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6 - The Devil is in the Details!

MkIVb Predator
Product #
Suggested Retail Price
$34.99 USD


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BlackWidowPilot Fezian writes:

Make that Part 7…. Mwahahaahaaaaaa!!! More details to follow…. evil grin

Leland R. Erickson

Revision Log
12 May 2005page first published

5,297 hits since 12 May 2005
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Leland Erickson of Miniatures Dressed to Kill writes:

Haaallooooo, Possums!!! It's little (evil) me again!!! And just when everyone thought that it was safe, I return to infli... er, shaaare my many years of model and figure experience with everyone.

Leland Erickson is back!

Picking up where we left off all toooo long ago, we're at the detailling stage of the Predator Mk. IV. So just what-in-the-name-of-The-Emperor does this involve? Quite a wonderful lot, actually!

The Predator Mark IV as detailed by Leland Erickson

Of all of the various stages of science-fiction model building, I must confess that the detailling stage of a project is oftentimes my most favorite. This project so generously bestowed upon this humble brush-for-hire is a splendid model for many purposes, even the one it was originally intended! As the Editor is a loyal servant of The Emperor and His Divine Ways, this project has not deviated from the original purpose of being a kick-ass battle tank in the service of the Space Marines (TM) of the Warhammer 40,000 universe.

Even so, there's much room for making the latest incarnation of the venerable Predator one's own. Besides rendering the vehicle as a part of my own Space Marines chapter - the Iron Horsemen - with a businesslike camoflage finish, I added more than a few extra goodies designed to give this futuristic armoured beast a more realistic "lived in" look by adding some external stowage and tools lifted from a set of 1/35 scale vehicle bits. But adding the bits isn't enough; one has to paint them!

Stowage added to the turret

So out comes the size OOO brush and the Plaid FolkArt series acryllic paint #940 Coffee Bean. This is one of several shades of brown colour that is to be found in the series of related craft paints that includes Delta Ceramcoat, DecoArt Americana, and FolkArt. All come in nearly identical 2-fluid-ounce bottles, all are inexpensively priced, and all can be found in craft stores in a wide variety of colours and shades. Metallics are also available, so my shovel heads, pick-axe blades, and prybars are rendered in FolkArt #667 Metallic Gunmetal Grey.

Craft paints such as the FolkArt brand are quite useful

This extremely useful and rich steel colour is also the base covering for the tracks of the death-dealing Predator Mk. IV. DecoArt DA148 Emperor's Gold was my colour of choice for the various skulls and other symbols of faith-in-The-Emperor found on the model and its valiant commander manning the cupola-mounted Stormbolter (that's 40k-speak for "light machine gun"). Finally, at this stage I covered the exhaust mufflers with a coat of DecoArt Americana DA96 Red Iron Oxide, which is a simply superb rust colour with more than a few applications as I've discovered.

And thus we come to the next step, which is the use of water-based inks. Now much has been written and said about the use of water-based inks in figure-painting circles, and so I will avoid saying too much about them! Suffice to say that this humble brush-slinger has been using them for over 20 years with far more successes than failures (OK, even moi has a few... er, unsuccessful experiments now and then...), far more wonderful and thoroughly satisfying results than not. I've used several different brands of water-based inks in my time, and have found that several brands are more useful than others for certain jobs, and definitely less so for others.

One particular ink that I use by the gallons, it seems, is the ubiquitous Pelikan brand #15 Sepia drawing ink. This is a rich and transparent dark-brown colour, the pigment of which thins with water, remains water-soluble until the figure or model is spray-sealed, and produces wonderful shading and aging washes either straight from the bottle, or mixed with water or paint as needed. The same goes for Pelikan brand #14 Burnt Sienna, which works equally well as a shading wash for European flesh tones, anything red including metallics, and as an enhancement for steel colours to give a slightly rusty finish.

I applied an uncut wash of Sepia to the gunmetal and gold bits, including the tool heads, wooden handles, and gold decorations. Once the ink dries, the effect is quite striking, as this ink both shades and ages all in one coat. When it came to the treads, I took a slightly different approach - a deviation from my usual approach to tank treads (Deviation? notify the Inquisition!).

Rather than the usual one-two-three approach of Gunmetal, Sepia ink and Burnt Sienna ink followed by a hefty coating of mud or dust (or both!), I've taken a somewhat different approach involving a wash of thinned DecoArt Americana DA96 Red Iron Oxide over the Gunmetal Grey finish, producing a strong rusty finish with just enough of the gunmetal showing through to make it clear to the viewer that these are metal treads that have seen a bit of service, rather than something that just came off of the assembly line! I finished this with a wash of uncut Sepia ink, which gave the treads a strong, greasy shading effect.

***TBD Transmission...
Point of Origin: Fomalhaut Sector....
Recieving data...***

We interupt this heretical program to bring you an historical reference from the most arcane archives of greater model-building knowledge. The most ancient and holy of model builder's tomes, Modeling Tanks and Military Vehicles by Sheperd Payne (ISBN # 0-89024-045-0), a veritable Codex Arcanum of model-building tips and advice from one of the finest model-building talents of our age, explains how any tank or tracked vehicle - even when factory fresh - will be covered in dust and grime after just a few minutes of running cross-country, and never mind if the field's muddy! Model tanks and tracked vehicles should ideally reflect this in their finish, with adequate degrees of appropriate weathering, either dust, or muck or both.

***End Transmission...
End data reception...
no further***

Moving to the cloth stowage consisting of duffle bags, bedrolls, and field packs, I started with a drybrushed basecoat of FolkArt #449 Olive Green, a superb and very military colour with a terrific variety of uses as a base colour, a shading colour, good for both camoflage, uniforms, cloth equipment, and whatever else the imagination can see a use for this colour. I then drybrushed a highlighting shade consisting of Delta Ceramcoat #02533 Timberline Green. This is another simply outstanding "military" colour that seems to be a current trend in colour-shade releases in these otherwise "craft" paint lines. I've discovered quite a few colours, in fact, that are almost spot-on, dead-on-target for a variety of historical uniform and camoflage subjects, including a light grey-green "sage" colour that is near-perfect for WWII Italian Army uniforms! Never mind the shade of "Hauser Medium Green" that's perfect for WW1 German jager (light infantry) tunics, which were a greener shade of the more ubiquitous "feldgrau" worn by the rest of the Kaiser's legions. Overall, if you haven't taken a good, hard look at the water-based acrylic craft paints, then you're missing out on a very useful series of paints, indeed.

After rendering the highlighting shade of the cloth stowage, I then turned to some down-n-dirty detailing in the form of my favorite thing to do to an AFV - namely, grafitti! Taking up my 10-0 brush and my bottle of FolkArt #901 Wicker White, I proceeded to add some character to the Editor's valiant engine-of-war-in-the-41st-Millenium. I started with giving this mighty beast of metal a name (every beast-of-metal has a name, right?). I recalled a song from my childhood (the artist escapes me at the moment) entitled Geronimo's Cadillac. I couldn't resist!

Geronimo's Cadillac

With my 10-0 brush, I carefully lettered this mighty name across the front of the hull, just above the armoured driver's visor - a location which just begged for something to be placed there, so the hapless, scum-sucking alien victims of the metal beast's wrath will know in their dying moments just who is grinding them under their treads. Using the same brush and Wicker White, I proceeded to adorn this mighty engine-of-war with appropriate symbols of the warrior spirit befitting the Native American theme of the Iron Horsemen, symbols meant to draw power from the spirits of nature. I refered repeatedly to a really fantastic book in my personal library, Mystic Warriors of the Plains (ISBN # 0-7924-5663-7) - a huge hardback book literally stuffed with informative text, superb black & white artwork, and colour plates showing in great detail a vast array of clothing, tools, symbols, how-they-did-it schematics, and etc. concerning the Native American peoples. As the Iron Horsemen are recruited exclusively from colonists descended from Native Americans from the Sioux nations, this was a natural source of ideas.

Bear markings added

Trusty detailing brush in hand, I then added a bear-spirit icon to the left side of the vehicle, a bear's claw and two stars to the left side of the turret to invoke the power of the mighty bear, and another small bear's claw to the left front below the headlight. I then added three lightning bolts on the right-rear-quarter (which will be followed with a red cloud, to form a thundercloud symbol invoking the power of this force of nature). Finally, ever the card as I am, I added the quip Got 'Nids? to the turret rear. After all, the Iron Horsemen are adept at splatting Tyranids, so the comment seemed perfectly reasonable...

Got 'Nids?

I also added the first of several decals, a simple three-digit tactical number taken from my decal boxes, a spare number from a 1/72 scale Hasegawa Tiger I model kit. As this project proceeds, several more such waterslide transfers will complete the look of this menacing-yet-dashing AFV. And this is just the beginning, as this superb kit is actually full of details that just beg to be enhanced! And then there's the interior of this machine...

On to the interior!

Next Installment: Part 6: A Detailing We Will Go!