I’ve always known I was a paint-by-numbers kind of guy. Give me a miniature with well-defined lines, and I can put the right color in the right area. I can even hold my paintbrush steady enough to do a fairly decent eyebrow.
But I won’t win any painting contests. And it will be a long wait before I reveal any hidden artistic talent or sign of nuanced aesthetics. That’s why I seriously considered tossing out a dozen Space Marine figures–my first attempt at the Knights of Altair–and looking for a professional painter.
The headline of this blog suggests my ambivalence. But after a mandatory don’t-do-anything-hasty period, I’ve decided my color scheme isn’t a complete embarrassment. I think I’ll keep the figs after all.
It was a close-run thing. I tried a lot of paint schemes for my Knights. I knew I wanted something on the lighter/brighter side, given that I wanted the figures to “pop out” a bit on the game table. I also knew, however, that I didn’t want anything too bright or colorful–I don’t know about you, but I think futuristic fighters wouldn’t care to be an easy-to-see bright yellow or red target on the battlefield. I don’t care how crazy they are in the 41st Millennium.
I toyed with a body armor of some traditional sci-fi colors: white ceramic, silver metal, military green, etc. I finally decided on a light gray/slate gray combination (Administratum Gray and Skavenblight Dinge). The grays suggest metal and are utilitarian, which I think fits Space Marines, and I have a sense the combination works on “some level.”
But it doesn’t thrill me. Recently I saw someone at my local hobby shop painting one of those new semi-Titan knights that Games Workshop is making. The painter had used a mix of 2 parts Catachan Green, one part Triel Yellow, and one part Leadbelcher. The paint scheme had a magnificent complexity and metallic sheen.
Of course, that color probably works better on the larger surface of an Imperial Knight rather than a Space Marine. So there’s no guarantee that I could stolen that color scheme for the Knights. But it was an impressive example of the creative aesthetics of a skilled painter.
Well, that’s not me. But my color scheme isn’t too bad. My Knights are a pragmatic bunch. While I won’t entirely escape the gothic extras of the 40K universe, my Knights aren’t quite so interested in purity seals, fancy heraldry, etc. So if they’re a bit bland, that’s because they’re simple tradesmen–they kill, kill, and kill. There’s no time or interest in fluff. So maybe the gray will work out just fine.
It’s not that I didn’t try to spice things up a tiny bit. I made certain to use dedicated metal shoulder pads with the right icons in place, and I added a touch of red and gold to provide some contrast.
Such small patches of color also add something to the models on the tabletop. As I get older, the eyes are weakening, and as long as the miniature looks good on the battlefield (the “three foot” rule), it’s a reasonably successful paint job.
Finally, it occurs to me, the light gray might really make blood stand out on their armor. So maybe I need to think of a few weary veterans at the end of a long campaign. Cover them in gore, perhaps? Now that would test my artistic skills to the limit. But I should try and “up” my game, no matter how horrific the result may be.
I think I’ll pull out my painting guides and seek some more inspiration ….
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