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Painting Assassin's Sir Plate — A Study in Metallic Technique

Sir Plate
Product #
Suggested Retail Price
€5.00 EUR

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ChrisGermanicus writes:

…known only as Sir Plate (it probably sounds a lot cooler in German!)

On the German side of the Assassin website, he's listed as Sir Blech!

Now, I don´t know what´s going on in the proprietors presumably twisted mind, but it *MIGHT* just be a pun on a famous character from a classic German children´s tv show, "Don Blech"… if so, OUCH!

The metallics? Actual metallic paint. Flat works -- paintings -- use NMM techniques, but 3D items should proudly use metallics. If it was good enough in the 1800s -- and counts as fine art today -- it's good enough for us.

Signed 100%! NMM on figures, IMHO, is a bunch of pretentious posery. And it looks bad from about 80% of viewing angles, and more if done poorly.

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27 March 2007page first published

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sirlarkins Fezian of Grubstake Painting writes:

Landing on my workbench from far-off Germany is an offering from Assassin Miniatures, known only as Sir Plate (it probably sounds a lot cooler in German!). A giant of a figure, scaled for 28mm he measures 35mm from the soles of his feet to eye-level, or 40mm all the way to the tip of his pointy helmet.

The sculpting is clean overall, although the casting process left a fair amount of flash on the figure (and particularly on his metal base). The model is cast in a harder type of pewter that makes clean-up a bit of a chore, but it's hardly the worst I've ever seen.

Sir Plate - parts

The figure comes in three parts: a slotted circular metal base, the figure itself (minus the hands), and the massive warhammer (with the "missing" hands attached). A nice sculpting decision, as it allowed me to paint the front of the torso in its entirety before attaching the warhammer, which crosses Sir Plate's chest, and would've necessitated some rather clumsy sculpting had it been done as a single piece.

Sir Plate is aptly named, as about 95% of the figure is clad in metal of some sort. In fact, the only non-metallic areas of the figure are the shaft of his weapon, and a couple spaces around the joints - which were sculpted to look like leather or fabric, a rather ahistorical solution to the problem of protecting the flexion points. Perhaps they are meant to provide an "Achilles heel" for the otherwise invincible behemoth?

Speaking of the armor design, Sir Plate is clad in a rather fanciful suit that bears little resemblance to anything ever worn in history. His torso armor is segmented like a lobster shell, and his feet look like they were borrowed from a BattleTech mech. Although I have some doubts as to the functionality of the design, visually it works well, at least in the sort of "dungeon punk" aesthetic that's become popular in fantasy design in the last decade or so. But if you're a purist for realistic armor designs, Sir Plate will definitely inspire more than a few head scratchings.

The only other complaint I have about the sculpting is that the torso of the figure appears to be a little overlong, although this isn't really noticeable from the front.

After clean-up, Sir Plate goes together nicely. The slot in the base is a little wide, and required filling.

Painting Sir Plate

Since Sir Plate so truly lives up to his name, I felt this was a good opportunity to look at the subject of painting with metallics.

Recent years have seen the increasing popularity of NNM (non-metallic metal) techniques. Borrowed from the world of fine art, NNM is simply using regular acrylic paint to simulate the sheen of a metallic surface, from chrome to rusty drainpipes.

Call me old-fashioned, but for my tastes, applying NNM to a three-dimensional object simply does not work. NNM techniques were developed to fool the eye when looking at a two-dimensional painting, and thus do not translate well to the surface of a miniature that can be viewed from multiple angles. One of the great aspects of metallic paints is that they reflect light differently depending on the viewer's angle.

Of course, using NNM techniques for figures that are meant solely to viewed from one angle (in photographs or in a display case) is perfectly reasonable, and an excellent demonstration of a painter's skill, but I'm also a wargamer at heart, and I suppose that's invested me with a preference for substance over style.

There are two ways to approach painting a surface with metallic paints, and they vary mostly by your choice of primer. You can either:

  • Undercoat with black and drybrush the metallic color, or
  • Undercoat with white, brush on your metallic, then apply a wash.

I prefer to use the former method for chainmail, and the latter for plate armor and weapons. As Sir Plate features a little bit of chainmail in addition to his namesake, we'll be able to tackle both approaches.

The advantage of a black undercoat and metallic drybrush on chainmail is that, with very little effort, you get a result that looks very much like chainmail. One of the early joys of miniatures painting for me was watching as my figures' chain armor magically came alive after just one pass with the dry brush. I generally do two passes, one with a darker metallic like 863 Gunmetal Grey, and the other with a slightly lighter hue (in this case, 864 Natural Steel).

Note: All paint numbers refer to Vallejo Model Color.

As for the plate armor and the head of the warhammer, the white undercoat/wash technique works better — it looks "cleaner," which suits the nature of worked metal. Even if you want a grungy effect on your plate armor, I'd still recommend going with a white undercoat, as you can vary the hue of the metallic surface with your wash (as we'll soon see).

After primering the figure, I applied a basecoat of Natural Steel. I like this color because it's a mid-range color that looks good under a black wash. Sir Plate has a fair share of decorative elements on his armor, and I kept things simple by applying a basecoat of 801 Brass to all those elements — I didn't want to "busy up" such a simple figure with lots of different metallic shades. The power of this figure is in his mass, and ultimately I felt a busy suit of armor would distract from the raw power he's supposed to convey.

Once my basecoat was dry, I applied a wash of one-part paint and five-parts Magic Wash. Magic Wash is a 50/50 mixture of water and Future floor polish, and is far superior to simply using water as your diluting agent. The floor polish breaks up the surface tension of the water, and allows the wash to penetrate better and cover more evenly. Plus, the polish creates an extra layer of sealant on the figure!

The consistency of the wash is really where you can experiment with hues. A thicker, darker wash will produce grimy armor. Add in other colors, and you can suggest rust or blued steel. To me, the wash is the most fun part of the process, as your metallics will really begin to "pop."

Sir Plate - washed

After the wash dries - unless I'm going for a really grimy look - I generally apply a highlight coat. In this case, I kept the highlighting toned down to match my overall approach of simplicity. The broad swatches of plate armor got a highlight of 997 Silver, and the decorative finishes were dabbed with a few strokes of 878 Old Gold.

I left the business end of the warhammer unhighlighted, in addition to using a slightly darker wash. Comparing Sir Plate's armor to his weapon, which were both painted the same base color, you can really see how you can vary the hue of a single color with a combination of washes and highlights.

The weapon shaft was painted with 846 Mahogany Brown, and given a light wash. I generally leave my weapon shafts somewhat dark, as I don't like them to distract from the main figure.

Sir Plate - highlighted

The base came textured, so I painted it a medium brown, and then added a couple layers of highlights, then glued on some static grass.

Sir Plate - finished (front)
Sir Plate - finished (back)
Sir Plate - finished (front)

Overall, Sir Plate is the sort of figure that really demonstrates the ability of metallics to deliver a striking paintjob with comparatively little time.

You can see more of sirlarkins Fezian's work at his website: