With the recent release of Tyrants of Lothal, Fantasy Flight’s newest release for their Star Wars Imperial Assault game, people have been itching to try out all the new figures and skirmish lists. One of the biggest teams to come out of this release is Spectre Cell.
Today we are going to be covering how to paint from start to finish one of the Spectre Cell members, and a fantastic skirmish staple: Hera Syndulla.
It is a beautifully vibrant figure with bright greens and orange tones, and some visually compelling detail work.
I will guide you through, start to finish, how to paint Hera and detail the techniques involved and how you can produce quality, table-top worthy work, without a lot of time or experience.
Before we begin here are some important things keep in mind:
- Always shake your paint bottle before you use it. This makes sure it is well mixed and has a good and usable consistency.
- Always remember to thin your paint with a little bit of water. The amount of water you use may vary depending on what you are doing. Thinning too little will make application hard. Thinning too much can make your paint translucent and hard to control.
- Every task is made easier by the right tools. There are paint brushes made specifically for base colors, applying shades and glazes, dry brushing, and layering highlights. You will make your life much easier by investing in some of these, and your work will benefit.
- You get what you pay for. You certainly don’t need to use the most expensive paints on the market, but investing in higher quality brushes and paints will pay off in the long run.
- The greatest resource available to you as a painter is patience.
- There are no wrong answers. These are your figures. If you want Darth Vader to be pink, go for it.
With all of that out of the way; let’s begin, shall we?
Here is a list of all the paints I will be using to paint Hera
- Celestra Grey
- Ulthuan Grey
- Rhinox Hide
- Balor Brown
- Fire Dragon Bright
- Yriel Yellow
- Elysian Green
- Ogryn Camo
- Runefang Steel
- Abaddon Black
- Stegadon Scale Green
- Nuln Oil
- Agrax Earthshade
- Fuegan Orange
- Athonian Camoshade
I use Citadel paints. They are a more expensive option, but I think they are a great quality and offer a wide range of paints, reducing your need for paint mixing, even though they also mix well. I normally use a paint well, but for better visuals, I’ll be using a wet paint palette for this miniature painting.
In addition, you always will want to keep a reference image nearby, that you can use to guide your painting.
Stage 1: Priming
To begin we are going to prime our figure. For this, I am going to be using Citadel’s Chaos Black primer, as well as their Corax White primer.
Most priming can be done simply by taping your miniature to a piece of cardboard, and spraying your primer about 1 and ½ feet away from the mini. It is important to keep the spray can moving while doing this, and not get it too close to the mini. The reason for this is to avoid paint clumping and the loss of detail in the miniature.
You can prime your figures in whatever color you have or like, as it won’t make a difference on the finished product, but using certain colors can help make your job easier. For your first time with Hera, I would suggest using a white primer, as you will have to use less paint to get a solid base coat if you start from a white foundation.
I will now detail the process I use, which is a bit different.
The technique I use for priming is called Zenithal Highlight priming. This technique is done by preparing the miniature first with a black primer.
Once that is dry, you are ready for the white. A zenithal highlight is done by priming a second time on top of the black with a white primer. You will not be priming the whole figure though. You will spray the white primer from a 45 degree angle spraying downard.
The idea here is to mimic light sources. The white primer is only going to end up on the pieces of the miniature that would naturally be hit by light sources. By priming in this way, you actually can create a guide for where you will want to place your highlights later on in the process.
Feel free to use whatever technique you are most comfortable with.
Stage 2: Basecolors
When starting your base colors it’s important to identify any difficult to reach part of the miniatures. We do this so we can paint them first. By painting the base colors from most difficult places to reach to least difficult, we make our lives much easier so that we don’t have to do a lot of touch-ups.
For Hera, I’ll being by painting her upper half, starting with the neck. For this I’m going to be using Celestra Grey. I’m using this for neck, her arms, and her headcap. We can also use this for her belt and straps on her pants. If you did a Zenithal highlight like me, it’s going to be hard to see the grey areas.
Since some of these areas are a bit harder to reach, remember to thin your paint. You will know it’s the right consistency if the paint seems to slide off your brush, but if it sits in your paint well and you can see bubbles in the paint, then it’s too watery.
You can either wait for it to dry a bit, or just add some more celestra grey. In order to get a solid base color, you may have to use two layers for a solid coat.
We are going to be painting the gun with some Leadbelcher
Next, we are using Rhinox Hide. We will apply this to the boots, the gloves, the chest armor, the shoulder pads, the rims around the goggles, the chin straps, and the ear muffs. I will also be applying this to the flap on her orange jumpsuit.
For the jumpsuit, we will be using Fire Dragon Bright. This is a very bright orange, and is actually from the Citadel layer paint range, but it should work nicely for Hera’s jumpsuit, as it has quite a bit of yellow in the orange.
As it is a layer paint, you are going to want to apply two or three layers of this in order to get consistent and solid coverage. If it feels to bright to you, don’t worry. We will be shading this down in a moment.
Next, let’s get the metal parts. For this I’m using ironbreaker. For metallic paints, it’s important to give them a vigorous shaking, as its quite easy for the paint to separate in the pot. We are using this for the goggles and plates on the boots.
Finally, we are going to paint the skin. Her skin is a more desaturated green, so we are now going to be mixing some paint for the right color. We are going to be using Elysian Green mixed with just a little bit of Ogryn Camo. When mixing paints, I like to use an older “trash” brush so as to not ruin a good brush with mixing.
Elysian Green by itself would be ok to use without mixing in the Ogryn Camo, if you’d like to save yourself buying the extra paint.
Now that we’re done with the base colors, it’s time to move onto shading.
Stage 3: Shading
Some important notes about shading. We use shades for two main reasons. First, it deepens the shadows and helps pick out details to create contrast with your eventual highlights.
Second, it creates depth in your colors and ties disparate colors together. You can increase or lessen this effect by applying the shade undiluted, or by mixing it with water or thinning medium (like Lahmian Medium) Also, before using any shade you also want to give these a good shaking, and let each shade dry before moving on.
We are going to start by shading the boots, the chest and shoulder pieces, the gloves and any brown areas. For this we are going to use Agrax Earthshade, undiluted. Next, we are going to mix in some Fuegan orange in a roughly equal mix to the Agrax Earthshade and use that for the jumpsuit. This is to both enhance the orange, and give some grit to it.
Next let’s shade the metal and grey areas. I’m using Nuln oil, mixed with a little bit of water so as not to darken the grey too much. I’m applying this to the head piece, arms, neck, and any pieces of metal on the figure.
For our last shade, I’m going to be using Athonian Camoshade. It’s a darker green shade, that will create nice shadow tones on the figure, without creating too bright of a green wash.
Once all the shades are dry, it’s time for highlights.
Stage 4: Highlights
Let’s start by highlighting all of the grey areas. With highlighting, if your shade was dark enough, you can begin your highlights with a re-application of the base color, in this case, Celestra Grey. Since I watered down my shade, I’m going to start with Celestra Grey, mixed with Ulthuan Grey. This highlight is going to cover most of the areas that are exposed to light like the top of the head piece, and the top of arms.
With highlights, the goal is to “brighten and focus.” We are going to continue adding administratum grey in stages, creating a brighter and brighter tone in-between applications. With each stage you are going to reduce the area of application for your highlight. Your goal is to put your brightest highlights in the areas that would get the most light, like ridges of clothing that stand out, raised edges, or the peaks of objects. Your very brightest highlight will usually be centered around a single point. You can continue this highlight, doing as many as you want, but I’m going to finish out with pure Ulthuan Grey.
I’ll be highlighting the gun with some Runefang Steel
Next I’m going to highlight the brown areas. To do this, I’m starting off with Rhinox hide mixed with Balor Brown. I’m using this for the top of the chest armor, most of the shoulder pads, and the raised edges of the boots.
After this highlight I’m going to add more balor brown to lighten this mix, and I’ll be doing so in stages, gradually increasing the highlight.
This highlight technique is designed to give a leathery look to it. You can also use the tip of your brush with your brightest highlight to place little “chips” or lines at stress points, to further give the look of distressed leather.
If you interpret the model as having metal pads or chest armor, you can mix some Runefang Steel or Iron Breaker into the brown mix, to give a lighter metallic look.
We can also use Runefang Steel to highlight all of the metal areas, and then use Stormhost Silver if you want to push the highlight even further. I am stopping with the Runefang Steel though, as I don’t want to make the metal too bright.
For the jumpsuit, I’m starting with a re-application of Fire Dragon Bright. For my highlight after that I’ll be mixing in some Yriel Yellow. For my final highlight I’ll be mixing in some White Scar to my Fire Dragon and Yriel Yellow mix.
Now we come to our final highlight on this figure. Our base mixture was Elysian Green mixed with a little Ogryn Camo, so I’ll be starting with pure Elysian Green. We will lighten this with White Scar. Here we will be focusing on the long tails, as they are a great focal point for the figure. We don’t want to take the highlight too far with this though, as we want to leave room for her markings as well.
With this done, we can move on to any finishing touches.
Stage 5: Finishing Touches
For our first touch we are going to paint the glass of the goggles. For this I’m mixing Abaddon Black with a bit of stegadon scale green. This tones down the black a bit, and gives an easy finish to work with. Then I’m going to take that tone, add some White Scar, and give it a highlight on upper half of the glass. Finally, I’ll be finishing with a dab of pure white to give a reflective finish.
Then we are going to use some White Scar to block in the eyes. I suggest using your thinnest brush at a sideways angle to dab the eyes in.
I suggest keeping some skin tone color on hand to touch up any mistakes you might make here (You will make them, eyes are hard.) Once you have the shape you are happy with, take some Abaddon Black (any eye color you like is fine here, but from the tabletop eye color isn’t noticeable, so I use black for prominence) and place a dot in the white for the pupil.
Our final finishing touch is going to be the toughest painting work on the miniature, and as such, feel free to treat this as optional. We will be working on her markings.
For this work I suggest holding your brush close the tip for maximum control, and making sure to thin it down with a bit of water, but not too much. You’ll also want to keep a reference image nearby like one of the ones below for this.
For this, we will take some white scar and mix in a bit of Elysian Green. This should create a very light green, which we can use for the markings.
Once the markings are finished you can simply paint the base or replace it, seal it with a Matte Varnish (I use Citadel’s purity seal, but many options would work), and Hera Syndulla is finished.