The last post

Posted: June 6, 2015 in News

farewell has been a great little home for my blog the past few years, but the time has come to move on. To a bigger and better blog (I hope) under my own domain at Studio Dropship ( If you are a regular reader, or even if you’ve only just stumbled across this please do make the jump and head across to the new home for Dropship, I may even paint some more Epic… Maybe.

Either way, thank you for your comments and feedback over the years it’s always appreciated. Happy painting!


Well this weekend is turning out to be somewhat frustrating. I’ve been working away the past few evenings to put more of a content manager wrapper around the blog so it is a little less linear and a bit easier to search for content on. It was part of an overall aim to move away the ‘free’ service (which has been great the past few years) and onto a WordPress instance on my own host which gives me a little more creative freedom as well as no adverts for you guys, the readers!

It was all going swimmingly well and I had hoped to start re-directing you good folks to the more of less functioning updated version when my host chose that moment to have a few technical issues with the shared server it resides on. Suffice to say it’s still down and has somewhat buggered up my plans for the weekend. When it eventually comes back online I think I’ll give it a few days just to make sure it actually stays up and meets my expectations for performance before packing up and moving.

That should have given me more time to spend in the workshop today, except as I’ve been applying oil washes to the first batch of Tablescape tiles the place reeks of white spirit currently so needs time to clear the air. I shall go make a cup of tea and decide the best course of action.

Aside  —  Posted: June 6, 2015 in News

There be plans afoot for this Blog over the next few weeks. If I can ever get things to work. Until then, watch this space

– Carl

Quote  —  Posted: June 3, 2015 in News

Halo Fleet Battles Covenant Fleet Commander Bust

Fall of Reach is the first of at least two new games being developed by Spartan Games based on the Halo licence. As part of their pre-order promotions at Salute they were giving away resin busts of the Covenant and UNSC Fleet Commanders (you got to pick whichever you preferred). I opted for “Rho Barutamee” as I felt the Covenant Commander would be more interesting to paint and rather than just leave it in the box as another  piece of Salute Loot to gather dust, I set about painting it as an “off table” project the past couple of weeks. This is the story of how ‘Rho’ went from alabaster white plastic to gleaming orange and regal purple Navy Commander. Or something like that.

Rho Barutamee Rho Barutamee

To manage the painting and handling once cleaned and prepped I left the bust in three sub-assemblies; torso, head and plinth. I began by priming all in Scale 75 flat black with the airbrush, a product I can’t praise highly enough. I only recently discovered Scale 75’s primers at salute funnily enough on the Northumbrian Tin Soldier stand. Up to now I’ve been using Vallejo grey primer (and will continue to do so as it’s a great primer for the airbrush), but if you want a completely matt finish Scale 75 is my new go to guy. Over the black I then applied a light coat of the Vallejo grey to give me some contrast and pre-highlight graduation.

Rho Barutamee Rho Barutamee

Covenant skin.

Starting with the mouth-parts I worked up the flesh tones from tan with crimson and purple washes before picking out the rows of teeth in tan, light brown and bone white finishing in pure white. The flesh was a mix of black and Turquoise to which I added VMC Sunny Skin Tone for the highlights. I then gave the mouth a brush coat of Klear to protect before covering with masking fluid. The final highlight to the neck muscles, cheeks and face was applied with the airbrush to soften the transitions. Finally, I gave the skin a few additional tones using a mix of black, green and blue glazes before painting the eyes in orange and white.

Rho Barutamee

Covenant armour.

Before starting on the armour I applied masking fluid/panzer putty to the skin to protect all the work done so far against any overspray. The armour started with two light coats of Game Air Hot Orange followed by a coat of Orange Fire which I focused on strengthening the highlighted surfaces. I hit the high spots with Sun Yellow and finally spots of white here and there where I wanted specific spot reflections. These were then softened with a yellow glaze before switching to a brush for the edge highlights in white. At this stage all of the putty and masking fluid was removed so I could move onto the final glazes.

Rho Barutamee

Working from the deepest undercut shadows outwards I used a watered down glaze of 50/50 green and blue to intensify and blend the shadows into the mid-tones. I also used them to add a degree of tonal shift on the undersides of the predominately warm armour to a cooler green. this is something I will probably look to replicate on a lesser scale on the Yu Jing for Infinity in a couple of months time as the Zanshi palette is predominately orange and green. For the inner armoured ribbing I mixed black into GW Incubi Darkness and added Fenrisian Grey for the highlights. This was then finished with the same turquoise glaze I used on the rest of the armour. Final stage on the armour was a protective coat of Klear.

The cloak:

As I would be switching back to the airbrush again for the cloak, I used masking fluid to protect my work on the armour and blocked out the rest with Panzer Putty again. The last stretch was then just a basecoat of Game Air Imperial Blue, highlight of Alien Purple and a shade of Hexen Purple finished off with the brush for a few final highlights of Alien Purple + White.

Rho Barutamee Rho Barutamee

The plinth:

I considered just painting this a nice even black and giving it a satin varnish finish, but felt this was a bit stark considering there were already big blocks of bold colours in the armour and cloak. I decided a softer and lighter base was needed to balance out the miniature and went with a faux marble effect. This was the first time I’ve ever tried to paint marble, so if anything I was probably overly reserved in the veining. I began with a base tone of a thinned mix of GW Khaki, Dheneb Stone, Bone and White to which I added around 30% satin varnish before applying as several thin layers using the airbrush. The addition of the varnish helps create a smoother egg shell finish rather than the matt and powdery feel you normally get using high pigmentation paints like the GW Foundation range.Tones were added by mixing varying degrees of VMC Saddle Brown and Khemri Brown into the base mix which I randomly applied and brush blended to create areas of interest and shadows under the stone lips and around the blocks. Pure white was then selectively used for extreme spot highlights and edging as well as initial faint veining.

Rho Barutamee Rho Barutamee Rho Barutamee

Finally I applied watered down saddle brown and hull red with a sponge in a similar approach to ‘chipping’ but immediately wet blended to diffuse and soften some of the spots using a clean brush before adding a final deeper veining in pure white to complete the effect.

Rho Barutamee

Rho Barutamee was a one-off exercise as I really don’t tend to paint non-gaming pieces as a general rule. However it did prove to be a good opportunity to try out a few different techniques and experiment a bit on a larger canvas. It also means one less item in the unpainted Salute loot bag which is a good thing. For now though I’ve picked out a spot for him in the workshop cabinet to occupy until his fleet arrives in the summer once the game is launched proper.

Halo Fleet Battles Covenant Fleet Commander Bust

You can find out more about Halo Fleet Battles on the Spartan Games Website here. Until next time, happy painting.


How to paint your tiny TIE Fighters for Star wars Armada. This is purely the method I came up with and isn’t any kind of definitive guide as there are probably lots of different ways you could go about it, they yield better or faster results and I certainly encourage experimentation. That said, this particular approach worked well for me and seemed about the right balance between speed and simplicity, whilst still delivering a pretty good tabletop standard.

For this you will need:

  • Light grey primer (I used Vallejo, but any will do)
  • Flat black, GW Mechanicus Standard Grey, GW Celestra Grey
  • A black wash
  • GW Mephiston Red or Vallejo Escorpena Green (depending how you like your blasters)
  • Protective gloss varnish (I used Klear)
  • Final matt varnish (I used Anti-Shine by Army Painter)

To make the fighters easier to handle, I clipped the ends from several cotton buds (Q-Tips for my continental cousins) and popped the little chaps onto the top.

Star Wars Armada painted TIE Fighters

Step One: After giving them a light coat of grey primer and leaving to cure, I painted the following in the Mechanicus Grey: the inner blank surface of the wings, the inside panels of the wings outer surface, the circular cockpit frame on the front and the inside of the rear engine. The idea behind this is to create contrast, so when the black wash settles you will get two different tones in the grey as the cockpit frame is normally a darker colour with the glass itself black.


The second step is to give the fighter an all-over black wash taking care not to let it pool anywhere too much. Leave to dry.

Star Wars Armada painted TIE Fighters

Step Three: Re-fill the darker wing sections in pure black to neaten up.

Step Four: Use the Celestra Grey to re-highlight and neaten the wing edges. If you are feeling confident in your brush skills I find only giving the upper half of the wing edges a block highlight leaves the lower half in shadow creating a more visually interesting appearance. The Celestra Grey can then be applied as an edge highlight only to the lower edges to sharpen up the finish.You can also pick out a few extra detail with the Celestra like the leading edge of the struts and top of cockpit to create a bit more contrast and pop.

Star Wars Armada painted TIE Fighters

Optional bit: Up to now all of the above stages have required only a few simple brush strokes and nothing too challenging. all can be rattled off quite quickly and will still look great. I found doing around six at a time was about the right number; two bases effectively. If however you really want to make them stand out and you’ve a steady hand, you can also paint the frame onto the inside of the TIE wings. This is not sculpted onto the model unfortunately, but with some patience a simple thin line of Celestra Grey will look just as effective from tabletop distance. Again I emphasise this is very much an optional step and they will still look amazing even with the inside of the wings plain black.

Star Wars Armada painted TIE Fighters

The little touches: All that remains to finish them off is paint the blasters under the cockpit either red or green depending on your preference. The blaster bolts for TIE Fighters are traditionally green in the movies, but I’ve seen the guns illuminated in red also. I ended up trying both just for variety. once the guns were done I gave the fighters a coat of gloss varnish to protect them from handling as they are gaming pieces and a final matt finish for looks. Give them a good 12 – 24 hours at this stage to let the acrylics fully cure and bind before popping them off their Q-Tip holders and tidying up the base stalk in black. They can then be mounted onto the flight stalks.

Star Wars Armada painted TIE Fighters

Final thoughts.

Not all TIE fighters are made equal. I’ve noticed plenty of subtle variations in the colours for the fighters in the movies, some darker blue grey, other almost a pale ghost grey. These aren’t scale model and will look good however you do them, the key here really is settling on a nice grey base and letting the black wash do most of the work for you. The rest is jus degrees of contrast. If you would like the cockpit windows to pop a little more, being the TIE Fighters primary iconic detail simply omit the mid grey stage and just black wash the whole ship over the grey primer. You don’t even need to do all the ships the same way and can use different shades or contrast to signify different squadrons, or even unique named pilots such as “Howl Runner”. I’m already playing around with a few ideas to paint a few Interceptors as Royal Guard or Imperial ‘Aces’ just for fun.

The other tweak I made was to also spray the clear plastic flight bases black. Personally I think this really lifts the overall finish and now wonder if it’s something I’ll also carry over to the rest of the fleet and possibly X-Wing as well.

Anyway, hopefully you found this little guide helpful. I admit I only painted the fighters because I’m a little obsessive about such things anyway, but I’m pleasantly surprised how easily they can be done and how nicely they turned out considering. Now I jsut need to come up with an equally simple method for the Rebel ships as well. I think that may prove to be more of a challenge

Until then, stay on target!