One question I get asked from time to time is how I do the metallics on the war engines for Titanicus. The process has evolved somewhat since I did the Gryphonicus Warlord Kit and If I’m being honest, isn’t really a process as more a series of painting stages that builds up a patina with each additional layer. I also change the materials used from engine to engine, however, in principle the method is the same. I will attempt to break it down here.
Princeps Senioris sized health warning!
What I really love about painting Epic scale, is trying to recreate the same feeling of the standard scale in something a quarter of the size. That means I use a lot of paints, materials, inks and other stuff to create the way I want my war engines to look on the tabletop. This is not a quick process and it uses a lot of different materials and processes, which I fully appreciate won’t be for everyone. Especially if you simply want the get your tiny-titan painted and into a game.
That said, I hope some of the processes I describe below may be of use, if not in full but as a handy hint or tip when you paint your own engines.
The base skeleton (airbrush)
Prime black, obviously. To create the base metal tones I want I start by airbrushing Scale Emerald Alchemy over all the chassis areas. This I follow up with metal series burnt iron applied to just the undersides to create some contrast. I then switch to adding shadows with a mix of game colour red black mixed with a little rhinox hide. I use this to sketch in where I want the deepest shadows. I overspray all of these areas with a mix of blue and black ink. The inks over the reddish brown colour creates the most intense metal looking shadows.
Final step, I airbrush metal series duraluminium from above focusing only only the uppermost metal surfaces that would catch the light. Areas like knee joints, thighs and feet.
Adding variety (brush)
With the base skeleton colour down, I look for opportunities to add variety and help make the scale of the war engine more readable. Things like piston sleeves, ducting, vents, joints or gearing. These I pick out in a host of contrasting metals just to create some variety. I use brass, copper, dark golds and decayed metals. The colours and paints really do not matter, only the variety to help make the scale readable.
Contrast paints work really well in this task, I often also use yellows like Nazdrag and warm brown including Guilliman’s flesh or snakebite leather to ‘tint’ metal parts. The more variety the better, but I try to pick sensible colours that reflect the purpose or material the part is made from. Trim is austentatious gold, mechanical parts grimy oil slicked browns.
Add some noise (sponge chipping and brush)
This is probably the most impactful step in the whole process in my opinion. By stippling contrasting metals over areas I can create subtle textual details that really make the war engine stand out. The trick is to keep the marks incredibly tiny in scale so as not to break the illusion that this is a massive construct. I stippled bright steels over darker metals and dark brass or decayed metal over gold or yellow areas.
I try to interpret where there would be the most details or marks based on wear, but also where there wouldn’t. I avoid adding any stippling to piston shafts as I imagine these would be quite smooth and polished. I leave those to come back to at the end when I can add some highly reflective chrome and oils to really make them pop!
I’m including this because it’s a key part of my workflow, if I didn’t then it wouldn’t be an accurate guide. However this is not something I know everyone will have access to. Sepia oil washes or nuln oil gloss will serve almost as well. Both go nicely over metallic paint. Keep both thin though to avoid significantly changing the underlying colours.
For those who haven’t heard of it before, so-called ‘wonder wash’ is essentially an acrylic floor varnish, to which multiple pots of games workshops ink washes have been added. Because the varnish contains tiny amounts of lots of different pigments it works as a filter, creating nuances in the tones that ironically the human eye detects far better than any camera sensor. I applied this wash over all the metal sections of the miniature and gave it a few hours to fully dry, before moving to the final stage.
Highlights and details
At this point I normally paint all the trim (I know, there’s no avoiding it I’m sorry to say!). I very deliberately leave the trim until nearly the end for a simple reason. The acrylic varnish/wash from the previous step makes it very simple to profile the edges of the armour trim using contrast paint. For this particular engine I used Guilliman Flesh to complement the green armour and victorian brass trim, but it could equally be black. The varnish reduces adhesion so the contrast paint flows as well as an oil or panel liner reducing risks of drying stains.
Those in essence are the four stages I follow. The paints may vary, sometimes I use oils for tinting, sometimes I add flat colours to metallics to change the properties. But always the order is the same. Starting with the base scheme, adding variety, adding texture, then finally applying the wash and trim detailing.
I complete assembly at this point normally so I can see where I need to make any adjustments to spot highlights or shadows. These I correct and then apply any final finish varnish before considering weathering. That however, is a topic for another post on another day.