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March 24, 2013

The Airbrush Assembly Line- Painting Made Easy

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Hobbying is what I like to call "an enjoyable chore".  While I hate all the work that goes into prepping, base-coating, and painting my models, nothing beats the sense of satisfaction of seeing a good looking project completed from beginning to end.

I really do enjoy the actual act of painting itself, as it's very calming to me. Plus if there is a great music playlist or a tv show playing in the background, it helps the hobby session fly by!

Recently I completed my Chaos Daemon army- probably just in time to see it nerfed, but c'est la vie I suppose.  I had been working on it since early August, and I just had to fit the hobby sessions in where I could.

What would take someone like Kenny from Next Level Painting a week to paint, takes someone like me, that treats it as hobby, sometimes months or more.


Since I don't get as much time to hobby anymore, which I'm sure is a very common theme with many of us, I've tried to move the focus of this article to more attainable time saving techniques that anyone can achieve.

Let's face it, life isn't getting any simpler, we're all getting older, and our gaming habits change. But if we can adjust our hobbying habits to meet these changes head on, then why not?

One of the biggest time savers for me has been purchasing, and then practicing with an airbrush. After that I either developed or borrowed techniques that enhanced the ability of the airbrush to get even more work done in the time I had.

Here is the second tutorial on my Daemon Army (my first was a video on how I painted my Plaguebearers), as I tried to catalog as much of that project as I could.

Airbrushing Bases- Assembly Line Style

A great time saving technique when you are airbrushing is to use a "jig" to help hold the pieces you'll be working on.

For painting these bases I used packing tape stuck together in loops to hold the Chaos Bases for my Daemon army firm to an old shipping box I had received.  This way I could hold them easy, and paint them en masse.

The first trick to airbrushing is don't aerosol primer models you'll be airbrushing very heavy at all- you just need a dusting of paint for the airbrush paint to stick to, nothing thick or through is needed.  The real prime job can be done with either black, white or grey from the airbrush itself.

For this project I think it's better to use black undercoat to keep the bases relatively dark compared to the almost cartoony brightness of the Daemons themselves.

I wanted the bases to be a blueish grey, so selected some of the new airbrushing Minitaire Paint we've talked about earlier (Nautilus Blue, and Troll Hide) to use that I thought would produce a nice complementary color to each other, and the models themselves.

From there use white to highlight the areas that would be brighter, so that the blue greys would not get drowned out by the black undercoat.

So first step is to carefully spray the tops of the chaos stars white, or any other place that would naturally receive a highlight.

For this step just blast paint at about 40psi to get nice quick basecoat of white down.   You can pull the airbrush needle slightly back to get a wider spray pattern to help cover the larger surface areas of the bases.

When it comes to the actually blending of the blues turn down the pressure to around 20psi to get a better fade (and push the needle back fully forward to get back the smaller spray stream).

Next up is the first basecoat, which was Nautilus blue.  Just applied it all over, as it "shaded" the black areas, and looked normal on the areas that were painted white.

This set up the next color of highlights, as now you can see where the blue grey would need to be lighter.

Some of the deeper recesses would stay black regardless because the spray just couldn't reach down to them- it's not a wash after all!

From there I used Troll Hide to highlight the work I just did with Nautilus blue, again at about 20psi being careful to blend in the right direction and minimize overspray.


Next up us to pull the details of the base together so that they don'd look so plain. These Chaos bases feature chain, and iron scrap details, that require conventional brush work to basecoat and wash.


Here's what my assembly line looked before I had to get out my brushes for all the fine details on the bases.


For the bases above I used Vallejo Burnished Gold, and Boltgun Metal to base the chain and metal scrap details. I then washed both with Citadel's Badab Black.  After the wash dried I gave all the areas around those details above,  a light white drybrush to pop the base and accent the jaggedness of the rocky outcroppings.

You can use the details included on resin bases to help match your models color scheme to the bases themselves, creating a cohesive color effect.


The last bit of detail to add are some "Mordhiem Turf" tufts, sparingly around the base. You should preferably place the tufts on the flats or recesses to simulate sporadic growth. The key here is to select a tuft color that accents the color the base was painted.  Army Painter as well as Citadel have a bunch of styles and colors of tufts to choose from.

Next up is to protect you work by coating your bases either with an aerosol matte coat, or spray varnish though the airbrush itself.

All that's left from here is to attach your models to the bases. Dry fit each one before gluing them down so you don't get any unsightly glue residue on your fresh paint work.  I used some Zap gel to make sure I got a good bond between my models and the bases, as regular superglues are a little too runny for this step.  

You can pin them sure, but the thicker glues have worked just fine for me thus far. 


Checkout my completed Skulltaker on Juggy model, with a base from this tutorial. 

If you liked this how-to article, be sure to checkout all my airbrushing tutorials HERE! Happy Hobbying! -MBG
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