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Painting Some Moondragon Ships

Moondragon Blister Pack
(2 models per pack)
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Wardog Blister Pack
(2 models per pack)
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Revision Log
10 March 2000converted to new format
21 September 1997page first published

4,744 hits since 20 Mar 2000
©1994-2017 Bill Armintrout
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I started off with the Moondragon - the crescent-winged fighter - as I had a clear idea what I wanted to do with it. (I wanted to paint it pretty much like the picture on the box's side panel, black with red trim.)

The Moondragon

I could have chosen to prime it black, but I was worried about the red trim looking subdued over the black base, so I primed the ship white instead. I used a brand-new can of cheap indoor/outdoor flat white enamel.

Next, I painted the leading edge of the wing, and the "cloak" around the middle fuselage, in the trim color. I used Americana Decoart brand acrylic paint (a paint found in the hobby section of craft and department stores, mine cost US$1.49 for 2 ounces), a color called DA129 True Red. The color was a bit pink on first application, so I went with a second coat after the first dried.

I then painted the majority of the ship in black, using another craft-type brand of acrylic paint (Ceramcoat). It was a pain to basically repaint the entire ship, and difficult not to accidentally paint where the trim was. Maybe I should have primed it black.

Taking the red paint again, I cleaned up those spots where I had gotten black over the red. This required several coats of paint, as the black easily showed through a single coat of red paint.

Then I painted the details:

  • I used a gunmetal shade around the canopy, to set it off from the fuselage, and used the same color to dry brush the "nose rings" to make them stand out
  • Silver was used around the exhaust-ends of the upper cylinders, and to make the front and rear gun barrels stand out
  • Stripes on the "red cloak" were painted gold, as were the leading edges of the vertical fins
  • Wanting a bright metal color to accent the bottom "torpedo" features, I decided to wet-brush bronze on the "nose rings" and exhausts (and a dab of black ink to make the inside of the exhausts sooty black)

The picture showed what looked like mirror-image lightning flashes on both sides of the cockpit. I tried to do that (in silver), but found it was not easy to get matching flashes, and that non-matching flashes were an obvious flaw. Therefore, I went with an asymetrical marking: lightning flash on one side, arrowhead on the other.

I find that it's quite common, when I work with miniatures, that I can't make out some of the detail until after I've base-coated the model. That was true with the raised wing insignia in this case. I couldn't figure out what it was until the ship was primed, then I easily recognized it as a dragon's head within a circlet. I followed the suggestion of the box panel and painted the head red with a golden circlet.

The most fun I had was trying to match the black-and-yellow checkerboard pattern, used on the front of the top cylinders (the engines). This was my first attempt to handpaint a checkerboard pattern, but I found that the eye is very forgiving of mistakes (or I was less critical than I usually am...?). I started with a wide yellow stripe, which took many coats before it stood out brightly over the black base. (Yes, in retrospect, I should have painted the stripes yellow before I put the black coat down!) Then I painted the black "squares," trying to keep them roughly a brush-width in size. (I used a 0 size round brush with white synthetic bristles, it cost me about US$3 at a craft store and has done well for me.) With a steady hand, and some careful corrections when I screwed up, I ended up with a checkerboard pattern that I rather like. There are imperfections, but they aren't visible at normal playing distances.

Painting the checkerboard caused me to accidentally mar the adjacent red trim with black again, and the quick application of clean water with a fresh brush failed to lift the paint this time. So I put a few more coats of red paint on, to cover the black...

my finished Moondragon

I finished the model up with a good coat of clear flat lacquer. (I used Dull Cote, the best flat lacquer I've ever found, manufactured by Testors and often found in the plastic models section of department and toy stores.)

The ship didn't quite look flashy enough, so I went back and brushed a clear gloss coat over the red trim. I used Hi Gloss Sealer from Duncan Decorator Specialties, which looks like thinned white glue when you brush it on.

I used the same gloss to add a glass effect to the canopy, which I had painted black.

Moondragon on 3D flight stand

The Wardog

The color art on the box's side panel showing a sample Wardog paint scheme didn't appeal to me - partially because of the red trim, which looked too much like the Moondragon scheme to me - so I decided to go original on this one.

I figured if I were flying a fighter over the surface of the moon, I'd want something that blended in - a grey-on-grey camo pattern, perhaps. And since the Wardog was the fighter for the corporate security forces, I thought that a drab look was appropriate in this case.

After a base coat of white paint, I hit the model with a "wash" (a coat of watered-down paint) using Americana DecoArt color DA88 Charcoal Grey. To my surprise, the acrylic paint became quite foamy/bubbly after I used a wet, wide brush to apply it - I was afraid the ship would have bubble rings in the dried paint. Even worse, the wash went on much darker than I wanted, and adding more water didn't seem to lighten it that much.

To my relief, however, the dried color was fairly light, and the bubbles apparently burst before they dried (there were no bubble rings in the paint). I had also achieved the effect I'd wanted - a naturally blotchy, slightly uneven dark grey coloring to the entire fighter, with the darkest shadows in the recesses and where structures met.

Next I took some basic white acrylic paint, mixed in a dab of the original Charcoal Grey, and dry-brushed the entire model. (That is, I used an old brush with a wide tip, loaded it with paint, brushed most of the paint off on a paper towel, then repeated "painted" the model with the almost-dry brush.)

The effect wasn't what I had had in mind, but it worked - most of the model painted in the dry brushed shade of Charcoal Grey, but with the darker, blotchy Charcoal Grey wash showing up in the recesses. It looked good enough, in fact, that I decided not to pursue a more ambitious grey-on-grey camo scheme. (I've been told that my "low visibility" plain grey fighters are boring - which fits my concept of corporate security craft!)

I had trouble figuring out what the raised insignia on the right side of the fuselage was, so I hit it with some black ink - and it turned out to be an eagle, surmounting a scroll reading "Alpha" (the name of the lunar colony). I carefully painted the raised surfaces gold.

I used gunmetal to give a metallic look to the wingtip lasers, and chose to use yellow on the wide engine exhaust. The canopy already looked nicely shaded due to the wash and dry brushing, so I only gave it a light wash of black ink to darken it a level but retain the contrasts.

my finished Wardog

I finished the Wardog with a protective spray of Dull Cote, then used a clear gloss to add contrast to the engine exhausts and to bring out the "glassiness" of the canopy.

One oddity that I noticed in my Wardogs once they were painted, is that both ships are slightly sway-backed - that is, there's a curve in the spinal ridges that runs along the top of the fuselage halves. It's a rather subtle flaw, though, not one that will impede anyone from putting these ships onto the lunar battlefield...

Wardog dives on Moondragon, refrigerator in background