Painting T-head

March 15, 2010

I love the Thunderhead.

I have loved that warjack since the first time I saw the artwork and I have loved it every time I put it on the board. (Well, except that one time T-head got pinned for 3 rounds by the (s)Crapjack, but we don’t talk about that.)

This is the second T-head I’ve painted up. The first one was right after it came out in Apotheosis, which was shortly after I started playing Warmachine back in 2005. I slaved over that model, spent countless hours on it, and at the time, it was the best ‘jack I had ever painted.

Then my painting skills improved and I hated the paint job. But it was one of those painting milestones and there was no way he was heading for the dip. Thus, Thunderhead Mk II was born — long before I knew Privateer Press was going to make Warmachine Mk II. This was the “improved” version of the ‘jack I imagined Nemo building after its fight at the Orgoth temple. He’d be bigger and better.

T-head Mk II had been assembled for maybe two years until I decided it was time to paint him. The opportunity arose thanks to Gdaybloke’s Go Big series over at Lost Hemisphere. Coincidentally, the article I wrote for over there went up today.

Enough talk. Here’s what I did.


Thunderhead with metallics inked and base colors blocked in.

I put the T-head on a metal base for added stability. As I’ve done with all of my Cygnar, I used black primer. Metals were dry brushed first — Cold Steel for the silvery bits and Vallejo Model Color Bronze for the non-silvery bits. Metals were wash with Citadel Gryphonne Sepia and Badab Black.

Non-metallics were blocked in with Citadel Foundation paints — Mordian Blue, Iyanden Darksun and Astronimicon Grey. The biggest thing with the foundations is they are *very* thick and can leave brush lines if you’re not careful. A smooth primer coat is important if you’re putting down foundations. Applying the foundations in thin layers seems to work the best for me. Then again, I tend to lay down several thin layers rather than a single thick coat. It’s a tough lesson to learn.

Punchy fist! Note the extra coils on the shoulder.

Part of what makes him “Mk II” are the extra coils I added to each shoulder. Looks cool, but man, what a pain in the ass to paint.

Baby got back! Lots of bronze on those coils.

I wish I could remember what I used to block in the coils — it might have been a foundation like Fenris Grey, or it might be Arcane Blue with a wash. That’s what I get for not taking notes.

I mention “blocking in” — for me, this is mapping out the model so I have a sense of direction and I’m not sitting and staring at it when I should be layering highlights or some such. I know of other painters who start from the inside and work out, or others who paint their favorite parts first. I’ve tried that, and it doesn’t work for me. I like a little bit more order to my chaos. Once I have a model blocked out, I can start thinking a few steps ahead about which parts get inked/washed, shading, highlighting and final detailing. For a character or large model, this is a big deal.

The other reason I do it this way is if I make a mistake, I don’t have to back track as far, at least in theory. If I’ve highlighted the coils and got them where I want them and I’m inking metals and it bleeds over my highlights, chances are that model is going to be airborne because I was an idiot. Thus, a game plan so models and painters don’t get harmed. 😉

thunderhead mod

Pistons? We don't need no steenkin' pistons!

One of the other things that makes my T-head Mk II is the addition of hydraulics instead of pistons. The real reason? I effed up converting the pistons since I have ‘jack turned farther than the studio sculpt. Nothing like some old bass guitar strings cut to fix my modeling miscue.

thunderhead mod

Punchy fist — with paint!

I call my Cygnar the Electric Blues because they’re brighter than the studio scheme. I use Vallejo Game Color Magic Blue as my main color. Biggest difference from when I started is that this was my first real attempt with shading. Normally, it’s a wash, highlight with the basecoat color and another highlight — if that. Since the Magic Blue is a shade or two brighter than Cygnar Blue Highlight, I used Cygnar Blue Base to shade in the recesses, rivets and any place there might be a line. Then I layered Magic Blue over it and did a final highlight with a mix of Magic Blue and VMC Deep Blue.

Whites were done in Menoth White Base, Gryphonne Sepia wash and highlighted back out with MWB. Final highlight was with Menoth White Highlight. Yellow started with Hearfire and thin layers of Cygnus Yellow to give it the gradient effect.

thunderhead mod

Measuring for that punch in the facehole.

Coils were done mostly to the studio scheme, though my Turquoise ink is diluted with Future Floor Wax and not water. I got really impatient highlighting these — it was near the end — but I know I can go back and clean up at a later date. Arcane Blue, turquoise ink, Arcane Blue, AB mixed with MWH and final highlight with MWH. Tedious and I lost patience. 😛

nemo enemo thunderhead

My favorite Cygnar casters with my favorite 'jack.

Overall, I’m happy with how the ‘jack turned out. There are some very annoying mold lines on the tops of the coils on T-head’s wrists that I didn’t file off before the primer coat. So it’s not as perfect as I’d like it to be. Still, it’ll go into the foam and be ready to go whenever I field my Cygnar, whenever that is. 😛


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