Monday, 14 September 2015

Painting a Death Head Starviper

Two in a single day! What is wrong with me?

Anyway, I knew that all three scum butterfly Starvipers would be challenging to paint, though perhaps none more so than the Death Head Starviper. I started painting a version that was fairly close in appearance to an actual death head moth but neither I nor the commissioner were quite satisfied with the result. Instead I stripped the paint and restarted, this time with brighter colours. Of course during the stripping I noticed that one of the wings was badly glued into place so I removed it and mounted it on a pin. This proved to be a great boon, as it made the model much easier to paint.

The ship was first primed with Vallejo's white primer and this was followed by a basecoat using VGC Plague Brown. The top pair of wings was then manually painted with VGC Charred Brown.

To give the upper wings a mottled appearence, I stippled a variety of colours on top of them. I first started with some VGC Terracotta followed by Plague Brown and VGC Cold Grey. As you can see in the photos above, I tried to keep each colour fairly contained to specific areas of the wings. The final  colour was some VGC Red Scar stippled directly on top of the Terracotta painted areas.

To prepare for the washing stage I sprayed the model with gloss varnish, though before that I painted part of the body with Charred Brown. As can bee seen in the second picture above, most of the back was left Plague Brown.

After an oil wash using dark brown oil paint, I could begin highlighting the model. The yellow was easy, I first used a 4:1 mix of Plague Brown and White for the first layer, a 2:1 mix for the second, and finally a 1:1 mix for the third highlight.

The top pair of wings and the hull however proved much more difficult. The first highlight was a 3:1 mix of Charred Brown and VGC Earth, the second a 1:1 mix of the same colours, and the third just plain Earth. However, I had to constantly adjust the mixes with both Terracotta and Plague brown to match the stippled areas. This was very much done using trial and error so I couldn't give accurate mixes even if I tried.

The engines were painted using a 1:2 mix of German Grey and VGC Sombre Grey. This was shaded using AP Dark Tone ink and later highlighted using Cold Grey and VGC Stonewall Grey.

The engine glow was slowly built up using successive glazes of AP Red Tone ink as a start. When I had a good start I switched to VGC Red Gore that I added small amounts of white to until I had almost reached pure white. Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo of this stage, so instead the photo from the black and green Starviper will have to suffice.

For the cockpit windows I used German Grey which were highlighted by adding ever greater amounts of Cold Grey to the mix. For the final parts of the window reflection I used pure VGC Stonewall Grey.

As this was a death head's moth it couldn't possibly be without its namesake. To paint the 'skull' I used Stonewall Grey as the base, which I later highlighted using White. The cockpit of a Starviper isn't really a good place to paint a skull on but I think I managed a decent version none the less.

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