Painting the Imperials is both easy and difficult. It’s easy because there’s a lot of grey and uniformity on their side. When you get your grey colour scheme down and a good approach to painting a single miniature, the rest of them fall in line nicely. On the flip side, the Imperials can be a mental drain as they have a horde of figures to paint. I hope you like Stormtroopers, because there are 30 of those little buggers in the box! Same goes for TIEs, 24 of them, with each wing needing TLC paint on the inside and outside. It gets tedious, but the end result is worth it.
I’m switching over to Vallejo paints, and use some GW paints that I have from the good old days. If you don’t use the paints I describe, you can find similar colours by using colour matching painting sites. I like to use this one:
All the figures I painted were cleaned with needle files and an exacto knife. Some were primed white, some were primed black (for the love all things good, do not prime your storm troopers black!). I use P3 primer. Pretty much everyone I’ve talked to considers it the best on the market. I highly recommend it.
Remember, when priming, always use many thin coats vs. a few thick ones. Don’t be lazy! I always aim for 5+ coats at the minimum. Spray at a good distance from the model and give it time to dry between coats.
I started off painting the Star Destroyers. My first attempt took longer and looked worse than my final strategy, as I wasn’t dry-brushing much and edge highlighting instead. I painted 3 of them that way, as seen below.
I was going for a more white look, but then settled for a more grey look as I knew they would match the rest of the range better. Plus, the grey was easier and quicker to paint. Here is what my final grey version looks like next to my early white one.
There is always a debate how to paint the Imperials depending on what movie you look at. In Star Wars, Imperials were much whiter, and in Empire and Jedi, the Imperials were always more blue or grey in colour. I tell myself the 3 white ones are ISD I’s while the rest of the fleet are ISD II’s.
Here is how I painted the white ones (the one on the right in the picture above).
I primed using black, then gave them a base coat of Neutral Grey. Applied a heavy dry-brush of Neutral Grey + Deck Tan in a 1:1 mix ratio. Took a brush and ran it in the cracks and deep parts with a wash of Black Shade.
Another heavy dry-brush of Neutral Grey + Deck Tan + Bleached Bone in a 1:1:2 mix. I thinned down Silver Grey and did a painted highlight on the edges of the model. A mistake can be corrected by going back and painting over it with a previous steps’ colour and then working back up from there.
The engines were given a base coat of Imperial Blue, then a center highlight of Imperial Blue + White in a 1:1 mix.
Here is how I painted the grey ones.
I primed with a very cheap grey spray paint I had laying around as the usual places were sold out of P3 Primer in Toronto. Btw, it’s not that easy to find here so stock up when you get a chance. The cheap grey spray paint didn’t matter for this model as it isn’t very detailed, but I wouldn’t use it for something like TIEs or Stormtroopers.
I treated my grey prime job as a base coat and then proceeded to give the model a heavy wash of Nuln Oil followed by three dry-brushing highlights.
1st Highlight dry-brush: Deck Tan + Neutral Grey in a 1:1 mix
2nd Highlight dry-brush: Deck Tan
3rd Highlight dry-brush: Silver Grey
The engines were given a base coat of Imperial Blue. Then given a watered down highlight of Imperial Blue + White in a 1:1 mix. That highlight covered most of the centre while leaving the outside Imperial Blue visible.
The final highlight was a watered down White dot in the centre. I went over the white dots with a very thinned down imperial Blue + White in a 1:1 mix just to tone down the white a bit.
Super Star Destroyers
These guys were a bit of a struggle for me. Unfortunately I don’t have detailed notes for all the steps because they changed on the fly so much and I was battling for colours instead of writing stuff down.
It was hard for me to get a blue I was happy with, and I’m still not sure I’m happy with the final result, although other people seem to like them.
They were primed in black. The centre part was highlighted first with a Neutral Grey and then a Silver Grey dry-brush directly over the black prime coat.
I don’t have how I got the blue in my notes, so sorry for that. At one point it was pretty grey, and then went to a dark blue. I got the blue by just mixing paints together until I was happy with the hue.
The underside was painted with whatever paint was left over and in a sloppy fashion since it’ll never be seen. But if you have extra paint left over, why not do the underside too?
For those interested how I got the engines, they were given a base coat of Scab Red, then the bottom half was painted Blood Red. A thinned coat of Blazing Orange was applied to the very bottom to give the glow effect.
Before I primed the Death Stars, I used painters tape to cover the transparent plastic stands. One thing that drives me nuts is when I see repaints of ships in X-Wing or Armada and the transparent stands have been painted over. Either those painters are lazy or have poor taste! Don’t do be one of them, keep those stands transparent and looking nice on the table.
The Death Stars were primed in black and then given a base coat of Neutral Grey. That was followed by a heavy dry-brush of a Neutral Grey + Deck Tan mix in a 1:1 ratio. A final dry-brush of Neutral Grey + Deck Tan + Bleached Bone in a 1:1:2 mix was given. A wash of Nuln Oil was applied to tone the model down.
Some panels were highlighted again, some then washed down, all done as seen fit to give each model some variation and depth.
Before the painters tape was removed, I used an old toothbrush and flicked some white, blue and purple paint along each base to give the illusion of a space field and help the Death Star stand blend into the map during play.
A dry-brush highlight of Neutral Grey + Deck Tan in a 1:1 mix was then followed by a dry-brush highlight of Deck Tan.
I went back to one of them and started to paint some wear an tear in the form of brown wash streaks. I am planning to do the others as well as it gives them a little gritty reality.
These were primed in black and given a base coat of Neutral Grey. They were given a wash of Nuln oil and some Brown Ink in parts. I wanted to see how the Brown Ink would show up after a dry-brush and whether it would look grimy.
It looked okay, but nothing special. You can see some brown peeking through in these closeups.
It would pay to go back and give weathering details to these little guys. At the time I painted them that was the last thing on my mind as I had a mountain of miniatures to paint. It might be fun to do now however, and would definitely help the models “pop.”
The ships were primed in black and given a base coat of Neutral Grey. After that they were given a wash of Nuln Oil, followed by a sharp dry-brush of Deck Tan. A final lighter dry-brush of Silver Grey was done to help pick out the panels.
Each ship had different panels painted in Deck Tan to give it a unique look.
I made a solid pin prick of paint in the middle of the engine with the 1:1 mix of Imperial Blue + White. Then I watered down the paint and dabbed it over the pin prick. The water downed paint will make it look like a glow emanating from the center dot as the dark base coat will still peek through.
Most importantly, they have the inner spokes on their wings supplied on the models, whereas the Armada ones need to be freehand painted. Also, none of them had warped wings that needed straightening. Hats off to FFG for getting better at making tiny TIEs!
These guys were done just like my Armada ones. You can read about painting them over here.
I approached the Storm Troopers exactly the same way I painted their Imperial Assault cousins. You can read the details about how to paint them over here.
Below are some nice progress shots of painting a Storm Trooper.
One thing that must be pointed out is many of the mould lines are pretty bad. Some of the models are not salvageable and look like they were tortured by a nine year old with a magnifying glass on a sunny day.
The deformity is sometimes on the left side of the helmet and can mess up the left eye pretty bad. If all storm troopers looked like that, it would explain why they can’t shoot straight but as it stands now, they just look like chaos space marines. Hopefully FFG fixes this issue in the future because it’s a real shame, as even a nice paint job can’t hide a warped model.
In the end though, they came out looking good for the most part.
All the models, except the Storm Troopers, were varnished with Army Painter’s Anti-Shine spray.
In the future I’ll be posting an article about painting the Rebels, so keep your eyes peeled, and may the force be with you!