Friday, March 5, 2010

Melta, Melta, Melta

On the heels of this week’s battle report, I wanted not only to keep one eye on the much-vaunted but otherwise un-victorious Onorevoli, but also to change direction slightly and mention a really nice technique for painting meltaguns that Roberto Vo5 taught me at the New Year.

Rob is my oldest friend. We’ve known each other since before either can remember and, while in these intervening years each of us has spent extended periods in various corners of this planet, we each still manage to find the other from time to time for the things that come most naturally… in this case, 40K. Rob was on leave this Christmas, and managed a trip up to Chicago to visit his family. Never ones to waste an opportunity, we rang in a bit of our own holiday cheer with a few cheeky games of Space Hulk as well as one respectable CSM v. IG smackdown (Rob played IG).

So, credit where credit is due. This is Rob’s recipe for painting meltas. Once he showed me how it's done, the technique appealed to me so completely that I’ve had to resist the urge to go back and re-work every melta that I’ve ever painted. Instead, I’ve made sure to look forward and to apply it at every opportunity on my newest models, the Onorevoli (of course).

The technique starts with Black and works away from the end barrel back toward Scorched Brown with generous increments of Burnished Gold added to the Brown. The blending here should be gentle and as smooth as reasonably possible, but I don’t fret overly. In fact, a band or two actually helps represent the effect as the intense heat distortion warps the coloring of the metal.

The very edges on each end are highlighted with Burnished Gold and just a drop of either Chainmail or Mithril Silver (personally, I prefer Chainmail). Again, the Gold is pretty soft on pigment so the Silver tends to overwhelm it completely when mixing the two. For that reason, just a tiny dab of the Silver will travel good distance toward lightening the Gold without losing that hue entirely.

Traditionally, I wash all my gold colors with significantly thinned Chestnut Ink, but in this case Sepia Wash (or perhaps even Devlan) will work nicely. The Wash smooths transitions, adds depth, and makes the Gold much more rich in texture. Once dry, I then go back and gently, gently re-apply the final two highlights -one of the Gold and one of the Gold-Silver mix- to the edges both front and back.

And there it is.

Thank you, Rob, for this perfectly simple and dynamic technique.

As a post script, I've included the following photo not only because it includes yet another example of the melta technique on one of my Onorevoli, but also because I wanted to test the waters with a little experiment. As I've stated before, I'm still working out the kinks with my camera and with the tricky world of miniature photography. I'm not sure how visually appealing this darker background will be, but we won't know until I've posted... so here goes. Please let me know if this darker background works for you (it's actually just the reverse side of the grass mat we use during games).


Rob said...

And yet, as ever, I remain envious of your artistry... Sometimes I think, "If only I had half your talent." And sometimes I think that might be precisely just how much I have. These figures are beautiful.

The Dark Templar said...

The darker background and overhead spotlight certainly makes for a dramatic photo – looks awesome – but perhaps doesn't show off the apinting quality as much as the white bkgd does.

Awesome models :D

Brian said...

Rob, you know that you are, unequivocally, "the dude." I see from your profile that you've continued working on the Dark Angels, but can one presume that there's been a bit more IG in the mix of late?

Templar, thank you. I agree that the background becomes a bit distracting. I may post a few more photos of this nature up in the future (as I've taken several already of the IW and I'd hate to see it all go to waste), but I feel that, on the whole, I'll try to stick with either action shots or white background.

rpthomps1111 said...

Great tip. I can see using different shadings as well to get different "feels" for a weapon.

Thanks again


twitter: rpthomps

Warhammer39999 said...

The trim of silver on the tip really gives it a nice pop. I use a similar shading method for my meltas, but no highlight on the tip, and they don't look half as good.

Great tip!

Brian said...

I wish that I could take credit, but it's all Rob. He spelled out the method and I just painted by the numbers so to speak. I'm glad that you'll benefit from his insight as I have.