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Nova troopers - questions


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I had an idea that I wanted to paint up my Nova Corp folks as black-clad security troops, but I also wanted to add color to the reflections, since most objects are not true black, and life is rarely all black and white. So I have two troopers that I painted up in blue and purple.

 

So my questions are two-fold. Which of these colors works better as a representation of black-clad troops? Also, how can I improve the highlighting/coloration for the rest of these guys? Bear in mind, what you see in the pictures below is about the best I could pull together for brush control yesterday.

 

 

Nova-blue.jpg

Nova-purple.jpg

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I like the blue, but I also think you need to add a little highlight onto the black. It looks too flat otherwise.

 

I'd also darken the colors overall. Neither of them actually look like they're in black armor. Black under suits, yes but the armor itself? Not so much. Spend some time checking out how glossysemi-glossy black actually reflects.

 

Image result for black armor

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Here's an old Ral Partha Shadowrun figure I tried to do something similar with:

I'm not sure mine was all that much of a success, but I had fun painting him.

 

I found that what worked best for me was thinking very hard about light sources and where exactly they would hit, just like doing normal highligts except from different directions and with different-colored lights.

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One of the Purple Triads also has Nightshade Purple (I think?) as the shadow color.  This actually works really well as a base coat for black and then you can likely use black as the shade and the midtone of the triad might work as a highlight.  This is, of course, in theory for me as I have not yet actually tried it, but am thinking of using this technique when I get around to painting Nethyrmaul.

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Nightshade Purple makes an excellent base for "black" when you don't actually want to use black.  Here's an example 

I find the Stormy Greys triad to be a little too grey/chalky for representing blacks. 

 

What I'd do with the two trooper figures above is wash or glaze with black or very dark blue/purple to tone down the bright highlights. 

 

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As a wargamer with a black-armoured force of way too many models, let me tell you how I've done them in the past and how I am currently doing them. I should preface this by saying I'm not an expert painter by any means and that I have many varied and contradictory opinions on the matter depending on the day. These are just my ways of painting black armour plate. Alright, with that out of the way, let's get into this!

 

Painting black armour is all about brush control. It's also about not painting black. If you're confused already, don't worry. I confuse myself all the time. You want depth and definition on anything you paint and black is no different. How I used to achieve this was by painting the armour a darker than midtone grey and then washing the model with black wash until it was suitably dark. What happens when you do this is that the features on the armour will produce their own highlights as the recesses get continually darker. This looks natural and subtle and all that jazz. If you wanted sharper highlights, my theory would be to paint the armour that darker than midtone grey, highlight the edges with a step above that colour, then add a sharp highlight to the edges with a colour just a bit lighter than the previous, and then wash the model several times with a black wash. (I say 'theory' here because I've never tried it. I didn't like edge highlights years ago when I first used this method of washing to black but I have seen it done and it does work. Oh, and you'll need to wash the armour anywhere from 4 - 7 times to get it really dark.)

 

Now, fast-forward some years in time and I've grown as a painter (I hope). I don't mind edge highlighting as I know how to do it and, in my opinion, it makes the armour on my troops look a lot better than the previous method. With this technique of painting black, you'll need two colours: black and dark grey. You can, if you want, go crazy and add some sharp highlights to the edges of corners and such but that's up to you. If you do so, you'll need a paint just a little bit lighter than your dark grey. Right then. Take your model, slap the black on whatever you want to be black, and then get your dark grey colour and paint the edges of each piece. It sounds like it takes a while but you'll get the hang of it. If you opted for sharp highlights as well, paint those on the corners. You want a thin highlight for the first colour and an even thinner line for the second, optional colour.

 

Wow - that wall of text! Oh well, it had to be done. Hopefully that helps. 

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Thanks for the tips everyone. I have some GW Nuln Oil and Army Painter Dark Tone washes. I'll try to wash these guys with black later this week and see how that goes. If I don't like how that looks, I'll try another trooper with just the Dark Elf Skin triad, since I don't really want to use all black/grey for these.

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Sometimes I'll use a midnight blue mixed with black for the mid-tone.  There was a Pro-Paint that was perfect for this, can't remember what it was called now though.  then highlight with straight midnight blue to white.  For things that are black but worn (like your favorite black convention t-shirt) I'll start with Stormy Gray and glaze/wash as necessary until I get what I'm looking for.

 

The severity of your shading will indicate how reflective the surface is.  Sharper transitions for shiny objects like polished boots, more gradual transitions for things like black leather, and broader transitions for things like cloth. At least that's what I remember from a post Anne made a looooong time ago on here.  Let me see if I can dig up some examples of my application of said knowledge.

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OK, found a couple...

 

I painted Dana's boots to be highly polished.  All the white you see on them is white paint, not reflected light.  This requires a lot of thought regarding light source placement when painting.  On the ribbing of her combat suit I tried to make the shading more gradual, but my skillz weren't quite up to it yet, but you get the idea.

http://forum.reapermini.com/index.php?/topic/18899-dana-murphy-redux/

 

On my biker Sophie kitbash from one of the RCon Sophies you can see I got better at gradual shading on less reflective surfaces, like her jacket and the seat.  The tires started at Stormy Gray and I glazed them until they looked right.

http://forum.reapermini.com/index.php?/topic/33663-biker-chick-sophie/

 

I forgot to mention earlier, that my favorite cop out for visors is to paint them black, then put a layer of gloss sealer on it after the whole figure has gotten it's matte coat.

 

Take all of this with a grain of salt, I'm far from being the best painter, but this has worked for me so far.

 

Furthermore, I think this is the post from Anne I was referring to, it's been a long time ago...
http://forum.reapermini.com/index.php?/topic/27896-highlighting-black-hair/&do=findComment&comment=412613

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