How do you come up with a good paint scheme? Sometimes you can pick a set of colors that work well together in the abstract, and fit them onto a miniature easily. Other times, you can decide to follow a pre-generated paint scheme from a canon game universe, or by borrowing from another painter's work. Once in a while, inspiration strikes and a great concept just pops into your head.
All of those are useful approaches, and I have certainly made use of all of them at one time or another. I have also blocked out some paint patterns on paper using colored pens, pencils, or even crayons. (Yes, I know that there are digital tools for doing this, but I haven't tried them at all.) Ultimately, no matter how many miniatures I paint, sometimes I just have to pull out a brush and try out a paint scheme with a real model and real paint to work out what I want.
This past week, I decided to take a break from my Dindrenzi fleet and paint up a Directorate ship for Firestorm Armada.
It gave me a chance to expand my painted fleets, while getting away
from the monotonous process of painting and highlighting all those
blocky green hulls.
I opened up a fresh blister pack of Directorate Nemesis class
destroyers and got down to cleaning and preparing the two ships for use.
Once they were all cleaned up and primed, I had to select a paint
scheme, not just for these two destroyers, but, hopefully, one that
could extend across an entire fleet of Directorate ships some day.
I did not have a strong concept in mind, but the Directorate fleet does have a few common, strong features. The first, and most obvious, is the set of large armor plates that ring the forward half to two thirds of the ship. Second is a dome in the center of the ship, and, finally, there is an aft section filled with machinery and engine parts.
To me, the most obvious place to start was by selecting a primary color for the hull and central dome, and an accent color to pick out those distinctive armor plates at the front. My first try was to contrast a dark grey / black color for the hull with a bright steel color for the armor.
I quickly found that I needed a third major color. I needed to be able to distinguish the engines and machinery from both the armor plating and the other structural hull elements. I wanted to keep the metallic colors for the engine machinery, so I went off in search of a new accent color for the armor. My next try came closer to completion than the first.
At this stage I was pretty happy with the general look, but I thought it might look better if I toned down the bright steel color on the central dome and further darkened the structure of the rear hull. A little experimentation also suggested that a lighter color might look good on the 'ribs' that separate the armor plating.
Having run out of destroyers, I circled back and started to build version three by repainting the steel and black ship shown above. Since I had two ships to work with, and I was almost happy with version two, I figured I could experiment and compare the two side by side.
I am pretty happy with the final(?) result. I have gone so far as to paint in the windows and engines. If I don't decide to make some more refinements, I can circle around and paint the second one to match.
One of these days, I'll have to try painting a dreadnought.