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Painting Tutorial: X-Wing N’dru Suhlak Z-95 Headhunter

17/07/2015

Long time no see! Since this post might also interest the international community I’ll do this one in English. Here’s how I painted the X-Wing Headhunter for Scum pilot N’dru Suhlak. The base miniature is the Rebel Headhunter from the expansion pack, but there’s no reason why the Scum Headhunter from the Most Wanted box wouldn’t work as well. For the brush I used Army Painter Regiment Brush and Citadel Layer Brush. They are a bit big for the finer details, but I like how they carry more paint than the very very thin ones. The paints were what I had in the box, but any relatively similar color will do. This isn’t the only way to paint N’dru’s ship, but this is how I did it. All the techniques required are simple and you can do this if you just take it one step at the time and don’t rush. The details are so small that from arms lenght away the ship will look cool even if you didn’t get all the proportions right.

Please click on the pictures to see them in larger size.

1. Preparations

Before starting the process I built a painting peg from a cotton swab handle. This way I can let the miniature dry between stages in the stand and don’t get the precious pegs painted.

2. Basecoat

For the basecoat I airbrushed the whole ship with Vallejo Model Air paint Light Grey (71.050). Any light grey will do and you can do this with a spray or brush just as long as you take care not to clog up the details of the miniature.

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3. Wash

Next step is to wash the whole ship with a black wash. Wash is a very thin paint that will flow into holes and crevasses of the miniature to create shadows in the right places. My wash of choice was Citadel Paints Nuln Oil black wash from Games Workshop, but for example Army Painter Dark Tone quickshade is practically the same stuff and will work as well. In emergency you can thin out your black acrylic paint with water and a drop of dish washing liquid (which reduces the surface tension of the water and helps the ”wash” better). I would recommend getting proper hobby paint washes though as they work a lot better and you will achieve good results much easier. There are several good tutorials how to apply washes so check them out if you’re in doubt how to do this. Basically just paint the whole miniature over with the wash and let it dry properly before the next step.

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4. Drybrush

There are many good tutorials on the net about drybrushing so I won’t go into details of this technique either. The idea is to first brush most of the paint off the brush on a paper and then swipe gently over the miniature with almost dry brush with little paint on. That way only the most prominent bits of the miniature get painted and the details stand out. The paints used were Citadel (Games Workshop) Dawnstone first a bit more heavily and then Citadel (GW) Longbeard Grey to bring out just the shapest edges and highest tips. Pretty much any medium gray and light gray will do though.

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5. Painting the flames

Painting the details is a bit tricky as the model is so small. Using the art from the card as a guide I first painted the general block area with Citadel (Games Workshop) Mephiston Red. The shape of the flames is easier to understand if you break the ship’s side into smaller areas in your head. Look at the art and ask yourself: What is the last part of the tip of the ship where it is all red? How is that related to the cockpit? Compared to the cockpit and the ”side seam line” of the ship, how far does the tip of the flame go? Continue like that, take your time and you’ll be able to paint the flames freehand. If you have too much red somewhere, just grab your light gray and fix the lines.

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In order to make the flames more vibrant I painted a narrower line with brighter Citadel Blood Red inside the darker red areas near the cockpit and where the actual flames are. Then to make the colors ”pop” even more I mixed some even brighter Citadel Wild Rider Red to Blood Red and painted that mix on even nearer the tips. Go easy and add a bit a the time. If you feel that the flames go too orange then you can always mix some Mephiston Red to the mix and shade the flames darker. At this point I also added some light gray areas near the flames edges to make the contrast between the red and gray more prominent.

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6. Painting the face

This one was the trickiest part of all. Especially the eyes are so small that it is almost more about luck than skill how they come out. Then again if you mess things up just paint the area red and start again. I used the same question asking technique as with flames to get the outlines of the eyes and the mouth right and then colored them black. After the paint was dry I freehanded the teeth and colored them white and added the white areas in to the eyes. I had to go back a couple of times and paint some of the areas black again, but in the end I was satisfied how the mouth looked. Tricky but doable and easily the hardest part of the process. I painted the mouth where it is in the art, but noticed that when on the table while playing the mouth is kind of too low to be really seen properly. So you might want to consider painting it a bit higher up so it will show better while actually flying with N’dru. The paints I used were Citader Black and White, but any acrylic paint will do.

When painting the black details you have your black paint handy and you can also paint the window panels of the cockpit black.

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7. Yellow stripes on the engines

I’ve seen some other painters paint the whole engine rings on N’dru’s ship yellow, but to me they look more like stripes on the cockpit side. I painted those with Citadel Averland Sunset yellow. Sorry I didn’t remember to take a picture of this step, but just look at the finished one and you’ll get the idea.

8. Finishing touches.

The art has the tip of the ship much darker than the areas near the cockpit and I imagined that to be grime and soot. So I applied couple of careful layers of thinned down black wash to create the same kind of effect. I used the Citadel Nuln Oil 50/50 thinned with Vallejo Airbrush Thinner, but water will do as well. Just take it very, very easy here as you don’t want to redo the face painting just because you splashed on a bit too much wash.

After that you probably want to spray a dullcoat matt varnish on the ship so your beautiful colors will not rub off while playing. I used Vallejo matt spray varnish, but Citadel or any miniature hobby spray matt varnish will do. There might be even some car spray varnishes that work, but I wouldn’t recommend them. Just respect the amount of time and effort you put into your model already and get that a bit more expensive varnish so you don’t ruin anything just because you wanted to save $5. The varnish will not only protect your model, but will also help the colors blend a bit making the finishing more like the FFG prepainted ships.

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I hope this tutorial has been useful to you. If you have any questions please ask. Now go and shoot down some Rebels and Imperials with your brand new ship.

– Mordjinn

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