Hobby Log - Airbrushing the Tau Flyer

As all of my close gaming friends know, I’m very good at starting projects. I will almost always begin the project with a huge bang, getting very engrossed in the details and specifics of my idea. Then, with just as much suddenness and reversal of energy and motion, I drop the project and move on to something else. Call it what you will, I’m sure there is some deep psychological point, some poignant piece of literature that could be written regarding my condition that would make the next great psychologist. But for now, I will simply show you a technique I used to partially complete my Tau Sunshark Bomber this weekend before (you guessed it) switching gears by picking up a wholesale Dark Eldar army from a friend.

I hope to document the progress on my Dark Eldar over the coming weeks, in the belief that maybe the idea of some invisible audience will keep me focused. For now though, I wanted to show off an airbrushing technique I used, in the hopes it will help someone else get the desired effect.

This technique was done over the course of an afternoon, and at a very leisurely pace. I’m sure if I was strapped for time I could replicate this effect in a couple of hours. Your only real hold-up is down time while the paint dries between coats.

I used all Games Workshop colors for this particular paint scheme. The important thing to remember is that you want to work in reverse order, as the last coat you put onto the model will be the “base coat” in appearance. Nominally, I would have provided step-by-step pictures to accompany these instructions. Unfortunately I did not think to take pictures as I went, so all I can offer is the finished product photos.

Again, I used Games Workshop paints for this model, but any airbrush colors will work for the process. I also used Vallejo Airbrush Thinner; this product is indispensable to getting Games Workshop colors to work correctly through an airbrush. You can only water your paints so far; adding the thinner really helps to break up the paint and give you a true mist.

1.    Basecoat the model with a black primer. I used Army Painter; if you’ve never tried the stuff, it is definitely worth the investment.
2.    Cut strips of blue painter’s tape with a hobby knife, to the size and shape you prefer. Make sure the tape is low tack, as higher adhesive content will cause the paint to pull off when you remove the tape. Note that you will be doing this several times, so try to envision the finished model and only place enough tape to cover the amount of each color you want at the end of the project. Most importantly on this step, DO NOT remove any tape until the last coat of paint dries after step 7.

3.    Next I used the airbrush to apply Dawnstone.
4.    Repeat step 2.
5.    Step 3 was repeated, with Cantor Blue this time.
6.    Repeat step 2.
7.    Finally I gave the model an all-over spray with Administratum Grey.
8.    Once all the paint has dried, peel off the painter's tape.

Without further adieu, here is the “finished” product:

Overall I'm pretty happy with the results. One final word of warning: make sure you keep your paint coats thin as you build them up. If you get too thick, they will pool against the edges of the painter’s tape, and the paint will have a very noticeable hard edge where it meets the next color.

Happy hobbying!


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