Ever since I got Armada I knew I would have to paint my squadrons. The underwhelming monochrome plastic of the squadrons just looks out of place next to the showstopping big ships. Now I'm finally dipping my toes into the world of mini-painting after months of lurking, reading, and watching tutorials. Big shout-out to Drasnighta btw - his squadron painting tutorials are a life-saver.
After I explain what I did, I'd ask that you please share any critiques or tips that you might have. Keep in mind I'm entirely new to mini-painting so I have a very shallow pool of knowledge to draw from. Any help is appreciated!
I'll begin with the TIE fighters from the Core set (as well as those found in Imps Squadrons I). Pics will follow in the comments.
Brush: Winston & Newton University series sizes 0, 1, and 2. I picked these out at a local art supply store after eyeballing them only. They seemed like the right size for painting squadrons.
Palette: I used a wet palette that consisted of tupperware with wet paper towels and parchment paper
Paints: Since the local stores near me stock Citadel that's what I went with. It also helps that Citadel has very accessible youtube tutorials and an app.
TIE Fighter miniature
Chaos Black spray primer
Equal parts Thunderhawk Blue and Russ Grey for the TIE body (I wanted a more blue-ish hull à la Empire Strikes Back)
Abaddon Black for the wings & cockpit
'Ardcoat for the cockpit glass
Moot Green for the laser ports
Mephiston Red for the namesake twin ion engines (also for decorative flourishes on my aces)
Chaos black spray primer
Moot green applied on the damage indicator arrow
Step Zero was to remove mold lines from my TIE squadrons using a hobby knife. While I managed to get most of the lines from the inside of the TIE fighter panels, I missed some mold lines on my interceptor panels that caused me grief later on. I then soaked the minis in soapy water and did my best to swirl them around and clean any mold release agents off them. Then I submerged those TIEs with especially out of shape wings into hot water in an attempt to re-shape them. I eliminated the most egregiously mis-formed wings but I still could've done a better job at this step.
Next, I began cutting the ends off of hollow plastic q-tips and inserting the TIEs into them individually. This allowed me to paint the ships without fear of smearing paint on their stand. To ensure my squadrons wouldn't fly away while spraying them, I used painters tape to adhere each q-tip base to an empty egg carton. I then held the far end of the carton, and sprayed my TIEs with Chaos Black primer (outside of course). I reapplied from other angles to ensure I didn't miss any obvious spots.
Once the primer dried (~20 minutes) I removed the q-tips from the egg carton and inserted them into a block of styrafoam. This was my painting staging area.
The first actual painting involved me mixing Russ Grey and Thunderhawk Blue together, thinning it down, and then fully painting the TIEs. In retrospect, I probably didn't need to paint the interior of the wings since they ended up black anyways. Oh well.
Next I used Abaddon Black and very carefully applied the black paint to the wings. As I painted more I managed to control where the paint was going a little better. I made lots of little messes and didn't stay inside all the lines. As a result I then went back for a round of touch-ups where I used my blue body mix to paint over errant black spots. After my blue touch-ups i needed to apply even more black paint since i could still see blue coming up beneath the black paneling. I suspect I internalized the “Thin Your Paints” mantra a little too much since I needed to apply black nearly four times in some cases.
With the body and panels mostly done, I applied small amounts of black paint to the cockpit. Once dry, I used small amounts of 'Ardcoat to provide a lil gloss on the cockpit class. Blue body was then used in small, controlled brushtrokes to ensure the spokes encasing the cockpit glass matched the rest of the body.
Nearing the end, I used tiny dabs of Moot Green to paint the laser nubbins underneath the cockpit. I then used similarly tiny dabs of Mephiston Red for the engine glow. For both the lasers and engines I only used one dab of paint (I was afraid multiple applications wouldn't end up in the same spot). Whenever I made a mistake I simply waited for the area to dry before re-touching it up with either black or blue.
Squadron bases were easy. I simply applied Chaos Black spray and then painted on several thin coats of Moot Green on the damage indicator.
1) This is fun! Painting away for hours at a time is relaxing. It is extremely satisfying to see your progress right before your eyes since each mini gets more "complete" every time you pick it up. Every Armada player should try it!
2) You can thin your paints too much and it is a pain to keep filling in black panels over and over and over and over...
3) One handy thing about painting oodles of TIEs at one time: at the end of it all you can identify your worst three models and group them together. This a) makes any TIEs squadrons you field in the game look that much better since the worst are culled out and and b) gives you a handy test-group that you can experiment on
How would you handle any varnish/lacquer? I really really don't want to ruin these guys by using the wrong product in the wrong way with the wrong technique.
How would you approach the dials and activation switches? I'd like to eliminate the visible cardboad but I'm unsure of how best to approach this. I'm considering painting the edges of the ship dials with the same blue as the TIE body. That way there is a little bit of visual interest beyond "all black everything."
Has anyone tried painting the activation switch anything other than black, such as red or blue? How have those turned out?
Has anyone found a way to consistently paint the interior of the TIE wings? Every time I free-handed it the results were sub-par at best so I painted over all of them