Detailed Masking for Airbrushing

by on March, 04, 2012 in Imperial, Terrain, Tutorial - Comments Off on Detailed Masking for Airbrushing

I’m considering this a lesson learned and don’t mind passing this along 🙂

When I started painting the large aquilla on the top deck I was originally going to mask it out and airbrush it in layers. After looking at it for a few minutes I decided to use a brush instead thinking how difficult masking this off would be and how long it would take. Stoopid me.

I started with a brush and tried my hardest to make the layers even and without brush marks. The foundation color, Deneb Stone, went on ok. A little sloppy but figured the next two colors would compensate for this. I put down two layers of Deneb Stone, then two layers of Bleached Bone. Because of the lighter colors over black primer, it was nearly impossible to achieve a smooth finish before hitting the Skull White. I had almost four hours into just the aquilla.

This started me thinking about how long would it really have taken to mask off the intricate aquilla. Well, I found out tonight. A little over an hour to do both. It took me another 10 minutes to put down two layers of Skull White and 15 minutes to thoroughly clean my airbrush, another 5 to remove the masking tape. I’m assuming with two more colors to apply and dry, those would have taken about another 30 minutes. This would have been a total of around two hours. I had already wasted 4 hours on brush work (grrr) so I’m assuming if I would have started masking instead of painting, I would have saved around 3+ hours on it.

So, what do I do? Turn it into a tutorial! Detail masking for airbrushing.

Here’s about halfway through the first aquilla, pretty intricate – and a little daunting.

masking the aquilla

I’m using lo-tac blue painters tape. I stick it down lightly to my self-healing cutting mat. I use a steel rule to cut the skinny channel sized pieces of tape. I cut angled pieces and apply them to the edges and push them into place using a rounded end dental sculpting tool. This is really easy, pushing the tape into place and making sure it fits snuggly against the edges of the raised aquilla.

using dental tool to push tape into place
intricate application of masking for airbrushing

The next tip I want to show is how to apply the tape around the curves – the most difficult part. Cut a piece of tape larger than the area you’re going to mask off and gently stick it in place. Use the dental tool to push the tape into the corner. This is similar to copper tooling (do they still do that in schools?). The tape it flexible enough and should form itself fairly well to the shape. Use a sharp exacto to trim out the shape, erring on the higher side of the lip. Take care to move slowly as the blade can slip and cut into other areas (I did it a few times too)

tricky masking for painting

Here’s the detail masked aquillas.

the maksed aquilla

Then the rest of the landing pad is taped/papered off to prevent overspray.

paper masked to prevent overspray

I re-coated the squilla in Bleached Bone to smooth out the surface before applying the white.
recoated with bleached bone

Then applied two layers of Skull White.
Two coats of Skull White

Here’s the skyshield with the masking tape removed and a closeup.
Aquilla unmasked!
close up of unmasked aquilla

A nice, even, and solid white. A few small spots that will need touchup but these are actually from when I was using a brush.:)

The next step will be the chevroned panels, then I’ll do the weathering.


Skyshield Landing Pad – Airbrushed!

by on February, 27, 2012 in Imperial, Terrain - Comments Off on Skyshield Landing Pad – Airbrushed!

Spent some time with the Skyshield landing pad today – that and my airbrush! Finally!

I primed both the Skyshield and the bastion black blocked out the main color areas with the air brush. The top side of the landing pad was airbrushed with two colors – Tamiya Nato Black XF-69 and the lighter Neutral Gray XF-53. The side shields and the rest of the platform were airbrushed with Knarloc Green.

Skyshield landing pad

I went back to my military model;ing roots and dug out the dry brushes. The “metal” areas were dry brushes first with Codex Grey…

Skyshield airbrushed

Then it was gone over again with Fortress Grey.


I will be doing metallic highlights to accentuate the wear and tear on the edges in some areas but only after I’ve done the rusting and grease stains.

THe green areas were then dry brushed with Camo Green.

More drybrushing

This give the edges a nice “pop” but the overall effect is a little too neon-ish and bright so I went over everything again with a dry brush of Rotting Flesh. This toned down the brighter green of the Camo Green and gives the right worn look for the green edges.

Even more drybrushing

Here’s the overview with all the dry brushing done to bring out all the details.

Major colors blocked out on Skyshield

Of course, this isn’t where it ends, it’s merely the beginning. Now it’s on to all the small details – and this thing really does have a lot of details, Lights, aquillas, skulls… There’s a bunch of each. I started blocking out the hazard stripes sections and the aquillas on the main deck. I plan on doing the aquillas in three layers starting with Deneb Stone, then I’ll do a smoothing layer of either Bleached Bone or Kommando Khaki, then an overcoat of Skull White.

base coloring aquilla markings

It’ll take me a while to block out all the other colors so it’ll be a few days before another update on this. Feels kinda nice to do something different. The bastion will get a similar treatment but with making it look like spray painted cement instead of metals.


Waaagh!Fest Tournament Board

by on February, 27, 2012 in Imperial, Terrain - Comments Off on Waaagh!Fest Tournament Board

Well, it’s not the USS Enterprise 😉 but I’ll be tracking my progress here for a little competition I’m having for our little Waaagh!Fest pub tournament in June. At the end of last years tourny, a number of us were hanging around with a beer discussing next years event. We came up with the idea to have an open competition to design and make a themed board. We’ll be posting voting thingy for them at the end of May and let people vote for which one they like the best. The winning board will be the centerpiece board that gets placed in a mini-UFC fighting ring/dance floor at the bar where we have the event. This is where the top two players will have their last match (Fight -ON!)

I think there’s about 6 or 7 people who are making boards already and of course I have to do one as well. My first thought was “ork mekyard” which ir right up my alley. After seeing the current state of my real life though I decided I might not be able to finish it so I fell back to an Imperial Promethium (or something else liquidy and valuable…) pumping station that needs to be guarded and have air landing access to. This allowed me to use a couple of kits I’ve had sitting on my shelves for about a year. The original idea was to orkify these but I can always pick up a few more when I get to that.

Here was my original layout of big stuff to sort through for consideration.

Skyshield Landing Pad

I spent about an hour pushing things around, adding and removing, looking for fire lanes and defenses and came up with this… (the coloring is mine in PS)

I’ve assembled the Bastion and the Skypad and they’re primed, ready for airbrushing today. These will be done up pretty standard, just with a really nice paint job. Then I’ll work on the pumping station part. I’m still not sure if I’ll include the greyish colored pipes/pump thing (was a Monsters Inc toy/game thing) and there’s going to me some trees and hills as well.