradient of light. The upper part of the is slightly more highlighted than the lower part, and the repeated layers of drybrushing has naturally deposited a graduated highlight to the upper parts of the hinges and door, rather than a stark 'glow' of an edge highlight. +
+ The exhaust stack on the right (in particular, though the left isn't great either) shows exactly how not to do it! Here, I've had too much paint on the side of the brush, which has deposited in an ugly smear. I'll need to either clean up this area or work over the top of it at the weathering stage. +
+ Markings +
+ I've been a bit hesitant with the markings on these. I was hoping that Tempest would offer something that really leapt out, but the Ultramarines vehicles presented are almost in parade order, which didn't quite fit with the twin themes of the army – rugged old veterans and new recruits. Instead, I've fallen back on a few simple icons, but I may develop them further. If you've got any cool ideas, please let me know! +
+ The front shows the Legion symbol combined with the thunderbolt device (common to Terra and the Great Crusade) below the left-hand viewport, and a row of chequers below the right-hand one. In addition, there's a quartered circle, to which I may add a numeral or symbol. Please excuse the red on the plough. by the way; two of these Rhinos were from ebay and came with a (actually quite nice) World Eaters paintjob. I'll be repainting this bit when I come to approach the metals. As it stands, it provides a good basecoat. +
+ The rear hatch includes a Chapter marking (so this is a Rhino from the XV), and you'll notice a dark grey bar. Each of the squads of Praetors of Calth had a name: Apaesians and Ciconians, as examples, and I'm intending to paint the squad names on each hatch (for intra-Chapter reference).
+ The other side, showing the black bar above the door. +
+ A final little note on the placement of markings and decoration. I think that details should be added so that they make sense in-universe. The only people likely to use the identifiers on top of a vehicle are aircraft and those on distant vantage points. Both would require large, simple icons, rather than fussy details. +
+ Personal notes and specific squad information, meanwhile, would be used by foot soldiers etc. approaching from the same level, so they need to be on the sides and rear of the vehicle, probably on or near the hatches. +
+ The enemy should be intimidated by the use of striking iconography that proclaims the power of the vehicle and the warriors inside, so the front of the vehicle can receive Legion markings that show off – martial decoration and finery. More important or famous vehicles might have more decoration; perhaps painted or even sculpted on by Legion artificers, but for workhorses like these 31st Millennium Rhinos, I think a more spartan look is appropriate. +
+ Finally, in addition to these official markings, soldiers of all stripes have superstitions and traditions, so things like kill markings, mottoes and slogans can be added almost wherever there's space. However, I think these should be mostly kept relatively unobtrusive; and when you do apply them, remember that someone has had to physically apply it – so make sure it's in a position someone could realistically reach. +
+ The tank below, from the Lamb's World LV, shows a scrawled 'No Hitchers' sign on the rearmost door at eye-level for a 28mm figure – doubtless some obscure in-joke for the crew. Note that the marking has been kept small and relatively unobtrusive. It's intended as a fun little detail for someone looking more closely at the vehicle, not something that's immediately obvious. For this reason, I'm been careful not to use pure white or black for any markings, as these extreme tones really jump out. +