Thursday, May 19, 2011

Ravenwing - which black is the right black?

I've been really having trouble deciding which black to paint my Ravenwing.  Honestly.  There are so many blacks, and so many techniques for painting black.  I'm sure that those of you who have painted something black have struggled the first time to figure out the best way - for YOU - to get the thing to have some depth, yet still be... black.

I bought a variety of blacks - a couple of Vallejo varieties but they were just too grey. What I wanted was a colour that I could basecoat, then apply some highlight and wash with a Badab Black airbrush mixture and have it work.  I was at Imperial Hobbies the other day, wrangling my five year old son who seems dead set on getting Pokemon cards (you can't build and paint Pokemon cards, Jamie!) while at the same time looking at the various and sundry paints they have on offer.  They really do have an excellent selection.

I saw it.  On the Tamiya rack for $2.95 a pot.  NATO Black.  Apparently NATO has it's own shade of black.  It's not grey, it's just not an absolute black the way that GW Chaos Black is.  It's like the colour of black newsprint in bold headlines.  It's very interesting.  So I bought three pots and last night I sat down with the airbrush and went at it.  I used one Tamiya pot and got two Ravenwing battleforces painted, along with my Standard Bearer and his bike and my Chaplain and his bike.  AND Sammael's landspeeder.  Believe me - I JUST got them done, there wasn't enough to paint one marine left in the jar when I put the last model down.

Went to look at them today after they'd dried out and.. I wasn't happy.  They were fuzzy. The same fuzzy as when the paint dries JUST before it hits the model but still sticks.  The same fuzzy you get when priming with Armoury Primer on the warmest most humid day of the year. Well... nearly.  Here's Sammael's speeder.

Sammael, master of the Fuzzywing...
The colour's great, don't get me wrong - I like the way it turned out.  My Dark Angels army isn't conventionally coloured and I'm happy with this muted tone.  Can black be muted? lol  It's just fuzzy.
Not to worry.  I'd had this experience when I primed four drop pods with Armoury primer and I applied the same solution.  I got out an old toothbrush and gave everything a scrub.  It flattened stuff down and actually helped define some edges for me so I can apply highlights properly.

Another basecoated Landspeeder

I went through and scrubbed the entire lot, one bike and one marine at a time.  Until I actually glue them in place I'm gonna have a time making sure they don't get mixed up - each marine was glued together in place then removed so I could paint the bike properly,

Left - Fuzzy.  Right - Scrubbed.
Can you see the difference there? It is better "in person".  In my haste to get stuff finished and get inside before the mosquitos ate me a live, I forgot the take a picture of the speeders after I scrubbed them.  D'oh. 
The next step will be to work out what I should use for a highlight, and if I should wash first then highlight with the original colour.  When I do wash it will be with Badab Black, some airbrush medium and a couple of drops of Future to harden the finish up a bit. Now I get to spend a week deliberating on that.  Make some suggestions if you like - I welcome them! :)


  1. Hey Limey,

    I've worked on some ravenwing too, and here is my approach to painting black that isnt too black.

    1. light gray primer. I use a spray can from the Touch N Tone line. Its called Primer Gray, and is a perfect match for Fortress Grey

    2. Codex Grey is then painted over everything that I want to end up being black.

    3. 2 coats of Badab Black wash.

    You can see how it turns out on my blog. Look at the Chaplain at the bottom of the post.

  2. I think you're dealing with "working as intended".. some primers apply a rougher surface because (in theory) it gives something for the paint to adhere to. Terrible. (assuming as you mentioned, it wasn't an issue with weather conditions)

    I've never really found a good plan for painting black... I usually go pure black and add some blended grey/white highlighting, but I'm not satisfied with it. I think next time I'll go with a very dark grey, almost black.. then highlight, wash black.... or go grey, highlight and shade, then wash.

  3. Thanks for the comments, guys.

    @Dave, you could be right there. I used Krylon matte black as a primer because I just baulk at spending almost $20 on GW Chaos Black. While it looked smooth, it could have caused this.

    The other thing that I may have done wrong was using Isopropyl Alcohol in the thinning mix. I usually use with GW colours to help them dry a bit quicker and I'm getting the impression that Tamiya acrylics don't need the help. The next time I paint I'll be using just distilled water to thin, rather than Tamiya's expensive acrylic thinner. That stuff costs more than the paint, ounce for ounce!

    I gave one bike and one rider a wash with Badab Black mixed 1:1 with distilled water, and a gulp of Future for good measure. Turned out quite well. Now to figure out the highlight colours. Fun!

  4. Hmmm, maybe shoot an email to Les, take a look a this for some awesome black

  5. I'm a fan of Les's work, his uncanny ability to bring a model to life in a very short amount of time. One of these days I'll get around to making his wash!

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