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5 - Camo Colors for the Predator

MkIVb Predator
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Suggested Retail Price
$34.99 USD


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5 August 2003page first published

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©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Leland Erickson of Miniatures Dressed to Kill writes:

OK, so the wonderful new Predator Mk. IV model is all black. As my cats are so fond of saying, "Big, fat, hairy deal." But wait, oh would-be minions of painting evil! This is but the basest of beginnings! Bwahahaaa!!!

Now the real fun begins, as we apply the base colour to the model. As this Predator Mk. IV is a part of the glorious ranks of the 214th Chapter of the Adeptus Astartes, the Iron Horsemen, the base colour will reflect the highly practical livery employed by this ever-faithful brotherhood of Space Marines. The overall basic colour scheme for the powered armour suits worn by the Iron Horsemen is an overall medium green, specifically Liquitex Artist Color Medium Viscosity Acrylic Chromium Oxide Green (No. 2002-166).

But wait! While this is the basic uniform colour of The Iron Horsemen, it is not the first colour I apply. As you may recall, the MDK approach to painting is not only corrupt and unredeemably evil, but it is also primarily a system of drybrushing up in layers of increasingly lighter shades of the chosen colour. My approach also involves something called "common sense," as well as a persistent tendency to extrapolate fantasy and science fiction colour schemes from actual historical models.

In keeping with this diabolical approach, I have consistently chosen to paint vehicles from the Iron Horsemen chapter in an overall medium green basic colour scheme, adding any appropriate camoglage patterns over this basic scheme as appropriate to the environment these fearless warriors of The Emperor may find themselves operating in. The result is vehicles that may range from a basic monotone colour scheme, to two-, three-, and even four-colour camoflage patterns.

In the case of The Editor (His name Be Praised!) and his recently supplied Predator Mk. IV, this cunning and completely mutated artist settled immediately upon a three-colour scheme that would:

  1. provide the viewer with more than just a bland monotone vehicle to look at, and
  2. let this dastardly paintslinger have some artistic fun while giving The Editor a really cool looking model for his collection

So, with the above ravings and heresies in mind, I selected a base color of overall Americana DecoArt Acrylic Paint Avocado (DA 52) as the principle base colour, with a disruptive pattern of broad swatches of Apple Barrel Colors Craft Paint Leaf Green (20528) (also water-based acrylic) divided by thin lines of Americana DecoArt Acrylic Paint Lamp (Ebony) Black (DA 67).

But just like building a house, one must first finish the foundation before raising the walls...

Before this nefarious brush jockey could start doing the fun stuff, I had to first set the stage for the base colour by drybrushing the black-primed model with a coat of Americana DecoArt Acrylic Paint Black Green (DA 157). This is a very dark shade of green, nearly black to the casual eye. But the stuff is in my egotistical opinion a great colour to use for a variety of tasks, especially as a base colour for any flat dark- to medium- shades of green. This is especially true of military green finishes, and as a result I tend to go through the handy 2 ounce bottles of this stuff like cheap beer at a frat party.

So away I go, merrily drybrushing the hapless Predator model in overall Black Green. Once I've given them a good overall coating of this delightfully sinister shade, I set the components aside to dry, and then eagerly snatch up other hapless projects from my ever-clustered workbench and torture them in a similar manner (in this case, several dozen WWII-era French tanks for a client, some fantasy ranger-type figures for another client hopelessly addicted to Reaper Miniatures, and some strange and obscure WW1-era AFVs for myself). By the time I have set aside the undercoated Char d'Assault St. Chamonds from Reviresco, the Predator components are fully dry and ready for the next shade of their overall scheme, specifically Americana Acocado.

The approach - and the results - are essentially the same. The quick-drying properties of water-based acrylics allow me to rapidly cover the vicious Imperial Predator with a business-like base colour of overall Avocado Green, and let me proceed to the next stage of the colour scheme, the disruptive pattern. By The Emperor! How I LOVE to do camo schemes!

The next step is to drybrush selected areas of the Predator model with Apple Barrel Leaf Green, creating a striking yet effective disruptive camoflage scheme for The Editor's deadly engine of war. Again I use a drybrushing technique, allowing me to rapidly cover the desired areas, preserve a sense of realistic shading, and take advantage again of the rapid-drying properties of water-based acrylic paints.

Finished Predator shows off the camo scheme

Now if The Editor and my fellow fans of The Miniatures Page will permit me to digress a moment, I would like to clarify my apparently bizzare use of a wide array of paint brands. While I have been painting miniatures for 26 years now (and plastic models since I was in kindergarten!), I freely admit that I did not acquire any real proficiency (ie., I wasn't any damn good at it!) until my early 20s, when a deranged and sadistic member of the IPMS named Todd Hunt abducted me to his flying saucer (disguised as the back room of the local game store) and introduced me to the wonders of acrylic paints, drybrushing, and dark-washing techniques that I have diligently practiced ever since). Once I grasped the marvelous advantages of water-based paints, I promptly tossed out all of my thinner-based model paints, and purchased the then-commonly available Poly-S brand acryllics, some then-new Ral Partha paints, and like a newly-enlightened Jedi, took my first step into a much larger world.

I have not once looked back, but have since added water-based inks (Games Workshop, Pelikan, Koh-E-Noor, and Windsor & Newton), water-based enamels(!), and after a tentative experiment prompted by a friendly chiding from John McEwan (the Evil Genius behind Reviresco), adding a massive amount of the inexpensive and extremely useful Americana/DecoArt/FolkArt series of water-based craft paints, the sheer variety of which has to be seen to be fully appreciated. Combined with my rabid and obsessive research into military history - especially that of AFVs of the two World Wars and all the conflicts between - I have had endless opportunities to learn the full measure of water-based paints and related media.

I cannot say it often or loudly enough; water-based paints ROCK! Because these versatile paints can be altered with water, they are easily maintained, brush cleanup is a snap, paint washes and colour mixing are as easy as can be, and drybrushing is simplicity in and of itself. Add in the fact that water-based acrylic craft paints come in a staggering array of shades and colours, that many of these paints with artsy names like Hauser Medium Green or Italian Sage correspond almost exactly to real world military uniform or equipment colours, and a full range of metallic colours are available as well (and they are wonderfully bright and unmistakeably metallic). Add to this the fact that they are cheap as dirt, inter-mix quite easily with any other water-based media that I have yet encountered, and one can see the utility of water-based acrylics over thinner- or oil-based paints.

This is especially true for those of use who are gripped by the miniature wargaming demon, compelling us to produce entire armies of painted figures in a single bound (I for one am so badly afflicted that i am never satisfied with a mere warband or five, but must field the entire TO&E even if I only use a platoon in the largest games!). The ability to rapidly drybrush entire rows of figures or models, clean up the brush, switch to a new colour and brush, and rapidly cover dozens of figures in a single painting session can never be underestimated. I for one remember my first excruciating attempts to paint up enough figures for my high school AD&D group, just so each of us had a single character apiece, using Pactra brand thinner-base paints. AAARGGGH!!!!! What an excruciating memory!


Now that the Predator is in a two-tone green pattern, I then proceed to add thin lines of black edging between the two colours of the vehicle's camoflage pattern. This pattern of black edging dates back to the very first tanks used in battle during WW1, being found on French and British tanks alike. While the British tanks quickly dropped multi-coloured disruptive patterns for monotone Drab Green or Khaki finishes, the French Army persisted in painting their clanking boiler-plated contraptions in often elaborate four-colour schemes with black edging dividing all of the constituent colours. This system carried on into the early days of WW2, with French tanks rolling into action in black-, brown-, and even ochre-edged patterns in marked contrast to the monotone Panzer Grey schemes of their German opponents. This practice is was also prevalent to a lesser degree in the Imperial Japanese Army, with early Japanese AFVs used in China during the 1930s sporting two- and three- colour camoflage schemes with dark brown or black edging reminiscent of the early French camoflage.

French WWI tanks as painted by Leland

Because this edging makes for a striking effect, I have freely used it in my science fiction AFV projects since I built my very first kitbashed tanks for Starguard! back in the late 70s (my entire Ameron army AFV motorpool - which I repainted to a higher standard in the early 80s - sports a distinctly French camo pattern edged in black). I have also freely experimented with variations on this theme, specifically two-tone green patterns edged in black on mecha and sci-fi tanks of various types. So the TMP Workbench Predator was hardly immune from such artistic deviltry, and since The Editor made the cardinal mistake of Giving Leland A Free Hand in chosing the colour scheme of this latest bit of Games Workshop plastic heresy, the poor, hapless tank could hardly expect to escape my diabolical ministrations.

Once the component sections had recieved their camoflage scheme, I turned my attention to a grievous mistake I had made in assembling the new Predator; specifically, I assembled the model after priming the interior but before I painted the #@$@%# thing!! Gah! What a thing to do; a first year rookie in the IPMS knows better than to do such a thing!! Arrgh!!

Fortunately, the evil GW design mutant who produced this latest bit of plastic tabletop mayhem was clearly thinking ahead, probably about such a juvenile error as yours truly commited. The large, rear drop ramp of the basic Rhino kit the new Predator spins off of is still very much present, and the large open turret ring is positioned in such a way that my faux pas was not a hopeless one. The large openings allowed me to reach inside the interior of the predator and paint it with relative ease. I can confirm from experience with several of the current Land Raider kits that the Predator's "Bigger Brother" is nowhere near as forgiving of such a mistake; you absolutely have to paint the interior sections before you glue the model together, as once the Land Raider is closed up, the forward access ramp does not allow one to reach the extensive details found inside this mechanical brute.

Since the thoughtfulness of the GW design mutant allowed me to easily reach the Predator's interior, I rapidly proceeded to correct the error brought on by my excess of enthusiasm to build this superb kit. Using the same drybrushing technique, I started with a base coat of FolkArt Acrylic Paint English Mustard (959) drybrushed over the interior of both the passenger compartment and the turret and commander's cupola interiors as well. Once dry, I applyed a drybrush coat of Apple Barrel Colors Craft Paint Sandstone (20575), again completely covering the interior areas mentioned above. Once dry I then carefully reached back into the passenger compartment and painted in the various screens, dials, and buttons on the communications panel in black, preparatory to the final detailing stage of this project.

Predator interior

My reasoning for chosing a light tan or buff finish for the Predator's interior was based upon historical precedent; the interior of most tanks are either a flat white or light tan to facilitate interior visibility and lighting. It also has the advantage from a modelling standpoint of allowing interior details visible through open hatches to be more easily observed and recognized, even on the gaming table. Like real world AFVs, the interior of the rear drop ramp and the inside of the commander's access hatch are rendered in the same camoflage pattern as the exterior of the vehicle. This is a precaution against a crew member being neatly silhouetted against the lighter interior colour when the hatch is open (a direct invitation to any snipers looking for a tankee to bag!). The only way I altered this - for purely artistic reasons - was the central panels of the commander's hatches, which I rendered in the interior Sandstone tan colour. This was to provide a lighter background for the TC figure supplied with the model (who is painted in a distinctive manner differing from the tank itself), and thus provide maximum contrast and visibility on the wargame table, as well as a central focus to the overall model.

Inside and outside have been painted...

Next: The Devil Is In The Details!