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Hi. I've been playing Warhammer 40,000 with a friend's army for a while now, really meaning to jump in and make my own someday. I made the decision to try collecting a Tau army and recently ordered a Tau Megaforce, but got the dissapointing news from my local comic book store that that pack's no longer available for order, so now I'm trying to more expensively piece-mail a force together. So far I've gotten two Fire Warrior packs, a Commander battle suit, a single Crisis suit, and that one pack that contains two Hammerheads and a Skyray (though, if it's physically possible, can/should I turn the Skyray into a Devilfish maybe?). I've tried scouring the net a lot for advice and beginner level techniques to try and employ, and have had a chance to see a lot of different color schemes and effects with Tau figures. I'm also planning on picking up a Stealth team, a broad side, and 1-2 more Crisis suits.
I think I've settled on a color scheme of my own that I've seen a little of online: a sort of storm trooper-ish theme of bright white armor with black cloth and swatches of red (like say for a Shas'ui shoulder pad or standard Shas'el accents). But this being my first time painting a figure, it still feels a bit daunting given the many things I've read that I don't quite understand the full effects of. I'm not even sure if I should prime it white or black, even though the majority will probably be white. I'd greatly appreciate any friendly advice or tips to help me start off in the right direction!
This is the proposed Shas'ui:
Fire Warrior painter of my proposed scheme
The only difference would be probably less red on the pulse rifle, maybe making one of those tiny segments on the leg plates red, and maybe the Tau symbol on the shoulder in gold.
From what I've been gathering this is a rough step-by-step I think I'll try on the first model, with questions I think I'll have at each point. Again, I really appreciate any advice or help you can give!
1. After having them fully assembled, spray it down with a white primer. I've read as much to do it in short quick bursts to try and get a a full yet thin layer of coverage over the whole model.
2?a. At this point, what's the difference between the primed white model and a white base coat if the goal is to achieve a white model? Should I maybe ink/wash it in a heavily diluted chaos black (or diluted black ink maybe, I do have a GW pot of that handy) at this point just to get the nooks and crevices? Or would using a detail brush to get those be more efficient? Also, would a black wash at this stage be what I would want to do if I wanted a sort of "dirty" white look, and if so and I didn't want this look, would I just paint over again with a bone white?
2?b. or instead, should I hite up the white armor with a normal layer of one of the brighter grays, and then either layer or drybrush ontop of that white and maybe THEN ink-wash or detail drevices? I'm really a little lost here.
3. if there's Tau skin showing I suppose I'd hit them up with one of the darker grays at this point as well for a base coat, than drybrush for highlights once dry with a lighter gray? I suppose I'd also be hitting up all the cloth with a thick coat of chaos black, dry, and then drybrush with a medium or dark tone gray, again as the highlighting step?
4. Paint the red piece of armor (shoulder a Shas'ui, maybe a leg segment on a Shas'el) straight over the white prime, or should I put a basecoat of white on first for some reason...? And again, would there be any probable need to further accent this color once on there, maybe with another dark wash if I was going for the dirty look?
5. At this point I imagine it'd just be details left. Put a dab of red on the lenses, pick marking color and freepaint those on and just lightly fill in the Tau shoulder symbol, things like that? I had seen some really impressive looking lenses that had me completely fooled thinking they were real glass of translucent plastic!
6. Take a wide brush and get the whole unit (roughly) covered in a glossy varnish? Especially if I want that sort of glossy star wars storm trooper sheen?
I'm fairly uncertain about most of it, so I suppose the first poor brave Fire Warrior to test his fate will be a learning experience. But I'm still more than willing to hear your opinions on that process! It seems like all I'd need is a skull white paint, black ink, maybe chaos black paint, blood red (maybe along with a darker red...? I don't know why), and maybe codex and/or space wolf gray for Tau flesh, plus whatever misc. color to just put on the Tau symbol or gun. This seem about right?
If you are new to painting I would strongly suggest minimizing the amount of white you use on the model. White is a very difficult color to achieve well. If you prime white and then don't paint it - you run the risk of it looking --- well primed... Shading and highlighting white is tricky at best. If anything I would rethink your color scheme to minimize the white and maybe use it as an accent.
I couldn't get the link to load so I am not quite sure about your color scheme...
I will try to answer your questions however:
1. sounds like you have the right plan for the primer. Just make sure you operate between the quidelines of the primer as far as humidity and temperature goes. Also don't spray more than 12" from your models or you run the risk of it drying before it hits the model and you will get a sandy texture.
2a. I would recommend not leaving it primed white. You will find that overall when finished - it will appear unpainted. If you wash the area with black you will definitely achieve definition between the different parts. However you will find that you will now have to build up the white everywhere else - which will require several coats of white probably. The dilluted ink wash is a good idea though as it will darked all the "recesses" so if you miss anyplace it won't glare out at you in white. It will be dark and blend in.
Black is not the way to go for "dirty". Brown ink would be better suited. Or even better - vallejo makes something called smoke that is a glaze. It works very well for creating a dirt like effect. Much better than the ink.
2b. Same thing as above. You will find that a grey basecoat will require you to build up the white in layers until you get a good solid white. Don't fret as this is the best way to achieve a nice white - but you will have to work at it. White really isn't a fast color to paint. You can even start with browns instead of greys as the basecoat. Browns will probably get you a dirtier look. For example maybe start with a bonewhite, wash with a flesh/sepia colored ink and then highlight from bone to white.
3. I am not a big fan of drybrushing. For me drybrushing is a technique best suited for rough surfaces such as stone, chainmail armour, etc. It is best to layer your colors. Keep the paint thin and brush it on. Really doesn't take too much longer and you will get smoother more rich results. It will also allow you the build up the color gradually. Remember the more you mix various ratios of color from darker to light - the more smooth it will appear.
4. No need to paint white under the red. Start with a darker red and build up to a red you want. My usual method is to start with a dark red, wash with brown ink, and then highlight up to the desired red.
5. I would definitely avoid a gloss varnish. It will not look good. At that scale it will look... shiny and out of place. This is a personal opinion though so take it for what it is worth. I find that a flat matte varnish - such as testor's dullcote actually helps blend the color a bit and make the model look better.
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