Previously on PowerFisted, after painting my 8th test model, I felt further away from my goal than ever before. My metals were sloppy, I still wasn’t getting the contrast I wanted, my colors were flat, I was awful at painting hazard stripes, and all those fancy pictures on the internet were way better than mine.

I took a break from painting, but I never stopped reading up on new techniques. After lots of research and thought gathering I decided it was time to seriously commit to my painting or be done with it entirely. So I set aside a budget for getting the tools that I needed and decided that the next few models would be my make-it-or-break-it moment.

Test Model #9
I knew that I wanted to weather my models more. I wanted them to have more depth, more life, and feel like they were veterans of 1000 years of battle. Soooo I went hog wild with this guy:
-I stopped using GW washes and started making my own (thanks Les Bursley!)
-Acquired chipping fluid, dental tools, and steel wool to chip my paint
-Bought half of the Vallejo Liquid Gold alcohol paint family
-Picked up 3-4 new paints so I could make deeper reds and yellows
-More pigments so I could blend them

The result was a noticeable step up in my painting. Because I had every shade of wash that I ever dreamed of, I was able to really target my shadows with the right tone. The chipping fluid and undercoating added complexity to my process, but it was really fun and added a lot of character. The alcohol based paints were, put simply, phenomenal- the best paints I had ever used. I wasn’t happy with my armor, but I was motivated again to keep trying.
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Test Model #10
This is the last major milestone in my painting. I wanted more contrast and, while watching a video of somebody weathering a tank, wondered if I could do this to my mini. I decided to start making my own oil based washes so I could make my white look grimy and do pin washes in all the recesses. Also, somehow during my painting, I decided to try dry-brushing my metallic paints lightly over the top of my regular acrylic ones. The result was finally the metal plate-mail look I was looking for! Combined with my newly discovered alcohol based metallic paints, custom washes, chipping fluid, and dental tools… something finally clicked. The model had tons of depth and was highlighted in the ways I wanted. You can see the jump in contrast from 9 to 10 pretty plainly.

The only thing I wanted to add was a slight blue tint to my metallic armor, but over the course of painting the model I had become frustrated with my gesso primer- when I combined it with my dental tools and chipping fluid, it didn’t hold well and would scrape off. My painting process was also taking a long time and I needed a way to speed things up.

So I bought an airbrush.
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Test Model #11
Here’s where everything finally came together. All the weathering, all the shades of color, all my metallic armor plates, and all my desired color contrast… finally. What I had in my head had come to life and I was ecstatic that I had done it. My airbrush had saved me lots of time and, combined with the new primer, let me use even thinner layers of paint.

I was ready. So I bought my first squad of legionaries, converted one up the way I wanted, and then set out to paint him like I would the rest of my army.
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Test Model #12
Here he is. The final product of all my work. Even here I tried new things- zenithal priming, custom decals, and a micron pen (which finally let me create all the hazard stripes I wanted). It was a long road, but I had finally gotten to the point where I was happy with what I was painting. I knew that from here on out I could do justice to the vision I had in my head. It might have taken me 13 tries, but the road to #12 had taught me so much about painting that it was worth it. 13 happens to be my favorite number. Maybe that’s why it took me 12 times to get it right?

Newest in the front and oldest in the rear going left to right- here are all the models from the test painting days.

From here I could paint my first squad, try painting a vehicle, and finally begin work on my 30k/40k army.

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