Sunday, 23 November 2014

Laying The Grid.

So I put up a post recently on the Dropzone Commander Community page on Facebook.
It was a bit popular.

It was a couple of photos of my new PHR colour scheme. It got over a hundred likes and became pinned post of the week (I may be a little too proud of that). So in this post I'm going to show a few better photos of the models I've done so far and also give an article on how I did the main part of the scheme,

I've decided on a Tron Legacy style colour scheme for my PHR. Its only taken me nearly two and a half months to decide this! It was going to be this or some kind of vivid orange and white two tone anime scheme. But when I made a test model in this Tron scheme it won out instantly. As soon as I did it I was instantly listening to the Daft Punk Soundtrack (one of the best sci-fi soundtracks of recent years in my opinion). I am actually listening to it while writing this post, Its just sooo good.

So without further ado here are a few better quality photos of my test models.

I am very pleased with my scheme but am a bit stuck on how to proceed. Do I stick fully with the theme and go purely Tron-esque power lines? Or do I go in a different direction keeping the Tron base but normalising the exposed engine parts? Tis' a conundrum, but one I will solve soon enough.

I've had a fair few people ask me to tell all about how I did it with some sort of guide, a few even tried to guess how I did it. So I'm going to write down my process in order to help you guys out. But I'll let you know now that this scheme is actually nothing revolutionary and is basic as it comes. The real difficulty came in colour choice and stylisation.

So first off as with my previous painting article is the research and planning phase. This part is so important to get right because without it you will be proceeding without a plan and you'll end up going in circles or wasting time.
Research is easy in this case because it was a case of GOOGLE TO THE RESCUE!! A quick search for 'Tron vehicles' was all I needed. You get really nice images like this.

Now the first and most obvious thing that jumps out at you about the images is just how striking the glowing light lines are and how much they define the figure in the image. Its almost a reverse of the normal silhouette, or 'outline' of the figure usually determined by how a figures negative outline is compared to its surroundings. 

The next thing that struck me is just how reflective most of these vehicles are, this is Futurism and glass taken to the nth degree! So this is a big challenge to try and bring the smooth and sleek lines of Tron to a model in the 10mm scale. Now it should be said here that my scheme is not finished yet, I still have to tackle reflectiveness on my models to a satisfactory degree but I am working on it.

So clearly I need to think about how I'm going to do power lines on my models. Object Source lighting is the most obvious first choice here, the idea of OSL is to have a source of light that interacts with the rest of the models colour. But really thinking about it and looking at the research I've done, yes the light lines are all over the figures but really the interaction with the rest of the figure is quite minimal. The reflections come from the environment around the figure. So pre-armed with this research and thinking time I put paint to model and get cracking.

So first up here's a list of what I used in this scheme:
  • Airbrush (cheap one bought from Amazon, looking to replace as soon as I can afford it)
  • Compressor (old one I've had for years)
  • Coal Black (P3 paint, I highly recommend this range of paints which include possibly the best metallics on the market since Citadel screwed the pooch)
  • Arcane Blue (P3) 
  • German Grey (Vallejo Model Colour, good but requires a lot of shaking)
  • Turquoise (Vallejo Game Colour)
  • Black (Vallejo Game Colour) 
  • Glaze Medium (Vallejo)
  • Thinner Medium (Vallejo)
  • Black Airbrush Primer (Vallejo, great matt finish)

Step 1:

Undercoat the model all over with a good layer of Airbrush Primer, leave to dry. Its important to use Airbursh Primer as it gives the best key on the base for your airbrush (Which fires paint at a model far quicker than a brush does!) Leave to dry for as long as is needed. (Usually a couple of hours and your good to go.) Then using Black Vallejo Colour go over the whole model again, Black has a naturally deeper colour than primer black which by necessity is slightly paler.  

Step 2:

Using Coal Black mixed with a tiny bit of acrylic thinner (To about the consistency of milk) go over the upper areas of the hull using your airbrush. Coal Black is not a true black it is actually a very dark green-turquoise-black mix, this combo is surprisingly useful in bringing the model up a tone. It also gives the black some proper depth, black rather obviously has no shade colour so a painter relies entirely on the highlight in order to give depth to black. Coal black rather wonderfully matches the greenish black tone used in Tron Legacy's costumes.

You can just about see the Coal Black on the upper portions of the hull and around the engine nacelles.

Step 3:

The hard bit.
Mix German Grey and Turquoise in a roughly 3;2 mix (adjust to taste) add Acrylic airbrush thinner to the correct consistency then VERY Carefully and with as small line as your (read my) cheap rubbish airbrush can make, line around the grooves in the armour and also the inside of the missile tubes.

This bit takes time to get right, so practice on some paper first so you can get the motion right.

Step 4:

Lining in.
Mix three parts Arcane blue with one part clean water, a drop of thinner medium, and a drop of glaze medium. You want it to be thin but still obviously a paint. The glaze medium will aid with the flow of the paint. Then take a fine brush and line in the mix into the grooves you have previously  airbrushed.

Obviously this one needs a bit of neatening up but you get the idea. 

It really is a very simple scheme once you get over the shock of it.

Where next?

I will add that I plan on adding a bit of white to the arcane blue mix and adding 'pulses' of this lighter mix along the light lines.

I'm thinking of either going with a VERY dark metal to paint the engine parts in or making them almost platinum bright silver to really contrast with the dark black of the armour. Which if you look at the research collage matches with the Four-wheeler concept art which looks pretty bad-ass.

I also plan to paint the cockpit pods with a Cylon like 'eye' of power obviously blue/turquoise not red, then glossing them a couple of times to get that reflective quality and to bring them out from the rest of the model. I think this eye would give the PHR domes some real personality and add menace.

Anyway that's it I hope you found this article useful, please like and share if you did and let your mates know about the blog. Just to say I'm sat here after having recorded another podcast with the OB team last night and its a good one so we'll let you know when its ready for your listening pleasure.

Till next time Users.


  1. First off: Beautiful!!
    I really love it and hate myself for not having the same idea. If I think about it, it is pretty obvious :)

    2nd: Awesome that you'll do the pulses - when I saw the pics (before reading it) I actually thought "looks like TRON but the pulses/flashes are missing..." ;)

    3rd I think dark metal parts is definitely more bad-ass

    Last: A personal request. I have no idea why I feel so strongly about it, but Please, please, pretty please don't paint the "canopies" -> which are actually sensor clusters.
    I have seen so many beautiful color schemes that were ruined (in my eyes at least) by giving their models clown noses (concentrate on the painted"canopies" :( and think about clown noses and you'll see)
    These are friggin' manga battlemechs and no sightseeing transports with oversized windows.

    Sorry for this...

    But if you do me this favor I will add your name to my hometowns memorial of unsung heroes.

    Awesome job and thanks for the idea with Coal black

    1. Thanks for the reply and compliments, always nice to hear.

      With regards to the Sensor domes I am going to keep them the same colour as the rest of the model but I am going to paint an area of brighter colour in the style of a cylon eye. Usually just off centre. I want to keep as though its a light emanating from underneath a surface. So don't worry the idea I have in mind is very cool. ;-)

    2. Awesome - I'm looking forward to it :)

  2. Awesome ! Very Good idea :) Just a question: why not using brilliant varnish on your models?

    1. I probably will varnish the models but You have to be careful to get the right amount on. If I layered too much on then I lose the effect of the airbrushing. I might use satin varnish over a layer of gloss to get a nice deep reflective appearance but I'll have to experiment with that.

      Oh I will also not be using Spray varnish to apply the varnish, I'll most likely use my airbrush that way I won't get the dreaded powdering effect of varnish used outside its comfortable climate.

    2. FYI - there is a neat trick to get an incredibly deep shine. If you ever get your hands on "Vallejo - Still Water", try it out. It sucks as a water effect (because it shrinks in size when applied in generous amounts), but it is awesome for marble or energy effects because compared with gloss varnish it looks a lot less like plastic and more like a deep reflective surface.
      I haven't been brave enough to use it with an airbrush (cause I still need it) though and I don't know if it would work with this project.

      But try it out...

  3. I am going to have to repaint my PHR!